tv Book Discussion on On His Own Terms CSPAN January 1, 2015 3:00pm-4:16pm EST
savannah, georgia. then on march 14 and 15, it's the seventh annual tucson festival of books hosted by the university of arizona. the following week the virginia festival of the book is in charlottesville, virginia. and from march 25th-29th the city of new orleans will host the tennessee williams literary festival. let us know about book fairs and festivals in your area and we'll add them to our list. e-mail us as firstname.lastname@example.org. .. >> historian richard north tan smith recounsel thursday life and political career of nelson rockefeller elm the author recalls rockefeller's upbringing his four terms as governor of new york and his national political amibitions which resulted in his tenure as vice president from 1974 to 1977. this hour and 15-minute program is next on booktv.
>> good evening. i'm tom putnam director of the john f. kennedy presidential library and museum, and on behalf of the kenibrar and my of the ceo of the kennedy library thank foundation and all of my all library and foundation collects and i thank you for coming. welcome all those watching on c-span. and acknowledge the generous underwriters of the kennedyth library forum lead sponsor bank of america, raytheon, bostonion, an our capital, the boston foundation and our mediart partners "the boston globe," viacom. - x you are for me with the story.it's th the late 1950s idential candidate scion to fortune, one-man force field of celebrity good look and charms, fresh all victory in his home state in the middle east and impatient under president eisenhower itching to get the country moving again and encountering his main
impediment to the white house in the form of richard m. nixon. the description applies to john f. kennedy also fits nelson a. rockefeller. the resemblance is more uncanny when comparing their interests in the arts environmenty, future of lattin america and their mutual belief in government action to improve working conditions-advance civil rights and promote number deer disarmament. i'm not interested in what i can't do rockefeller said to his aides. i want to do what want to do and it's your job to tell me. governor rockefeller comes to life in this book. no stranger to presidential libraries he has directed five teaches at george mason university, commentator on the news hour on pbs and the inhouse
historian on c-span, always a mother to he hum on our stage. mr. smith opens his book, copies of which are in the book store, capturing the compelling drama of rockefeller's courageous address against foe force 0s of extremism at the republican congress venges -- convention in 1946. one of our panelist, his nephew, was there count bassy once introduced his friend, governor rockefeller as, quote rich enough to air condition a cotton field. and in dining a national sense of purpose nelson rockefeller believed his country like his family must justify its riches through good work and the sharing of wealth. larry rockefeller followed his family's long and proud history of dedication to important causes inch his case as an accompliced environmental lawyer. he also lived and worked in harlem for several years with the vista program and served as
an army vivist in the vietnam era during which time he was mobilized by the president, not for war overseas but for the great new york postal strike of 1970. finding himself one day personally delivering the mail to the rockefeller family offices. i learn from this new book that under nelson rockefeller the state of new york spent more on fighting water pollution thon the federal government spent nationwide. this reminded me of one of this commonwealth's crusading republican governors who believed in the government's able to do good and protect our environment. he was re-elected by the largest margin in massachusetts history. since the reference is clean water thought it appropriate to remind the audience of governor wells' acknowledge to make campaigns fun at captured by this photo of his impromptu dive into the charles river during a press conference to tout the state's environmental
progress under his watch. it's an honor to have you here with us this evening governor. we have dry towels at the ready if the harbor looks enticing on your way out the door. our moderator is former editor of the times book review, biographer of whitaker change. he admits to certain super city,s including refusing to watch his favorite football people, the new york jets, on tv because whenever he does they lose. i notice they next play the patriots on december 21st. we help he'll tune in. a native of massachusetts, richard north tan smith attended the g.o.p. convention in 1968 in miami as in his words, quote, an annoyingly precocious 14-year-old. his hopes to aid his chosen candidate nelson rockefeller, pull off an upset and garner the
presidential nomination withdashboard by richard m. mixon. these defeats did little to defer nelson rock ferrer over time. a man mr. smith describes as someone who never saw a problem he didn't not want to resolve or a vacant lot he did not want to build on. until just recently there was the equivalent of vacant lot within the political biography shelves covering mid 20th 20th century u.s. history. richard norton smith has now filled if with a bang that is as magnificent as the life it describes, akin to a stunning, a czech tyler mast e arerpiece candid and captivating like nelson rockefeller. please join in the welcoming to the kennedy library richard norton smith. [applause]
>> we can all go home now. >> tonight we have a great biographer, a great statesman and a rockefeller. that a pretty good combination. let's start with a key moment for those of you who have not yet read richard's terrific biography of nelson rockefeller. it bins with a prolog, and it's a risky thing to do sometimes indicates a lack of confidence in your material. but in this case it actually shows that richard has a big argument to make, and it's really about the past the present, the identity and the future of the republican party in the ute, and it appears with this crucial moment the 1964 republican convention national convention, in san francisco the cow palace the year that barry goldwater, the sun belt
