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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  November 25, 2009 5:00pm-6:53pm EST

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and two come after the revolution. one is a embassy hostage crisis. one is the crisis involving the american hostage in lebanon and evolved in that of course was the whole iran contra affair. :
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what can we learn from these lessons of the past? i've distilled it down to 14-point, that some people call these limbert's 14 points. some journalists have called it a 14 step program. i think of these as simply ideas. here is some examples of what worked and here are some examples of what didn't work in the past. and these things are not terribly profound or shocking, i think to most of you. things like choose your intermediary and with care. be sure you are talking to the right people. don't get tangled up in
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legalisms, beware of the influence of history, and all of these things. but i should make also clear that this program comes with a disclaimer. it comes with no guarantees. you may do all of these things that i suggest and still make no progress. you can still fail. and why is that? well, the problem is that between our two countries, 30 years after the embassy takeover, 30 years after those events and almost 30 years after the formal break in relation of hostility and suspicion still run very deep and they ran deep
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on both sides. and let's look at this -- i want to look at this for a second and just show you how this works and how to sides continue to look at each other and how this mutual suspicion and mutual animosity of -- gets in the way of making any progress of getting out of this 30 year downward spiral. that's a phrase that the late richard qaeda a pittsburgh specialist used to use in this downward spiral in relations. you have on one side the iranian view. and i typify that in many famous rhetorical question that ayatollah khamenei opposed.
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with relations with the united states, his reply was, what for? what does the will have to negotiate with the sheep? in other words, they are the sheep, we are the wall. they are not interested in meeting and equitable and fair agreement. they are interested in eating us, or if not liberally, humiliating us. and now a on a view -- his view of history. but it became a reason, based on mistrust, became a reason for continuing the estrangement. now, interestingly enough on the american side, you find
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something similar. you find the view, and if you think this is -- if you think this is dead and spirit you are wrong. i can tell you this view is alive and well. i've encountered it recently as last week -- as last week. the view is that one could never have successful negotiation with iranian leaders who do and say what the current leaders of iran do and say. because they are too fanatical, to xenophobic, too suspicious, and too untrustworthy to deal with. so let's turn to a statement on its head and what we get out, while we get is what do the
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rational have to negotiate with the crazy? and you can see a certain, if you detect a certain you're imaging here, i don't think you are far off. so how do you get out of it lacks how do you get out of the downward spiral? well, in my book, i take as my starting point wonderful advice from the 13th century poet, a native of shiraz. and side he was talking about something very contemporary i think. he said, whoever you see in the rope of an aesthetic, consider that person an aesthetic and a man of virtue. in other words, watch out for
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the preconception. watch out for the negative assumption. that person may be a hypocrite. he may be untrustworthy, but until you know, consider him to be what he presents himself to be. and i was reminded to this, very interesting connection here. back in january, when president obama gave his first interview, you remember this interview he gave to el baradei after he was sworn into president. one of the things he said was, we need to put aside preconceptions and assumptions. he wasn't talking about iran specifically. he was talking more about arab-israeli yesteryears. this certainly applied to iran.
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because if you go into an encounter with iran, assuming that day, the other side, are simply too stubborn, to her rational, and too unreasonable, then i would say you will fail and you will feel for certain. now, it's interesting to me that you could ask the question, i ask myself when president obama said this in january, was he aware of -- did he know about the poetry? he might because to months later when he addressed the iranian people on the occasion of their new year, she quoted him, a different poem, a different verse, but there it was.
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so, let me end this way. and you are getting out of this 30 year impasse, getting out of what i call 30 years of utility country and futility is going to take a paradox, some type of mental paradox. we have to think almost two contradictory ways at the same time. we are going to need patience and realistic expectation on one side. but on the other side, we are going to meet high expectations. we have to be demanding. we call it to be patient and demanding at the same time. because on the patient's side,
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we may have to define our measures of progress in a very special way. progress may not mean resolving a nuclear issue, for example, in one week. progress may mean something much less than that. symbolic, something not said. a change of tone, a handshake, something simple as a handshake. but that -- given what's gone over the last 30 years, in my view, represents a change and would represent a positive change. this is not going to be easy i should say. let me quote, i think it was one of our good colleagues, ryan crocker, when talking about iraq he said that everything takes
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longer than you think. everything is harder than you think. and somewhere, somehow, someone will come along and screw it up. well, he was talking about iran. i think that probably applies three or four times. and we've seen it -- we've seen it all the way back to 1979, we have the javits revolution. we have the assets of evil speech. we had rhetoric about the holocaust. we had -- and its aftermath. so there are going to be diversions. there are going to be setbacks and when i say patients, that's where you're going to need patience. now on the demanding side, here
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is where you have to keep your expectations high. otherwise, you follow the to your own low expectations, to your own negative preconceptions if you go into an encounter, and i don't care whether you're dealing with iran or anyone else, assuming that you will fit this -- that you will fail because of the failures of the other side and the shortcomings of the other side, then you will fail, it is certain. however, if you assume that success, however modestly defined it, that thing i said, that change of tone is possible, then you may be presently surprised by what you actually can achieve.
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let me thank many who have helped with this project, many of the people here in this room house in ways maybe they are not aware of have helped a great deal with this project and may find their ideas shamelessly reproduced in the book. so once again, thank you for your attention and i look forward to your questions. [applause] >> thank you very much ambassador limbert. because with so much media here today, and we will open up the river questions. i think maybe two or three at a time. and let's start with the media. any questions from the media? please state your name and affiliation. >> i have a question regarding
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the issues that are outstanding in the u.s. and iran. some people speak of a grand bargain and some people say we have to do it one issue at a time. how do you see it developing? >> thanks. ambassador limbert, at what point do you say enough is enough? >> could you clarify that question a little bit? there are many ways of reading not. >> one you've gone through your 14 points and your affiliations
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and patience, do you have to set your expectations high? >> hi, alex. the urgency now [inaudible] i would be interested to know how profound is iran's ambitions? >> are you in the press? >> i am from south america. we have ahmadinejad in good deal today and i want to know if this is a message to the u.s. that ahmadinejad can talk to other leaders of what the problem is
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here. >> will take the answer. >> okay, let me try that. attempts for your question at grand bargains, up until now hasn't worked too well. again, it's that suspicion, in the barriers of suspicion are just too high. when one side has come forward, the other side is drawn back. the u.s. made what i thought was a very reasonable offer back in 1999, 2000, in the last years of the clinton administration when secretary albright talked about a roadmap to better relations with no preconditions. and the iranians turned it down and most observers, non-american
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observer is basically said the iranians blew it. this was a good opportunity and they couldn't do it. in 2003, we have the same thing from the other -- from the other direction. i mean, it's a good idea. you can get all of these issues, all of these issues out there, but it may be too hard to do. so maybe it's those -- or at least, if not one at a time, at least dealing with them somehow individually, all though you can do it simultaneously. the problem has been that when we have made progress on certain issues, such as we did in 2001 and early 2002 on afghanistan.
