tv 2016 Mississippi Book Festival CSPAN August 20, 2016 5:00pm-6:16pm EDT
[inaudible conversations] >> you're watching booktv on c-span2. joining us now from chicago and the publishers convention is ron charles who is the editor of washington post's book world. mr. charles, what do you do for a living? >> guest: i assign most of the daily reviews in "the washington post", and every wednesday i write my own review. >> host: of books?
>> guest: of books, yes. >> host: how many books a week, seven books a week? >> guest: we review 20 books a week, and we get about 150 of them. >> host: about 20 books a week are reviewed in the post. >> guest: right. >> host: why isn't there a stand-alone book section? >> guest: there is online, but we decided about four years ago to spread the reviews out through the paper to try and see if we could find more readers. it seemed like a disaster at the time to me, but i have had to admit that we do, in fact, have more readers for book reviews now. we just put them in places that people read more. book world, the old book world, the supplement, was much beloved but tended to be the section that everyone put aside to read later when they had time, and that time never came. whereas now we're in there every day in style, in the weekend arts section, we're in outlook every sunday, people see our reviews more in the papers. >> host: what kind of books to you -- do you review? >> guest: i tend to review only
literary fiction, but a lot of political books, history, science, biography, we do a lot of arts coverage on the weekends, on sundays, books about the history of film and theater and that sort of thing. >> host: why do you stick to fiction mostly? >> guest: because i don't have to know anything. [laughter] >> host: that's the end of your answer? >> guest: yeah, that's pretty much -- [laughter] to do a nonfiction book, you got to be an expert in five days on the subject. who are you go to up against david mccullough, whereas if it's fiction, i can sit back and say whatever i want. >> host: do publishers want to have their books reviewed in "the washington post"? >> guest: they say they do. i think they do. there are fewer outlets than there used to be. our reviews get syndicated so, yeah, i think it's one of the important venues. >> host: jonathan yardley -- >> guest: yeah, we lost him. he retired. yeah, my colleague for many years. sometimes twice a week for many
years before i got the post, yeah. but we still have david, we still have michael every thursday, another one of our pulitzer prize-winning book critics. >> host: so, ron charles, how'd you get into this business? >> guest: i was an english teacher for many years which i loved, still my favorite job, but the paper grading was just wearing me down. i just thought if i graded one more paper, i would kill someone. and a student, a student's mother suggested i review books instead, and so i just went to a a bookstore, bought a book off the new fiction table, wrote up a review and sent it to the christian science monitor, and they bought it and asked for more. >> host: so how long were you at the monitor? >> guest: seven years. i was their book critic and book editor there. >> host: can a good review or a bad review sell or hurt book sales? >> guest: jeez, that is the question we all want the answer to. there is some academic research that i've read that suggests that a review in a major
newspaper has a marginal positive effect on sales. but it doesn't, apparently, matter whether the review is positive or negative. it's just getting the cover and the name out there helps a little bit. so i know there are cases where very, very positive reviews have pushed book onto the bestseller list, and once you get there, of course, the bestseller list is sort of sticky, and you tend to today there. >> host: will the post continue to print book reviews? >> guest: oh, yes. >> host: not only -- >> guest: i know we will because we just added staff for the first time in many years added staff which is very exciting to it. yeah, we're committed to it. >> host: what are some of the books that are coming out that you looking forward to? >> guest: the underground railroad which -- i haven't read it, but it imagines that the underground railroad before the civil road was an actual railroad underground, and everybody said this is fantastic. annie -- [inaudible] has a huge novel coming out,
robert olin butler, pulitzer prize winner, he has a book coming out that, apparently, reaches back to his vietnam war days that's supposed to be wonderful too. >> host: who are some of your go-to authors? >> guest: i am a sucker for anything anne tyler writes, anne patchett's always fantastic. i love jonathan franzen. o'brien's novels are always wonderful. steele, i think she's in her 80s, her last book was just fantastic. i am amazed by the number of really fine authors that we have in this country and the number we keep producing every year. and i hate to say it, but our writing programs are really good at producing fine fiction writers. there are many more books being produced that we want to review than we have room for. many more. i won't say that every review we run is a recommendation, but more and more i think we are turning that way because people need direction. they go into the bookstore, and
it's just overwhelming, there are so many books, so they want to know, basically, you know, what should i read? and it's getting hard exercise harder, i think, to justify using our limited space to tell people here's a book you've never heard of, don't read it. there's no danger of them finding that book anyhow. so i tend to -- i don't want a lot of pans in the paper unless there are very big name books that i feel like i can save people's time. otherwise i want to point people to books that they'll enjoy, they want to read. >> host: in washington is it important that you review a lot of the political books that come out? >> guest: it is. people do turn to us a lot for that. we have a lot of expertise in that area. a lot of political books particularly now with the election coming up but all the time, we'll write on the history books, policy books, any books that would impersonal injury on law or government -- impinge on law or government. >> host: how do you develop your bestseller listsome. >> guest: the bestseller list is
generated by nielsens, and they take from maryland, virginia and -- [laughter] d.c. yes. and that information is just given to us, and we filter out some things like textbooks, other things that might show up, you know, certain times of the year. as everyone else does with our bestseller list, to make it cohere to the editorial judgment. >> host: what are some of the best selling books in washington right now this. >> guest: it doesn't tend to differ that much from the national list. once in a while a conference will come in, and that'll push books up on the list or someone will visit, that will do it. someone will come to politics & prose, they'll move 300 copies that week, but in general, the list tracks pretty much the national list. so keep looking at that seeing if we should switch, and we kind of like the idiosyncratic elements that pop up once in a while, but it didn't that different.