conservative from arizona received the nomination over nelson rockefeller and fill us in on what happened, what rockefeller's moment that was so defining. >> first of all there was no doubt about the outcome of that convention. no one ever imagined anyone other than barry goldwater would be nominated, any platform in any way unacceptable to goldwater and his follower wood be adopted. it was almost a formality. but nelson rockefeller as was his want, didn't go on with the formality. the governor bill scranton, the other candidate who got into the race at the last minute. >> from pennsylvania. >> from pennsylvania, recently deceased. sadly. great guy. great governor. his detractors muck him as hamlick of harrisburg in any event he decided to run at the
last minute because like governor rockefeller, he was appalled by senator gold water's opposition to that year's civil rights bill. that is a large part of the background. barry goldwater to be fair was no racist. on the contrary he had been a leader in arizona in integrating the national guard and his own family's department stores. but his brand of what i call sage brush libertarianism took acceptance to the idea of the government niksch government in effect telling private individuals whom you had to associate with or sell to. the '64 convention is about something. about big ideas, about a fish fissure in the republican party going back to teddy roosevelt and william howard taft. the geographical -- the dominance of the south and west,
which we today take for granted at the expense of the old eastern establishment and all -- so you had this perfect clash set up, it and is was personified in one man. nelson rockefeller who was the face of everything that those southern and western conservatives hated -- not too strong a word. they felt that their party, the old bob taft party, had been repeatedly jobbed out of the presidency by people like wendell wilkey, and thomas dewey and yes, dwight eisenhower and here's nelson rockefeller knowing he doesn't have the votes knowing it can only hurt goldwater in the fall, but nevertheless, standing up to make a five-minute speech on national tv, denouncing political extremism. which he specifies as the american communist party the klu klux klan and the john
birch society, at the mention of which the place erupts. there are a lot of birchers there a lot of would-be birchers there theological bertschers if not necessarily formal members and it's a moment i would argue rarely in american history is a moment of transforming change. the place went on and on and on. booing him. he understood instinctively -- and more to the point, the goldwater leaders understood oh my god, this is extremism. this -- we are making the argument we're confirming rockefeller's worst allegations in a way that lyndon johnson and the democrats never could. arguably goldwater never recovered from that moment but he did win. he formalized his victory.
the next morning i would argue, the republican party was forever changed. and in many ways it is almost also foreshadowing of even the tea party movement today. i mean, libertarianism, profound philosophical and emotional antipathy toward government distrust of government which in the last 50 years on the left and on the right, has had no shortage of evidence to back it up. so larry rockefeller, you were there that day. that night when nelson rockefeller spoke. >> i was and can bear witness it's all true, and i was having been on the campaign trail, both with the candidate and just on my own -- >> now how old were you at that time? >> i was 19. >> you were a college student. >> going through a --
>> a little university up around here. is that right? >> yeah. well, brother bill and i were college classmates in fact, and this is the '60s -- >> worse than that. we were fraternity mates. >> sounds like the establishment to me. >> yes all this sound very establishment. >> so anyhow i had been out there in new hampshire campaigning in oregon and there i was at the cow palace with my aunt, abbey because this extraordinary scene which -- that is television clips don't really convey the volume and animosity and extraordinary anger people standing on their chairs and veins bulging shaking their fists and -- so this went on, and so through some -- said well, your time is
up. but nelson was not going to budge and you could just see the hair on the back of his neck. >> how far were you from him? >> we were up in the stands, but we could see -- >> had a direct line? >> oh, yeah. >> did happy say anything during this? >> well, you know this was so compelling. we were sort of frozen watching this and -- but he was going to say his piece and they could not get him off of there. and then of course the next nice was a goldwater came back and said, well, extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. well, that sort of sealed the deal, only to be tapped by lbjs daisy ad, where a girl was picking pebbles off a daisy
and morphs into a countdown to an atomic bomb going off, and it was to drive home the point you know, extremism is not a good thing to have in the -- in the presidency. so that's my observation. >> i'll have something to say about that. first i want to ask you both before we go to governor wells richard, i think you say in the book that rockefeller loved that complication. he said i'm having the time of my life. and larry, do you remember his being ex-ill rated by this -- exhilarated? >> he was a woman battive guy. someone close to him said to me if he had been born on the lower east side he would have been the best street brawler of anyone. he welcomed a good fight an intellectual fight political
fight and there was something about himif you look at the youtube clips, you can see at some point he gets into the rhythm of this thing. he is taunting them. he understands instinctively that they are playing into his hands and confirming his argument. and you're right he wasn't going to leave before he got his five minutes and wasn't going to leave before he polished off the goldwater movement for 1964. >> larry, did you speak with if afterwards? >> yes. he was really -- >> was he exhilarated by this. >> yes, and he felt he had done the right thing and had and he felt good about it. >> now we go to governor william wells who actually is what is not supposed to have existed after many years ago a very successful, what we'll call moderate or some would say liberal republican. where were you at that moment? 1964. >> i was a clats mate of larry's but far from the cow palace.
