tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg July 30, 2017 7:00am-8:00am EDT
>> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: mark halperin and john heilemann are here, the co-creators of "the circus" that ended its second season in may. they're also the co-authors of "game change" and "double down." they're at work on the third episode in the series, recounting donald trump's surprise victory over hillary clinton. mark halperin is analyst for nbc news.
i'm pleased to have them back at the table. what's going on? [laughter] what's happening in america? mark: i have been traveling a little bit lately outside of washington and it's clear that the velocity and pure insanity of events taking place in washington are captivating elites around the country. there's no doubt we've never seen anything like it. charlie: underline elites. mark: elites, because as i've traveled around the country, whether trump supporters or trump opponents, they're not paying nearly as much attention to this stuff as we are so it's clear this is an extraordinary period in american history and that the president is doing things we've not seen in our lifetime or maybe the history of the planet and there's the trump reality show and then there's reality and reality in america, is still going on. economy is still going along.
kids are still going to school. stuff's still happening but the trump reality show now is dominating the thinking of elites, popular culture, everything else. charlie: john? john: i think because it's dominating the popular culture, people are paying some attention to what's going on and it is the events we see on an almost daily basis are extraordinary and unprecedented. we've done this not as long as you have covered events of america but we have been doing presidential politics and politics in general for 25 years or so and almost every day something happens that i've never seen anything like it. literally, in a given 24-hour cycle, there are four or five events in a given day that would normally have occupied five months if they occurred in another administration and i think if you get down to it, there are two things that are happening. one thing that's happening is the trump governing agenda.
and then there's the investigations, picking up speed at an extraordinary rate and the president is clearly reacting to them and behaving in ways that suggests he feels threatened by what's happening. he's behaving like a man who is bothered by that thing that is consuming now. charlie: what does it mean to you? john: i don't know what he thinks the possible worst case is. he knows the facts what have he has done and what his people have done in a way that none of us do but on the prima fascia basis, the things he's doing, talking about jeff sessions, he's behaving like a man who is panicking. charlie: that there is something that will be discovered by bob mueller that will be more than embarrassing. john: let's say at a minimum that the investigation could consume his presidency at the minimum, consume it and allow
him not to get anything done and at the negative extreme could be at threat to end it. mark: he may fear much more than this but without knowing any more of the truth than either of you, he fears that the independent counsel will investigate things beyond russia. he fears -- charlie: meaning the building of his financial empire? mark: right. he fears his children will be dragged into this in a way that will be bad for their lives and he fears that people will start cooperating with the independent counsel, creating all sorts of potential problems. charlie: to save their own skin. mark: to save their own skin and obviously he fears that this will block anything he could do to be considered a great president. charlie: and ruin re-election? mark: oh, sure. he may fear substantially more than that but at least at a minimum, those things. john: don jr. is now dragged into the middle of this, jared kushner is dragged into the
middle of this, dragging at least by marriage his daughter into this so they're already in the middle of this now. and it's also the case that depending on how you define things outside the scope of russia and again there's some question about the things that trump says, well, if he starts looking at my finances, that's outside of -- i think he defines the russia thing is what happened in 2016, calendar year 2016. it's clear right now. charlie: between my election campaign and russia's. john: when he says is nothing but the independent counsel, the special counsel, bob mueller, obviously thinks trump has a long history of intertwinement with russia and he thinks that is relevant as to the issue of collusion. charlie: that someone rescued him and gave him funds. mark: no one in america wants a special counsel appointed to investigate this.