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or as we did in the late 90's when we were exchanging a lot of scholars and journalists and athletes and travel and tourist and travel became much easier and things looked promising. up until now, those efforts haven't gone anywhere. they have been -- they haven't led to any broader engagements. but i still think the grand bargain would be a great thing if we could do it. but it may just be too hard to do. to answer you, a persian, when is enough enough? i think you're going to need a lot of patience. if it's worth it, you know, and i think from what i read and what i hear, this administration
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has decided that it is worth it. and knows that will take a lot of patience. again, 30 years of suspicion, 30 years of trading insults, 30 years of name calling, sometimes going on just beyond rhetoric. that is tough to overcome. but, you know, if you bump your chest for 30 years, what do you get? you are going to get a sore chest. so, i personally, i personally think it is worth it. we need a lot of patience. now, when the throw up your hands? hypothetically there may be some point out there when that
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happens, but i think it's going to take a lot of patience. let me just give one example first that i was affected by personally. and that was the deal that former secretary warren christopher was actually deputy secretary at the time. the deal that he negotiated through the algerians to get the germans and then the algerians to get us out of tehran. if you read the accounts and i talk about this in the book, there are much more detailed account that he himself and others have written. by september of 1980, the deal was done. he had met with an authoritative iranian counterpartin germany.
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each side was laid out its conditions. there were no deal breakers in it. especially the deal was ready to be made. it took from september to january of the next year, so about four months to actually work the deal -- berkeley deal. and there were times that i understand at least the american side was ready to throw off its hands and say we'll never get this done. and it was the algerian intermediaries that kept coming back and say no, keep out of it. keep doing it. it's a little bit like i said about your assumptions and preconceptions. if you go on with the assumption that this will never work, this will never work, then it
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probably won't. let's see. okay, the question about brazil. ahmadinejad in brazil. one of the features, it seems to me of the islamic republic since its inception has been a certain amount of diplomatic ineptitude. that's a very early on, from the very early. they have made enemies gratuitously. people who didn't want to be their enemies, but were often provoked into being enemies. as a result, they've had a hard time finding friends, which is a
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little surprising given all the money that they have. but there it is. and so from time to time you'll see sort of diplomatic charm, diplomatic charm offensive is where there are go out and say we need to establish this kind of relationship and yes we have differences stems and all of these things. but up until now, it seems to me they've had -- and we particularly look at some of their relationships and their neighbors. they had great difficulty continuing that on a consistent basis. so they've gone back and forth between -- and i think it was someone who said -- they have difficulty making up their mind whether they are a state or a cause. and the pendulum keeps coming back and forth. >> abysses from the overflow room.
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i'limbert sorry, repeat it. >> what are iran's nuclear ambitions? i don't know. i don't have that kind of information. i do know that they seem to have strained the issue in terms of national rights and respect. so that what you are dealing with is not so much a question of the technicalities about low enriched uranium, high enriched uranium, which i look forward to learning about in my new job. but a question of what safeguards are national rights? what safeguards our ability to deal with the rest of the world
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as equals? >> will take a couple of questions from the overflow room and then will get back to the press as people can sit in this term. dealing with domestic politics, they were negotiating table. which of the obama administration do, how will domestic iranian politics impacts negotiation? and duke specked the full senate to consider the sanctions legislation that the banking committee passed in the near future and what do you think about that? >> okay. let me ask -- let me answer the first question. one of the first things they taught me is never comment on the work of the legislative branch. they will do what they will do. so, what do i think about it
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whacks i'll fall back on what we always say which is i haven't seen the details of it. so i really can't talk much about it. in this case, it happens to be true. the issue of domestic iranian politics, how that will impact negotiations. obviously, it will. the question about can they -- can they negotiate when they are domestic politics are in turmoil? that's really a question for them, isn't it? for the other side. my watchword on this is if you are going to somehow end the
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estrangement with iran, you are somehow going to get an change the basis of this relationship. if you're going to break the downward spiral, if you wait for a good time, it will never come. it's always going to be a bad time. and you have to keep going. it may make things more difficult. you're going to hear discordant voices, but i go back again to the negotiations that got us out of tehran back in 1981, the domestic political situation at that point was in turmoil. but they struck -- they did strike a deal. in terms of the domestic
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situation itself, that is of course -- i can always fall back on the words of the analysts like berkey and opaque, but one thing is clear. that the system that's been in place for about dirty years, where you have a ruling meant the club of about 25 senior people, these people include names that are familiar to i think most people here. people like khamenei himself. and these people have been important since night in 79. and have remained the core elite of the islamic republic as
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others came and went, came and went. two things are happening to that group. one, to quote the scholar he said their average age is now deceased. [laughter] they are getting old. they are departing, but more important the consensus which has existed among this group is breaking down. and among bees insiders on his cohesion allowed the islamic republic to survive some horrific shock, such as the iran-iraq war, such as the fall in oil prices back in the 80's, such as some of the economic mismanagement that happened. that consensus seems to be breaking down.