probably paying more attention to my duties as the member of the fraternity. i remember reading teddy white's book, "the making of the president" in 1964, the sequel to the famous "making of the president" of 1960, and the part about goldwater started with a searching quote from white and it was true that -- the geographic element here. a lot of parted of the country did feel that the eastern establishment had been too powerful for too long had been hijacking the goods from them. when bill clinton nominated me to go to mcs a ambassador and senator jesse helms thanked my ship it wasn't really because he thought i would be soft on drugs in mexico. it's because he hate everything i stood for and starting with being pro choice and pro gay
rights and worst of all having gone to harvard. thank god uncle nelson didn't go to harvard. >> where did he go to college? >> dartmouth. >> let me mention just a couple of things here before i move on to another point. one is i'm glad larry brought up barry goldwater's famous words when he spoke and said let me remind you that extremism in defense of justice is no vice, and moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue. the interesting thing about those remarks is, if you take them out of the context of that superheated moment they're actually ideas most of us might agree with. for instance if we were looking at the days of naziism or stalinism we would say, or if we're trying to stop the ebola
crisis,'d say maybe we should go as far as we can go. the reason i mention that is i spoke with the author of those words -- anybody know who it was? actually one of the greatest political thinkers of the modern era. harry offfa a student of leo strauss, the political fill of fer and harry jaffa was a liberal republican supported charles percy who changed his mind in this period when the republican party was undergoing a revolution and jaffa sat in on the platform debate, and the word extremism came up. he said over and over again. so he wrote this speech for barry goldwater, and if you take it out of context if you just look at the words on the pain, what jaffa actually wrote was a defense of natural rights at the
political fies ol' fer like leo strauss might express them. the difference was it came at the very supercharged political moment and it's the difference between philosophy and politics. as soon as the word extremism was presented as a virtue, at that moment the republican party became a different thing. >> and you cannot divorce it from the broader context. in 1964 we were less than two years away from having survived the cuban missile crisis. as the republicans met in san francisco there were searches going on in mississippi for murdered civil rights workers from the north. extremism was not an abstraction. we saw it on our tv screens we'd seen it in birmingham with
police dogs and fire hoses and to the extent he was fairly or unfairly tarred with he brush of racism unreliableity. is hipping fer was on the nuclear button. all of those factors came into play. he didn't have to confirm the worst image that people had, and he chose to do so by using professor jaffas words. >> absolutely, and they knew the moment he said it he walked into the trap. let me ask you, governor weld, when we look at politics now, some actually barry goldwater, over time is looked a little better. he was very tolerant because he was a libertarian. he was one of the first -- some will remember when there were the debates about letting gays serve in the military goldwater spoke up actually in defense of
it. it was a kind of libertarianism that's been removed from our politics now. governor weld where is that politics today? when we think about a libertarian movement or an antigovernment politic is this something that has now become destructive to the way our society works? >> i always describe myself in office as governor as a libertarian and i wasn't entirely joking. one reason why i was for lower taxes is because there's something oarssive about taxes and if you can reduce the tax bite, that's pro-citizen and perhaps at the expense of the government but i always used to say there's no such thing as government money. there's only taxpayer money. at the same time on the social issues i was a rabid liberal on abortion rights and gay rights. i'm a rabid liberal on immigration. i think anybody that isn't has not read a page of history.
so literally fiscal conservative, and pretty conservative on crime issues because of my time as a prosecutor, but a liberal on everything else and that describes a lot of people in the near the part of the united states. i'm very much at home here. when i work in thity department under reagan in washington, as we sat around the conference table every morning one half of the people were self-described libertarians, the other were self-described movement kintives who are very unattractive people who all wear federalist society ties and were filled with -- hatred is not too strong a word. a lot of negativity there. and that is what is unappealing about the tea party. i personally think that most of the people in the tea party are upeople who had spending fatigue, and taxation fatigue and they're not led by social issues. there's a few who get out there and wave the banner and make a
lot of noise who give the tea party a bad name but my hope is that underneath it they're going to be discovered to be libertarians. going to be very interesting see what happened with rand paul in 2016 because he is going to mick a -- make a bid. i can't see ever getting there because of the foreign policy issues, but a lot of other people may not care about foreign policy, and senator paul may have some showing. >> larry rockefeller you sent me an ad that you made for a gubernatorial candidate in new york but he is not a republican. >> yeah. no. that's true. i mean maybe partly inspired by the convention there which was one of the last unscripted conventions, i think, partly as a result of the -- i'm one of
the last remaining rockefeller family republicans. and -- but i've stayed in the party but have been willing to speak up from time to time, and in new york the republican candidate is supposed to -- women's right to choose and marriage equality and even for common sense background checks on guns in terms of the mentally ill. so yes, i did that and -- there it is. >> go ahead. >> this actually feeds into a larger issue which i think is the frustration that so many people feel today. people who don't define themselves first and form most by ideology, people who are not terribly comfortable wearing a
label people who are pragmatists problem. soars, like governor weld who feel comfortable in conservative positions on some issues and liberal on others. the fact of the matter is that's a rockefeller republican and although you may not use the phrase it's become almost a pejorative in some quarters or at least an oxymoron. but the fact of the matter is, tens of millions of people frustrate evidence with the polarization and the oversimply fix indication of the political process or in fact if not name rockefeller republicans. but the parties then were totally different. 50 years ago there was a rockefeller wing of the republican party. there were liberal republicans not just in massachusetts at the harvard club. they were found all over the country. by the same token there were conservative democrats. particularly in the south but