-- them. bill clinton felt similarly but this special counsel has things about him that are distinctive. number one, he's extremely competent. number two, he is beyond reproach in the view of republicans and democrats alike, and number three, he has hired quickly and is moving fast. sometimes moving fast is a good thing for someone because they don't want a long investigation but this guy moving fast i don't think is in the president's interests because he's in the beginning of his presidency and the whole thing, right now, to some extent has overtaken anything else and could quickly bring it down. john: and he is a man behaving as of now and everyone who knows him says he does not fear donald trump at all. he has nothing left to prove in his career and he has no fear of threats or intimidation of muller will not waver or quaver at donald trump making noises about the potential of firing him and trump has not meant many people who are fearless in confronting him. charlie: i watch you guys and
others on television and some are characterizing him as insane, as mentally imbalanced. do you buy that kind of thing? or is this someone fearful of where an investigation is and where it might lead? mark: he's done so many things delitorious to his own interests in the last couple of months, at a minimum, you have to say he's irrational. charlie: you're saying he's irrational? mark: i'm not saying he's irrational every minute of the day but he's clearly done things that are irrational. the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. it is the case that the president has always had this side, well before he was in politics, he's always had a side of vindictive, emotional acting sometimes in a way that if you thought about it, you wouldn't
do. there are those who think it's gotten worse. there are those who say this is what he's like but the stakes and the scrutiny are different. charlie: witness exhibit a, jeff sessions. defies why you would want to do that. john: and it's the purest and most recent clear distillation of someone doing something not in his interests and in some sense, as some people around sessions have been trying to tell the white house, if not the president directly, if what you wanted is to fire bob mueller, which would be a bad idea, provoking a constitutional crisis which would cause republicans to split from him entirely. charlie: back to bob mueller who has respect across the lines. john: but if you want to, the person to get rid of is not jeff sessions but rob rosenstein who brought mueller on but instead he's tormenting sessions i think largely because, again, and he's
expressing this -- i'm not reading his mind -- he's angry at sessions because he regards sessions as the person who brought this horror upon him by recusing himself. his analysis of the recusal, which is, if he told me he was going to recuse himself, i wouldn't have appointed him, doesn't make any sense in the chronology of events because sessions didn't know he would have to recuse himself until after he was already in the senate confirmations hearings and he had gotten in trouble on that front on top of which he actually did make statements in his confirmation hearings that essentially if trump had been paying attention, he would have said he might be heading for recusal on the basis of what happens in the confirmation hearing. he could have withdrawn sessions then so the combination of misreading his history and republicans rising up as one and saying you can't get rid of that man. there's bipartisan from the far conservative end to liberals
standing up for jeff sessions. there's no -- he gets nothing good out of this on any possible -- mark: except that he wants to fire mueller. if he replaces sessions and gets someone else in the attorney general spot, he could fire mueller. charlie: suppose he gets somebody else in. suppose it's during the the break, the recess appointment and then that person fires ron rosenstein. mark: they wouldn't need to. the attorney general would take over the investigation. but again, it's like firing comey but worse. if the goal of firing comey was to make the investigation go away, it had the opposite effect and only escalated it not just because of the appointment of mueller as special counsel but because the scrutiny is so high. we also have two congressional investigations. the first time since the mid 1990's where both parties are
strategizing about getting the truth. those loom out there, too. i don't think he will limit the investigation. i don't believe mueller can be fired. i believe, as a matter of regulation he can be fired but i don't believe politically the body politics would tolerate that. i think there would be serious talk of impeaching the president if he moves to fire mueller and it would be difficult to find anyone who would pull the trigger on that. john: the senate has made it clear that if he were to fire sessions, there's no one whom they would confirm to take that post because they would regard it as a challenge to the constitutional order. so there would be that. they also also almost certainly if mueller was somehow fired, if he got to his ultimate goal and gets rid of mueller, they would just pass -- they're saying this openly, they would pass an independent counsel law through
congress and reappoint mueller in that job. so he would alienate everyone along the way, republicans would break with him in a formal way. he would still have mueller and you would have a genuine watergate style special committee with mueller running it as the new independent counsel so all of this. mark: the point is the f.b.i. agents will continue to investigate. very smart lawyers. so the president is in a corner. he is backed into a corner and he's been backed into a corner in real estate career, political career. bob mueller is person as a person and institutionally. and both parties, if the blue team is for one thing, the red team's for another.