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and something different is coming out of it and it's hard to tell what, but it seems to be now, instead of this ruling mends clad wall knew each other very well, many of them were related. they've been to school together, they been in prison together. the system seems to be reverting to an earlier model of rule by the gun and rule by force. and it's ironic that some of the features that you see emerging now are reminiscent of what you saw were the base of popular support in the base of elite support was very narrow, but with the instruments coercion in
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the hands of the government, they held on. >> let's follow up with some questions about how to deal with this regime. you referred to the iranian regime. [inaudible] in the wake of the demonstrations after the elections last summer, the obama administration's response was low key to avoid claims by the iranian regime that they had instigated tiered and other reformers are calling for more open u.s. support. is this a good thing in what is exactly what the u.s. should do >> okay. two questions then. do you see distinct approaches
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for the u.s.? let me step back from that question. there were distinct approaches from the u.s. by ahmadinejad and khamenei. i'limbert not sure if it's one of the 14-point in here or not, but it should be. and that is you have to be really careful as an outsider of trying to gain the iranian system. and saying well, this person is on top so we'll talk to him. or that are sent seems to be on the skid, so we've all talked to that person. that one thing -- we're just not good enough at that. i'limbert reminded of some advice i got was a foreign service officer when they said dealing with the u.s. military
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they talk about opaque. they said, never ever second-guess the military's change of command. you'll always get yourself in trouble. find a point of entry and use that. and if this case, it might he maybe we work through our protecting powers, the swiss, maybe we work through mission of the united nations, maybe we meet at some other -- in some other area. but really whatever works. the important point is what delivers. and to second-guess the iranian political center i think is a thoroughly bad idea because you usually get it wrong. at least that's been our record
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over 30 years. i'll take some questions from the press. >> yes, joyce. ambassador, i wanted to ask you about the regional situation in the middle east. maybe with increasing sectarian divide, in the advance in yemen, iraq, and lebanon, where it is these negotiations with iran and how much does that accomplish as the obama administration? >> mr. ambassador, do you think the subject of human rights should be included?
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>> dur talk discusses bilateral relations. however, it has been multilateral for many years. number two, there are actors that have interest that are not part of it. so how do you factor that in as well? >> jazz, particularly with respect to afghanistan, both positive and negative and how does that factor into a negotiation in the used negotiations? >> okay. let's see how we do this. the question you ask about the
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sunni shia issues it's easy for me to get back to this pendulum swing we talked about between state and cause and which one prevailed. it's very clear to me that the priority for the islamic republic in the last 30 years has been at survival. and it will do what needs to be done to survive. and particularly, the leaders will do what they need to do to survive politically. so for example, there are things out there that don't correspond directly to some ideological construct, such as and we looked at iranian relations with the
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only other shia country in the region, which is what? not very good. who is its greatest friend among its neighbors? armenia. christian armenia. this shows a survival instinct that goes beyond dairy and issues. having said that, you know, these issues are out there. i mean, the battle at 15 is still yesterday's, still hot news out there. whatever happened. so these things are there, but they're not always there.
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if you -- if you somehow rest amen and they become your sole point of reference, i think you'll be misled. let's see. question about others -- a figure of a question about israel. >> there are actors that are not part of the negotiations that have a huge stake in the outcome of that. >> of course. of course. everybody is interested. everybody has a view. and i think -- i'limbert sure the iranians are well aware of that as well. it was interesting to me that in the last election campaign in iran, president ahmadinejad came in for some really heavy
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criticism from iranians because of his rhetoric and particularly his rhetoric aimed against israel. it seemed to be -- people seem to be saying, you are not serving the interests of our country very well. this is provocative. this is needlessly provocative and you are going to get us into a conflict that we don't need. so, you know, of course others are interested. and others see this. but again, i would be careful about making a sort of rigid category and say well, the arabs will say we'll never agree with the persians were the turks. we'll never agree with the iranians. i think we are seeing in the
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area a much more complicated picture. and one thing, and other piece of advice i think it is one of my 14 pointsis that in any encounter, you can't lecture -- one of the things we probably should be careful of doing is lecturing the iranians about what their interest are. they know what their interest are. our misreading of their interest in the past has gotten us into serious trouble. if that applies to the iranians, i think it applies across the board as well. [inaudible] >> of course. obviously, and they speak as
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someone whose connections to iran go back 45 years and more, as a scholar, as a teacher, a researcher, as a member -- as a has-been, as a son-in-law, brother-in-law, and it's very clear the iranians deserve better than they have. for a long time they have deserved better than they have. they deserve a government that treats them decently. should it be a matter of negotiations? of course. should he be the only matter of negotiation? i don't think so. i think there are other issues. amy and i hope that we are smart not to deal with more than one issue at a time. and i think we are.
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>> did you want to follow up on your question? [inaudible] okay. >> how that plays into negotiation. >> okay. as i've often done today and maybe you can see sometimes my bias as a historian coming through. i'limbert going to step back from that because iran does have a very specific view of its role in the region and one that certainly other should be aware of and i call this a combination of grandeur and grievance. that's iran, at one time was a superpower. in the monument of that are all over the iranian plateau. i mean, you can see the bactrian
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from afghanistan bringing tribute to the great king. you can see this theory and, the phoenicians, the egyptians, all paying tribute to the great king. you can see -- later you can see another great game receiving the surrender of the roman emperor. i mean, this is a big deal. and i ran was a big deal. unfortunately, for the last 300 years there hasn't been a lot of glory, but there's been a lot of grievance. and you have these sort of two things playing out among -- in what would you call it, in the political culture. yes we wants with the great superpower of the region, but for the last 300 years others have chopped away at it.
