Survivor's Rudy Speaks His Mindby David Bloomberg -- 07/10/2002
The first Survivor had a number of break-out stars and more memorable players than the second series. Richard Hatch, of course, was the scheming winner and the guy everybody loved to hate. Susan Hawk was the redneck truck driver who came through in the end with the infamous snake-and-rat speech. And of course there was Rudy, plain-talking, gruff, and the favorite of many. In fact, Rudy was such a star that the allegations of “fixing” Survivor even stem from executive producer Mark Burnett supposedly wanting to keep him around.
Viewers got to see a lot of Rudy as the show went along. He made it to the final three and always had something to say to the camera. Although he spoke of his dislike for “queers,” he showed that he was able to form a bond with Hatch – a bond that ended up giving Hatch a million dollars. But that wasn’t the only topic that Rudy spoke about. Like anybody else, he has his particular views on many subjects. The difference between Rudy and most other people is that he doesn’t hesitate to share those views. And with the life he’s led – joining the Navy at age 17 and serving in the first SEAL team, among other accomplishments – he has more than earned the right to express them.
Now those thoughts have been collected into a small volume, The Book of Rudy: The Wit and Wisdom of Rudy Boesch (Adams Media Corporation, $5.95). While technically the “author” is Rudy “with Jeff Herman,” really the book was put together by Herman, who asked Rudy questions on a variety of topics, and then wrote down Rudy’s answers. These Q&As were then categorized into the different chapters, such as family life, politics, religion, and sex. One section that is notably absent is one dealing with his fellow Survivor contestants, but with the contracts they all signed, it’s unclear as to how much he really could have said.
Herman’s preface to the book notes that while readers may think they know Rudy, they are almost guaranteed to disagree with him on something they didn’t expect by the time they finish this book. That is definitely a true statement. Even when Rudy takes the most strident political position, such as saying that he believes the Republicans should always win, he then turns around to surprise the reader, such as when he says abortion should be a woman’s choice.
But Rudy doesn’t really care what the reader thinks. As he says in his introduction, “These are all my opinions. You can take them or leave them. If you want my opinion you can read the book, if not, leave it alone.” He is quite secure in his thoughts and beliefs, and that’s one thing that made him so likeable to the TV audience – even when he was saying things that would have gotten other people in trouble.
So just what does Rudy have to say? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out everything, of course. A few of his statements are already referenced above. He definitely is a Republican, and holds conservative views on many things. For example, he opposes welfare (“It makes them lazy and they depend on it. Why should I pay for someone else’s growing up?”), he likes George W. Bush’s tax cut (“The Democrats wouldn’t have given it back. They would have spent it on beautifying some mountain or something.”), he is no fan of Jimmy Carter (“He builds houses for poor people, which I don’t think an ex-president should be doing. … He should be more presidential.”), and he has no use for flag burning (“doing that is running free speech too far”). At the same time, he would not vote for Colin Powell for president (“The military is altogether different than politics.”), he supports Democrat Bob Kerrey in the allegations that Kerrey was involved in a massacre in Vietnam (“They said he killed women and children, but it is so black at night you can’t see who is shooting at you. You shoot back. … I would have done the same thing he did.”), and, as noted above, he supports a woman’s right to choose when it comes to abortion.
His modesty shows at several points, such as his answer to the question of what he brought to the military: Nothing that wasn’t already there. When discussing God, he said he believes in a higher power but doesn’t believe in miracles. Herman presses and asks if it’s a miracle that he never got shot and Rudy responds, “No, there are plenty of people who never got shot. It is just a matter of hiding behind the right tree.”
There are some problems with the editing of the book. The reader encounters a few duplications of information where Rudy was apparently asked different questions at different times, and gave answers that overlapped a bit. But nobody edited these out. So we hear several times over about how his parents were born in Austria; he tells us he has a granddaughter and then is asked if he has any grandkids; he talks about how he served in Vietnam and then is asked if he served in Vietnam. Even the back cover of the book, which should certainly have gone through an editorial double-check, talks about “George Bush Jr.,” although there is no such person (it’s George W. Bush, of course).
Still, these are minor annoyances in the overall scheme of things. These aside, the book is certain to cause the reader to alternately laugh and grumble at what Rudy has to say. But Rudy is not trying to force anybody to believe the way he does; he is not attempting to get the reader’s vote or sell a product; he is simply being Rudy. He doesn’t know how to be anybody else.
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