tv After Words with Chuck Todd CSPAN August 13, 2015 10:48pm-11:45pm EDT
have a representative and i run, i haven't been to iraq in 50 years. my daughter was born here, hardly speaks arabic is able to vote in the iraqi parliament yet we both live in d.c. and we cannot hope for a representative, a full representative in d.c. a senator or representative. >> another thing is if people out there need to be supportive of us here and around the countries because there's no capital of any country that even has a hint of been a democracy where the people who live in the capital, like paris, london, cannot vote. >> i think the statistics show at about 80% of the people throughout the country don't even know that. that's part of the reason why we don't have, because other congressmen decide her fate and
that's just on their that's taxation without representation and that's what this but puncher built on. >> isn't that the license plate. >> it becomes just a slogan though because nobody pays attention to it just like every other slogan that gets forgotten. >> and and the democrats are to blame,. >> i agree, i think both parties have been complicit in this issue. >> because by the way is there a website for statehood for d.c.? >> yeah d.c. vote does a lot of work on this issue, d.c. vote.org is an important website but the green party has been talking about it a lot and that's an important element that we need to continue to push on. in the final few minutes iona talk about the current election, we have three democrats running, hillary clinton, sanders, and o'malley, are any of them interesting new or exciting you in any way shape or form
question. >> where you get a run. >> hillary is really a very confirmed militarists, she jumped aside the secretary of defense robert gates who did not want to attack libya and she got the white house support and libya was toppled and the dictator who is beginning to dictate negotiate with the west and there's total chaos. isis is going in and al qaeda is there, weapons are spreading all over and it's spilling over into central africa, a huge geographic area. she ought to be held accountable for that. never seen a weapon system she hasn't liked even though it's a huge waste, never seen a war she hasn't liked, as part of highly placed women trying to overcompensate by being more aggressive so that the macho men don't say, you can't lead us, you're too saw. even though the great tradition
of a muscular peace advocacy in this country is more associated with women than with men. >> what about bernie. >> bernie when it comes to domestic, sometimes i have to accuse him of plagiarism. he's very good, good on the pharmaceutical cynical good on wall street, on worker rights, on tax reform, a little vague on form policy. >> is not big on israel, he's very hawkish on that issue and very supportive of it matter what. >> and he voted for the appropriations of iraq year after year and afghanistan. he hasn't he hasn't taken on the military-industrial complex, bernie is very sensitive to the industries in vermont, like the dairy industry let's say. and the machine tool industry which beads a lot of its products into military
equipment, but he's going to take strong stance on that and he's going to have to take her on, you can have a parallel campaign because she can sweettalk him during the six debate that's coming up in the primaries. ii agree with bernie i served with him in the senate, shall be very general. o'malley on the other hand, he was a fairly progressive senator, and a mayor and governor, but he can really develop, but has to be more exciting. >> he was able to abolish the death penalty in maryland and raise the minimum wage and worked on healthcare issues on the sickly back to. >> so he has to develop strategy, now on the republican side you're probably going to have 18 candidates and the worst nightmare of 17 of these candidates is donald trump. because assuming he hangs in there with his flamboyant, he is going to burlesque the whole republican nomination process.
he just goes wild, his ego, the problem donald trump, he's going to be a nightmare, i'm sure rubio, and walker and bush and others are going to say oh no, this guy can go all the way through the primary because he has the money and he's going to break his way through the entire country, and he is a militarists but he thinks he's going to give a lot of people jobs, he, he presents a serious problem to saturday night live. now, they figured out how are we going to do with his flamboyant announcement, i, i was on believable,. >> yeah he sent from god and all the stuff. >> the only technique that saturday night light has is to exaggerate someone's bizarre traits that make people laugh. to provide satire, how do you satire satire? second you can't exaggerate trump.
