tv Book Discussion on The Quiet Man CSPAN July 11, 2015 7:00pm-7:45pm EDT
you for coming and/or suspended with us. today we are we are pleased to welcome back to new hampshire he was hear for several terms as governor and then went on to become george hw bush's chief of staff. please join me in welcoming the indispensable presidency of george hw bush governor john hgovernor john h sununu. [applause] >> thank you very much. thank you. let me thank gibson's for there hospitality. i am an old book and bookstore addict. and i think the way you have been able to handle such breadth of scope and keep it as an intimate facility should satisfy any book addict. i recommend it to my anyone lookinganyone looking for a place to browse and find great stuff to read this is the place to come. i would like to thank you all for taking a bit of time to join us.
i wrote the quiet manman because i feel that george herbert walker bush had in his one term as extraordinary presidency as we have had in modern times. i wanted toi wanted to get between the two covers of the book all of those great accomplishments and put it in a way that people would appreciate how unique, special, and important that presidency was. since you are all here buying books i won't go through it from page one. i felt what i would do today is talk to you a little bit about what i think were the highlights of his presidency, all covered well and in detail and talk to you a little bit about some of the things that made him a special individual, a couple of anecdotes that i think we will underscore the special character of george herbert walker bush is
president. most folks remember him as a great foreign-policy president, and he was. beyond that george herbert walker bush passed more domestic legislation and more significant domestic legislation than any president since lyndon johnson or franklin roosevelt. it is amazing that a lot of people almost don't realize the breadth and depth of the domestic achievement. and for three or four things i would like you take away one of them would be the fact that he came into office after ronald reagan had rebuilt america's strength. the phrase was piece through
strength. ronald reagan made the exceptional investment to rebuild our military capacity. and although a lot of folks really are in a bit of denial on it, the fact is the soviet union took one look at the economic capacity of the united states to build up its military capacity command gorbachev coming in the office understood that they're was no way they could compete. what he wanted to do was to begin to interact with the us and western allies. reagan built it up and bush understood the opportunity that the world had after nearly a half-century post world war with two superpowers with chairman tremendous nuclear capability. bush understood the opportunity was they're. in his own style he began to build the western coalition
necessary to take advantage and a relationship of trust and cooperation necessary to the united states and the soviet union. the european allies were not as eager as george bush to move quickly. bush with a series of meetings was able to convince them that the nato allies should take a significant step in terms of announcing a reduction of us troops and armor in europe and invite by that act and equivalent reduction or even a greater reduction for the soviet union with occupation forces, and it worked.
gorbachev welcome the opportunity to reduce his fiscal obligations to occupation, and that began the loosening that allowed elections to take place in poland and czechoslovakia and the freeing of eastern europe. it was george bush's amazing bush is amazing personal talent with both our allies and our phones that created the trust that is necessary for big powers, great powers, significant powers to make the kind of policy commitments that produced good results. in a matter of two and a half years george bush was able to lead a coalition interaction a peaceful coalition interaction that produced the dissolution of the number two superpower in the world without a single
shot being fired. i personally think that his greatest mistake was making it look so easy. the influence because of the post- vietnam syndrome where we have become frozen in our capacity to project the power we had. with the collapse of the soviet union they're was a time in the world in which mischief might want to ask them to solve. as he watched saddam hussein occupy kuwait and try and take over what could have been in combination with his own resources .5 to 30% bush
was willing to accept as leader of the united states the responsibility to lead a coalition to get saddam hussein out of kuwait. this aggression shall not stand. it was not a soft line, not a maybe line, it was a definite line. he built an amazing coalition considering iraq was aa nation in the middle east with these relationships bush build a coalition that included virtually every arab nation, including syria i remember a memorable meeting with us on
the side dominated the conversation. any entity agreed to agreed to join the coalition. then he built up capacity. everyone has to remember from iraq and the 5th largest army in the world and it was all for it in the kuwait and amassed around kuwait.kuwait. when bush was ready to get the approval of the un to use force to expel saddam, saddam limited extension of authority or at least comforting assurance from his allies and in less than a hundred hours george bush's use of us power pushed saddam hussein out of
kuwait and vanquished the 5th largest army in the world. then he was smart enough not to get caught in the quicksand of an occupation force and took the criticism but made the firm choice not to follow the same all the way and baghdad. a lot of criticism at that time. as people look back on it they recognize that it was the right decision. he did not just to do foreign-policy. he did domestic policy. he took a 13 year changed it from commanding control or bureaucrats dictate how your supposed to reduce emissions and built a
package of legislation based on free enterprise and incentives and flexibilities and got more than the emissions that people have been desiring between 1/10 of 1/5 of the cost. he recognized it was time for a civil rights bill would've had to be a good civil rights bill, the political courage to veto a civil rights bill that would have been a quota bill senate back and have a rewritten so that it was a fair bill but an effective bill. he proposed and get congress to pass an americans with disabilities act proposed legislation to deregulate energy and we are benefiting from the deregulation of energy today he passed legislation which provided vouchers and support for families were childcare instead of building up the bureaucracy of childcare.