>> host: you're here at publishers convention in chicago. what's the importance of this to you? >> guest: i get to meet a lot of publicists that i've talked to all year by e-mail. they give me good recommendations, some of them have become good friends, trusted friends, they tell me what to look for. i also get to meet some authors, which is fun, i can set up future interviews with hem. sometimes i'm just a fan and i can just get an autograph or, you know, kind of embarrass myself, that kind of thing. >> host: do you do anything electronically with the book reviews? >> we tweet them, we facebook them, i've started to experiment with vine videos. i've got this comic series, this satirical series that i do about books the post wants me to start up again. ♪ ♪ >> hello. i'm ron charles. you may know me as a book critic for a major american newspaper. no, not that one. in response to our previous episode, we received literally
dozens of kind messages from all over my grandparents' retirement home. clearly, we're meeting a need. in these hectic times, you need book criticism that's fast, fun and incredibly hip. people often ask me, how long can you keep this up despite the workload, the expense, the humiliation? [laughter] it's a good question. i mean, here we are at the, oh, i don't know how many expos there have been so far, but still the show seems just as challenging as it did way back in the beginning. this week's new book is a blockbuster by jonathan franzen called "freedom." the lit gaer chat started long -- literary chat started long before min could buy it. the -- >> this is a masterpiece. what does it mean, pa? >> i don't know. i don't reckon anybody knows. friends, it's even been on the cover of "time" magazine. do you realize what a big deal that is? we're talking the cover of "time" magazine here.
and three weeks before the book even came out, president obama was fighting for freedom. so what is it all about? if you read the previous bestseller, the corrections, in 2001, you'll feel like you're in pretty familiar territory. the whole story follows the rise and fall of a troubled married couple with two children in st. paul, minnesota. it's classic franzen, a smart, finely-fanged take on suburban life. we're trying to figure out where readers are any kind of a platform and reach them with book criticism or book news. like everybody else. >> host: and are you finding success? >> guest: the book videos, it has been fun to talk to those who see them and enjoy them. i don't know what numbers are yet. on twitter i meet people, readers all over the country, and that's great fun. facebook too. it is fun to talk to people, and it's weird to have relationships now over several years with people and talk about books that i will never, ever meet. enjoyable. >> host: a lot of washington
post writers are also authors. do you review washington post -- >> guest: we do, and that is tricky because a lot of my colleagues do write books in the office. and we go through a very strict process to make sure those books are assigned to people that have no connection to us, that aren't trying to pay us back, that aren't trying to soft pedal a review, and it is the worst part of my job, is waiting for those reviews to come back of my friends' books. and they're not always, they're not always positive. that's really agonizing. but we think it's important to our independence as a book review section. all my colleagues put up with it, you know, even if it hurts their feelings, they know -- and i can honestly say they've all been supportive even under the worst circumstances. >> host: what book reviews do you read? >> guest: i read that other book review on the east coast -- >> host: that would be "the new york times"? >> guest: yeah. i've heard good things. the l.a. book review is a great start-up online -- it's not a start-up anymore, but i'm very
impressed by quality of their reviews, and i read those trade reviews in publishers weekly. i'm trying to figure out what to assign three months out. as far as book review sections, the guardian, just a great section. i'm full of envy for their book section. >> host: ron charles is the editor of washington post's book world. this this is booktv on c-span2. >> guest: thanks so much. >> here's a look at some authors recently featured on booktv's "after words," our weekly author interview program. syndicated radio host dana lash contended the u.s. is dividing itself into two countries, coastal america and flyover america. "wall street journal" columnist kimberly stras el argued the political left is using scare tactics to silence conservative speech. eric fehr talked about his time in iraq working as an interrogator for a private military contractor. and in the coming weeks on aftercords, ann coulter will
make her case for supporting donald trump for prime minister. georgetown university law professor rosa brooks looks at the expanded roles for the u.s. military around the world, and coming up former bush administration attorney general alberto gonzalez recalls his time serving in the justice department and as white house come. and this weekend -- come. and this weekend, seymour herrish on the killing of osama bin laden along with covert operations that have taken place during the obama administration. >> there was tension inside, a republican doing things, and gates was very much against some of the things that happened in the operation. he thought we should just bomb the place and let it go and not jeopardize the seals, because if something had gone wrong and they'd been captured, they would be accused of -- they had no protection. they were basically committing a war crime. and he was a prisoner of war, was the point, and they executed a prisoner of war. and they went into a country without any notice to the authorities. that's theoretically what happened.
>> "after words" airs on booktv every saturday at 10 p.m. and sunday at 9 p.m. eastern. you can watch all previous "after words" programs on our web site, booktv.org. >> on sunday, september 4th, booktv is live from hillsdale college in michigan with best selling author, radio talk show host and columnist dennis prager on "in depth," our live monthly author call-in program. his most recent book examines how the ten commandments are still relevant today. he writes about good and evil, racism, the holocaust and other such topics in his book, "think a second time." and contemplates the pursuit of happiness in "happiness is a problem." mr. prager is here from the los angeles times pest value of books. >> -- festival of books. >> it's very simple.
if everybody lived by the ten commandments, you would not need an army, any policemen, you would not have to put locks on your doors. this is all humans need. it's amazing. >> dennis prager taking your calls, e-mails, tweets and text messages live on booktv's "in depth" from hillsdale college in michigan, sunday, september 4th from noon to 3 p.m. each. 3 p.m. eastern. [inaudible conversations] >> and the second annual mississippi book festival continues live from the state capitol grounds in jackson. starting now, a an author panel on presidential politics. [inaudible conversations] >> welcome, everyone.