not limited to the south. i think one of the reasons why so many people today are so turned off is because people as desspirit as franklin roosevelt and barrygold water each got a holm monthized ideology include cohesive to the point of purity party so you have a truly conservative party, a truly liberal party and guess what? that fails to account for millions of people who don't want to adopt so simplistic a view of the world. >> something else to add to that. i think what you're referring to richard is that fdr franklin roosevelt in 1944 said, what this country really needs is a libraire party and a conservative party because he was being the warted by southern democrats in the senate? particular. he actually thought it would be an advantage if the two parties were more ideologically aligned. guess what. he got what he wished for and we
have this moment today. an interesting aspect of all this, and governor weld will know it very well because of that absurd battle over his nomination. back in the day until fairly recently, the conservatives seem to have a stranglehold on the senate and the house was actually the more diverse body and now that has changed somehow. why is that anyone here? why do we have a house that seems more conservative than the senate? >> sam think the interesting thing happening in the repub partys >> sam, i think the interesting thing happening in the republican party is the two wings are if you will the governor's wing and the washington wing. not so much of this tension between house and senate. the wonderful thing about nelson rockefeller, i consider him a mixture, bob of wisconsin and al smith of new york two of my favorite politicians. the reason is because they went out and they saw what were the
problems is setting the people and they said dammit, i'm going to solve the problem. that's the epitome of nelson rockefeller as mr. smith's dog pee lingers on that pointer to what he got jurisdiction in common matters and political matters was he would have to be done, go do it and people would have to follow along with the law of the case. governors are right in front of the people they represent. they are not 500 miles away. if they don't go out and find out the problem and solve it, their constituents will know right away and both -- and vote them out of office. it makes them much more practical. my former colleague charlie baker is running for governor here is the ultimate hands-on guy. pisa policy wonk. guest of restless intellect kind of like nelson rockefeller. he will be very much one of those solve the problem type of people if he gets into office. that's the dissension i draw more than between house and the
senate. >> it's interesting you say that because until very recently the assumption was that governors would always have the inside track on presidential nominations and elections. yet in 2008 no matter who won a senator would be elected president. the first since john kennedy. and before him, warren harding. those are the three who have only, the only three of done it jump from the senate to the white house. we look at a period where senators seem to have built their own basis as presidential figures, whether it's rand paul ted cruz, and does anybody have anything to say about why this has happened? larry, do you have any thoughts? what happened to the great age of the executive governor? >> well, maybe it will come back you know, and it's true, nelson never saw a problem he didn't think he could solve that could be solved. and i was in the pragmatic
tradition of theodore roosevelt and franklin roosevelt, richard norton smith and really brilliant book. so spot on, accurate and fascinating arc of american history brings out. and fdr actually was a hero and role model for nelson. >> which a lot of republicans never forgave him. >> well, okay. sal answer your question, maybe it's going to return in the future the pendulum will swing back -- >> i would agree with larry. i think is going to come back in the republican party. i think you'll see a nominee will not be one of these firebrand senators. it's going to be a jeb bush or mitt romney or scott walker are john kasich. it's going to be a government which could be an advantage for the republicans in 2016 for the reasons i was getting into but governors have to solve problems. governors know that they need to
measure outcomes improvement in people's lives, not inputs which is the biggest the budget item. if you put the question that we i think they could carry in 2016. >> one of the fastening things you said in the book one would of taken for granted many years ago but it's almost a shock to read it is that nelson rockefeller not at the presidential level. he never got -- he was a great campaign in new york but what you really like is governance like bill weld. that's what he thought it was all about. >> that was bigger. i like the campaigning. [laughter] >> in some ways, nelson's finest hour is one that very few people think of it in the abstract. it's funny because he had a parallel here. people may be of long memories will remember governor hope he who in the mid '60s thought what today we could not conceive of, a heroic battle towards a
sales tax to the idea being if you want x amount of government let's be honest and pay for it. and not saddle our children and grandchildren with the debt. okay. 1966, nelson runs for a third term. he starts out as a hosted 30 points behind anyone but because all the people could think of were the taxes. there's no doubt that taxes had gone up. the extraordinary thing about that campaign, which may be the most brilliant and modern american history is because nelson rockefeller spent it going around new york state convincing people that the taxes they paid were producing tangible benefits. suny, the great university --
>> the great university of new york. >> a billion dollar bond issue. spending more money to fight water pollution and the federal government did nationally. the hudson river today and new york harbor, they may not be pristine but the fact that they are what they are really begin. program after program now it's a different era. it's a republican version of the great society. but it was kind of governor nelson rockefeller would've been. the point is immediate allowed him the luxury of making a sustained intellectual statistic laden argument. >> how did they -- what do you mean they allowed him to do it? >> you couldn't do it today. first of all called your political spin doctors and paid a moral campaign advisers -- [laughter] you know, what do you all the
reasons why, last night's poll showed you can't talk about this. and i am not talking about massachusetts. but how many campaigns this year are noted for the substance? how may people are talking about the future? i mean you know cable tv unfortunately to a large degree have set the tone of discourse and -- >> and we don't mean c-span. >> c-span is the exception that proves the rule i'm afraid. the other thing that was brilliant about 1966, go online and look at the campaign commercials. are you sick of campaign commercials? i suspect you're sick of them in part because there's no content their predictable the insult your intelligence. in 1966 nelson rockefeller ran a slew of the most clever, substantive argument advancing commercials.
