tv 2016 National Book Festival CSPAN September 24, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm EDT
years. when you go on your iphone, your smart phone, your computer, do computer, do you have any expectation of privacy? no. no reasonable person would. there is all kinds of material out there, clearly the chinese and the russians are hacking. we may have september, october surprise, we may have a surprise every month if this ceo is to be believed and he is somebody who knows, for the next 20 years. >> the next call is liz in arlington, virginia. we are listening. >> caller: i am a huge fan of yours. my question is, how difficult was it for you personally to keep the identity of deep throat a secret for so many years?
>> guest: because we gave our word and when you give your word you want to keep it and carl bernstein and ben bradley, the editor of the posted. finally, mark who is the number two in the fbi, think it was 11 years ago he was 90 at the time, he decided to reveal he was that source. so he and i were able to tell that story. in fact there was a movie that i think will be out about mark either this year or next year. we will see more of that detail. >> host: do you think his reason for being so-called, deep throat , was personal, patriotic, revengeful? >> guest: one of the things, as a reporter, as a human being, you realize that there are always multi- reasons and
drivers and motives for any action. in the case of mark feld, i think part of it was that he wanted the truth out, part of it was that he was angry because he had been passed over as fbi director. part of it was that he knew and believe that i would protect that relationship and the information he gave us. i wrote a whole book about it, "the secret man" the secret book is out in this movie. a number of people have written about it or written books about it. but when you look at it, and i knew mark feld in that relationship, it was never a relationship where he said, okay i'm going to come clean and tell you everything. it was a relationship in which he controlled the disclosure and the clues on there is never that kind of sit down of hey, let's
have a walk in the park for six hours and tell the whole story. he's not that sort of person. he was very uptight, very concerned that he was going to be identified. very perplexed about the criminality in the nixon white house. so he found a way, he was not a volunteer, he did not call me. it was somebody was somebody i had met when i was in the navy. i kept going to him and so he would provide limited clues. >> host: next call is a can in florida. hello, hello, you are on book tv. >> caller: thank you. i have your book and just began reading it. i was asked why are there no for the graphs in the book? >> guest: well, because in the back of the book there are photographs and 70 documents
that we have not seen publicly before. some of them top-secret and i thought the documentation was much more important than photos of next and and, nixon and butterfield. there is one on the cover but as we go through this era where everyone questions every institution, politicians, candidates, certainly distrust journalists, i thought this was an opportunity to present the raw information that is talked about and discussed in the book. >> host: the last of the presidents men is the most recent of your book. what is the next book? >> guest: i do not know yet. i am not working on one, i'm working on some things for the campaign coverage. i think finding out exactly what
hillary clinton and trump, who they are, what they are up to is it really important. i think there will be a fabulous book for somebody about the first year of the next president. >> host: is this election unique in your view? are all union elections unit, yes but what is different about this on? >> guest: this election, so many things are different. five or six months ago a colleague of mine at the post, bob and i interviewed trump and we published the transcript. he said all kinds of things that really surprised me. it shocked many readers. for instance, he said, i bring out the rage in people. he said that with pride. now,
normally a presidential candidate would say, i am going to unify, i'm going to bring people together, i am not going to make them angry. he is quite proud, many times, rage, he is happy he brings outrage. we. we asked him why other republicans either succeeded or failed in the presidency, why did nixon fail? trump's answer was, while his personality and we had to say, well the criminality, the crimes and trump said, oh yes, those two. why did lincoln succeed? trump's answer was, because he did the things that needed to be done. in high school, you wrote that on an exam paper you wouldn't pass. there is a lot of history he does not understand. it is also clear that he understands something going on in the country about the anger
and distress people feel at the elites, at the people who are privileged. both democrats and republicans. i think it is a campaign that is, and not just reveal the candidate but revealed the country. >> host: let's hear from norman in warren, michigan. hello norman. >> caller: mr. woodward, first of all, thank you for all of the rate books you wrote. you have have done a great public service over the years. speaking of mr. trump, does the idea of a trumpet presidency scare you as much as it does me? i think of the man as, for lack of a better term, as an imbecile. maybe that is too harsh of a
word, but he clearly suffers from a lack of a liberal arts background. >> host: let's hear from bob i think we got the point. spee2 okay, a lot of people agree with you. obviously there are people who disagree with you. in my business what i really believe in the tradition and habits of neutral inquiry so the thing i can do is tell people, as much as possible about him, about secretary clinton. i think there are key things we do not know, like what is in some of her e-mails were donald trump's tax returns. i hope we are going to get some information is an insight before the kid. you say them i scared? i don't know. the presidency has withstood all kinds of people and we have a
democracy. if trump wins we are all going to have to deal with that i suspect. >> host: this is a text message from can in new york. woodward and bernstein did investigative work no longer done by the traditional press. it is now done by fringe groups like wiki leaks. what has changed? >> guest: well, but that is just not the true. my own newspaper at the washington post has done a whole book whole book on trump. david has done some some great information on trump's charities. how how he used the charity allegedly to pay off all kinds of things that were personal and that's not what a foundation is for. so i think there is some great work done, get i think we need to know more.