>> they pulled the trump card on them. >> are your commute occasion with bernie. >> he doesn't answer any of my calls, i've lost hope, 15 years i've i've called him in the senate, he doesn't answer. i think he doesn't like to be pushed in areas of progressive movement that he doesn't want to be pushed on so he is a lone ranger. he is not a network or the way others were in citizen groups representing millions of people around the country in washington. he's not that type, he doesn't have that type of personality. it's unfortunate because if all we have our ten or 12 progressive senators and they are all lone rangers and they don't even have a caucus, as i urge them to do in a letter, which was never answered by the senators.
were not getting anywhere. >> maybe you can send them copies of that platform. >> you that would be good, jerry brown by the way doesn't like to talk about it now that he's governor he's got two thirds of the legislator in sacramento, it's amazing, when he can make things happen he doesn't. he's playing it very safe, i've said to him i think you're running for president, i don't think you're going to iowa or new hampshire but i think if hillary falls or collapses, or something happens where her popularity is damned, he's ready. he's ready. >> will thank you so much ralph, it's been an honor to have this conversation with you. we've had conversations but never this in depth. thank you for your time. >> thank you and if you think this is an easy interview folks, he opposed me when iran for president in 2004 and 2008. >> thank you ralph nader. >> you're welcome.
>> congress is in recess for the summer district work. and all month were bringing a book tv in prime time. tonight afterwards interviews on books about the white house. next meet the press host chuck todd on his book of the stranger. brock obama in the white house. then white house correspondent's april ryan discusses her memoir, the, the white house in black and white. later ralph nader on return to sender, his book about on answer letters he sent to pres. joan joan w bush and brock obama regarding domestic and foreign policy. >> secretary of state john kerry is in havana cuba friday for the raising of the u.s. flag at the newly reopened the u.s. embassy.
diplomatic relations between the u.s. and cuba were restored on july 20 after 50 years. you can see the ceremony live starting at 9:30 a.m. eastern here on c-span2. >> book to be in prime time continues friday with books by 2016 presidential candidates. apm former arkansas governor, huckabee his book and american culture. at 9:00 p.m. dr. ben carson on one nation, what what we can do to save america's future. at 10:00 p.m., senator durbin arco rubio on american change, economic opportunity for everyone. at 1025, hillary clinton on her memoir, hard choices. books by books by presidential candidates, a p.m. eastern here on c-span2. >> c-span is intimately for the our state fair and wrote to the white house coverage of presidential coverage our live
coverage is on c-span, c-span c-span, c-span radio and c-span.org as candidates walk the fairgrounds and here's the schedule. friday friday morning at 10:30 a.m. eastern jeb bush, noon on saturday rick santorum at noon, followed by chafee at 1230 and sanders at three area sunday afternoon ben carson at 5:00 p.m., georgia tech at 5:30 p.m. taking you on the road to the white house. >> this sunday night on q&a, institute for policy and antiwar activists phyllis bennett on u.s. policy since 9/11, recent negotiations on i ran and the warren terrace. >> who is isis, what are their origins, why they so violent.
the obvious question, why the title? >> guest: i was trying to get at something about the fact that he was an outsider and there was a political loner of some form and i think he would wear that as a badge of honor at some point in his political career but also in i think it answers the question why is he struggling running washington? ultimately he wasn't a creature washington which is why people gravitated toward him. but i think here we are, your sixth getting into your seventh and this is sorted trying to figure out i hope i'm trying to help people understand why is he struggling in washington ultimately and he's a strange creature in washington and vice versa. >> host: we will talk about this throughout the hour but you think he is as much of a stranger today as when he first came here? >> guest: in some ways with some people, yes i think that
came through when you saw him struggle just to get a small slice of a minority of his own party to sign up on a budget deal that he negotiated and the immediate reaction from members of congress and his own party, oh i didn't know he had my phone number so i think that reputation is certainly there are. obviously he thinks he knows how this town is run and i think in some ways he doesn't care that he has been told that he is not running it well and many place he feels as if washington was broken before he got here, yes i think he was upset he wasn't able to quote unquote fix washington but in his mind he's trying to operate around it. >> host: the practical question you are currently the host and moderator of "meet the press" and for a number of years you have a daily program on "msnbc". you are the political director of "msnbc" and for good part of
it you were at the white house correspondent. how did you manage to find time to write a substantial serious analysis of this president? >> guest: part of it is i'm two years late inning at published. >> host: at one point i think they thought was going to be the december before. so there is the bad aspect. i had a very good writing research partner and "washington post" person. part of it is the luxury of television. i think i could not have done this in your job. i could not have done this as a print reporter in some ways or even mild job because the little stuff that i've picked up along the way, one of the reviews i got in some ways almost called me out in a positive way by charlie cook traded some point he was like stuff he couldn't get on their overtime and he wanted to complete the story. there is part of that with