there was the talking fish who told everyone about how much his life had improved since the governors water pollution efforts. there was a 60-seconds of highway shot from above moving to the music of unmistakable music of a hawaiian luau. okay? kind of rockefeller had build enough roads to go to honolulu and back. i mean, on and on. these ads talked up to people. they entertained at the same time believe it or not they inform and they persuaded. >> richard, i remember an ad from that campaign. i was living in new york at the time and the opponent was frank o'connor who was the head of the city council of new york city. so there was one ad 60-second rockefeller and playing during the baseball games which is only ever watched and it was three shots of white copy on a black
screen. the first one was frank, this ran statewide. the first shot was ranked o'connor from new york city is running for governor. slide number two. frank o'connor says he thinks the subways in newark city should be free cause. slide three. guess who he thinks should pay for them? [laughter] nobody outside the five boroughs could vote for frank o'connor after that at the. >> welcome he also made the case, you know how government can work for you and that's something today's republican party just so much mileage further that is left to get through an approach to starve the beast is the phrase came in president reagan's term, you know, just cut the deficit, cut the budget rather, and then cause government programs to be
unfunded. now what happens when the nations infrastructure continues to crumble? people will get it once again that we need to pay for this to make it work. >> is there some way in which nelson rockefeller one of the things that's amusing and your book, richard, is when first franklin roosevelt and then harry truman tell us you really out to be a democrat but then he's running for president or thinking of it and adlai stevenson says nelson rockefeller is a great liberal. all the things they want to be. is there some way he comes out of a progressive movement in politics that we will have to achieve again before the republican party moves in this direction? >> a day after the 1956 election that eisenhower and nixon won in a landslide over adlai stevenson, nelson rockefeller writes a letter to nixon who
before they became adversaries has actually been allies in the eisenhower administration. and the rights to nixon to kick and graduates him on the victory and he says you together with the president are making the republican party the great liberal party of the future. now, those are two words, liberal and future, that one does not often associate with today's republican party. but the fact is, guess what because history goes a certain way, you know we tend to think that's the only way history could have gone. in 1956 dwight eisenhower carried 40% of the african-american vote, a majority of catholic voters. and guess what. it wasn't barry goldwater who broke a solid democratic south. it was dwight eisenhower who, that same year carried a majority of southern it looked rural votes -- electoral votes. that's the history that could
have been. race intervened in a major way something as seemingly ordinary as a telephone call on the kennedy camp to mrs. martin luther king in 1960 at the time that dr. king had been arrested, expressing their concern while nixon remained conspicuously silent. >> which is not to say the kennedys were so progressive or enlightened but -- >> superheated atmosphere. our own henry caddell lodge who nixon put on his ticket that year, and with all due respect may be the only demonstrable example of a modern vice presidential candidate who wound up costing his ticket votes, and but for good reason. he went up to harlem and the promise that there would be an african-american in the cabinet
if richard nixon became president, which immediately through the nixon campaign into a tailspin which was systematic of their problem. the republican platform in 1960 contained the strongest civil rights plight in the history of the party, but guess what. richard nixon went to atlanta and 125,000 people turned out. he could taste republican victory in the south. and in the end he couldn't decide whether he wanted to be henry cabell launch or strom thurmond. >> to some extent he tried to be both. he put through the first affirmative action policy of government and then he appointed tried to point segregationist to the supreme court when he became president. governor weld, let's talk about the future. what does the republican party look like to you now? how similar or different does it seem the party that you were
major figure in? >> if the governor's wing gets into the ascendant as i was predicting, i may be getting old. i've got two events with governor dukakis in the last week so -- [laughter] i may be coming around to his view as you were saying, and larry was saying, about what government can do for you. michael dukakis and i were meeting with the group to support the boston harbor islands, because we think we have doubled the usable area of the city of boston. vacuum in part because of the big dig creating the walk to the city and knocking down the barriers to boston harbor you're into we did that and the big dig nobody knew the boston harbor islands where there. it was not a source of recreation. so, ma i think that is going to be seen in retrospect as the big this thing since the filling end of the back bay in terms of the topographical history of boston. that something government can do for you and it's the sort of storestory that governors are going
to be able to tell because they have been there and done that and lived through it. it's not like they were in washington and cast a vote for some program at them a tangible benefits were felt 1500 miles away. so i hate to sound pollyannaish but that's the direction i see the republican party going in. >> larry, if you were to look at new york state where you and i both live is there anyone in the republican party that to you, or nationally, seems to embody these ideals, governor weld's idea nelson rockefeller's, the ones richard has articulated so elegantly? >> we had governor pataki for 12 years he was an outstanding moderate republican. governor. there's no at present i know of. in the national scene i thought for a while, well, maybe the party would crash and burn and arise phoenix like from the
ashes in a new form, but it may be congress may be that type of republican majority in both houses and the chance of republican governor becoming president, bush or romney that there will be a different way for to work out just as eisenhower, you point out, could have done. the president leading it in a new, more positive, pragmatic direction. that could be i hope which is not to say that's going to happen. but it's an idea. >> are we ready to go to some questions? do we have -- yes? we have microphones? are there questions from the audience? here's your moment. all i will ask is that the question actually be a question. and if it's not i will rudely interrupt and turn it into one. have we got -- while we're
getting someone might up, what are the things i'd not realized in richard's book is how much eisenhower disliked rockefeller. rockefeller didn't like it either. at one point they said governor, you've got to pose with eisner. he said yeah, but that guy hates me. explain -- >> and then they did the photos and they were unusable. and rockefeller said see, that guy hates my guts. it's a shame. is one of the might have been this of a life. because on paper they should've been allies. they were both comfortable in the same area of the political spectrum, but they had profound differences of principle. nelson rockefeller was a serial alarmist. in the '30s he was sounding the alarm about the nazi threat in latin america. but in the '50s he was also an ardent warrior he believed that dwight eisenhower, dwight
eisenhower was not adequately tending to the nation's military defenses. there's an amazing scene in the book where they both attend one of these meetings, top secret once the meetings where everyone sits around and they project 10 years in advance, trying to imagine what soviet military strength will look like versus american military strength. and rockefeller found it alarming, because we're talking about intercontinental ballistic missiles and sputnik was in the air. literally. anyway, as soon as the alarmist and nelson took over and outside the meeting he told the president aside and said mr. president you've got to go on tv. you've got to use the bully pulpit. you have to in fact spend your eminence credibility and prestige as the man who won world war ii and tell the american people how much
sacrifice they are going to have to accept for years to come. this kind of quasi-churchillian message, and eisenhower looked at him and said why do i always have to be the one to bring the bad news to the people? [laughter] spirit we have a question right here. spent i wish is going to add, here we are at the jfk library jfk, another personal hero of mine, and he picked up on nelson rockefeller's commission recommendations about the missile gap ran with it. the two of them actually could've been running against each other had things worked out differently. >> for those of you don't remember, john f. kennedy ran for the right of richard nixon on communism in 1960. yes, sir. >> it's a double-barreled question for governor weld. the first barrel is that i have probably a handful of friends that i can tolerate who describe themselves as libertarian.