>> host: a text message, what was the relationship between president nixon and wife, pat? >> guest: in the last of the presidents men, butterfield, nixon's aid was assigned the patent an account. he describes in detail how she was kind of the abused wife. nixon would not talk to her, would not consult her, there are some scenes that are the saddest i have ever written about nixon and butterfield, and pat nixon flying in a helicopter. pat next and says to her husband, dick, we need to go up to new york over christmas, let's have let's have a good time with the girls. nixon totally ignores her, sticks with his yellow legal pad and she keeps added. butterfield just said, he almost wanted to reach over at nixon
and grab him and say hey, u.s. ob, answer her. >> host: next call is carrie in hill city, south dakota. hello carrie. >> caller: hello. this is a pleasure, you have no idea how glad i am to talk to bob woodward. my question for you is very simple, when you and carl were working on the watergate think, did either one of you realize that you were probably probably unraveling one of the greatest mysteries in american history? >> guest: there were stages and it was over a two-year period. we felt we had good information and good sources, but remember people do not believe it. nixon beat george mcgovern in 72 after we had written most of the stories. nixon beat mcgovern, it was a landslide. people, i think the the sense
that the president was a criminal and would order and carry out all of these illegal and abusive actions seemed impossible. so it was story after story, we wrote hundreds of stories in the end. it was the watergate committee, the house impeachment inquiry, the watergate prosecutor who really dug into the same eventually developed the documentation, testimony, and secret tape recordings. >> host: who is still alive from the next in white house, from from the house judiciary committee at, et cetera? >> guest: that is a good question. alexander butterfield is one of the few. >> john dean. >> guest: john dean is, who is nixon counsel who testified so
dramatically and 73. he testified for days about his dealings with nixon and the crimes in the cover-up. you know, there are a few people but the main aids are gone. henry kissinger is still alive, he is a figure in this book. i think they're still work to be done on the vietnam war and why nixon continued that more when he had the opportunity, when he became president and 69 to change the policy. he withdrew troops but increase the bombing. so what's the bottom line? what's the lesson? history is never over, there is is always work to be done. >> host: this is a text message from 956 area code, reminder if you send a text message include your first name and city. mr..