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so you look at what the british took, what the russians took and all of these ancient areas, part of afghanistan were once ours. does that mean they want to reconquer and set up a persian empire? i don't think so, but it is out there. and that i think is what you are dealing with. i'll say finally, in persia and very often you. and that i do want to get into it now because i'limbert really not so the way that the iranians
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probably the subject of a there is a question politicians believe in sanctions, what is
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iranians don't like offends i think a sense don't like being put in now there is debate the
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head of the list of what they wanted was importance is that it feeds back into this that will of iranians might be accused of having 1970 the white house in
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was sick and you should admit him. he's been an ally for 20 well, if we we are doing is
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>> he was a phd in the united states, not a physician, but something in the medical field. and i asked him, i say doctor, when ambassador langdon told you about shaw's condition and being admitted only for medical treatment what was your reaction? he said i didn't believe it for a minute. so, yeah, history matters. and it matters sometimes in strange ways. you know, it isn't that you have to know all about who was the
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sustainians. but be acquires that those -- aware that those ghost are in the room. and they will affect affect what happened. i'm not a -- i'm really not a specialist on the hidden questions. what's the relevance of din hod state of belief that the hidden is on the threshold of reappearance? i have to bag off that one. i'm not a specialist in jihadtology or whatever is going to happen. i don't think i would read this as, you know, an apocalyptic
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statement. didn't we had a secretary of the interior a few years ago that says why bother planting trees? because the end of the world is coming. and it won't matter. you know, this is the -- this is an idea. it's an very strong idea. that the hidden is alive, it is in hiding, and will return. not necessarily to end -- at the end of the world. and this is sort of unclear to me. but as i understand it, it's not necessarily the end of the world. but it's to establish justice in the world and to reclaim the usurped rights of the house of the prophet. that is why he is returning. so i would be very careful
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about, you know, saying, well, basically all they want to do is destroy the world. because that will bring, that will he'sen the return. it's a very strong belief. i'm not sure how it cares over into politics. >> i'm sure you got a little bit of work to get back to. thank you so much. >> thank you. thank you very much. [applause] >> coming up on two, next, national endayment for the humanities jim leach from the national press club. after that a speech by the nigerian oil minister. >> president obama had his first
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pardon. he was joined by leah and sasha. this is about eight minutes. >> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states. [applause] >> all right. >> happy thanksgiving, everybody. welcome to the white house. on behalf of a sha and malia, and myself, we're thrilled to see you. i want to thank walter, chairman of the national turkey federation, and joel branden berger. they donated the turkey. his name is courage. he was raised under walter's own precious care. there you go.
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[laughter] walter -- now the national turkey federation has been bringing its finest turkeys to the white house for more than 50 years. i'm told president eisenhower and johnson actually ate their turkeys. you can't fault them for that. that's a good looking bird. president kennedy was even given a turkey with a sign around its neck that said good eating, mr. president. but he showed mercy. and he said, let's keep him going. and 20 years ago, this thanksgiving, the first president bush issued the first presidential pardon for a turkey. today i'm pleased to announce that thanks to the interventions of malia and sasha, courage will also be spared this terrible and
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delicious fate. he'll head to disneyland where he will be the grand marshal of the parade. just in case he can't fulfill his dutiess, carolina is here to be a stand in. we will take two of the less fortune brothers, i want to thank the farm in pennsylvania for donating the birds for dinner. today all told, i believe it's fair to say that we have saved or created four turkeys. [laughter] >> you know, there's certain days that remind me of why i ran for this office. and then there are moments like this where i pardon and turkey
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and send it to disneyland. [laughter] >> but every single day i am thankful for the extraordinary responsibility that the american people have placed in me. i am humbled by the privilege that it is to serve them, and the honor it is to serve as commander in chief in the finest military in the world. i want to wish a happy thanksgiving to every service member at home or in harm's way. we are praying for you. when my family sit around the table tomorrow, we'll take time to give our thanks for many blessings. we also remember this is a time when so many members of the american family are hurting. there's no question this has been a tough year for america. we're at war. our economy is emerging from an extraordinary recession into
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recovery. but there's a long way to go, and a lot of work to do. in more tran jill -- tran tranquil times. when president set aside the national thanksgiving to celebrate the fruitful fields, hopeless skies and the vigor of the american people, it was in the midst of the civil war when the union was most in doubt. so think about that. when times were darkest, president lincoln understand that we should shine brighter than every. we are as ever a people of endless compassion, boundless ingenuity, and limitless strength. we're the heirs of the god given
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beauty. we are americans. and for awful this, we give our humble thanks to our predecessors, to one another, and to god. on this american holiday, as we give thanks to what we've got, let's also give back to those who are less fortunate. as we give thanks to the loved ones, let us remember those who can be with us. as we give thanks to the security, let's in turn thank those who sacrifice to make it possible. before the turkey gets too nervous that it will escape and screw up the pardon or before it change my mind, i hereby pardon courage so that he can live out the rest of his days in peace and tranquilly in disneyland. before behalf of myself, malia,
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sasha, and michelle, i want to wishes the happiest of thanksgiving. thank you, everybody. >> this is the official pardon here. all right. all right. is there an official gesture? courage, you are hereby pardoned. you will live in disneyland. [laughter] all right. >> he's like a large chicken. >> he is like a large chicken. malia's observation. all right. i don't know about the haircut though. well, thank you very much. >> thank you, folks.
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absolutely. hey, guys come on up here. this thanksgiving. you got the get the whole family up here. >> this is millie. >> hey, how are you? good to see you. >> well, that's a good looking bird. how much pounds is the bird? >> about 45. >> this is a 45-pound turkey. that would feed a lot of folks. >> all right. president obama, this is the family that raised the bird. >> well, it's great to see you guys. what did you feed this guy? just the right stuff. all right. no performance enhancing drugs or anything. [laughter] >> all right. thank you very much, everybody. have a happy thanksgiving. [applause]
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>> thank you so much. take care. [inaudible conversations] >> thanksgiving day, bill
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clinton can pregnant steven spielberg the award. also part of a panel assessing the president obama presidency. and from the jfk library on terrorism and nuclear weapons. at five, hip hop artist and actor ludicrous on youth mentoring. and howard dean on the economy and capitalism. thanksgiving day on c-span. >> the national football league announced recently that it would require teams to seek out independent neurologist when evaluating concussion injuries. a shift from recent policy which allowed team doctors to make the diagnosis. the announcement comes as roger goodell appeared earlier this year. at the beginning, they compared the league to tobacco companies when it came to the conflict of interest issue. join us tonight for the second part. it starts at 9:05 eastern on
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c-span. the main topic in washington is health care. the senate debate on the proposal is set. you can watch all of it live on c-span 2. many groups are running ads supporting or opposing health care legislation. here's a look at a couple of them. >> a year from now, i'll break my leg. and my parents will have to sell our house because we couldn't afford health care. three months from now, i'll need surgery. and my parents will go bankrupt. >> two years from now, i'll be diagnosed with leukemia, and i'll die. because we couldn't afford health care. >> there are 8 million uninsured children in america. >> 8 million. >> we all deserve health care.
