tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg January 13, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
>> from our studios in new york city, charlie rose. charlie rose: we're live this evening. president barack obama delivered his final state of the union address. tonight was less about the past than the future. president obama: let's talk about the future. four big questions. regardless of who the next president is. who controls congress. how do we give everyone a fair
shot at opportunity and security in this new economy? [applause] how do we make technology work for us and not against us especially when it comes to solving challenges like climate change? how do we keep america safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman? how can we make our politics reflect what is best in us and not what is worst? last year vice president biden said that with the new moonshot america can cure cancer. last month he worked with this congress to give scientists at the national institutes of health the strongest resources they've had over a decade. so tonight i am announcing a new national effort to get it done and because he has gone to the mat for all of us i'm putting joe in charge of mission
control. that is why we need to reject any politics that targets people use of race or religion. this is not a matter of political correctness. this is a matter of understanding what is the makes us strong. one of the few regrets of my presidency the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. a president with the gifts of lincoln or roosevelt might have better bridge the divide. i will keep trying to be better so long as i hold this office. charlie rose: south carolina governor nikki haley deliver the response. nikki haley: in many parts of our society, there is a tendency to falsely equate noise with results.
some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. that is just not true. often the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. charlie rose: joining me now is david sanger, kathleen parker, doris kearns goodwin. with me in new york is john meacham. this is the last state of the union by president obama. in many ways, a look to the future. jon: i thought it was his case for his presidency. a template for the memoir. from health care to his view of
terrorism as an important but not existential threat. and the talk about politics. which is where he began back in 2004. lincoln and roosevelt also had their problems with partisanship. the tone was elegiac but also combative. he goes to that chamber and it brings out something. you can feel some of the ad libs coming up. kathleen parker: i have to say i liked the speech overall. it were a lot of things he left out. but republicans can point those out as we go along. i tend to like the way he went about the speech. i would much prefer a thematic speech and the way he approached
these for big questions rather than just a laundry list of this is what we have done. things that tend to make the eyes glaze over. one thing they got very close to that i wish it said more about was what he was talking about the economy. saying the economy is not in decline but there have been massive changes that started a long time ago that will continue to affect us. how we do our business. to struggle against these new conditions. he talked about how that is part of the anxiety that people feel. i would love to of heard him say a little bit more about the global changes and how the american people have to gird their lines to get ready for some really big changes coming our way.
the whole world is changing in such tectonic ways. the pep talk on american values and what we are and who we are as great. but we really have to find new ways of being in this world. that is the thing that nobody ever approaches. it is very hard to articulate. no one is really wrap their minds about it. any john meacham will write a book about it. david sanger: i think this was optimistic speech. it sounded more like the barack obama you heard on the trail in new hampshire and iowa back in 2008. than the one whose voice has
frequently been missing from some of the bigger debates of the past year or year-and-a-half. i thought was interesting how he struck back at the tone i have been hearing in the campaign. he said our answer needs to be more than tough talk and calls to carpet bomb civilians. a clear reference to ted cruz. he also made a reference without naming him to donald trump. he said this is who we are. clearly the campaign talk of the republicans in the past few months has gotten under his skin and he wanted to use this is a moment to remind people of that era of optimism that he brought about. he came back to the theme that the united states could be a superpower without being occupier we need to remember the lessons of vietnam and iraq. he was in college at the very
end of vietnam. as president he inherited the end of the iraq war. in the campaign rhetoric we see people not really contemplating very much what those lessons are. he wanted to return to the thought that the united states could be a leader without going in and trying to be a nation builder. doris kearns goodwin: it is human nature to try to tell two. to tell about the accomplishments and i think he for the bat the strengths of america so it wasn't i did this but americans have done this. all the combatants got in there. the human desire is to somehow leave the presidency in the hands of someone who is going to carry out the things that you
care about. mentioning things that were really designed against donald trump or ted cruz. talking about muslims and that will make us safer. america is not in decline. the most interesting part to me was the part at the end where he had said it would be somewhat different. that is where changed into something else. it reminded me of george washington's farewell address. when he gave his final address. he talked about party spirit and the worry about faction and the worry about party mischief. and the dangers of what happen if the country started splitting along geographic lines. that last part where he talked about the system itself is in trouble. not only do we have to change congressional districts and the money in the interests but
looking you guys in congress, you don't even like your jobs anymore. you although it. unless we change the system, he was talking about systemic changes and the just reminded me that that is where he soared. he said i believe in change. that is why america is still optimistic. his rhetoric and commerce all the things he wanted to accomplish. alexander hamilton wrote the farewell address. everyone has been to see hamilton three times. charlie rose: it is said of the best thing president obama can do for his legacy is to see that a democrat is elected president. is there some truth in that?