that's not the case. everyone in washington with the exception of the president and a few people around him believe this investigation not just should continue but must continue and the truth must be known. that's not the case. he's trying to get out of the corner by doing things that are only making it worse. charlie: do most people believe, even though they've not seen hard evidence, that there was collusion with the russians? mark: lots of responsible people in both parties believe that there is and you've seen in the last two weeks or so a real turn as i spent time on capitol hill last week talking to republicans. some have specific theories but most will say i can reach no other conclusion but that there's something here because of the way the president's behaving. charlie: that's not evidence. but he acts like something happened. john: it's not just that. the key turning point on this
front i think in terms of getting more democrats and some republicans to start being either open to the notion that there was collusion or just to believe it is was the donald jr. meeting in trump tower in june and the fact that they lied about it for so long and the story's changed. it's not just the president's behavior. it's that the people around him lied for months about having met any russians, that their stories about the meeting that took place last june 2016 changed over days, changing every day as more facts were known. there was one person, there were two people, now there's eight people in the room and every day changing their stories has made people think you don't lie about these things for months and then in sequence over a series of days in the middle of a crisis when the focus is on you, you don't lie about things if you have nothing to hide so that's provoked a lot of people to say instinctively, we don't have all the evidence here but there's something here that's beyond just hearsay and smoke. there's fire here in a lot of people's minds, that's when it changed. mark: and some republicans said, by don jr.'s account of what happened, the only reason there
wasn't quote/unquote collusion is because the russians didn't deliver the goods and they can say all they want, anyone would have taken the meeting, as the president said. most people in politics would not have taken that meeting. some say they would. even anthony scaramucci, when asked over the weekend, would you have taken that meeting said, i don't know, not yes. charlie: and i would talk to counsel. john: the meeting was set up to be, on paper, ludicrously incriminating as a piece of bait to say we would like to bring you information that's connected to russia's campaign to support your father and defeat hillary clinton, we'd like to bring you this information, would you like to take that meeting. there's no subterfuge around it, it was set up in a way -- mark: because the russian government wants your father to win. john: it was a test case to the openness of collusion at a ludicrous rate. not just the email but to say yes and the paper trail --
charlie: if for no other reason vladimir putin hated hillary clinton. mark: and the elites didn't want another elite administration that would keep it expanding. john: that's the assessment of the intelligence committee. charlie: in terms of what he says and how he behaves, has he changed the presidency? or will it revert back to the values and standards it had once he leaves? mark: 85% chance it not only reverts back but reverts back even further in response to some of the things we've seen with social media and the partisanship and the kind of like everything's got to be a battle. john: i agree with that on some level. there's another level, i just don't know. part of the level of unprecedentedness is that we don't have precedent. so it's sort of like, if you put a president in who has no respect for the norms that every other president has respected
and particularly a president who says as many untrue things, what long-term effect does that have on the political culture and what the political culture will tolerate and what voters think of the presidency? i think it's too early to know whether -- especially if trust -- trump is in office for a full four-year term or, who knows, eight years, if he continued along this path in a documented way as the "new york times" does, laying out the places where he speaks untruths, in a promiscuous way no president has done before, what does that do to the credibility of the office and how voters think about the presidency and to the way the presidency interplays with the media. i don't know what the answer is to that whether there's lasting damage. i just don't know. ♪
charlie: two intriguing questions for me are if things continue as they are and get worse with more disclosures, when do you see his base deserting him, in part, and two, when do you see people that are considered strong in the administration saying, i can no longer tolerate this? mark: i don't think the base will desert him on these types of things. i think if and when, it will desert him on his failure to deliver on promises. i think the question about, talked about before he took
office -- what will the quote/unquote adults in the cabinet do. it's impossible to know but my sense is that by january, if things are not different, you will see -- it could be sooner but i think by january, by the state of the union. john: interestingly, the place where you're starting to see the movement is in the foreign policy space where people who have broadly wanted solace in trump's presidency have looked at those particular grown-ups, at mattis and tillerson and masterson and have said, the worst things we have to fear with trump are his temperament in crisis and all three right now, tillerson said i'm going to take time off, i got to get away from this a little bit. he's been in office six months. all three of those have high flight risk at this point. i'm not predicting any of them will go but you're hearing emanations from people around them that their frustration level is mounting. they came in as patriots to try
in ways to constrain the guy they're working for and as they see he's unconstrainable, you sense in varying degrees at varying times that all three are starting to do soul searching about how long to stay and if one goes, that will be an earthquake. if more than one goes, it will be a san francisco earthquake. charlie: if it's mattis, for example, people will have to ask themselves, if he's leaving, how can i stay? mark: the only caveat is if the president could find an excellent person to quickly replace him. that's the only caveat. the white house just made the first major personnel change they've made and if what was ailing the white house was too much in-fighting, too much drama over the people's agenda, anthony scaramucci was not the answer. he has produced again today, chaos, drama. charlie: what did he do today?