he proposed and passed in agriculture reform act which took some of the old subsidy and converted them to incentives for export which was really the gateway for american farmers to begin to enjoy what is an important part of the economy today. he passed legislation which addressed the need to support our inner cities with resources to deal with crime. he with his drugs are put together an extensive drug program primarily focusing on education of our young people in that rehabilitation in addition to making sure that those that profited from the drug trade had serious real penalties associated with trading and drugs. george bushdrugs. george bush called only the 3rd summit between the president and governors and brought the governors together to talk about k _
12 education and re-energize, if you will, you we will, the commitment of the states. he also passed the 1990 budget act. i think everybody remembers he made the read my lips promise. we got the 1st year budget passed that taxes, but the economy was suffering growth rates have become stagnant, the savings-and-loan crisis had taken its penalty on the real estate market and real estate in the us and the economy was trending down. the problem of the deficit. he clearly needed a multi- year budget. we went through a year and a half negotiation and tom
foley.foley. george mitchell, were not going to let get a budget. you have to put the context of timingtime into this. we're moving in august and september and october. just sent young men and women over in the middle east to pull them together to take on saddam hussein to kick them out of kuwait. with the democrats held over his head was the specter of a real sequester and defense spending we ended up with aa package approved by all the republican leaders.
the taxi contained was a gasoline tax increase to my gasoline tax that had not been adjusted for inflation. what he got for it was three and a three and a half times the dollar value cuts in spending and knew budget rules that but -- the put that put spending caps on discretionary spending is required for additional programs pay as you go. it was that budget that produced the surpluses of the early '90s that lots of people came after george bush like to take credit for. surpluses after decades of deficit. it produced a growth time that other people like to take credit for. a reflection of the stabilizing of the economy.
great results and foreign-policy. the short-term and long-term is for this country.country. let me give you three or four anecdotes. then i we will open it up for questions. one of my favorites which i think to find george bush and in a way asa way is a reflection of the title of this book is what he did as we will moving through changes in europe. it was november of 1989
command he and gorbachev have begun to trust each other. george bush recognize that gorbachev in spite of being able to make the changes that everyone was applauded serious problems at home. looking for an excuse to stop changes that they did not agree with. thought he was giving up the empire. bush understood this. i remember the scene a
little press meeting in which they would send a representative of radio it's in the couple. not a full-blown news conference. clamoring for bush to be cheering loudly because of the collapse of the berlin wall. they really were as usual obnoxious about trying to say that he did not understand the importance of what was happening. and bush have the self-discipline to express and can't terms of how much he believed that it was going to be good for the world but never once did he grow in such a way that it would embarrass gorbachev and give the hardliners an excuse to stop the changes. for any of you that have been in politics or watched politics you no the self-discipline it requires for a politician not to take credit
george bush had learned. lots of single mothers needed childcare. families with two parents childcare was necessary. but he also learned they're was a tendency to talk about it as building government run facilities or allowing government contracts to support future facilities or support any facilities. the governors in the family groups are saying, it is important to give the money to the family and to give them flexibility and allow for community groups to come together.
