I do this stuff for a living - all sorts of historical interpretation. I teach it to other interpreters as well. Hank is one of the best out there and I would certainly like to have him on my interpretive staff.
I would certainly take exception to being classified as one of the 'dregs' because I use first person interpretation. I would also say that the definition 'living history' doesn't mean that it must always be for the public. If if educates the participants it is doing the same as educating the public. First person can be very effective when done correctly. I have had people tell me they have learned a lot from a presentation and thought about things that they had never realized before. That's the whole point isn't it? I agree that when it is not done well it is a poor excuse for interpretation. It is at its best when the interpreter is well prepared and when the public knows what to expect. It can be bad if someone just starts prattling on without letting people in on what's going on. Time, place and setting make the difference but to just dismiss it completely because you take umbrage that people use it in your imagined settings is really missing the boat.
In short, there are lots of ways to interpret to people and people learn differently. If you don't get it, then perhaps first person is not for you. If the audience does not get it, the interpreter is wasting his time trying to continue in first person and needs to shift gears. But for many people who do get it, it is very enjoyable for them as a visitor to interact with a knowledgeable interpreter that can carry on a conversation and draw you into it and make you part of the time period being interpreted.
I think I'm pretty good at it myself and have used it many times and have seen the light bulb go on with people who grasp what you are doing. I have also done third person and a combination of the two - whatever is needed to educate. If you just decide that first person is useless and shouldn't be done, then you're wrong.
I do not wander around battlefields in period clothing - personally I think that is silly but others like to do it. They may also think I'm silly for doing first person so each to his own. I will say this - there are a lot of people in the hobby that try to do first person and they have no idea what they are doing. And, it shows. Perhaps those are the people Mr. Simon may be referring to come across. If so, I would agree that they are doing much more harm than good. But there are some excellent people out there doing first person and it is incredibly effective with visitors and I guarantee that if done correctly, the overwhelming majority of people that see it - even off the cuff - will quickly realize what is going on. It does work and should not be dismissed lightly and thrown on the trash heap.