mark: last night he did an interview which was published today. charlie: in "the new yorker." mark: yes, in which he, on the record, there are questions emerging about whether he meant to be on the record but it has now been printed as a profanity laced attack -- he called up a reporter to say i want to know who your source was on a tweet you did yesterday about the president doing a private dinner with some people associated with fox news and in the course of the relatively short conversation, profanity laced manner, he attacked both the white house chief of staff and the white house chief strategist, reince priebus and steve bannon, and the reverberations of this will be powerful. charlie: impacting in crude ways. mark: again, the people who wanted him brought in saw there needed to be more order, less chaos, more productive communication out of the white house and people look at what's happened since anthony took this job and it's exacerbating most of the things that ailed the
white house. john: at the heart of the story is not the profanity, although it's incredible. it's notable. at the heart of the story, though, is the thing that he tweeted last night and that in this interview that he stated as plainly as you can state it which is that he believes that reince priebus, the chief of staff, is the chief leaker and that he wanted -- last night he said this in a tweet which he deleted -- he wanted the f.b.i. to investigate the white house chief of staff and he says it in the interview. step away from that for a second. the new incoming white house communications director who's not even officially in the job yet, is publicly calling for an f.b.i. investigation of the white house chief of staff on twitter. now, that is a very trumpy kind of thing to do but to mark's point, it's the kind of thing that in any other administration would have been not just inconceivable but kind of some fantastical concept.
think about the disruption it brings. mark: people talk about how the reagan white house had a lot of infighting. can you imagine the communications director accusing the chief of staff of committing a crime? john: and saying i want the f.b.i. to investigate. charlie: what good can you say about the president after the first six months? there's an article in the "wall street journal" today, to gauge impact, go beyond the laws he's signed through the vast authority he wields, to those who apply the law. he's portrayed as a do-nothing president. it may be true if the benchmark is legislation but that is an incomplete benchmark. to gauge a president's impact, you have to go beyond the law he signs to the vast authority he wields.
mark: that's true, particularly in the area of regulatory reform, the president's achieved more than he's given credit for, but in the areas of legislation, particularly in the areas he wants to legislate in, taxes and healthcare, two big areas that affect every american so i agree he's achieved some things but it is going sort of to counter conventional wisdom to suggest he's accomplished a whole lot, number one. and number two, part of the challenge of the presidency is not just getting things done but explaining to the country why they're a good idea and on most of the regulatory reforms, i've heard the president talk vaguely about less regulation is good but i don't believe he's convinced the country that a, he's done very much, b, it will affect their lives or c, it's the right thing for the country. john: if you wanted to say has the president had a positive impact. if you were a very, very, very conservative person on policy
matters and you looked at the e.p.a. and the justice department, for the reasons this "wall street journal" article suggests, there's stuff happening in those areas in particular where if you're an environmental conservative, climate denier, if you want to return to a law-and-order, pre-obama, bush, clinton, reagan, back to a nixon-style law-and-order approach, you would say things are happening in those areas so some constituencies say the ball's moving forward. charlie: mark, you've said two things. you've said in this conversation that this election was a huge event in terms of the flow of american history looking at things like the second world war and other things that have had huge significance to most americans. you've also said at this table that donald trump is probably as good a politician as you have seen in american politics with the exception of bill clinton. do you still believe both of those things?
mark: in the context of being a candidate, he won the white house having never run for anything before and making lots and lots of mistakes and somehow still won. he won for other things, including weakness from his opponent but i think he was an impressive presidential candidate, based on the result. this is one of the most consequential things that have happened to be talked about by historians for as long as there is history of america. i meet people all the time and this was true before he took office but after he was elected who say this is the worst thing that's ever happened to me. not to the country, but to me. the trauma this has caused amongst tens of millions of americans is profound. 9/11 was a dramatic event for the country and people dying is a bigger deal than anything else but this is a profound event for the people on the left, as a mobilization thing and also psychologically. there are people who wake up and cannot believe this is happening and on the other side there are people who rejoice that we've elected a president who is not a
politician and is changing washington fundamentally and i believe the next president will most certainly restore most of what donald trump has changed in terms of policy and style. i don't think we're too close to it to say there are very few events in american history that are as big a deal as this. john: here's something that's also true and it's one of the most unusual things about trump's presidency and was not true of obama, was not true of bush, was not true of clinton, was not true of reagan. trump arrived in office and there are particularly for groups that are on the margins in american society, they are afraid. they are afraid. hispanic americans are afraid of people being deported. this tweet storm he sent out yesterday proclaiming in a way that had nothing to do with settled policy or real plan.