television. you don't feel iq can put everything you learn on the air so it's fit. i can't explain it. it wasn't a burden. it just sort of sticks. i might not have felt as if i needed this as an outlet if i worry print journalists. >> host: to what extent of this project change and in what ways? >> guest: changed a lot. i think i thought at the beginning his relationship with hillary clinton would be a bigger part of this book. that wasn't the case. certainly don't expect health care but it kept coming back. i didn't expect a lot of it to be on foreign-policy so sometimes it's some of the issues but i thought that there would be, i think the biggest thing is the hillary clinton relationship. if i could say one thing that i thought would a more dramatic
that really isn't there and i don't have a point of view as to why but i think that was a big aspect to. >> host: i want to get to hillary clinton later when we talk about the president and various other people but i wonder what was the biggest challenge in trying to assess the presidency in real time? i had an editor some years ago he said he can't write the beginning of the story until you know the end of the story and you are obviously not ever going to know the end of the story unless you were 10 years pastor deadline. >> guest: i will be honest that was prt of the challenge. my publisher was pushing me and i would push back. i did not want this book out before the midterms. i thought at the minimum it had to be after, basically after your sixth ears over because i think then you start at the beginning. i remember feeling the same way on this question when robert
raper was the first one out of the box. as you recall he wrote dead certain about george w. bush in year six which is about the same time and i remember thinking the same thing, but if you look historically presidencies don't change much after year six. it's sort of like okay how is it going to end may be an event or two will change something but for the most part with their presidency was in those six years is what the presidency is going to be remembered for and i also don't pretend it's exhaustive. i do think in 10 years another might be more on the economy in here. 10 years or not might be more of a policy book. in 10 years it may be more per race but. we don't fully know. i look at it this way, if what you and i do everyday is the first draft of history i was only attempting to write a second draft. i'm not pretending it's a final draft so it's a work in progress and it could be and i think i
write this at the beginning, there is every chance that his struggles to run washington and to work with congress are a footnote in 50 years or there's the thing that defined his presidency you know i'm right now it defines it clear in real time. i think that's the danger of writing it in real time is that and certainly some of the criticism i've gotten that's where they have gone and if i were critic i would bring that question up to. but i feel comfortable enough that at least we know politically in real time with his presidency has been about. >> host: one of the things that intrigue me as i was writing -- reading through this book in the sense you step out of the narrative and provide a check type tutorial about how washington works. how did that come about, what were you trying to do with that? was that deliberate or is it the way it happened? >> guest: honestly it just
happened. i found i missed writing and i'm not this prolific a writer as you but i wrote a lot of my previous job at "the national journal" in on line and sometimes it did in myself -- but i also believed it's a book that's important to include because of the reader wants to understand the prism with which i am judging him or looking at him or profiling him than they need to understand how i view a system working here or a system that doesn't work there so i do think it provides the context to help the reader understand the prism with which i am examining or analyzing. >> host: before we get to a lot of the specifics in the book let me ask a bottom-line question and that is how do you sum up the president's legacy at the end of year six knowing it's not as this is fairly definitive judgment? >> guest: i go back and i say
the big idea of barack obama was the guy that was going to get rid of polarization a guy that was going to change her politics and take us out of this -- we are as red and lou as we have ever been before. he wasn't able to do that read there's an argument to say circumstances didn't allow it. this is not the presidency he thought he was going to have on september 15, 2008. what he thought he was going to do in the presidency he became in the first six months and is from and manual will argue saying hey this was thrust upon him, this was no time to change washington. we had to save the american economy. that's all well and good that the great promise of barack obama that is something some people say i harp on it too much but that to me that was the hope
and change. that was the whole idea so on that score i think he failed and when i say he has not lived up to his great promise. as a president and as a commander-in-chief is somebody who implemented the economic recovery overtime is going to look at her and better for him. health care is a total, does it ever get fully implemented? that something that is still an open question. ultimately his legacy will be judged on health care more than anything else because they consume the presidency. >> host: it's an unanswerable question but i suspect is when you thought about which is if we did not have the economic collapse in september 2008 would that have allowed him to make our progress on bringing washington together because as you know the theory was things are so bad the republicans and democrats would be forced to work together.