kathleen parker: it is always proof that your policies were good and are going to be maintained. this is what happened when bush followed reagan. it was a sort of a confirmation that reagan's policies were approved of by the people. the clear message from president obama was for a democrat. his singers were clearly aimed at ted cruz and donald trump were well-placed and well-deserved frankly. this conversation on the right where we are marginalizing certain people and making them the enemy and somehow they are the ones responsible hasn't done much good for any of the people in our political system.
it doesn't speak well to our political process. i appreciate that president obama was trying to address that. i felt a little bit like i had been spanked. there is no recognition of other players involved here including the president. i am always looking for that little bit of humility he almost came close to it when he said i don't imagine we are going to agree on health care anytime soon. i think that was about a self-deprecating as he got. it is always helpful to your message if you can recognize that you haven't been perfect and that some of the dysfunction on capitol hill could be attributable to more than just the members of the congress. charlie rose: president obama
wanted to be there in 2014. democrats didn't want him out there. now again he seems to want to have a debate. he lists these four things. and i think they are brilliant and very worthy subjects. having a fair shot of opportunity, making technology work for us, keeping america safe and leading the world without coming the policeman and making our politics reflect what is best in us and not what is worst. john meacham: it was a little bit like a bill clinton speech. he had to outsource explaining himself in 2012. the nomination was actually an outsourced job. to some extent great presidents are ones who are in conversation with the culture of their times.
bill clinton was, thomas jefferson was, franco roosevelt was. so they are not solely political. doris kearns goodwin: you are right about the ones who connected with their countrymen. in the end of the president to change the course of history is because something came up from the society that they were able to shape but it already was bubbling and they were able to explain and teach and move it forward. charlie rose: after gingrich had the contract with america bill clinton said the era of big
government was over. john meacham: that was the moment the new democrat recovered himself and reset for the second term. after gingrich is landslide election before. doris kearns goodwin: the weird thing is that many of the state of the union addresses are not memorable. there are some lines that we remember from lincoln and from fdr, the four freedoms. there are some bad ones that we remember. it is a hard thing to do. i think it is hard because you have some a policy proposals that are being pushed on you play all the different cabinet officers and you are trying to satisfy both them and the country. tonight what made it easier for president obama was he was really just speaking to the audience of the country. he was a really speaking to the congress.
he's not sure what he can get through there. he will go over their heads to the country. it's simplified matters for him. kathleen parker: it seems i such a long time ago that he ran for president on hope and change. he's not sure what he can get he brought it full circle today. he talked about his hopes for the future. all the changes that it's taken place at all the changes that still are,. how we have to work together to get there. that was sort of his summation of his presidency. he did seem to talk it out to the american people to great extent. toward the end. not so much. it is your job to get this right. he started talking about the unconditional love the quote from martin luther king.
david sanger: he also moved in the direction of defending the common critique about him. what he is been hearing for a year is that this is a president who is tough enough, hasn't stepped up for america. he came back and he said outright if you don't think i'm ready to go defend america go ask osama bin laden. he raised benghazi. the leader of benghazi is sitting in a jail right now. he talked about a leader of al qaeda in yemen. he went right by the fact that he did set out to say i have not just been sitting here admiring the problem and studying it and not acting. i'm not sure whether or not that part of the speech will resonate as much but the last, more lyrical section probably has a better chance of making it in memory. i thought was interesting that
he went in that direction. john meacham: that the country has been weakened abroad and the economy has not recovered the way it should. we closer to european social system. kathleen parker: the foreign policy issue will be the biggest one for republicans. he spoke about how we are working to pull things together in syria and iraq.