can everyone hear us? everyone can hear us? we'll keep at it until you can, i promise. everyone here? everyone ready? everyone have a chair? mostly? [inaudible conversations] i know, i don't think it's on. do we have microphones? [inaudible conversations] >> all right. do we have seats? all right. welcome, everyone. i am chris goodwin with the mississippi department of archives and history. we're going to given the final panel here in the old supreme court chamber. i want to thank the state legislature for letting us use once again this beautiful state
capitol for this book festival. and we thank taggert, rhymes and graham who are the sponsors for this panel on the presidential year. here to say a few words about the panel is andy taggert of that firm and also co-author along with festival organizer jerry nash of the book "mississippi politics." >> now considerably day-to-day. thank you very much, it's really a -- dated. it's really a privilege to have an opportunity to participate many this way, and i thank all of you all for participating. this is an extraordinary gift that the board and the paid staff of the book festival have contributed to our state and the sponsors are thrilled to have a chance to be a part of it. [applause] also welcome to the great treasure that ooh our state capitol represents for all of us. you all -- if we were playing what's my line, among the three gentlemen to my left, one of them would be able legitimately to say i'm a pulitzer
prize-winning presidential biographer, one would be able to say i'm the former majority leader of the united states senate, but only one of these three gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, can say in good conscience that he was eudora wealthy's paper boy. >> that's right. [laughter] [applause] stuart stephens has been a friend of mine for a long time. he will be the moderator for our panel. his father, actually, was one of my very first law partners and professional mentors. i hold this man in extremely high esteem. but for the fact he has not yet learned to play a musical instrument, stuart is the dictionary definition of a renaissance man. truly, he is. he was the first person to complete all ten of the cross-country skiing equivalents of a marathon in the same year. something that sane people don't do, right? it coordinated winning campaigns at virtually every level of the
american political process up to and including races for the white house, currently working in a variety of very tough, competitive united states senate and governors' races around the country, a multiple author himself, accept books, the two most recent would be the ones familiar to this crowned. his penultimate book published last fall the very cool "last season," which is the story of making all but one ole miss football game in an entire season with his 95-year-old father traveling around the country watching ole miss football. his most recent book, though, has just been published, an extraordinarily and prescient, i suppose, it's the story of a strongman who sort of muscles his way into the republican nomination at a brokered convention. go figure? [laughter] i give to you my friend stuart stevens. >> thank you, andy. [applause]
so what we're going to do, we're going to have questions for about 20 minutes, so we'll have plenty of time for that. and before that we'll dive into this. let me just introduce these two gentlemen quickly. i've known trent lott, he doesn't know this, since i was a page for thad cochran. and he was chief of staff for a then-democratic congressman. most of us coming up mississippi politics of that era, we all worked for democrats. i worked for william winter. i worked in all of his losing campaigns. when i finally quit working for him, he was able to win. [laughter] and he confirmed, he has never lost a election in his life, though he maintains that he lost the student body president at university of mississippi, and that should count against him, but i think we'll give him a pass for that. [laughter] but, you know, that's no small thing for anybody. you know, elected to the house a
eight times, elected to the u.s. senate four times. he was minority whip, then majority whip, majority leader in the house and then went over to the senate and did the same thing. which in politics is pretty much as good as you can get for hitting for cycle in leadership. he's written two books which you've got to read. one is really a memoir of politics called "herding cats" which i read when it came out, but i just reread it. absolutely delightful. if you came across a country that was thinking about starting a democracy, i'd recommend this. they'd see it's not easy. and this book "crisis point" that he wrote with senator daschle which i assume is the only book written by two former majority or leaders. majority leaders. now, this came out last summer and talked about the crisis in
our politics and where we're headed and, clearly, this presidential year has proved them all wrong. [laughter] but we'll get boo that. into that. and jon meacham. if you're a writer and like most of us and feel you really haven't accomplished enough, it'd probably be good to leave the room now, because jon has had an extraordinary career as a writer and as a public figure. he's written seven books, one a pulitzer for his biography of andrew jackson which is just an amazing book. i recently saw some discussion that was comparing donald trump to andrew jackson. i thought, clearly, this guy's not read jon's book. [laughter] they would never, never be making that connection. he just finished a biography of
president bush, a man that i, like so many, just admire and love. it's really an extraordinary book. it captures not only a man, but an era. and if that wasn't intimidating enough, jon sort of writes on the side. he's actually done things like being editor of "newsweek," he teaches at vanderbilt, but for many of us his most significant achievement is he's married to this wonderful, brilliant woman from mississippi delta. so we can claim him. [laughter] and if you ever have a chance to hang around with both of them, you realize that jon's actually the domey of the family. [laughter] but the subject is -- the dummy of the family. but the subject is presidential year, and i wanted to start out with you, senator. i've just got to ask, how many times this year have you said to
yourself after you wrote this book that everything you talked about has only gotten worse? [laughter] >> well, thank you very much, stuart, more the introduction -- for the introduction, and i want to thank everybody that's involved with putting together this mississippi book festival. this is really fantastic. i had no idea there'd be such a tremendous crowd here today, and even the rain didn't dampen anybody's spirits, so thanks to all of you that are involved in making this a success. thank you, andy taggert, and your law firm for sponsoring this panel. what an honor it is to be here with stuart and with jon. you know, he really is a mississippi guy now since he married a mississippi girl -- >> absolutely. >> -- and there's -- [laughter] there is clear proof of it because he's sitting up here with no socks on. laugh -- [laughter] haley barbour would say, yep, he's a mississippi boy -- >> that's true. >> with khakis and no socks on, so it's a great honor to be sitting next to jon -- >> i reserve the balance of my