the pres. made a commitment. in essence to provide the support through voucher structure going to the family and to provide flexibility. itit does not sound like if you just. this agreement was but when the pres. and democratic leadership and committees in the senate majority leader. the agreement was that it would be put into the budget he was going to sign. in congress you have seen it. i met up with some of our key people from omb office of management and budget to watch what was going on. i went to the president.
the pres. we will veto this if it is not in it. posted three in the morning. we're not going to change it. picked up the phone i call the white house. the usher answered. please wake of the president he comes to the phone. can i speak to the speaker? bush was committed to having those provisions in the end was willing to start the process over. the last item, and then and then i'll talk about one more thing.
really the energy side. one area where the pres. participated on a very active level and was committed our policy bring up the capacity of this nation deliver the energy it needs to us over the world. here the task force that is packaged together. timing is important. we were going to initiate the air attack against saddam hussein in kuwait in january middle of january 1991. bush is1991. bush is going through all of this process on energy. december and january 1991 just before we are sending all of our troops in the action starting with the air
attack george bush personally chaired to energy group meetings in which he was they're because he was worried they're was too much pressure coming in seeking to impose aa tax on energy other than to provide incentives and flexibility. having seen the dynamics of cabinet meetings and groups like that i can tell you without the pres. of the united states personally weighing and things like that can get dragged off by a cabinet for. personally convinced the reason we have a great deregulation that has provided the energy resurgence is because george bush was going to take time under the pressure. last point. i am often asked why george bush lost my
having done all this why you lost amended to. a couple of reasons. one is ross perot. he comes in and takes 90 percent of the vote. he spends a fortune pounding bush and television without ever commenting. the 2nd two reasons are even more interesting than that, sort of historic imperatives. the 1st, since 1952 no party is noso control the white house for more than eight years except once. and so the pendulum of history wanting to swing the other direction have built up a lot of pressure.
winston churchill by the divisive personality and leadership had led england during world war ii to hold itself together and to defeat with the help of us to defeat nazi germany. he is the hero world war ii.ii. before the war is over they hold election and vote them out. in terms of what we're talking about at the end not only did george bush loses election margaret thatcher government by her party mitterrand lost his election call loses his election the japanese prime
minister loses and his whole party is kicked out by the japanese. as the world goes through this you technological change from confrontation of two superpowers to a hope hope that they're is a knew agenda to be had and perhaps we can all look inward rather than worrying about international security it seems to be a psychological reality that at least in that time repeated what i call the churchill effect. i hope as you read this book you will come to the same conclusions. the presidency of george herbert walker bush was an extraordinary presidency command i am convinced history we will continue to treat them better and better as we all get a little bit older. thank you for coming. [applause] i will take questions or go
away privately. >> i am interested in your insights the differences between the bush presidency in the current era in terms of nuclear disarmament or rearmament. they're was great achievement in terms of disarmament and president bush's presidency. now despite the intention by president obama to move toward more disarmament or embark on a plan for a knew generation of weapons what wisdom can we get they could reverse that? >> slicing a nuclear disarmament. between and amongst superpowers and the other is the proliferation issue. we're living in a world in which the proliferation issue is as serious as the face-to-face confrontation.
the key to dealing with a superpower issue is trust and confidence and a little bit of fear of the other guy we lost trust and confidence and no one fears us anymore. we have absolutely no influence. on proliferation proliferation is like building a salami sandwich, it happens one slice at a time in the right direction. they are not acquired instantly. the key is being smart enough to deal with that and being smart enough to understand that a failure to deal with proliferation constructively creates an incentive for mr. by others who want to be at least equal to the neighbor. the india pakistan rivalry is one example.