being detained on this island where the story is that they ran into trouble and drifted onto shore. that they would be released. we have all seen how these things go awry. this reminded me of many ways of what happened to george w. bush early in his presidency when a plane off the coast of china clipped the chinese plane that came into close to it and went down on an island and it took a few weeks and was pretty tense before the chinese turned the crew over. i suspect the iranians will turn these people back. we're just days away from the implementation day on the nuclear deal. there's a lot of pressure within the iranian government from the
president and his party to get to that day and get the hundred billion dollars on frozen for the iranian people. politically it would be very difficult for the president to do that while these sailors are being held. money is fungible. no let up by the iranians in their support for has malala and four assad and what they are doing in yemen. if you unfrozen the money not all of it is going to be going to building hospitals and rebuilding highways. president rouhani is under some pressure here to make sure that
the iranian people feel some benefit. i have some doubts even if he got unfrozen tomorrow morning whether they would be enough time for them to feel anything. kathleen parker: there are 11 americans in custody in iran because we can't forget our washington post colleague who has been held for more than a year now. his releases nowhere in sight. it would be nice if those 10 sailors can bring him back with them. i honestly don't know about these efforts which are ongoing. the washington post is very involved in trying to get him back. he being kept in some pretty deprived conditions are completely bogus charge. we have to keep him in mind. david sanger: they are is a back channel communication on this but the iranians want some prisoners of their own release.
it is difficult thing for the united states to do, equating those issues. as kathleen points out, jason didn't do anything. it may be that he was arrested for one reason but now they are thinking of the exchange is a new reason. doris kearns goodwin: the whole incident raises the problem that nobody knows what the outside events are going to do to shape the legacy or even our own situation these months ahead. obama said america is the most powerful nation in the world. as if he could just helpfully say it and it will become true.
the other criticism is of what he was doing to counter that. which we've talked about the criticism that he has not brought the parties together and he said one of my few regrets is that i didn't do more to reduce the rancor in washington. perhaps if i had the gifts of the lincoln or roosevelt i might've done better. charlie rose: could he have done more? if he had john sony and skills could hear bridge that gap? this congress is so very different because of the skill,e had johnsonian could he have bridged that gap?
this congress is so very different because of the caucuses within the republican party that was impossible. did john boehner not have enough resources to make a deal? jon meacham: obama always appears to be a man of reason. put down this crazy emotional context of politics. and yet he is a thoroughly politicalhly creature. i've been to iowa, if you need any advice i will be here afterwards. quite prideful about his lyrical skills. the politics of personal relationships, fdr said we must cultivate the science of human relations. he was supposed to give that speech the day before after he died. it is a marvelous phrase. the politics of personal relationships, fdr said we must , aboutbout politics
charlie rose: i think there is something really wrong with our politics. the people i interviewed who say our national security is threatened our economic life is threatened i this inability to deal with these fundamental issues about our future, about entitlements, so many issues. kathleen parker: the opposition to president obama's policies on the right were, there were two parts to it. they were very much disagreeing with his approach to government. he is a big government guide. what started out with the health care reform and you really need to be focusing on jobs.
that was a one-party deal. there was that side of it but there was also opposition by design and their pelicans really just didn't want to give an inch because they felt that they had to stand firm on principle in order to please their constituents. it just became a completely dysfunctional congress. it would be incorrect to blame president obama for that. we have reached a point where it was not workable for the reasons i have described and we've reached a point in this country where there is so much change aloft and so little being done to address what is happening to us culturally and what we are allowing to happen. what is happening with the economy. these are massive problems.
they are never going to be solved by one man. he took a very different approach where you can be critical of the foreign policy but he also could have made things much worse and he didn't. we live in such a very different world with such different enemies and everything is asymmetrical. he took a very careful approach with a multipronged long-term approach to how do we deal with these things without engaging in some massive land war. which i think republicans would have been happy to see us do. so i give him lots of credit for being restrained in that area. david sanger: after you had a president for eight years who talked about making decisions from his gut, listening to his generals without ever thinking about overriding them because he
is commander-in-chief and may have a broader policy set of priorities, you have a president here who was very science-based. he tweaked to the members of congress who were climate deniers. saying they would be very lonely. he prided himself on being fact-based. he prided himself on being deliberative. which is the other side of the critique. in a shameless plug for another panelists book, i have been reading jon meacham's book on george h.w. bush. as i was reading it i was
thinking this was the last, a president who was highly deliberative at every step and which ones not to take. so his decision not to go after saddam hussein after the gulf war was something many people criticize them for. you will see the same thing in obama. he will be remembered as steps that he wouldn't take. with interesting about the critique that your hearing now is that to some degree they don't fully consider president obama asked people to think about again which was one of the lessons we should emerge from the iraq war with. for obama it is clearly we need to act with a very light footprint. we can't go occupying and policing other countries.