time. [laughter] >> but thanks for the introduction, stuart. you know me, stuart, and you know i've said many times this year this beats all i've ever seep. [laughter] everything i thought i knew about party politics and american politics had has been n out of the water this year not just on the republican side, but the democratic side too. bernie? i served in the senate with bernie. i know bernie. i used to know how we could clear the senate chamber, let bernie get up to speak. everybody would leave. [laughter] so, i mean, it's been on both sides, and i'm having to try to analyze where are we here. but really what we're seeing now is what tom daschle and i foresaw a year and a half ago when we were -- tom and i both served as majority and minority leader, and we went through a lot of tough times, you know? 9/11. the anthrax attack was in his office. we had the 50/50 senate, you
know, 100 senators, 99 of whom -- or 98 think they should have been president. i don't know who the other one would have been when i was there. [laughter] but trying to manage the 50/50 senate and the impeachment trial of william jefferson clinton. we went through a lot of things together, and in the process, we adopted a chemistry. i liked him -- we developed a chemistry. i could talk honestly to him, and i knew he wouldn't betray my confidence. the only thing i promised him was, look, i will try never to surprise you, and every now and again i'd mess up, so i'd go apologize, and we became friends. a year and a half ago we were sitting at his house, trish and i went to see tom and linda to try to teach them how to be southerners. he said, hey, south dakota. i said, no, that ain't going to work. so we took them some mosquito spray, tick remover, took them a hammock. we were sitting out on his back porch, tom and i, and linda and trish were inside, and we were
lamenting what had happened to the senate beginning -- it started deteriorating, going downhill in 2006 and, of course, now the bid lock beats all i've -- gridlock beats all i've ever seen, honestly. tom said, you know, we ought to do something unusual, get a republican and democrat, one very liberal, the other a southern conservative, and see if we can put a book together, and so we did. we called it "crisis point." how prophetic it was. at the time, we really were just thinking about the gridlock really in the congress, but between presidents, both bush and obama, and the congress and what we think could be done about it. well, we needed even more. so in answer to your question and not make this a filibuster, many times i have said, yes, this is a crisis point. the question is now, what are we going to do about it. we think we have some ideas in here, and one of the things i'm pledged to do even though i have
a real job these days, you know, i retired because my wife said don't you think it's time you get a real job before it's too late? [laughter] but my goal in washington is to find anybody that will listen to me on both sides of the aisle, both sides of the capitol and even if it's, if i could possibly talk to the next president, whomever that may be, and say we've got, we've got to do better. we've got to find a way to make this place work. [applause] >> jon, one of the wonderful themes in this book is you have a man, president bush, who embodies a certain era of the greatest generation. war hero at 20, congressman, head of the cia, ambassador to china, vice president, president, and i was really struck reading this capturing
what it was for him to then lose to bill clinton. this theme that you have of passing from greatest generation to the baby boom generation, and now we have republican nominee who is a reality tv star. >> right. >> what do you think that means? do you think this is an aberration or just sort of a continuation where what you've done in the past or service to the country will mean less to voters? >> well, i hope not. the central thing -- donald trump makes, i'll go ahead and say voldemort's name -- [laughter] no one else has. there are, by the way, no bush steaks or bush vodka available commercially, so i apologize for that. trump appears in the '88 race briefly. he told lee atwater who then told president -- vice president bush that trump was willing to serve as vice president. [laughter]
and the old man in his audio diary said, strange, unbelievable. [laughter] which is kind of the headline of the past 14, 15 months. i think in many ways, you know, bush is the antithesis -- george herbert walker bush is the antithesis of what we're seeing right now without any argument. he's someone who spent his life in public service; as you say, at the -- on his 18th birth days, june 12, 1942, three things happened. he graduated from andover, he turned 18, and he drove to boston and took an oath as a naval enlis tee, later becoming the youngest flying officer in the navy. he's shot down, he loses his two crew mates, he plunges into the ocean. blessedly, the life raft was near him. he almost was decapitated on the way out. as you bail out of a plane, the plane doesn't stop, and he gashed his head on the tail of the plane.
so another 6 or 8 inches, it would have been -- that would have been the end of the story. and he, the island in which, next to which he was shot down was the scene of horrific japanese war crimes including cannibalism. so at various points when mrs. bush would be upset with george h.w. bush, he would say, well, at least, bar, i wasn't an hors d'oeuvre. [laughter] which is a pretty strong domestic card to play. laugh and i'm married to a mississippian, as you heard, and i've never had the courage to do that. [laughter] then he gave his life to business, gave his life to public service in many ways emulating his father who was a senate from connecticut for ten years. but a couple of things happened while he was president, and i think we are seeing those forces manifest themselves.
i offer this for your editorial comment. one is the rise of reflexive partisanship. while this man was walking out in october of 1990 to the rose garden with george h.w. bush to announce a compromise with a democratic congress on taxes while we were in the midst of building up 500,000 troops in the gulf, newt gingrich went out to front door -- the front door. and bob walker, remember from pennsylvania, sees that newt has left the white house, he's rebelled against the president of his own party. he goes up to capitol hill, and they meet him with a house republican rally. so the president of the united states in preparing for war trying to impose some economic -- has his own house bolt on him. this rise of partisanship was taking form there. the other, which i don't think we can minimize, and you mentioned the reality tv, but
before reality tv there was cable tv. and mark twain once said history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme. trump and perot don't rhyme, but they should. the bush family has been to this movie before. there has been a populist billionaire who took advantage of the new media techniques of the era in order to go around the party establishment and the press establishment to whip up popular sentiment. and that was ross perot on larry king. and cable television in its way was the twitter and the internet of the early 1990s. so i think that was going on, and president bush didn't fully understand it. and also -- i think president clinton gets a lot of the blame ask is -- and/or credit for this, clinton's ability to use popular culture to be a figure in the life of the country was significant. bill clinton went on arkansas seven yee hall.