you referred to it, charlie, the transgender thing. there are thousands of transgendered soldiers willing to die for the country who are out serving with honor who just had the president come up yesterday and say they should be kicked out of the military. those people are living in fear to some extent and i think there are lots of arguments about ideology and policy and people get angry but there's more among especially disenfranchised groups in america, there's more fear of what might happen to them if donald trump stays president that i've ever seen from my time covering politics and that's a non-trivial thing that's very real. charlie: within the white house, there's a lot of faction. what's the consequence of that? mark: one thing anthony scaramucci says in "the new yorker" piece online is that reince priebus will soon be gone, he will be asked for his resignation. charlie: he also said that he and reince priebus were like cain and abel. mark: i get the sense of some
combination of reince priebus and people associated with him will be gone relatively soon, if i had to say, this evening. charlie: this is a man who was the head of the republican committee. mark: my guess is that the president will like what anthony scaramucci is doing. it's very much like what the president would do. i still believe steve bannon is entrenched at this point. john: in periods of great crisis, people turn to those they trust. sean spicer was never a trump person. priebus was never a trump person. he looks around the white house and the group now consolidating power are those favored by the small group and a dwindling group that he really trusts which is his family so right now he still trusts jared kushner and his daughter, ivanka.
if you are favored by them and they're not washington functionaries, they're not the r.n.c. crowd, like anthony scaramucci, outsiders, new york people, many of them people of means, something trump really respects. one of the reasons bannon is secure is because trump looks at him as a guy who made tens of millions of dollars. mark: corey lewandowski and dave bossy from outside, they were traveling with the president this week and they're still very much part of it and there again, as john suggested, people who helped him win and a lot of presidents are like that when they face a crisis, they go back to people that helped him win. charlie: can he turn it around? mark: sure. there are a lot of second acts in american politics. the president's numbers have gotten substantially worse on the question of does donald trump care about people like you. one of the great numbers in american polling and it actually will track with his approval number. he's not convincing people, because he's tweeting and attacking sessions and doing
things that don't affect the real lives of people directly. i think to have a comeback, he'll have to convince people he cares about them. john: outside of an intervening event which could happen, you know, some kind of natural disaster, things on the foreign stage. outside of them, on the domestic stage, there's not an event you could see plausibly down the road that could turn this around. there may be one but at the moment, the trajectory, it's very unlikely it seems to me that there would be repeal and replacement of the affordable care act. it's very unlikely, it seems to me now, we could have a debt ceiling crisis. people aren't paying attention to it. as other things fall away and as the investigations and the scandal grows and i think that will take up more and more bandwidth, not less, the ability to get things done, get smaller and smaller, without getting anything done, it's hard to turn around approval ratings as
people watch the clock turn and calendar turn and he's accomplishing nothing to make their lives better especially on the economic front. it just doesn't -- again, i'm open to the notion that it's possible but it's hard to foresee and sketch the scenario by which he suddenly is at 46 or 47 or 50 -- let alone 50, by the end of the year. charlie: or do what you have to do in politics, get a second look. mark: he's in a bad place. charlie: thank you. back in a moment. stay with us. ♪
charlie: the singer-songwriter has been called the new bob dylan. he is best known as the front man for the indie group, bright eyes. his latest album acts as a companion piece to last year's ruminations. npr describes it as a collection of brave, dark songs containing some of his best lyrics and imagery. here he is performing "until saint kicks us out." he did it in our studio. >> ♪ rise and shine, get out of bed get ready for the day get a coffee from the deli and walk the riverbank be careful with your headphones on
when you cross the fdr don't want to be a casualty before you make it to the bar and hide your shakes, and worried face just sit down in the back all your friends got here ahead of you and night is falling fast oh, you know you shouldn't say it so you're thinking it out loud some things we lost are never to be found but if you're gonna talk like that at least buy another round and we can keep drinking till st. dymphna kicks us out ♪