>> guest: you've are right it's unanswerable but i fully believe, i fully believed the mandate would have been that he would have read his mandate as that, of which is about bringing washington together and without the economic collapse you go through these various what has. what would his life had them, this is my thing the wargame that i want to do is what would his relationship right now be with republicans if he only needed six to 10 to vote within the very beginning? he didn't need them ever in the republicans didn't have to work with him either. people forget that. they have the luxury of saying those guys run everything we don't need their boats and had the luxury of saying i don't need to fully deal with you either. how would that change have changed things so without the economic collapse 64 or 65 u.s.
senators rather than 69. there are all sorts of ways that would have changed. >> host: in this book you develop in essence a series of case studies to measure his presidency and health care in afghanistan the repeal of "don't ask don't tell" the air of spring and so on and so forth. which of all of these do you think represents the best of obama's leadership style and which one do you think highlights the limitation? >> guest: i think the arabs bring does both. i think "don't ask don't tell" is the best. this was the case study when you look at "don't ask don't tell" and really what i think is his best two months ever working with congress turned out to be after the first shellacking. it is ironic when you look at 2010 from november to january that was as focused to the white white house, data game plan game
plan on how to do everything. they didn't allow congressional democrats to bully them. it's the first time they put them in their place. they just had a plan to go about it where there was biden on the tax cut, let's get out of that jam, the bush tax cuts when they decided to pump them for two years then there was don asked him tell and "don't ask don't tell" say what you want, "don't ask don't tell" has been part of that and the fact that they never quit and they were relentless about it. at other points. >> host: why did that one work out the way it did? why was it that they have a plan that certainly predated the losses of the midterm? >> guest: they did and i think they were helped by the fact that there was an inevitability i think in the pentagon which help to. i think that there were certainly public opinion was in
their favor on this one a little bit. and the republican party didn't win on it. if it. it was one of those things they felt could go under the radar and in many ways it did go under the radar when you think about how we ended up with "don't ask don't tell". i was new at covering washington but it was something that consumed the first year the clinton presidency. you could argue that was a bigger problem for him or he had. >> host: quite unexpectedly for clinton. >> guest: totally out of nowhere for bill clinton and really set for a disastrous 18 months for him and it was sort of getting caught in a ball things in many ways he got caught up in it. now in hindsight it's weird. some of the stuff i wrote over a five or six your trade. "don't ask don't tell" chapter was finished two years ago and your editing it and going back
and looking at it and it seems so routine at the time but look where we have gone on marriage equality since then. i still felt this was an important story because it was the one time they didn't get up up -- give up. if it passed an work in the house will try to the senate and at the path is a work in the senate senate will turn in a house. the head-scratcher is why didn't they have the same strategic, part of it was they had one verse in. jim massena was told go made this work. they found the republican that was going to work with them and susan collins so there are some things that fell into place. it makes you wonder why didn't they always have these strategies like this? >> host: what is the flip side? what is the one that points out how he has not been an effective leader? is the one that stands out in your mind? >> guest: there are couple. i make a bigger deal out of it than most deal when he went ahead and signed this early on
that the spending bill and the viewer knows what i'm talking about but it was a leftover spending bill from the bush era. the democrats wrote it and they decided to hold it for the democratic president. they knew they would get a democrat as president he said we can wait. it was loaded up with earmarks. >> host: 9000 earmarks. >> guest: 9000 earmarks and this to me was the first test of washington versus obama. what was he going to do in the chicago campaign types it guys wanted him to stick to his guns and you said we would not sign pledges with earmarks in them. why don't you veto it and then there were the washington hansen said don't make the chairman of the house appropriations a former democrat from wisconsin don't raise the ire of nancy pelosi or it will make it that much harder to do your agenda later. it was her amended that obama is much more pragmatic.