i m -- arsenio hall. i am here to tell you that george h.w. bush thought arsenio hall was a building at andover. [laughter] no idea. he had no clue. it surgeon lu was a building -- certainly was a building somewhere. so these tectonic plates are shifting under this man's feet. and one of the things that i think is wonderful and what's great about the culture of books -- and hats off to all of you all for being here and testimony to the power of that -- is that history tends to get right what journalism may not always pulley appreciate. fully appreciate. and i think what's been great for george h.w. bush is that he has lived to see this shift. many of the things that he did that led 37% of the country to support him, only 37% in 1992, the country has come to see as statesmanlike. and i asked him about this a couple years ago, and i said can
you believe all incoe them ins that are coming in, and he said, no, it's kinder and gentler all over the place. [laughter] >> my wife said when she saw bill clinton playing the saxophone, it's over. [laughter] because, you know, that have something that appealed -- i mean, it's the showmanship thing that we're seeing now. >> and bush just didn't, and i think you can say this as well about governor bush to some extent, it was not his reality. this is a man, you know, they lost a daughter to leukemia in 1953. this is a man who in 1987 as vice president goes into a children's leukemia ward in krakow in poland, and the press spray is behind him. rerealizes where he is, he didn't know quite where he was looking into, and he immediately begins to cry because these children, obviously, remind him of his own daughter who died 46
years before or so. but he won't turn around. because if he turns around, the story becomes about him and not about them. i submit to you, there are not many american politicses who would not have turned around. george h.w. bush, that was beyond his reality, and i think so -- to some extent, that's why governor bush didn't do well either. >> senator, let me ask you, there's a lot of debate about congress and the role of the president and the lack of cooperation. you know, there's good reason to believe that either hillary clinton or donald trump had been the next president. do you think this is a trend that is just irreversible, or do you think that it'll be able to somehow get more of a balance of
power back? >> maybe this is just the way i am, i don't think anything's irreversible. the trend has cleary been in the wrong direction on both sides. the congress has not been assuming its responsibilities which has forced at least this president to do more things by executive order. there's no question that they should have come together and passed immigration reform legislation. and -- [applause] and they weren't that far apart. and yet this president and this congress, the congress would not sit down and talk it through. so in the book i emphasize, you know, it doesn't take, to change this it doesn't take but one thing, one person that is willing to be a leader and step up whether it's a congressman or
senator. paul ryan has the potential to do that kind of thing as a speaker. i have a lot of faith in him. or a president. say, you know, i worked all the time with bill clinton. you know? we didn't agree philosophically, he was a character, but we talked. and a lot of times when i didn't want to talk. you know? he called one night at 2:00 in the morning. phone's on trish's side of the bed, she picks up the phone, hands -- says it's the president, hands it over to me, and i start saying, yes, sir, mr. president, we'll look into that, yes, sir, all right, sir, yes, sir, and i hung up, good-bye. i handed the phone back, she says, what'd he want? i said, i don't know. [laughter] something about central america. [laughter] but here's the point, we talked all the time. we worked through all kinds of things, budget issues, tax issue, defense issues, safe drinking water, portability insurance, you name it. did we agree? no. and a lot of times he pressed,
we pressed each other to the point we'd get mad, but we communicated. that was true with reagan. when i was whip in the house for eight years, we met with president reagan just about every tuesday morning that congress was in session at 9:00. sometimes it was bipartisan, sometimes it was just republican. so this trend of not communicating is a recent phenomenon. it started developing with george w. even though he tried very hard to get immigration reform. and by the way, i say to mississippians a lot of -- look, immigration is one of the big issues in this campaign. admit it. if we'd have done what we should have done in 2007, we wouldn't be here now. and immigration reform is not just about illegal immigrants, it's about legal immigrants. we've got people that want to come into america that have something to offer can't get here. one time i had two doctors from canada that wanted to come to picayune, mississippi. you know where that is? underserved medical area. two doctors, highly qualified. you would have thought i was
trying to sneak in saddam hussein. [laughter] it was hard. et started with bush. duck it started with bush. i saw it coming in 2006x now this president and this congress, they just don't talk. that's why -- you know, the deficit worries me more than ever because now i worry about my grandchildren. this is a booger here, and congress and the president are not dealing with it. so the next president, all hillary would have to do if she's president would be to follow the role to a degree of president bill clinton because he did meet with us, and he did talk wuss. or if it's trump -- with us. or if it's trump, somebody, some of us have got to reach out and say, you know, mr. president, you say you're going to change washington? the first thing you need to do to change it is to begin to communicate. there are four things you need to make washington work. number one is communication. if you don't talk, you ain't
going to get nothing done. real simple. number two, you have to develop a chemistry. i mean, clinton made me nervous, but we had a relationship. it was a chemistry that made it possible for us to turn that into action. the other thing we've lost is a vision. what in the hell are we really for anymore? republicans or democrats, do we really know? do we really know what either side would actually do if they're in the majority in the congress and have the white house? and last but not least, i've seen it, leadership. one man or one woman that will face, you know, the slings and arrows and the vicissitudes of the media and say we're going to develop an energy policy many america. we're going to have all of the above. we're going to do it. so it could change, stuart, on a dime.