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>> the democrat committee is responsible for the content. >> saturday night as americans lay down for sleep, moderate democrats lay down their beliefs, sold out their constituents, rolled by pressure from president obama and harry reed. they voted to move forward on a government-run health care bill that our nation does not want, and can't afford. one member sold her vote to the highest bidder. one member sold out his principals. two more lost what little credibility they had on fiscal responsibility, another put the interest of the left of his party before his own state. and another voted one way after saying she was for another. it's no wonder why democrats voted in the dead of night.
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>> more of the tv ads online where you can read the bill and the budget report. the health care hub also have videos of hearings and speeches, as well as the house bill. that's at c-span.org/healthcare. next former iowa congressman jim leach, now chairman of the national endowment for the humanities. last week he talked about multiculturism at the national press club. this is an hour. [inaudible conversations] [gavel] >> good afternoon. welcome to the national press club. i'm donna, i'm a reporter with "usa today" and i'm president of the national press club. we're the world's leading professional organization for journalist. and we're committed to the future of journalism by providing informative
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programming and journalism education and fostering a free press worldwide. for more information, please visit our web site at www.press.org. on behalf of our 3,500 members worldwide, i'd like to welcome our speaker and our guest in the audience today. i'd also like to welcome those of you who are watching us on c-span. we're looking forward to the today's speech. afterwards, i will ask as many questions from the audience as time permits. please hold your applause during the speech so that we have time for as many questions as possible. for our broadcast audience, if you hear applause, it maybe from the guest and members from the general public who attend, and not necessarily from the working press. i'd now like to introduce the head table, and ask them to stand when their names are called. from your right, jonathan from bloomberg, and the past president of the national press club. mary stuart, vice president for
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the external affairs for weta television and radio. matt small, radio producer for associated press. eva, senior advisor to the chairman of the neh. linda st. thomas, director of media relations for the smithsonian institution. carol watson, deputy chairman of the neh. skipping over the podium. melissa of news hook media and vice their of the speechers committee. skipping over our guest for just a moment. andrea stone, senior washington correspondent for a a ol sphere.com and the speakers committee member who organizized today's event. thank you very much. jeremy bernhard, white house liaison, and director of congressional affairs. and finally bob keefe, washington correspondent, and journalist for the constitution.
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[applause] our guest today says he's convinced that the arts and humanities are important in troubled times. as head of the grant making agency supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities, the national endowment for the humanities chairman jim leach has made it his top goal to bridge cultural divides. telling his staff in a town hall meeting that our era is one where, quote, declining statement, increasingly hallmarks domestic politics and where anarchy has taken root in many parts of the world. and he should know a thing or two about declining stability and politics. he spent 30 years on capitol hill. as a republican congressman representing southeast iowa, he was known as a moderate who often bucked his party on issues from embryonic stem cell
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research which he supported to the iran war which he voted against. he is perhaps best known for the graham-leach act which deregulated the banking industry, and ranked just behind the federal banking act. gaming interest opposed him over his fans against internet gambling. in 2008, mr. leech broke with republicans to support obama for president. speaking at the democratic national convention in denver. this summer, president obama nominated mr. leach as the 9th chairman of the national endowment of the humanities. he was sworn in this august, and after a brief stint at the woodrow wilson's school. chairman leach comes to his position with an undergraduate degree, a masters degree, and an
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eight honorary degrees. but perhaps most useful in the rough and tumble of washington politics, he has membership in the national wrestling hall of fame in stillwater, oklahoma. please join me in welcoming neh chairman, jim leach. [applause] >> thank you very much. as chairman of the national endowment for humanities, i speak today to underscore the importance of the humanities at a time the world is in flux and the judgment of its leading democracy is in question. the united states is couragely engaged in military conflict in two countries more than 1/3 of the way around the world.
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each with the different set of problems. our engagement in the middle east was undertaken against a country that was involved in the plot against america, but was mistakingly thought to be on the verge of developing wepons of mass destruction. in making assumptions about the wisdom and manner of intervening in the affairs. would it be helpful for policymakers to review the history of the fresh colonial experience in algeria, the british and russian experience in afghanistan, the french and u.s. experience in vietnam, before rather than after a decision to go to war? would it be useful to study the differences between and within the world's great religions. and would any aspects be relevant to decision making. the asymmetric tactics of francis marion, who attacked the
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best training army at the world at night, and then vanished into swamps during the day. the neh advances cleanup in these and other areas. this is a challenging undertaking because it involves multiple parties, serious scholars, and open-minded public on the other. a monk come templated in the cave maybe admirable. but it is noiseless thought in the forest. likewise, thoughtful scholarship that was available but not pondered who might have limited interest is a prescription for social ere. on the assumption that this is neither a time for scholarring setting nor citizenship, should it not declare that little is
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more costly to society than ignoring or shortchanging the humanityies. at issue today is world struggling on the one hand and localist instincts on the other. divisions are magnified at home, as well as abroad. it is particularly difficult not to be concerned about american public manners in the rhetoric of our politics. words reflect emotion as well as meaning. they clarify or cloud thought, and they energize action. sometimes bringing out the better angels in our nature. sometimes lesser instincts. recent comments in the house floor has gathering much attention. acerses are being made across the land. and few are thinking through the meanings or consequences of the words being used. public officials are being labeled fascist or communist.
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and more bizarrely the public figures have toed with radicalism. the notion of succession. one might ask what problem is there with a bit of hyperbole. the logic is the message. if we lost 400,000 soldiers to the fascism, spent a fortune and lost thousand to hold communism at bay, and fought a civil war to preserve the union, it's a citizens obligation to draw on the humanities to words that contain worrying implications. there is afterall a difference between holding a particular tax or spending or health care view, and asserts that american supports another approach or is a member of a different political party is an advocate that income passes gulags in concentration camps. one twined the ideas. the other enemies.