people may disagree with that. there is this issue of overextension of the united states. obama was bringing people back to that. charlie rose: he used to suggest early on that he was following bush 41 foreign policy. jon meacham: i interviewed for the book. charlie rose: he used to suggest early on that he was following he speaks of these wonderful paragraphs. ok, i am done. [laughter] he absolutely believes in the significance of restraint. not doing stupid stuff. there is an appreciation of him when he thought he might be a one term president. there was conversation the white house about what was it about in principle. this is a man with a public career of a dozen years. a manner never knew his father.
who'll be written about as long as the english language is spoken as the first african-american president. it was only 2004 when he came to national attention. he tells of his own memoir a story about when he went to the 2000 convention, only four elections ago. he tried to rent a car in his credit card was rejected. to go to the convention that nominated al gore. and then eight years later he is nominated for president. this is a remarkable journey.
charlie rose: that is a pretty good eight years isn't it? [laughter] jon meacham: it is remarkable. he will have this fascinating post-presidency because he is still young man. doris kearns goodwin: the memoir will really be occupying that first part of his time. more than just a duty that he will have to perform. i don't know if he even knows what he will do after that. the library. the problem for presidents now is there certain things he has to do.
building a library takes time. he is so young that you hope he will be able to find something that will really attract him and make him love it again. he did love politics when he started, it showed in those campaigns, but i suspect that part of the days of these last eight years, how could it be for anything in washington loving what they're doing. there is something systemically wrong with our system. when you go into politics you are hoping you will accomplish something. i don't know how many congressmen and senators and even a president can sometimes feel that when they can even have a conversation about what they are doing. they used to call washington the city of conversations. these people can even talk to each other. so we have an economy that is not working for lots of people because of the income gap and the lack of mobility for poor people.
this is a huge problem for our country. much less the foreign policy stuff that you've been talking about. something has to break this plague. whether people are really figure out what to do about changing the system. to make the people in washington more responsive to what needs to be done. rather than spending their time dialing for dollars. that is crazy, we know it is. charlie rose: how smart is he? is he one of our brightest presidents? jon meacham: i think so. absolutely. the pluses and minuses of that. the keen analytical intelligence. that is said by people want to be that executive that you're talking about.
he is extremely perceptive. he is watchful. he is interested in the psychology of human motivations. i know this from conversations with him. but also from in his deliberations. not just the facts on the ground but also the metaphysical. something relatively rare in the presidency. not the kind of emotional intelligence that bill clinton had when he tells people he feels their pain. higher level of perceptiveness that he applies to his decision-making. i was in boston when he gave that speech in 2004.
it was an amazing speech. i was standing next to carl cannon. i said we've just seen our first black president speak. he was so young that also really beautiful when he was standing up there giving that amazing speech about we are not red and blue we are the red white and blue. he believed that. charlie rose: has he lived up to that potential? if you talk to bill clinton and you talk about potential that was not fulfilled it would drive him crazy. if we ask the same question of obama david sanger: i think it also drives president obama crazy if you get that from his aides. he has a norman's intellectual curiosity.
he can pick up our arguments and is not at all concerned about taking on the general succumbing to see him, the economists who come in to see him in so forth. and yet the critique that you hear is that that intellectual curiosity can be paralyzing for decision-makers. at moments we have certainly seen that. you heard the red line in syria. he was analyzing the situation from an analytical viewpoint and probably came out the right place but in the end they got almost all the chemical weapons out of syria without firing a shot. but having set the red line and having to clear what the consequences would be, he then had to suffer for the fact that he backed away from that. many of his own former aides tell you today that that is problematic.
we have at other cases where he has been accused of operating too slowly. a lot of people in america would rather have the patience to go around this slowly. the iran deal was the ultimate example of patience. he had a six or seven year plan to get the iranians to where they ended up. as you remember, i didn't believe it was going to work. and it worked. ♪
charlie rose: i asked somebody about him. and what is your central critique? he said arrogance. maybe intellectual arrogance or an arrogance that says i know that i know more than you do. if you set where i am, you would do exactly what i'm doing. he is constantly saying if you have a better idea let's hear it. about every issue. there are those who go see him will say that he doesn't hear it. because of the level of intellectual arrogance.