but it's going to take a person of strength because i've seen it. washington is a tough place, you know? i rode the high road, and i got knocked down into the valley. but the best thing about being in the valley is you learn when you get back up how you can do things better. so it can change. i don't see it right now. i don't want see it with mitch mcconnell. i don't see it with nancy pelosi. i do see hope in paul ryan. i don't know what to expect from chuck schumer who will probably be the senate democratic leader. he's smarter than reid, he's every bit as partisan as harry reid, but there's one difference. he's transactional. you can do business. they don't say it that way many new york city, but they understand it. [laughter] so there is some hope out will. but it all begins in the white house. leadership begins in the white house. we've got to get a different,
you know, tempo coming out of that place. >> one example of that, about leadership and the white house is despite what happened with gingrich back in '89-'90 when the wing of a butterfly, when john towers' nomination was defeated or more secretary of defense in march of 1989, bush needed a secretary of defense. so he reaches out to the house leadership and takes dick cheney which leaves an opening for a minority whip. and a young guy from georgia decided to run for that office named newt gingrich. and ben weber, congressman from minnesota, runs newt's campaign. newt wins, and george bush -- who never really got over being on the ways and means committee, he loved the ways and means committee, kept a locker in the house gym too, actually, to play paddle ball, you know? george h.w. bush's two best friends were lu, the d ashley of ohio, a democrat, and sonny month
montgomery of mississippi, a democrat. so bush, a man of the house, reaches out, he invites not only gingrich over for a beer in the residence, but he invites weber, because weber had run the campaign. and vin told me the story, and he said nobody but george h.w. bush would think to invite the guy who ran the whip's campaign. there they are, they're having a beer with john sununu and bush in the residence, and they can tell -- gingrich and weber can tell this is something the old man wants to say, but he can't quite say it, which was true of many things. and finally as they're getting up, weber says, mr. president, tell us what worries you most about us. and the president's relieved to have the opportunity. he immediately says i worry that that sometimes your idealism may get in the way of what i think of as sound governance. now, at the risk of pulling a rubio, i want to repeat that quickly. [laughter] i worry that sometimes your
idealism will get in the way of what i think of as sound governance. and weber said what he always remembered was that bush said "idealism." he gave them credit for believing what they believed. he didn't say ideology, he didn't say inflexibility, he didn't say nuttiness -- [laughter] he said you're idealistic about some things, mostly tax policy, mostly supply-side stuff, but i believe that i am now the president of all the people, and i may have to do things that you're not going to agree with. he wanted reciprocal credit. and no president ever used the residence, the horseshoe pit, camp david as much as george h.w. bush did. and the old man thought that life was one long reunion mixer. [laughter] and it helped in many ways. you served with him. >> i agree totally. >> senator, i have to ask you,
you're now a senior figure in the party, and as you look -- >> what does that mean, i'm getting older or what? [laughter] >> well, having had this many roles. when you look at the way that we choose our nominees, to you see it as something that can be changed, and if so, do you have any thoughts on -- >> yeah. tom daschle and i talked a lot about that. basically, we think our process now that we use to select our nominees is a mess, and we need to change it. now, it won't be easy because you're, in a lot of cases you're dealing with state laws. but one of the things, we advocate a number of things. we do spend a lot of time in this book talking about civic responsibility. too many americans have lost the sight of what is our civic responsibility. so we stick our neck out. we advocate one year of public service for everybody when they finish high school or when they reach 18, whichever comes first. one year. national guard, fighting fires
in the west, peace corps, you name it. but some opportunity. we also advocate, you know, that we make it as easy as possible to vote. now, where he and i disagree, i do think you need to have to show some identification. so, but we work through that. i like early voting. we're going to have to deal with, you know, modern technology and how we vote and i want more people to vote. i just believe that, you know, we can -- my point of view, we can win if more people vote. but we specifically spend a good bit of time in here talking about the current primary situation. look, i love iowa, i love iowans. chuck grassley's one of my favorites. i love new hampshire. i go to new hampshire with judge gregg, former senator. and then i love south carolina even more. but the idea that iowa and new hampshire and south carolina basically decide who our nominees are is not a good idea. and the process isridiculous.
how long we been in this election, you know? i also would advocate some of the things would take constitutional changes, but i actually advocate that we actually limit -- we can't limit the money in politics because the supreme court has said, i think correctly, money is speech. now, tom daschle doesn't agree with that. but i think we can limit the time. i don't want to go with a parliamentary system like the brits, but i would like to have a system where we don't have the general election but from like the first of september until november. you can't spend money or you can't begin your full -- i believe that if the cam a pains were shorter -- campaigns were shorter, people would pay more attention, it would cost less, and maybe it wouldn't be as dirty. so we do advocate also that we have a -- i'm an advocate of a single primary day for both parties. one day. we all vote, all us republicans vote for our nominee -- [applause] democrats vote for their nominee, and then we go forward to the general election which i would like to limit.
or as proposed by former senator slade gordon from washington state, i think a good idea, maybe we could do it regionally. maybe have five or six reames, and we alternate every few years who goes first, the southeast, the southwest, new england, and so we have five or six primary days. again, it would not cost as much, you could have a better cross-section. also our candidates wouldn't have to be running from, you know, from iowa to new hampshire to south carolina. they could camp in maybe even a little more time in mississippi. so, yeah. i think we need to take a look at some of our, you know, our conventions. i have to confess i even got to where i voted against funds for the conventions, because i just don't think they're really relevant. they're a lot of fun, i enjoy it. i went to, i guess, seven or eight of them, but it's time that we take a look at this. now, you might -- you're sitting there thinking, well, is that possible? yeah. if somebody of substance would take this on and say it's time
we take a look at this, involve the states and the mayors and everybody, but see if we can't find a way to improve the american system. it's been evolutionary anyway. it didn't used to be this way. so i would really like to change the primary system. i'm very unhappy with what we get and how we get it. >> on that, let's open it up to questions. we have a mic at the center there, so it's important to go there so we can capture it on audio as well. there must be questions. please. >> you don't mean my friends in new hampshire are seeing this, do you? [laughter] >> i promise you, it's 100% -- [inaudible] >> okay, good. >> well, while we're waiting for questions, jon, as a student of history, is there any race that you would look at that would be
comparable to this race that that the country managed to survive so that we might have some hope that we'll survive this one? >> i was going to suggest, you know, the land cruisers that led into the "star wars" bar scene. [laughter] so that's one. but you mean actually in, on planet earth? >> yeah, that. >> yeah. [laughter] yes. i mean, the good news is as the senator says, you know, we've endured much worse. ultimately. and if, i would argue that if an unconventional nominee of the sort we're seeing now on the republican side were in a substantially stronger position in the polls, i might give you a different answer. but, you know, the genius of the system is that it manages to
take account of the momentary passions of the people. you know, james madison saw that the bigger the country, the better the chance we had of not having any one group, any one interest, any one state, any one region take over everything. it's a big, big, diverse cup. country. and that's not to minimize, by the way, the political achievement of donald trump. i mean, let's be clear, this man is the nominee of the party of lincoln, eisenhower, reagan, george h.w. bush. >> that's depressing. >> it may be depressing -- [laughter] no, i think we have to -- look, i mean, he won it. it wasn't even particularly close. and so i would argue that those of you who are republicans, i can't think of any -- [laughter] might want to ask yourselves what it is about your party that allowed this hijacking to take place.