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the poet walt whitman once described america as an athletic democracy. what we meant was our politics was rugged and vigorous in spirited. nativism, anti-scot lick, and of course toleration of hue degradation, and indentured servitude hallmarked much of america's thought. indeed, violence was part of 19th century political manners. a vice president shot and dead our greatest secretary of treasury for suggests he was dispickable in a duel in which they were fired causing alexander hamilton to fire skyward. moments later, aaron indicated hamilton assessment of his character, beamers lousily gunning down his adversary, who may have been duked. so uncivil behavior is nothing
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new. what is new or transformative changes in communications technology, in american politics. in the issues facing mankind. the impact of new social media constituted the subject much covered by others. so i'd like to devote a few minutes to comments on the changes in american politics in relation to the challenges in the world. in teaching at harvard and princeton upon leaveing congress, i developed a series of two-minute courses in american governments. let he site several. political science 101 beginning with the country over the past generation has been approximately 1/3 democratic, 1/3 republican, and 1/3 independent. one-half of 1/3 is 1/6. so 16th and 2/3 percent of the voters control the election. but because only one in four, often a fraction of this figure
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participate in primaries where the candidates are chosen, it is 1/4 times 1/6 that 1/24 that is the maximum percentage offered by each of the parties. this percent is socially conservative on the republican side and vigorously liberal. hence, legislative bodies intended to respect the vast cross section of the american public increasingly reflect principally the philosophical edges. america is a pragmatic oriented society. for virtually all of our history, citizens have had an aversion to the extremes. yet compounded by recent patterns of redistricting, the senator is vastly under represented in congress today, and in state legislative bodies as well. it hardly has a seat in the legislative table. political science 102, @ degree
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parties are controlled and defined by the party apparatus, i.e. organization, it is impressive that the number of participants in the party organization is the minimum part of 1%. participants are to be respected for giving their time and energy, but it is a mistake to psalm that either of the party organization is reflective of society as a whole and sometimes not even of the majority who vote for candidates in the general election. political science 103 is that in primaries for president republican candidates lean to the right, and then if not nominated scoot to the center in the general election. democrats vice versa. but in congress, the scoot is seldom evident. in approximately 370 of 435 house seats are designed as to be safe from one of the parties. but half of these safe seats are help by republicans and half by democrats. with few exceptions, safe seat
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members must lean to the edges to prevail in primaries, and if nominated in election, have every incentive to refeign firmly positioned far from the center. because the challenge to the career choice is likely to come within the parties uncompromising base. institutional polarization is the inevitable results. psychology 101 relates to the fact that the increasing number of issues of congress are perceived to be of a moral as contrast with the judgmental nature. advocates assume that in an individual in the other side of a moral issue is by implication, advocate advocates immorality. on the left, the problems by those who increase social spending for my cause is the only moral choice, and on the right by those that assume that the moral values by one or another group should be written as the law to bind society as a whole. philosophy 101 is the abscess of
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abstraction. legislation is driven by partisan concern rather than consideration for the motion like the public interest like one the greatest number. idealism is given away to legislative dynamic in which the dominant consideration are how to respond to issues in the party's base constituency, and how to balance the various groups. philosophy 102, there's something about the human condition that wants to be allowed to make governors decisions at levels where citizens may have impact. there's a lot written today about globalism in this century. but this century is also about localism. to adopt to a fast changing world, one must understand both of these phenomenon. the fact that all politics are local, and a corollary that all are affected by international
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offense. they must assume that great power advocacy can necessarily trump the desires of small states to make decisions about their own futures even seeminglier rationallal ones. military science 101. military strategy in the last generation has become increasingly sophisticated with the questions ranging from end game strategies to concern for the sustainability of american public support for policy initiatives. but left out of in depth consideration has been cultural ramifications. such issues include protection of cultural heritage that go beyond the concerns. the lesson of our time that military strategy must conclude consideration of unattended consequences, particularly the aftereffects from the perspective of the society most affected. those in the world that share
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similar cultural traditions. an issue isn't simply whether democracy is better than other methodologies, whether it can be readily imposed from the outside, or whether it was justifiable to seek to advance an individual rights ethic that increases opportunity for women in minority groups. an issuer also is a sobering question on whether good intentions can be counterrer productive, that lead and increase radicalization. and whether progressive transform of any societies more likely to be achieved through other means of intervention. culture is more powerful in the politics of any moment. and surprisingly, capable of standing change disproportionately by firms. so there's no misunderstanding. what i'm suggesting is strategic thinking. opponent is an advocate of
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times. sports 101. they are profound analogies between politics and a sports. they got it right 3/46 a century ago that winning and losing are less important than how the game is played. likewise in politics, the temper and integrity of a political dialogue are more important for the cohesiveness of society than the outcome of any election. the problem in politics is that there are so few rules and no referees. the public must be on the guard and prepared to throw flags when politics overstep the bounds of fairness. just as football players, wrestlers, or members after tennis team compete to win, they also learn to respect their opponents. is it it asking too much for candidates and their supporters to do the same in politics. literature 101 involves a set of four books by the british author. it's in egypt between the first
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and second world wars and the ancient city of alex andrea ya. then it proceeds to describe the same events in the fight each narrative in perspective of other participates. one wonders why read about the same event more than once? the reason is each story is different. the moral is to get a sense of reality, it's necessary to see things from more than one set of eyes. this may apply to interactions in the community in a courtroom or international relations. or what the america does may seem responsible to ourerer spective. but very different from the perspective in the european and in asia. adding eyes illuminates rather than narrows judgment. the reality 101, in the most profound political science observation of the 20th century,
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albert einstein said to split the atom. 9/11 taught us that the thinking must change because of the destructive power, but because of the nature of the small act. violent and social division are rooted in the hate. such thought begins in hearts of the minds 7 individuals as in each of our hearts and minds, and it's our way of thinking to change. reality 102, western civilizations most prothetic poem in the best possible conviction and the worst passionate intensity. aapocalypse may not with the field of study. as a perspective related to values. citizens are various philosophical points.