but none of them has ever been able described to me how being a libertarian is consistent with being interested in being in government. so that's the first question. second question is on your remark that paying taxes is somehow coercive. and my question is how is that more coercive than the grover norquist philosophy and that of all the republicans who have signed his pledge never to have any taxes when our infrastructure is tending towards third world status? and we need to do things that are good proposals including private public, which is to be going to lose the republicans a
senatorial seat they could've had in north carolina, because the republican candidate is being undercut. so how is refusing to raise a tax less coercive on the population? >> i got it, i got it. [laughter] on the first on the first barrel you know, i think one of my favorite political philosophers, a guy named louis heart who is a harvard professor. he wrote a book called the founding of new societies and his dog what the essence of democracy is. and he said the essence of democracy is that the individual shall not be thrust in a corner. and that summons up all kinds of things about minority rights and majority rule. but i really do agree with them. when i see the full force of government power being brought to bear the thrust an individual into a corner edges really gets
my goat. early on in my tenure i spent a lot of time with gay and lesbian groups who dr. witt is like having to hide out in these underground bars and he was like being and franken hitler's germany, you're always hiding to the immigration issues get some exercise today. there are people who are in the shadow. the are afraid of the government. that is not good for the policy. if for no other reason than prudential reasons i think we need to vastly liberalized our immigration system. so those are all things that i was interested in getting into government to do. on the so-called conservative side, the french anarchist as you may recall declared that property is theft and in one waggish moment i turned that around and said that actually coercive taxation is theft. it's not theft because we've
elected governments so the consent of the government is a defense to the charge. but in law school and thereafter i was quite a voracious reader of friedrich hayek who wrote "the road to serfdom." and there is you know come, if are not careful we won't have all these wonderful freedoms that we have. so that's why a libertarian could want to be close to or engaged in government spent i would have a couple things to that. one is that if you just about to the origins of the republic an excellent historians and political writers like kerry weld have written about this, his book of necessary evils. there's always in america been a suspicion of a powerful government. is one reason the country was formed, a kind of anti-colonialism and anti-monarchism. jefferson you, called his
enemies mock drafts. jefferson called one himself. that's a long string in our culture, not just our politics and think sometimes that his tendency to think that what we hear of labeled coherent labeled as libertarianism is something really alien to the higher value in the society. when it's not necessary. so either -- so if you that you would like to comment on that that would be great. >> something as simple as the fifth member to the constitution which basically reserved to the states all powers not expressly enumerated to the federal government. there's no doubt that those who wrote the constitution and indeed, it's doubtful they ever would've been ratified but for the expectation that george washington, a man who had already voluntarily walked away
from the ground someone who could be entrusted to limit his own personal use or abuse of power would be there to interpret it and give it legitimacy. but there's no doubt that the prevailing arguments in philadelphia saw a constitution as a means of limiting government, defining limits and protecting liberty, however defined. >> and we have got another question. >> can i ask the speakers to comment on the end of the fairness doctrine, the rise of british style advocacy journalism in this country and the effect upon the polarity in the parties. >> great question. who wants to go first? >> i think that's not as the fox effect, and -- it's known as.