the key to all of this is presidential leadership. you do not get anything done in the world today without leadership from an american president who understands what is right and what is wrong and knows the difference between fancy headlines and real results. they're is no substitute command i don't think we have it. [inaudible question] >> it is a disaster. it is a disaster. ifif the president has stuck to his original criteria for an agreement it might be possible but this is been eroded because they are masterful negotiators and we have no idea what we're doing. the visible disaster. right now it is a subtle disaster. by the time they extend the deadline there we will be an
invitation to the saudi's to get equivalency an invitation to others. it is an invitation the mischief but i would rather talk about the quiet man. >> thank you. i am curious about what role you and the other advisors to the present to offer and how you felt that was a nice exchange on your part. >> in order to understand the answer i have to tell you the style of operation. the mostthe most important meeting took place eight to 930, although sometimes it extended. i would come in quarter after six. a couple staff would give me reports. i would talki would talk to my staff. the president would get up about the same time getting
news reports in the residence area. i would have a 730 meeting. and a half hour 18 or 20 of them we would go through anything i can send any of those individuals so that i would have it in my head. at. at 8:00 o'clock i go to the oval office was go craft. scowcroft would have been at the 730 meeting. dan quayle was they're. 1520 minute briefing from the cia personal briefing from a very disdainful of reading cia briefings because he wanted to interact and asked questions always a personal briefing. scowcroft takes a half-hour and talks about what has happened overnight with the short-term, medium-term, and
long-term agenda is. i take over and talk about everything else domestic policy interactions with congress always going on politically, whatever. that meeting is supposed to end at 930. we always kept a half-hour margin. an important part, you have four people that really liked and respected each other. if you read barbara bush's book they're is a line for civil that meeting was going on she would be walking in the rose garden and all she heard play from behind those doors was raucous laughter and she could not understand how those people could be running the world. it is an important part. they're was a strong personal relationship.
baker and scowcroft on foreign-policy myself on foreign and domestic and roger porter and dick on domestic policy. everyone twisted each other and the intellect and attention of everyone in the game. when george bush had a tough issue the call that group together command we argued, some polling in this direction, some in that direction. aggressive intellectual arguments people who knew what they were talking about george bush listened and encouraged. when the president made a decision everyone marched to the president's agenda, and that is how we function. >> governor, you said you were talking about his ability to build this coalition to go in the
kuwait. it did seem to be sort of masterful to get so many leaders throughout the world to get behind him. you mentioned his personal qualities. did he have a particular goal with each country? >> it is an important key to his dealing with people. in people. in his 1st on contact with you and his 2nd call after call he never asked you for anything. he was building a relationship. all these people not the 1st time we talked to them with the 5th time. they were talkingthey were talking to someone and build of the trust and relationship with. when he asked they responded the other aspect was jim baker masterfully able to
go out and deal with the concerns that people had and come back with recommended proposals on how we ought to deal with them. maybe wemaybe we had to change the un resolution this way or that way in order to let us feel comfortable or gorbachev working five. all of those things were part of that recognizing the other person at the other end of the phone call or across the table has a perspective that has to be taken into account how he understood that he could not grow when the berlin wall came down because he was sitting in gorbachev c for a moment trying to think about what the concern was. that is the art form. i hope you see it. i have triedi have tried to give an intimate set of descriptions of those interactions.
a lot of the give-and-take that takes place in a real white house real west wing as compared to what you may have seen on television. >> i remember the reelection campaign. i also remember thinking strongly as it progressed that president bush was letting it slip out of his hands because of the very little effort in my opinion of campaigning. that was my observation. i am am wondering if that may have been one of the factors >> i left in march of 92 because the lightning was coming down. ii thought if i left the slings and arrows might follow me but it did not occur that way. atwater had died. gone on to start his news rebirth career.
i left. the three of us have been the hard-nosed people. looking from the outside i thought the 92 campaign was not a tough campaign.a tough campaign. the liberal get away with murder. if atwater have been around you would've hit perot with the verbal to buy for twice a day. your number that moment in the debate when george bush looked at his watch. i saw that and cringed but because i had an understanding the political effect. that would be a political issue afterwards. how much longer. to the work but the fact is
i could tell by looking for lost a lot of the fire. the campaign being this run. he tried to get jimmy baker and to fix it up. thank you very much. please tell your friends. the credit i think he deserves. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much for coming. we we will be moving now. please bring your books.