[applause] so, and so i'd love to hear you all on that. [laughter] you wanted a question, so -- no, it is one of few recorded cases where the hijacker got on the plane, and the passengers sided with him. [laughter] so what is it? so what what happened? what happened? >> i'm going to, i'm going to attempt to answer that. [laughter] first of all, we spend the first about third of this book talking about, hey, don't despair, we've been through tough times before. i mean, the early part of this country it was rough. you know the story of jefferson and aaron burr and all of that. and, of course, pre-civil war, civil war, the turn of the century, teddy roosevelt and the bull moose. i mean, we've had some really tough times, and we talk about
that. but we also talk about how one of my favorite quotes in here, we have some quotes of past history, and this, again, relates to the idea about the chemistry and how people could relate even though they might, you know, not agree. john c. calhoun said about henry clay, i don't like clay, he's a bad man, an imposter, a creator of wicked schemes. i wouldn't speak to him but, my god, i love him. [laughter] that's the way it really a ought to be. you know? [laughter] you were asking about what happened here. i think both parties have missed where the american people are. i missed it. this is, you know, it's amazed me are we really this socialistic now? and i'm not directing that critically at the democratic party. i mean, it's a lot of us. and in, and what has happened to the republican party. i think both parties have not been listening. i think democratic party had not
been listening to the movement to the left. bernie sanders tapped into it. i mean, he did it. give him credit, he did a heck of a job are. i never heard him give a speech in the senate like i heard some of the ones he gave. and i've asked a lot of rank and file, blue collar working people -- and, by the way, that's my background. my dad was a union member in the shipyard, my mother a schoolteacher, so i talk to people now and say what's going on. both parties have miss9 what's going on with the immigration issue, i believe. even in mississippi, we're not really threatened by illegal immigrants here, but there's a feeling of insecurity. is my job threatened? are we secure? you know, i think a lot of people in america are feeling insecure about where they are and what the future is for their children and are they going to be threatened by this, by millions of people pouring into this country, and, you know, it's gone from talking about 10 or 60,000 to now you're talking big numbers.
and also, and this really floored me, i am a free trader. i voted for every free trade agreement. i voted for and a half a that, the north american free trade agreement. i would vote for the tpp that's pending right now with some side agreements. you have to, sometimes you have to adjust 'em. but we, including me, have lost, we lost track of the way people are feeling in america about trade. they think we've been having our lunch eaten. and i've always used the language, i want free, but i want fair trade. and i don't think we ought to put up with manipulation by the chinese of their currency. i do think we need to make sure the europeans or the asians or anybody's not going to be able to cheat. i also think it's insane what we're doing in america that basically forces companies like carrier to leave america, leave indiana, a good, wholesome mid western state and go to mexico. what the hell's going on? and yet the congress, including
i didn't get it done, we were too stupid to be able to pass a corporate tax reform that would keep these jobs and the growth that it contributes to our company -- country from leaving. those two issues, i think both parties have been asleep at the throttle. we just didn't know what was happening. but the other thing that really worries me, i don't think a lot of people say, hey, wait, this deficit thing's really bug me. what are we going to do to grow the economy and get the kind of growth that we really need to create new and better and high-tech, modern jobs? anybody talking about that? anybody thinking about that? not really. i just think both parties and inma all of us -- and maybe all of us have been coasting. and i think we've been coasting for about ten years. this is serious. this is crisis point. >> the, i mean, one of the striking things about this year historically is we have the least conventional major party
nominee running against the most conventional major party nominee. it's hard to imagine a more conventional person than secretary clinton, and it's impossible to imagine -- [laughter] a less conventional person than the republican nominee. you know, you mentioned the jackson example. i get asked all the time, you know, is this like 1828, is it -- you can tell i hang out with really exciting people, because that's what they ask. [laughter] i'm really a lot of fun to be around. 1828. [laughter] but it's actually not fair, because jackson was a judge, a senator, a general, he'd won the popular vote four years before, and he had a very coherent vision of what he wanted to use the federal government to do. and in many ways, that was to get out of the way of the states. by the way, his quote about calhoun -- since we're dorking out about that -- is that his
it was the middle of obamacare debate and i was in the house then i asked him, we talked about history and i said how is it different and he said it's never been more conservative ever and i said why and he said i've never heard heard heard this using a verb that everyone lives in mortal terror of being primary. the great fear is you lose your base, your local talk radio folks coming your local activists rise up against you and you are seen as a sellout and if we don't have a healthy system where incumbents are basically have the confidence of their bases in the basses have confidence in them than you were not going to get that three out of 10 reaching across the aisle and i think what we are seeing with the establishment republicans right now with their very delicate dance around the
nominee again who has become the nominee as opposed to who he is, not a good sign. what you are seeing there is people trying to prevent the day where the 20%, the 30% of their district further state that is devoted to trump rises up against them in the next primary. >> would the jump into that because there's no question that permeates the contest now and another verb is lugar because we have senator lugar an outstanding senator and a great expert on foreign-policy and i was shocked one time when we would show all of our voting percentages in my voting record was the same as senator lugar's. he's. conservative but he made some mistakes. we didn't sell it because we
knew lugar didn't have a house in indiana and he was accused of being an establishment moderate republicans so lugar, no question that members are more concerned about losing the primary and the general and by the way that's on the democratic side two. lance lincoln who is a good senator from arkansas, a fine lady, you know i really had a great relationship with her, married to a doctor and i think may have gone to some schooling in mississippi but she had twins and she came to me when i was the majority leader and said, i was going to keep the senate in late and she said my son has got it baseball game and i really need to go to the game i said you go to the game blanche there won't be any more votes tonight. i got a lot of good votes out of blanche that way. [laughter] so i want to make the point that