this is a guy who is very cautious and careful individual and his image was enough change sometimes. he would push an envelope a little bit and pulled back. i think it's a poor, it's set a precedent in dealing with congressional democrats. >> host: do. >> host: do you think in some ways that fundamentally change perceptions of the presidency? >> guest: i think it did a little bit eerie we don't realize if he vetoes that think about what that looks like. he has automatically been seen as an independent actor in washington. republicans would be forced to say nice things about him. it's the way the town works. i don't want to use the word triangulate but politically and ideologically their ideological train delay's and but it would
have put -- triangulations and he believes to this day he's the honest broker in the negotiating room. but he is not viewed that way by his political adversaries. i think it could have been the equivalent for what it was for reagan because in that moment we had done that and the idea that democrats are going to somehow shut down over it i think -- >> host: part of the arguments seem to be that if you do this it will poison all the relationships with the democrats and the rest of your substantive agenda will be at risk particularly health care. >> guest: i think it just empowered congressional democrats and hindsight allowing congressional democrats to control the timetable in the legislation on health care, you know put it this way dodd-frank, they worked on frank. part of it is because many people in the treasury department don't think there
were only four senators who understood that the regulatory system for wall street have the ability to do if they felt like they had to do it at part of the reason why they were so aggressive that writing dodd-frank as they realized they couldn't let it get logged down in congress. >> host: to what extent did they have a plan to get health care through and how do they have to adapt as they ran into more and more problems? >> guest: they had a political plan and i think a very good one. i call it the butterfly effect. tom daschle not getting confirmed as health and human services secretary was the butterfly effect of health care reform. he's the former senate majority leader. an unprecedented cabinet post that had a cap -- office in the west wing and be in charge and
that office of health care policy. >> host: what's the significance of an office in the west wing? >> guest: for a cabinet officer gavin office in the west wing you have access to the present and the staff in a way that secretary has that and if you just look at secretary of state clinton whether she had more influence as secretary of state or the national security adviser whose office in the west wing had more and a sitting secretary of state is living right now they will say the national security adviser can be the last word. you get to be the last word. you can pull somebody aside. there are intangibles. you were there all the time. if you work -- look i worked in washington and all of my offices are in new york. sometimes you have to be seen to be seen if you want to work, imagine working at the
"washington post" and a bureau outside of washington. he would have been in the middle of that and you have the former senate majority leader. the former maine senator who is somebody who wanted to work come is he able to get max baucus who then was chairman of the finance committee and in many ways of slowing down the process because he was desperate or a bipartisan senate finance committee bill. there are so many ways that this was managed differently so instead they panicked. had to find somebody, kathleen sibelius certainly qualified to run it hhs but she didn't have washington political skills. they had an insider and nancy do paros certainly understood how it worked. they had a great plan. you can't get confirmed over tax issue and they abandoned the idea of having a ceo of health
care because it's essentially what they were doing. they would have the ceo of health care reform and if you look at every problem they ran into from getting the legislation passed to getting it written to implementing it the problem was no one person was accountable and get their initial plan, they had the right idea and they abandoned it i would argue. >> host: what conclusion do you draw about the debate that went on at various points about whether to go big or to go small, get what you can and not boil of the system and get the big conference at though? >> guest: politically and to stand the rahm emanuel argument and chuck schumer and rahm emanuel the chief of staff at the time be arguing for health insurance reform. do this a small slice of the time. this is too big. chuck schumer has made a public how he would go about things recently number three in the senate but if you look at the history of modern presidents
right now and i say moderate going back to the last 50 years most of the accomplishments come of the bigger conscience in their own agenda happened in the first two years and the rest of the six are managing offense in some form or another managing their own problem. if you look at it from a historical perspective they were right to do whatever it took. i think the lesson a new prison will have from this and i think it could be the wrong lesson short-term because i think if you look at obama's success in getting health care but failure to democrats in and failure to do cap and trade and some of these other things they're going to look back and say i should have done it. you only get two years to govern. you only get two years to get your agenda through. that could be a future president what they take from not just looking at bush, obama bush clinton and go back to reagan in
the last two years going back to lbj. it's amazing you get a smaller window to push her own agenda and hindsight. barack obama will sit there and say i should have done immigration early and in the should have done cap and trade early. you overload the system. >> host: you write at one point that the oil spill in the gulf has a quote fascinating lesson in what obama is and isn't as a leader. what do you mean by that? >> guest: the product is a success. the oil spill got cleaned up. bp paid, not the american taxpayer, the gulf we are still trying to measure and it's remarkable where the oil went so job well done. what we learned is he doesn't do theatrics very well. there's a great early story where people are angry.