doris kearns goodwin: confidence is one of the most important qualities that you need in the leader. at times confidence can shade over into arrogance or hubris. at times that confidence has done him very well. they are thinking who was this guy who has so little experience that i can run for president. nobody without that internal confidence could of done that. and that he went for the full health care thing. when the election was lost in massachusetts. but he still barreled ahead anyway. he said one of the few regrets i have. he has this sense of himself and it is a strength but it can also be a problem. that he could see himself from the outside in. he sees himself as a character walking through history. it is a self-awareness that is part of his strengths. but it also means as long as you
see yourself walking through history and you think your walking in a good way as i think he now does. he feels good about what he's accomplished. then it means you don't have to deal with the present to a certain extent. you have already made your deals. it very confident his stuff. about self-assurance and hubris and where that line gets crossed. kathleen parker: some of that arrogance is a wall, a shield that he uses to protect himself. which probably goes way way back to his childhood when he was of mixed race and living in different places being raised by his grandparents in indonesia. not knowing his father. all those things come into play. little barack at some point had to figure out how to walk across that basketball court or down at school hallway and be
untouchable or unflappable. the arrogance may be more that then looking down his nose at anyone. doris curran's goodwin: i think that may be right. it comes from the biography. i wish our younger to the writing about all this many years from now. charlie rose: you and i both my dear. jon meacham: kennedy loses it over the presidential rating system. he says no one has the right to judge any president who hasn't sat at that desk and known what he knew what had to make those decisions.
charlie rose: he's talking about the fact that when kennedy was handling the cuban crisis he was also dealing with a check crisis between the chinese and indians at the same time. the whole idea of how demanding it is and only the toughest things make their way up to the oval office. jon meacham: and civil rights was unfolding. he said, is there any way they can hit oxford, mississippi? [laughter] doris kearns goodwin: no president likes this whole rating system. we're only talking about where they're going to rank in history. i was talking to president clinton about a poll that had come out that ranks him in the middle.
he was really upset about this thing. i was trying to make him feel better. i said i will make you a corrupt bargain if you bring the dodgers back to brooklyn i will move you up a notch on the list of the historians. he didn't laugh. [laughter] charlie rose: clinton used to bemoan the fact that he didn't have a great challenge to deal with. david sanger: after jfk said that, they never did rating systems again. i was an undergraduate who was lucky enough to take david herbert donald's civil war courses and he would never even rank lincoln who of course always comes out at the top on these lists. and he was the greatest lincoln biographer. jfk won him over. charlie rose: where do you rank lincoln?
jairus turns goodwin: i rank him number one, but fdr is close. lincoln as a human being is just above all the rest of them. charlie rose: gun control. it is given him some of the toughest moments of his presidency. he clearly feels so strongly about it. the deaths of young people at newtown had an impact on them. kathleen parker: i was talking to valerie jarrett about it. he became tearful about it. he announced his fairly smallish gun control moves. every time that sandy hook comes up, he does that. that emotion is real.
he feels that what he is trying to do is the right thing and he will never be able to convince republicans in congress who are relying on the nra for funding. the fact of the matter is that most americans do think there ought to be background checks on everyone and whatever loopholes exist or be closed. this is not a radical idea. i was talking to some in california who said these laws are identical to what the laws of been in california forever. you can buy a gun in california if you're not a felon. it is a tough situation. i don't know if the second amendment brigades will always be out there.
the pro-choice people who will not give one tiny minute of compromise. the gun people are the same. there are other ways to talk about these issues. charlie rose: i have to interrupt you because i had less than two minutes. it is about this president, that he doesn't love the country. when i hear that i find it the lowest level of political rhetoric. clearly everybody is part of the marriage include process and everyone who goes to that office infield hits heavyweight loves the country. weightfeels its heavy
loves the country. he may make mistakes but he is trying to do what is right. they feel deep inside the potential of the country. this president referred to again tonight. his predecessor felt clearly the sense that there is a richness in terms of the values and our potential. we have to make dam sure that the politics and all those other things can, we minimize that. kathleen parker: they have to hear the worst things that we can imagine these we don't know what they know. that must be why their hair turns gray recycle time. doris kearns goodwin: i think there is question about that. again between what they wish for and what is actually
accomplished is always going to be larger than anybody would've wanted but it is extraordinary treasure to of been given that job and to be an american in a job where you go out as a citizen and you've been the most powerful person in the world but you have to realize how great the transition is in the system. and so few systems can you do that. while you are there, you have the chance to make people's lives better. to change the course of history. charlie rose: thank you everybody. thank you for watching. ♪
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