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and the increased disrespect for the citizens, and invest in the model day government. much of the problem imposed in the fast changing from society, but just so many stabilized elements. the thing is neither politic is important. we use rhetoric in the country. candidates may prevail by carrying down. if elected they cannot then unite an angered citizen. negativivity raised the temper level just as it described the society. they have often been, but what is so compounded about today's politics the american political tradition. historically, legislating the decision making is the base that might be described as the give and take between the parties. this is being one parties perspective, and the others on the legislation to accommodate
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each. over the last several decades, the trend is developed for more precisely to become a century. more exciting compromising are being made within whatever party is ruling congress. as the majority party reviews themselves as the vehicle on the legislative governments, the majority system help more than the european parliament as the opposition. and vice versa. for better it would be for all legislation to consider themselves responsible for government, and for both sides to recognize that others have on the side that they couldn't. the society is complicated as far as they become, it iser rationallal to think that republicans cannot find in society, and the democrats cannot in the time with republicans. unlike physics where they pointed out that action equals reaction, the social chemistry, reaction can be greater than action. name calling in the kindergarten
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fight can lead to disheartening attitudes and sometimes physical responses. hence, civil dispute is about more than good manners. to label someone a communist may spark unspeakable acts to. to call a country evil may get a dangerous reaction. how we lead or fail to lead would be directed in how he comprehend the own history and values and how deeply we have come to understand and respect other people's thoughts about society. citizenship is hard. it's takes willingness to listen, watch, read, and thinking in ways that the alo the imagination from one person in the shoes of another. in this context, i proposed at the neh to initiate the bridging cultures program aimed at enlarging our understanding of americans diverse cultural heritage, and the history by which the art of other societies. i've also determined to commence
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the 50 states tour. not to express judgment on any issues today, but simply to try to make clear the courses in public manners that can jeopardize the social cohesion. civilization requires stability. justs the attitude can jeopardize even public safety. healing approached such as lincoln's call for the new direction can uplift and help bring society in the role closer together. little is more important if the leading democracy in the change impressive than to establish a thoughtfulness and decency of expression in the public square. if we don't try to understand and respect others, how can we respect them to respect us, our values, and our way of life. thank you. [applause]
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>> i heard an uh-oh there. we have lots of questions. so let me start with a few general questions about humanity. what do you think of the overall state of the humanities as you begin your tenure? >> well, there are many ways to look at it. it leads almost every field. absolutely impressive. on the other hand, in many ways, the future is quite positive. you are seeing at colleges and universities that cut back on student enrollments and college and university support. at the federal level, neh,
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represents 1% of the federal spending. our particular budget is the main brunt of the humanities effort. it's a significant one. peak in real dollar terms in 1979. there were barely more than a few than. and in actual dollar terms, i think in 1994. and so in terms of spending, we are seeing crunch in the whole series of directions prior to these schools that are turns towards what appeared to be job centric. the universities of both state support and private foundation support on the track. and the federal government is not picking up the pieces. as it -- at a significant level. and so the humanities are in
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some jeopardy. and so the challenge is to look at priorities. and then to ask the question. are the humanities more important trying time for less important? or the arts more important in trying times? in the great depression, the highest percent was devoted to the arts than it is today. and there was an understanding in that era that people needed to try to comprehend what was happening around them. and they wanted to record what was happening around them. today i think we need to look back a little bit more in their own history. and also recognize that all government programs are possible. but there are few things more possibly than not to pay attention to the humanities. and that doesn't mean that the
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institutional framework like the neh is the be all and end all. it is not. but it is a symbolic and significant role player in the whole area of humanityies. >> we have heard a great deal about the math and science in our youth. what is your assessment of our cultural literacy in humanities, and what is neh's role in promoting humanities importance? >> well, we have a traditional role to support the research particularly in history, literature, and philosophy. that is exclusive nit abstract academic area. we are a component. we have wonderful state humanities counsels that are really getting out and talking to publics in very profound ways. some of these efforts have clearly several of the initiatives that i spoke about earlier in my talk.
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but i'm getting more and more impressed with the education that we make a mistake simply to think at higher levels of the learning really beginning young. and so we have seen some aspects of the broad humanities downgraded in the new approach to testing. and one of the great questions is how you broaden circumstances, recognizing that some of these issues are very wise. and so how do you infuse with the three rs, creative dimension which can come in many different directions. some of which might be considered the arts, some of which might be considered find of more philosophical,
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historical, literary approaches to learning. and my personal belief is that this is something that's a challenge at the college level, it's a challenge at the high school level, and the grade and middle shall level. we have to look at all of these things. from the point of view of my kind of institution, if we can play a very modest role in all of these efforts. but we cannot realistically size up the way other government agencies might have more resources to do. we can set models in place, and we can make in a sense issues clear to the public. >> enrollment in history courses is way down in comparison to what it was when you were at princeton. does that worry you? if so, why? >> well, i don't think it's
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imperative that everyone be a history major. by the same token, i do think it's important whether one major is engineering or physics or boyology, -- biology that one gets a sense for the humanities as well. i might prefer a history major. you want to respect how people make their own choices. but i think you also want to make it clear that whatever major, there is a lot to be learned from the humanities. and the great model out there is the greatest physicist of the century, the last serve re, maybe of all centuries, einstein, who used to do experiments that were incredibly
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imaginative. in fact, one the interesting physicses is a very math-based science. that einstein was never considered the most extraordinary mathematician around. in fact, he was considered lesser weight mathematically than many at the top of their field. but no one was a greater imaginist that einstein. what the arts and humanities are all about is stretching the human imagination. now as one looks at physics, one can see how it was helpful to einstein. this is that these times are similar symbolized by change and the acceleration of change. that means that we have an increasing number of circumstances that every family faces that are literally unpress
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precedented. that their grandfathers and grandmothers didn't face. that means to deal with the unprecedented, one has to have an imagination. and it's also helpful to the degree that one can look at others who might have gone through similar circumstances. that's one the things that you get from reading the novel, great literature. but it also to look at the new, you got to have the imagination to figure out how it might affect you. and then you have to have the imagination to imagine what else might be coming. this is an aspect of the humanities. it isn't exactly a discipline. it's an effect of the humanities that i think is incredibly important in our kind of age. >> putting on your professor hat, how did it affect government and politics? >> well, they clearly are.
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just how and in what ways is not all together clear to all of us. what we have done, we can democktized the dress. everybody no with their own handheld instruments can be a purveyor of news. that has never existed before. in some ways, this is incredibly vibrant, incredibly healthy. on the other hand, we appear to be empowering groups to stick with group thought. and it appears that we've also been empowering just by choice of the american public a new approach to given types of media. so when i was young, as many of you were a bit younger, we have three national networks. and then it became four. but all of the networks appear to be the most independent.