>> its corrosive at the same time competing views would be out there. >> governor welcome any thoughts about that speak with problems were watching very little television except for sports. so i'm unscarred by the fairness doctrine. and also as a libertarian, my view is so there's a lot of rubbish on tv, so what? it's the playoffs. let them play. >> where were you on citizens united, on the decision that the court made it? the one that lifted essentially overturned a campaign find that -- >> i think it's mischievous. >> you think the decision was mischievous? >> yeah. it's had real impact applause but. >> varies states including
vermont to have a constitutional convention. larry at harvard thinks that's the single most poisonous aspect of our democracy is the influx of huge campaign spending. nelson rockefeller would've disagreed all that money he had spent well he -- a constitutional convention fascinating, because i think you would see a professor was written 100 years ago there was at the height of the progressive era a bottleneck, a sense of frustration that special interests controlled the united states senate, one of them being nelson aldrich, for whom governor rockefeller was named. and the answer to this was popular election of united states senators. >> did everybody get out quick before that, senators were chosen by state legislatures. >> which were purchasable by the economic powers that be.
needless to say, the senate has to approve a constitutional and there was very little chance the senate as presently constituted was going to effect side it's on to the work by approving this. so what happened was a grassroots spontaneous, national movement arose to call a constitutional convention specifically about this issue, and they got to within one state, and then the senate blinked. but that's what it took to break the political logjam 100 you to go. >> for the super geeks in the audience, and some of you will know, article v of the constitution says the are actually two ways to change the constitution. one is if they if ratified in congress and in the states for the ratified, but also the states themselves can call for constitution -- i think it's
two-thirds of the number you need to call, then -- yes ma'am ma'am. >> richard, why did president ford drop nelson rockefeller from the ticket in 1976 in favor of bob dole? and had rockefeller state on the ticket, could gerald ford have one? >> the second is one of those what-if's. i personally am doubtful. remember, this is nelson rockefeller post attica. nelson rockefeller's biggest explain attica. >> added in 1971 a prison uprising that was put down badly. and over the years unfortunately, people have conflated the horrible conditions in the prison. his refusal to go and negotiate on tv with outside observers who were, in fact, anything but observing. and then, of course, the way that the retaking of the prison was botched. and all of that came together
and basically he was blind, and it -- >> it's what many people in new york -- >> yeah, it's much, much more complicated than that. but at any that i think his political appeal even in new york, you know, 15 years imagine being governor of any major industrial complex entity for 15 years? >> not even eight, not i think about it last night -- now that a think about it. [laughter] spent the reason i dropped them which he very publicly confessed to having been the one instance he said of cowardice in his political life, and he greatly regretted it. the ford people had badly underestimated -- first of all governor reagan's determination to run, and secondly, the appeal he was going down. the early campaign was going
badly. he went through several campaign managers but they weren't raising money. reagan challenges forward in 1975, 76. it is fair to say that donald rumsfeld and nelson rockefeller were put on the planet to peace each other off. [laughter] and each succeeded admirably. >> there was another guy involved than that to. >> yes, richard cheney. governor rockefeller governor rockefeller, i'm told by people who were there come in the morning, he had a sense of humor. in the morning he would walk by rumsfeld's office, opened the door, stick his head in and shout you are never going to be vice president. knowing or believing that that's exactly what rumsfeld hoped in 1976. rumsfeld was only one of a number of ford intimates who convinced the president that
unless he dumped nelson from the ticket, that they could very well lose the nomination to reagan. and you know i think, i think there's a very good chance that they were right. >> how many of you remember that challenge by reagan? he came very close to -- >> and rockefeller quite the ultimate good soldier, ironically in the end ford was nominated with votes that rockefeller supplied, votes in newark state, pennsylvania and to a lesser degree in connecticut. publicly he was the ultimate good soldier. privately the only time i could find that he gave into frustration was when charles tobias, liberal republican, senator from maryland called him the day after this was announced to commiserate. .. to commiserate and in
the midst of his condolences rockefeller cut him off and said as mathias recall that who would want to hang around with them anyway? [laughter] >> my question is regarding nelson rockefeller. i've known his later years his welfare changed greatly and i was wondering in your research did you find that this was genuine evolution well, that works both ways. for example, over time in november 1968 he had sworn to oppose any welfare residency law. in fact he opposed that position on the republican party. by the time he left albany 15 years later, he was boasting of the fact for the first time since world war ii the overall
welfare caseload had been reduced. that is pragmatism. it may also be frank lee into with the increasingly conservative times. remember, the conservative party at new york was created on nelson rockefeller's watch and by 1970 was able to electa buckley. not your buckley, but another buckley to the united states senate. i would argue nelson remained a liberal and activist and a believer in the government capacity and more obligation to bring about social justice to the end of his life. been a article politician who hope to extend his tenure in office, with i think rather skillful in moving with the time and the fact that the people at
the fourth time by the biggest project yet suggests they were comfortable. >> larry he jogged off the rockefeller moving to the right that way? >> well, probably so. i just want to at some point here is that having to become president, he would have been a terrific president. but you all decide. richard norton smith's magnificent book sets it all out. it is a magnificent saga and i recommend it. >> you know, something henry kissinger said elson rockefeller essentially created henry kissinger for better or worse. he said nelson rockefeller sat in those early conditions of
evaluating foreign policy. >> i wondered. i was intrigued and i wondered. everything was the best. he could get excited about a tuna fish sandwich. people used to say the best you ever had appeared some of that was communicated. one quick story which presents the duality of the man and then you can go hauled in gear an appointment. i have been told he was very close to his mother from who he got you can go home and do your own portrait. i have been told he was very close to his mother from whom he got his ebullience and his openness to new ideas and people want art. of course she really created the museum of modern art.