you know these guys in louisiana, there are some really colorful politicians who aren't afraid of the tv camera and perhaps even seek out the tv cameras. remember all the different parishes have their own guy who aren't afraid of the press and they were certainly dominating the narrative and the storyline. they were looking at where is the calvary? what is bp doing and where is the federal government? they were grandstanding and let's not pretend with anything else. this president where he said he is the least political personally political guy we have had, i would separate clinical from ideological or trait that's a separate conversation but he's not a political influence in that respect so press secretary at the time goes to him and says mr. president you need to show some anger and his response is how much oil is there to clean
up? i would say he's very rational and different from some of these others and he says it's going to buy you time and space and get these guys off of my back. we all know when he's taking it a little but he bought a little bit of political time. he had all hands on deck and they avoided it being lyrical, not only political problem with oil disappeared and it disappeared -- that could have been bad. >> host: didn't look like you would necessarily be the case in the middle of it. >> guest: the federal government manage this very well , too well. the energy secretary figured out how to get a camera down there which they definitely needed to give us a feed for television so
is a daily reminder of this crisis. part of it is he is not instinctually, he said this, i don't do the theater very well. james foley, he was a compartmentalize her and part of it is his up ringing. you and i don't have, you don't know what it's like to grow up african-american and have somebody judging by the color of your skin in this country and he did and he has and he had to learn to compartmentalize in ways. many presses -- past presidents have not but you know it's a unique skill but sometimes it can mess up reception. >> host: as you said there's a lot of foreign policy in this book and i want to talk about two things. first afghanistan.
consumed a considerable amount of time during the first year he was in office. walk us through how he would approach that in what it tells us about his leadership style, the approach he takes to big issues and also what lessons he took away from it to. >> guest: he came in on a recommendation when he started and you look at the nine-month process deciding how to fix the quote unquote good war and the reason i put that in quotes is he himself called iraq the or which meant afghanistan in his mind he was leading people to believe he's not antiwar but he's just anti-iraq war. >> host: just one question on that, do you think i was genuine or do you think i was political cover in 2008 because he didn't want people to think he was a pessimist? >> guest: i would be more cynical and assume it was a political decision except for how he pitched himself and his
unilateral approach saying he would be unafraid to go to pakistan to get an al qaeda operative. he became a big deal to time and lo and behold he ends up having to do just that to get osama bin laden. i think he did have a theory of the case when he was comfortable acting unilaterally as the commander-in-chief so i don't think -- i don't think he was an antiwar guy. i think he was certainly a cautious guy with the use of the military but he's not fully antiwar and he is proof that. with afghanistan i do think he knew that there was an expectation certainly by the military leaders hey basically campaign saying we were losing this war and you will provide all the resources we need for afghanistan so the military-industrial complex to use the phrase certainly was taking advantage of what they saw as a promise.
barack obama never said he would increase troops in afghanistan but it was implied. it was certainly implied in some of his comments. he took nine months and the original recommendation was 120,000 troops or were 140,000 troops and ends up giving 130,000 troops. i think he was frustrated that the pentagon only new troop level numbers. i think he thought it was a media creation and what they learned from it is no you will never meet a general who thinks they have enough troops when they are running a war. so i think that was a frustration for him. he couldn't get the pentagon to take seriously what if i told you i would only give u-20 5000 troops, come up with the striders it would only use 25,000 troops. >> host: he kept saying i asked for options and you give
he wanted to send a message to the pentagon, i'm going announce an end days. >> host: , itous belief that setting of the end date was as much aimed at the peck as the democratic base? >> guest: more aimed at the pentagon than the idea it was a political -- i think he certainly believes he was elected to wind down all the wars and to finish this and to find a new normal in how to deal with counterterrorism. absolutely. think he believes that's one of the mandate his was elected and and that's why it took him so long to come around on isis and iraq, because he feels almost as if he is breaking a promise he was elected to do. but i think what he took away from it is -- if you look at the relationship with the pentagon, is that he has done more and more to try to distance -- almost distance himself from the pentagon or find new leadership in the pentagon.