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some people don't think too liberal, or whatever. some not liberal enough. but they tried to be mainstream. now you have a sense that a group has said part of america's public is quite conservative. we're going to direct our news with the conservative bias. other have chosen a liberal bias. other have chosen to try to stay in the center. and others have choicen, and this has been missed a bit. maybe torr fair. we'll have listen represent the left and right. we're being fair. but actually, there may not be fairness in that. because there's a center that doesn't quite identify with the left or the right. and so you have these boundaries that the press is dealing with. we all know there has been studies now for a newspaper media, how it can be saved. i happen to be one that things the american newspapers has done a great deal for the country.
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historically, and that in many ways, and i'm going to say something that's going to surprise you, if you take the best writers and journalist, one the things that happened over the last 30 years is that the best and the brightest in journalism were probably more able with a greater sense of perspective than anymore anyone in the legislative electoral politics. and so you have the press get ahead of reporters on political action. and they became more sophisticated. whether you think of tom friedman, a whole spectrum of people have been extraordinary. you read the editorial page of the newspapers that people like to make fun of it. it is astonishing what thoughtfulness p goes into the writing. if we lose that, it's very often for societies at whole. that doesn't mean that somewhere
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on internet you also don't get extraordinary things. and there are sites that developing that are terrific. in fact, there's access to every perspective in the world, internet, and that has to be respected. but the break down of the thought that tries to be represented of the center, and then tries to have some per spect of of the right and left. and i think it would be a great loss of society. >> what responsibility, if any, do cable tv host, radio talkers, and others like frank and roger have in regard to the nature of this course that affected the public debate? >> well, i think the cable shows
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have become democratic in the sense that they've looked at constituency. and they are trying to appeal. and also beyond that, that we sometimes forget that there can be great truth in a very conservative perfective. and sometimes great truth in a great liberal perspective. one makes a mistake to say that this is all bad. now to the degree that some people are using news as a entertainment. and as a appeal to constituency rather than the appeal to set of ideas. one might have asked, but i have a great deal of respect for great thinkers. great liberal thinkers. in fact, on capitol hill, i used to tell my wife, i held an
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extremely high regard some on the left, right, and center, and maybe less high regard. but the same is true in the press. there has been wonderful conservative columns, wonderful liberal columns, and wonderful people trying to put it all together. and david brooks for example. so the challenge is to have as many techniques as possible to get as much information to the public. and then hope that the public will look at more than one source. >> how do you win over those who question the funding of the neh and the nea during these difficult economic times? >> well, simply by asking the question. is it more important to think through the times or to put one's head in the sand? and when you talk about what the
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costly aspects of our budget today, might they have been less costly if we brought greater wisdom to bare on given points in time. and the same applied to the future. >> okay. i realize we're not at 1779, but the neh got a big bing increase. how are you spend it? >> well, we received, and we are very grateful to the congress and the president for proposing it, about 8.5% increase. we will spend it carefully. and one aspect of neh that i am exceptionally proud of, because it's of different than virtually all other parts of the government, with a couple of exceptions, one being the national health and science foundation and a center organization. we make the most of our funding decisions based on pure review. that means we bring in the best
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and the brightest in the country to make decisions about proposals. now and how you design the impact of these proposals, or how much in one category, that becomes a judgmental mix. that is why i am stresses that we ought to be looking at the importance of american society receive what i'm calling urgent cultures. but it in effect meaning understanding our own mosaic of subcultures as well as the cultures of other societies. [no audio] >> and imperative religion studies, the importance of history and just dramatic today. we in america like to think of ourself as very pragmatic. which means that we like to
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balance thoughts before we reach the decision. much of the world thinks historically. i think by historical knowledge, and not to understand how they think, means that we can't interrelate very well with them. in a world that is increasingly international, whether we all like all of the developments are not, we're going to have to do a better job of understanding the world. and frankly, i think a better job of understanding ourselves. >> the chairman of your center agency, over there, the nea, has announced art works initiative. do you see a humanities works counterpart. >> i'm very respective of his initiative. we do the same thing, although we don't exactly use the same set of references. and so we each are coining
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approaches with the given time that vocabulary. but that vocabulary is aimed at the same kinds of names. >> how specifically with the tour convince people that it can jeopardize social cohesion? >> well, i can't predict. all i can do is suggest efforts. but i do think the how the american civil society is often more important than the what. >> what are your plans for the we the people initiative, the main initiative of your predecessor? >> sometimes in governments there's a switch in parties. people like to think the predecessor is lacking. i succeeded a fine chairman. in fact, neh has had a tradition
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of great truth. and chairman cole advanced the we the people initiative. and i have a great deal of respect for that. the initiative is really aimed at trying to put out to america a greater sense of our own culture. and doing it with some very innovative ways. one being a program called picturing america. which is looking at some of the great american paintings and other art work as kind of a -- as items in and of themselves. and items that can be used to advance history itself. the painting called the midnight
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ride of paul re veer. but it's a painting loaded with human and historical meaning. and from that painting, you can lead a discussion and a history class of the meaning of a moment in history. and what is important about that moment? and what relevance it has to a student in the class in idaho or iowa or new york city today. >> a recent news story reported on t-shirts called for the death of president obama and siting scripture. what do you think should be done about this? >> there's nothing more dangerous than hate speech. i can't think of anything more than devastating to society than an act that would be of the nature it implied. and all i can say that people have to come together and
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recognize we're all one team. one people. i sometimes use sports analogies, which sounds very trivial in comparison with the issue that was just laid on the table. but i am a great advocate of the university of iowa hawkeyes. they had a great season. the team operated as a team. and they respected the rivals. and the rivaled respected them. all competition that sets the model that politics should follow. i don't simply mean an elected legislator or member of a executive branch at the state level. but the notion that all of us is part of a national politic ought
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to be very competitive in advance all of our convictions vigorously. but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't respect the other side, listen to the other side, that's what people do in sports. i sometimes think the great models of leadership today are the great coaches. whether it's joe paterno or kirk

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