this world is made of blinking lights they're changing all the time but depending who you're talking to it's likely to be fine i watched you go from bad to worse the blues is here to stay but sometimes it's the simple things that make it all okay oh, you don't have to lie, say you're all right we're just happy that you're here but if you yell and tell me to go to hell well at least you'd sound sincere oh, you know it's all a spectacle when you go to take a bow you always did get nervous in a crowd but if you need some company i'll gladly stick around and we can keep drinking till
st. dymphna kicks us out let's get enabled great minds, they think alike i never was a good judge of when to call it a night oh, you don't have to say it so you're thinking it out loud some things go south and they never turn around but if you want a confidant i'd never let you down oh, we can keep drinking till st. dymphna kicks us out we can keep drinking till st. dymphna kicks us out ♪ ♪
charlie: omaha, nebraska. is it folk or is it something else? does it matter what you call it? conor: i do call it folk, i think that's a good term because to me folk music is easy music to play. i never went to school for it. everything i learned is very self taught so i feel like folk music at its core is just that, people playing with whatever instruments they have. and of course back in the day, back on the front porch or whatever. growing up, my friends and stuff were like into punk rock bands and blah, blah, blah but at the heart of it i've always felt like it was about the simple chord progression and the lyrics and the melody, the core of the song, and you can dress it up in different ways with production and bells and whistles but i always hope my songs, when they come down to their simplest form, are still worthwhile. charlie: what do you start with? conor: usually -- sometimes it will be one line or something. a lot of people have thought
that it comes, the lyrics come first but always i get the vocal melody down first so i'll sing into my whatever, little back in the day it was a little dictaphone, now it's the phone. just sing gibberish until i get a melody that's crystalized and then i like to write the words to the melody because i feel like the phrasing and the way you lay the words within the scope of the melody is just as important as the poetry, you know what i mean, so they have to be married in the right way but i always start with the vocal melody. charlie: what do you think they're trying to express? is it your voice? is it the songwriting, when they say the new bob dylan? conor: obviously, there's so many new dylans so stand in line but -- charlie: but they're trying to say something. they hear something.
conor: i always felt that, music journalists, is shorthand for like, you have a lot of words in your songs and sort of the poetry aspect of it is as important as the musical aspect. and i don't know. i feel like, to me, the more i can -- i don't know, find something universal. obviously you're expressing yourself but finding something that, i don't know, just like human experience, i guess, can they relate to it as being a fellow human being on this planet. charlie: are you saying what they feel? conor: i don't know, i'm saying what i feel but the hope of it is -- all of art is communication. you're putting it on a balloon and throwing it in the air and you don't know anybody's going to receive it on the other side but that's the hope. it's out of my control once i put it out there. charlie: what's the difference in this album, "ruminations," and this one, in terms of what
you're trying to accomplish? conor: kind of the way it happened, the ruminations is just me, just me on guitar, piano, harmonica singing all by myself in our studio i have with my friend in omaha so it's bleak. charlie: dark? conor: i suppose so. they're the same songs so -- the second record was the one that i intended to make. i did it with jim kellner, famous, great drummer, plays with everybody. he co-produced with me. charlie: including neil young. conor: neil young, yeah, john lennon, bobby d, everybody. he's an amazing person and was a big part of that record so that was the record i set out to make, the "salutations" but the label i'm on kind of fell in love with the demos i had made in omaha and so they convinced me to put out this demo versions
first so that came out last october and then the new record came out in spring. charlie: what are you backed up with here? conor: on the record it's jim kellner on the drums and this great band from upstate new york called the fleece brothers who are an amazing band who play all the other instruments so it's accordion, violin, piano, guitar, bass, drums. yeah, it's a good group. charlie: there's a time you went back to omaha. for what purpose? conor: you know, i always had one foot in, one foot out. i had, like, with my friend, mike mogles, who played in bright eyes, my old band with me, we built a studio and our houses were conjoined so we had a studio thing going on. i never fully left. but i live in new york for 13 years and a couple of years ago i finally had to -- they finally priced me out of the village. they don't want folk singers down there anymore, so --