what happened with gates, one happen with panetta, and then the chuck hagel -- the while point of that, not that he wanted a weak secretary of defense but he wanted somebody over there that it was clear that he felt like he had more influence over. he feels that the pentagon just was always fighting him. >> host: he is about to have his fourth secretary of defense. each one of the previous three has had criticisms about relationship with the white house, some directly critical of the president himself. does this say something about the president's lack of understanding of what that relationship would be or that the pentagon is such a large entity in and of itself that it is hard for any president to have command of that despite being commander-in-chief? sunny think there is -- i think it's the latter. a reminder it's very hard to manage that building, especially when you are in some active
conflicts, and to his credit, he went with somebody who is not known as an obama guy. this is a guy who cut his teeth on clinton, who -- bob gates, certainly was very critical of some of the president's decisions and how he managed the pentagon, thought that inner circle was too tight inside the white house, has nothing put praise for ash carter. ash carter knows the building inside and out. bit it's an acknowledgment that president obama learned, bringing in a chuck hagel, an outsider like this, i thought that was going to work and it didn't. i need somebody who is going to be -- who knows every little thing bit. need a bob gates. i i almost think the pick of ash carter is an acknowledgment that bob gates is exactly the continue of person you need running the pentagon, somebody who i call a super staffer, not a politician. >> host: i had forgotten, until i read the book, it was a
question from you that prompted the redline comment on syria. walk me through that. the question i have is, was there a bigger foreign policy mistake that the president made? or was this the biggest? >> guest: well, i think history will judge that. i think the management of the arab spring is going to be the most debated part of his foreign policy legacy going forward, because if not that are not, if not for this, i ale former senator who said pushing out mubarak, the president of the united states telling protesters we're with you, publishing out moammar gadhafi, telling libyan protesters we're with you. sending the message of protesters of in totalitarian regime, america will be for you. syrians, we'll be there for you. so you cannot look at the syria
decision, nondecision to strike, in '13 at the time and dealing with assad and taking side more than just rhetorically without understands the decision process of what went behind egypt and libya. one sent a message to the eye and sent a message to the entire region. that part of this -- you look back in hindsight, what is interesting about -- i changed the premise of your question and went to arab spring because i -- i think that president clinton or president mcclain would not have publicly pushed mubarak out. i, a con rinsed, speakly the more i learned about the debate that went on inside, when you had hillary clinton, bob gates and leon panetta and ed biden, outfield washington hands, people who knew mubarak in a way that barack obama didn't, didn't feel -- maybe didn't have the sense of the long-standing
personal relationship. this is a necessary autocrat you have to deal with sometimes. >> host: who was on the other side. >> the young guys. the sam manpowers, then ben rhodes, the denis mcdonoughs, people who are still there. hillary clinton is not there, bob gates is not there joe biden is only there of the quote-unquote old guard and that it believed it was inevitable, and the united states -- it is -- no one said this was an easy decision. long-standing ally, and you have the idea that america has been criticized of the years for standing behind to tall caran regimes in the middle east at the expense of those who want democracy and fro dom. so this was barack obama being barack obama when he -- but i income hindsight, this was -- it turned out this was more of a domino effect than maybe even he saw coming or anybody could have
seen coming. so, would things be different in the middle east had he not done that? could it have been worse because mubarak might have fought hard center or would mubarak have left on his own without the united states being involved as much and maybe -- there's a lot of ways -- it is what it is. that takes to us syria, to go back to your original question, when did he draw the red line if drew nit august of 2012, on the day after todd aiken, a missouri candidate for the u.s. senate, used a phrase, legitimate rape" claims that women's systems when they were being raped truly raped could not -- you could not get pregnant if your being being raped and it became this just electrifying moment in the campaign, and the obama campaign saw an opportunity, if they -- to put romney in a corner but to define the entire republican party as out of the mainstream on the issues of reproductive
rights. so the white house was looking for a way that day to talk about it without looking like they -- so they had an impromptu press conference, come into the brady press briefing room and a generic statement on the economy, always something to report about the economy, and then takes the first question and it's on pat aiken. so, here we are three or four questions in, and i went -- the other foreign policy, it was sort of -- it felt -- you know these things when you're in press conferences. i would feel like it's -- i don't -- i'm not out there looking four for chuck todd or nbc news. i'm look ought for those who are reporting. what issues didn't get touch on. economy, let's do foreign policy, and i asked about the chemical weapons, and he said, any use would be a red line. he volunteered the use of red line him used it twice. i think -- he himself -- he