fear is there on both sides and by the way those of you that voted for me over the years thank you. i was consistently conservative than i used to think i was a right-winger and now i would probably be identified as a raving moderate establishment and i don't know how that happened. i'm still very conservative but you know i'm like the jack kemp type of conservative. i ate mad about being conservative. i'm happy about it but i'm willing to give a little, give up a little. ronald reagan used to say give me 6% of something and i will take it. now it's everybody, it's all or nothing and the result, i want to make sure, what is going to be the impact of trump on the republican party? it depends on how this election turns out and i'm not sure how
it's going to turn out. a lot of people are thinking it's over. i will tell you now this is going to scare the bee jesus out of everyone before this is over because there are warts on the other side too. i can tell you a lot of stories about things i had to deal as majority leader to work with bill clinton when the first lady didn't like what i was doing on welfare reform and balancing the budget. i have been there and i have known hillary since 1973 when i was on the house judiciary committee during the intense -- impeachment trial of nixon and she was a democratic staff member. there's a history there. if you are interested look it up. i think both parties have got to take a look at where are we. we can't let the impact of trump be the lasting total ramification of four republicans are going to be but my problem
with the republican party and i asked this question in 2006. i stood up at a republican conference of senators and at that point i believe we were still in the majority. no it was in 2004 that we lost the majority and i asked the question, what do we stand for? what are the three things we are going to do if we are in the majority and nobody stood up and i'm not sure where the other party is. but it's not really about the party's final analysis. it's about the country and what are we going to do to preserve this great young republic that we have been so blessed to have? so i refuse even in my advanced age stuart to give up on my country or my party and i believe the old adage, this too shall pass but how will it pass?
i don't have all those answers but we had better be asking and no matter which one winds we have got to find a way to help make sure that we address some of the serious problems that we have in america great right now internationally, i am scared. the world is as dangerous as hell. putin is pushing the envelope. the middle east is a mess. i ran has done all kinds of strange things and it's the threat to israel and all of the middle east and china is pushing the envelope. how are we going to deal with all of these things? so these are serious times but when you have people like you that take time on a saturday to come to a book festival, there absolutely is hope that it's going to take some strong leaders. i can't tell you right now who they are going to be.
i've got some good friends in the senate that have the potential to be strong leaders but they have been risk-averse. they won't step up. they are worried about the primary. we have got a guy right now that is threatened in the race, right blood from missouri who was the number two man in the house of representatives a really good senator. he is not absolute sure of getting reelected. he has a serious contest in the same thing in north carolina with richard burr. that could be one of the fallouts. if trump goes down he could take down not only does better obviously threatened in states like wisconsin and illinois but it could extend to other states. even my good friend who i did battle with over years mccain has a harry race in arizona so
this is a year that tests men's and women's souls in certain ways. thanks. >> roy blunt is a client of ours. he is going to win. it's just worth noting that only in 2012 all may one republican in the race ran ahead of ahead of all the rest. and right now when you have trump losing georgia that's an ominous turn but anyway, please. >> a historical perspective may be. we are in totally new ground with the 24/7 news cycle and social media and i'm wondering if you gentlemen think that this
has in any way impacted the polarization of the parties and it just seems to stand itself and i feel like we are almost in a new era of yellow journalism. remember that word? from history 101? journalism is changing rapidly as well as technology and i'm just wondering what sort of an impact you think that is happening or that you see on polarization? thank you. >> historically you are exactly right. in the 20th century it was in many ways an aberration in media terms because the 18th and 19th centuries, all media was parsed so if you are pro-life you had your own paper. one of the reasons we had "the new york times" style without fear favors when it off ox move from chattanooga to new york to
buy "the new york times." there were something like 40 newspapers in the business in new york so the only place he could find a market niche was to pretend he was neutral. it eventually worked its way to the top of the chain. then when we had broadcast there was a sense that because the airways were public it requires a certain amount of evenhandedness. is really post progressive era phenomena that you would have that you would think of as a new trial media. what you have now is everyone in this room is in the media and everyone has access to the same platforms. if you have something to say that attracts enough eyeballs it can go around the world as much as anything. dan rather and walter cronkite never did. we do have a problem of self-selection.
an extraordinary amount of people only get their news and the only counter their news from a facebook reporter feed. you choose the sources of what comes in. the serendipity of news of looking in the encyclopedia under ra and something found under ra is interesting or reading a newspaper and having a story catch her eye that you may not even be interested in, that serendipity is almost extinct. i think it's increasing a cultural silo -- sidling. it's inherently bad for democracy. the senator mentioned a year public service. that's exactly right. we know each other too little. we stare at screens and we filter our news and we don't
tend to talk to people who don't agree with us and if you don't do that then you are in trouble. the great era i would argue off domestic and successful cold war activity was in the 40s and 50's were even had people who had gone to public school. there was a military draft and people knew each other from different classes. there's a famous story about pt 109 boat that jon kennedy commanded, had a plumber from brooklyn and a pipefitter from pascagoula and an extraordinary number of different types of people. it's almost impossible to imagine that happening in any common way now. this is an important point. does anyone think if we have a selective service draft in a serious way that we would have conducted our foreign policy the way we have over the last 14 years?
>> the fact that you would say that immediately is really disturbing, isn't it? it's so obvious that if all sons and daughters of the country were eligible to serve in the military we would do things differently. i think that's a very deep issue at the heart of the republic right now. i do think the modern media, social media has clearly had an impact on politics and campaigns and a lot of our candidates still don't understand. it is a relatively new phenomenon though some people have said. i was one of the first people that they were able to take them on the internet when i made the mistake of over speaking one time and i was shocked. it came on the clock 24/7 nine have facebook and twitter and you've got all this stuff