charlie: did that do something for you to go back to where your roots are? conor: my relationship as i'm sure with a lot of people's home towns is complicated. definitely it shaped me and there's a lot of people i love there and a lot of great things that i think are worthwhile but at its heart, it's a very, you know, politically, it's like abysmal. for my taste, they have their priorities like all backwards and some aspects of it are hard to live with but i try to focus on the good things. i like the house and my friends and my dogs. charlie: you mentioned politics. you're also well known because of the fact that you don't hide your politics? conor: sure, i'm the classic flaming, bleeding hearted liberal that everyone hates, you know. but no, i don't care. i never felt like -- i don't
think as an artist you should feel obligated to put your politics into your music but if you're compelled to, i just think people get a lot of grief, like, oh, it's the hollywood elite telling us what to do or who's this musician telling us, what does his opinion matter? but i always felt like if you're an artist, that doesn't mean you surrender your rights as a citizen and if you have a platform to express yourself, do it, if you're compelled to. you don't have to but for me there's been times i was compelled to. charlie: some say these are the same people showing up at town meetings and expressing their own opinions very sharply. conor: yeah, we need -- we need everyone's opinions but more than anything right now the scariest thing to me is the lack of agreement on reality. like there's no agreement. charlie: and on facts. conor: yes, like empirical evidence is no longer important.
it blows my mind, how can you just disregard for science and -- yeah, just facts. and now anything goes so we're swirling in this mist of like i don't know, misunderstandings. charlie: what represents that best in this album? conor: song-wise, i don't know. i think it's layered through there. a lot of my songs, they'll kind of be like simultaneously personal but also have some, i don't know political or social commentary aspect to them kind of interwoven. i've written a few songs that are overtly political, more like this is a commercial for the way i feel. but my favorite kind of writing incorporates both of those -- like the personal and the world view together because i think that's more accurate to the experience of being a person. like you're going through your
inner world but you're also living -- you're living in the wider world which is just multitudes of different ideas that you're getting bombarded with all the time. charlie: you are on your way to europe? conor: going to europe next week. finishing up this leg of the u.s. tour and i'll be over there. charlie: are the audiences different? do they respond differently? or are these songs that come from deep inside of you and people can feel it because the reason they're there is that they identify with something in your song? conor: yes, there are differences with audiences as far as how much they listen versus party. i guess the biggest striking example would be like the kind of stadium festival, like u.k. guys are all clapping the whole time and if you go to japan,
they're like -- golf claps and really listen. i've always been amazed with my music that people, because of their education systems, they learn english as children but i'm always amazed when we'll be far away in some other country and people want to come because my music is so word centric, it's not like you can really dance to it that often. so i'm amazed when people connect, in a second language, connect with the lyrics. i think that's cool. charlie: this was recorded at shangrila studios in los angeles. conor: rick rubens owns it. charlie: you seem like you're connected to the outside world but at the same time you have a take-it-as-it-comes attitude. conor: i've always felt sort of lucky with my career which is like i never really -- charlie: set out to do
something? conor: i never really got that famous or got into a position where there was like -- and of course there are some pressures but basically i've always kind of -- we started off in omaha with our own record label and we did that for years and kind of always done stuff like -- every little milestone was celebrated like this is great. it was the opposite of like an overnight success. so i felt like i'm lucky that i feel like because it's been so slow and even if it plateaus into just, i can keep -- to me, longevity is more important than at this point for sure than like record sales or anything else you're going to do. i hope to be still writing songs and making records and playing for people. i'm 37. so i hope, i look up to guys like -- charlie: rolling stones. conor: bruce or neil or any of those guys. if you can still be doing this stuff.
charlie: in their 70's? conor: that would be the ultimate goal. knock on your famous wooden table. charlie: thank you for coming. conor: so great to talk to you. i really appreciate it so much. charlie: conor oberst, thank you for joining us. see you next time. ♪ >> ♪ just because you got it you don't have to flaunt it with an endless stream of famous men pretty as a portrait