doesn't necessarily say he made -- he should have bombed sierra, but he does admit they didn't handle so it well. we could have gotten the theater right, think he says, on those things. but you cannot but wonder would isis be bogged down in a syrian civil war right now in a way that -- would iraq be more stable or less stable had he helped overthrow assad sooner and taken -- it's unknowable. >> host: churchill called the terrible what-ifs. >> guest: yes, and who are we to war-game this. you can't do that. but everything has -- everything has a reaction. >> host: i'd like to ask you about the president and various people who have been around him or that he has debt with, -- dealt with, and i'd like to start with hillary clinton. >> guest: i'll keep my answe short jeer you said when you anticipated when you started the book -- what is this
relationship between the president and hillary rodham clinton. >> guest: i think a lot better than people realize. this is something that a lot of us -- i have the impression that they're more alike as politicians than, for instance, hillary and bill are, because they both have come to politics as sort of the campaign side of it, the theatric side of it. they both had to learn it. bill clinton is instinct actually a populist. a populist style pop particulars, even if they've ideas are main stream, not necessarily with the tea party of the progressive left but jest this idea of hand to hand -- they're people people, they go into a big room and they're desperate to have everybody like them. for hillary clinton and barack obama, it's a learned -- they don't love that part.
they like competing but they don't love that part. so they bond over that part of it in ways that intrusiveness that politics has made to them intellectually, personally. so that's where i say they have bonded on a personal basis. there's still a lot of distrust. there are people in the obama world right now that are going to not work on -- they're not going to get involved in 2016 because they can't bring themselves -- will i work against her? they can't bring themselves to work for her. >> oo what about bill clinton? that was a very rocky relationship between the '08 campaign, evolved into a better relationship. how good is it? >> guest: i think it's just that. it's better. i think -- i write it this way because i believe it you. watch them -- i think when the two of the seem eye the other, they only see the flaws, bill clinton looks at barack obama and sees a guy, never been an
executive, doesn't understand how to explain politics to regular people. i think barack obama looks at bill clinton thinks, hires ain't undies mens guy. how d undisciplined guy. so they see each are other's flaw first. i think there was almost a lack of respect between the two of hem. >> host: what do you think changed that? >> guest: for bill clinton, what changed it was obama suffering so badly in 20. it was like, okay, now you know how it feels. you have been complaining before. enough this is -- now you know how it feels, and i think barack obama started to appreciate bill clinton's talent. >> host: which came after that. >> guest: came that first -- their bonding experience happened right after the 2010 mid-term. >> host: the meeting at the
white house? >> guest: the meeting at the white house. a fantastic theater where the two of them -- this was not barack obama's idea, i can promise you that. they called a lid, the lingo in the white house for saying, we're not going produce anymore news today. if you need to go home you can go home. don't have to worry about is making news, and-lo and be hold bill clinton and the president want to make a statement to at the press and they are looking for the key to the door. and everybody is -- you guys want to do what? >> host: about four years right now . >> guest: it was a treat. i am not going to pretend i wouldn't be there if i didn't have to but i had to be there. it was a tour deforce, but bill clinton's ability to explain potentially why obama had to break his promise and not repeal the bush tax cuts that year. the first time that he got the idea that bill clinton knows how to explain the economy better than i do, and he seeded them,
and that plants the seed to bill clintoning the explainer in chief for bronco in the summer of 2012. >> host: what's the relationship with the vice president? >> guest: very good. another one where it's better between the two of them personally than between the staff and the vice president. there is a -- many members of the staff who view joe biden as a wonderful resource of political history of washington and that's about it. they don't sometimes see him as the person that knows how to get something done. i think there are some of the staffers who, as they've gotten older and have seen the president lose battles in washington, that approached joe biden's skills more. president obama and -- i think what is interesting now -- it could change -- but i'm trying to think in the modern era that probably carter-mondale is the only thing where you feel like there's a vice president and president that like each other all the way through. bush l