An Interview with Ed Asner, The Grouchy Historian

Jon Foro on December 20, 2017

Ed Asner has a message for anyone who thinks they know exactly how to interpret Constitution of the United of America: Not even the Founding Fathers knew, and neither do you. So get off your high horse.

If that sounds a little grouchy, it's no mistake. With his new book, The Grouchy Historian, Asner—famous in part for playing the avuncular-if-grumpy Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show—offers a "progressive voice" in the debate over the supreme law of the land, an appeal to accept the Constitution as "living, breathing document," whose ambiguity, intentional and otherwise, has allowed it to serve as the bedrock of of our political system for 230 years. Asner and co-author Ed. Weinberger—no slouch of grouch, either—begin with the framers themselves, noting that even after ratification, they couldn't even agree about the specifics. "We should thank them and move on," Asner told me when the two Eds visited our room at Book Expo in New York earlier this year. "Wipe away little of the idolatry connected with the Constitution."

Fair warning: Their views won't appeal to everyone. If there's any confusion about their point of view, the subtitle should clear that right up: An Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs. As you might expect, notable politicians take some hits. Even the sympathetic probably won't go along with everything they have to say. But what's the point of being a grouch if you need everyone to agree with you?

Ed Asner and Ed. Weinberger on The Grumpy Historian at Book Expo 2017

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