anyway i was told when she died he kept her ashes in a room in the big house and mrs. rockefeller was kind enough to spend some time with me and she gave me a tour of the house. we get to what is called mother chairman nye figure well no time like the present and i asked her. she said it's true. but mrs. rockefeller how could that be? there was a funeral and abby's ashes were interred in the family said that -- cemetery. she said oh nelson just reached in and grabbed a handful. [laughter] that suggests two things to me. one an almost childlike impulsiveness and a lack of self conscious polls which helps to explain why he was such a dynamite campaigner. he could walk into any room. he was as comfortable in a new york hall as a soho art gallery
but it also suggests a sense of entitlement that borders on the creepy. [laughter] and you can imagine where that goes in a would-be president. >> we have learned today that nelson rockefeller was a cold war warrior and we heard president kennedy say -- and i think we are taking a look at significant prices that we haven't paid and are willing to pay in our foreign policy today. i was wondering is there a difference between what the republican body, but the tea party and the rest of the republican party and the democratic party, what are the differences from foreign policy today between the bodies and is there anything we can bring back
to what nelson rockefeller and jack kennedy regarding those different stances? >> you were talking before about rand paul's foreign policy. what you walk us through some of the foreign policy. >> i'm not an expert at all but my sense is he would not be as much in the have been very good and very strong on that where the administration has perhaps flagged a little bit setting of markers and not wallowing through. that runs like a virus through the community of international opinion. i spent a reasonable amount of time the last few years in the middle east in the arab countries over there just watched like a hawk everything the united states does. every time the united states doesn't wallow through an something that says it is going
to do they just go wild. the same is true now being you or my probably a a couple of years ago in connection with an business mining practices. the whole world watches every time the president of the united states slips an eyebrow. that is about as much as i have. >> here is a question for all three of you then. have we entered a moment where the united states doesn't have the kind of global authority. it's striking to reading your book that i think 1959 there's a poll that shows seven out of 10 americans expect it an imminent nuclear attack as a result of which nelson rockefeller, the great pillar of holes wanted to build fallout shelters all over america. at the same time confidence and
american tyler do we no longer just described the globe in the way we gave that we now nostalgically called the american century, the period after world war ii to the end of the cold war. anybody to comment on that one. >> we were hurt by syria. i don't think president obama wants to describe the earth like a colossus. you know a lot is other people are so sickened by what's going on around the globe that they are moving away from constructive engagement, which i think is a bad development. >> have we lost some of the authority to engage? >> depend how you engage it. if you mean sending in the marines it is questionable the authority aside from national
interests. you know, we in a murky twilight . when we are crosscurrents at work. are more weary. there is no doubt about that. people question the validity of the wars in iraq and afghanistan and at the same time call it nostalgia, call it patriotism, call it princeville engagement whatever you call it there are many americans who expect a president to be bolder, more assertive, just to be in the bully pulpit explaining the situation if nothing else. i think one of the surprising things to many of us who quite frankly admire the president and particularly admire president
obama and his intellect and his willingness, i'll make a prediction. historians should never make predictions. it's hard not to understand the past about the future. history will be kinder to this president than we are today in part because the fact that the next administration, whoever it is will have deal with the same issues. no longer will obama be judged against himself. just as george w. bush has come to the veteran away. [laughter] but the fact is it is not what we expected in the presidency. the presidents also a totally different media market. the bully pulpit is a thing of the past if you mean teddy roosevelt arthur's life insurer, jfk. in 1970, richard nixon's white house could call three men in
towers in new york and have a knotty of the 70 million people that night. and richard nixon could speak about vietnam at a time of real popular anxiety and he could move the numbers. he could move them 10 or 12 points in whatever direction he wanted. that is gone. >> and yet who was vice president, spiro agnew who made the case that the networks were biased against him. >> which was a very politically shrewd and factually questionable case. >> we have one last question. this is the best question yet right? >> i hope so. my question is apart from presidents eisenhower, what could nelson rockefeller think of other presidents that he encountered and what did each of them think of him? >> one thing. one reason it took me 14 years
to write this book if it's a long to get through nelson's outer defenses. he went beyond compartmentalizing. you never saw more staircase than needed. his own daughter, marion saying i wish we referring to the family knowing him as well as new york. the voters of new york only knew what he wanted them to know. why did he keep flirting with running for president in 1960 and 68 and not do it? after getting out, why did he not go to attica? this activist who inserted himself into every imaginable situation. and i found a quote about 12 years into this project from an oral history you did. he was in trust for $10 million. so he decided he would write a
memoir, make some cash. he didn't write the book but he did over 500 pages. >> the first question with access to it. there is a fiction very that comes closer to anything else to getting to this mystery. and he said that whenever i found myself in a position where i was uncomfortable and not in control and i was probably willing to pull back until such time as i felt i could be in control. that it seems to be humanized as nelson rockefeller than anything he said. he suggests vulnerabilities in the man that weren't these the equal of his soaring ambition. but it also raises real questions about what kind of candidate or president he would have been.
why? nelson rockefeller never got over franklin roosevelt. there is a warmly inscribed picture of fdr in his office. he told someone he was a very great man and he explained how he understood his roosevelt had understood you have to be a people of hope. there are inequities. you have to be willing in a proactive way to identify and address those inequities. you have to be a reformer. that is the height of republicanism. he was running against the ghost of franklin roosevelt and his closest adviser explained it was fdr who is the president. he could never quite