mr. woodward, who is the most honest politician you have research? >> guest: i have found in the event that gerald ford who pardon nixon. i thought the pardon was a corrupt act and i examined it in detail and interviewed ford many times. actually what ford did, rather than it being a deal or an act of corruption it was a very courageous act to pardon the, and watergate, if nixon had not been pardon he was going to be investigated certainly indicted for fraud and maybe go to jail so we would have two or three more years of watergate. as ford is said to, i needed my own presidency. >> host: when was the last time he sat down with joe ford before he died? >> guest: it was several months before, i think. one of the things he told me
which we published in the washington post, fort said that if he had been president, he would not have invaded iraq as president george bush did. >> host: jon is calling in from naples, 40. john, you are on with author bob woodward. spee3 hello bob woodward, how are you? i'm a huge fan for many years. i wanted to ask you please, continuing on the donald trump dialogue, what is your take on what i see now just published for the first time yesterday in yahoo! news, and i see this morning in the washington post and the new york times, the involvement of the carter page with donald trump and blood mere putin and a lot going on there. and more than what trump may be
chooses to dismiss. and who are you voting for if we could ask? but your opinion of carter page, trump, this alignment with russia, and really trump working in the interest of potentially russia rather than the united states and the selection? >> guest: i don't know the specifics but i inc. there are a lot of unanswered questions about trump's dealings in russia and with blood mere putin. that is one of the reasons to get his tax return in terms of who i am voting for, i don't vote. i think it's important that these that work on candidates and presidents extract themselves from reaching personal conclusions and if you vote or view allow yourself with one side or another it adds to the suspicion about the neutrality of the press which i think is a giant issue in this campaign and the country right
now. >> lynn downey did that at the post correct. >> that's correct, he used to vote and take my young daughter into the polling booth with me and let her decide and told her she was empowered to vote for me they let you do that and the district of columbia. but now she is often college and so i am alone and literally i am not going to vote. >> host: okay, back to mark, did you write it down anywhere, did you did you put it in a safety deposit box, did you tell your wife your pants, anyone?'s view. >> guest: yes i told my wife, told my wife, years ago ben bradley new, before they disclose the identity in 2005 new he was getting old and senile so i wrote the book that
became the secret man and did the first draft of it. and had been bradley go through it, i had my editor go through it. so it is important, vitally important that that not be an unanswered question about watergate. >> host: text message area code 56 one, mr. woodward, woodward, what you think about the clinton foundation? >> guest: i think the clinton foundation is one of these money stories, my newspaper, the washington post has done some wonderful in depth the work about the foundation. i think there are unanswered questions. i think when secretary clinton says, there was no conflict, i mean it was a walking, breathing, living conflicts. at the same time, in her favor
in bill clinton's favor the clinton foundation has done a lot a very good and important work that other people wouldn't do. but again, it it is like e-mails, and trumps tax returns, we don't know the whole story there. i hope there is in fact more information about the foundation, about the speeches, about all of the money making by both candidates before the vote. >> host: let's get stephen in before we close. >> caller: can you offer any insight into the relationship between dickinson and former president george hw bush senior? >> guest: that is an interesting question. of course bush senior had the republican national committee and was chairman during watergate. that was hard duty.
bush had to go and defend nixon. at the end he was one of the people that urge nixon resigned. it was not a very close relationship. i think it is one of the examples, nixon built this web and he entrapped people. bush wasn't one of those people who was given the responsibility and soldiered on through it. at the same time i know when i did books on the first gulf war, when bush senior was president, bush senior would never talk to me. he would never be interviewed. i think the lingering memory of watergate was too large.
>> host: bob woodward, bob woodward.com if you want to get the full list of all of his 17 or 18 bucks. his most recent "the last last of the presidents men" a look and insight into butterfield. think of her be in a book tv. >> thank you. >> if you like presidential history another new book is coming out, it is the paperback version of "first ladies" book. you might book. you might remember that c-span did a series just recently on all of the first ladies. it was in the last two years or so we came out with a hardback book at that point. but the paperback version is coming out. you can preorder it on your website beginning tomorrow, it is also available at your favorite booksellers. first ladies, the presidential history on 45 iconic women. this is the paperback version. it will be available beginning tomorrow.
coming up, several more hours of live coverage from the national book festival here in washington dc. in. in just a minute representative john lewis will be out here to take your calls and talk about his national book award nominated book "march, part three" this is about his civil-rights career and what he did to influence that. he will be out here in a minute. it's a busy day in washington. earlier this morning, representative lewis spoke at the opening of the new national museum of african-american history and culture. i want to show you a little bit about what he had to say. >> and now you're free bob. >> this is a great achievement. i tell you, i feel like singing the song in my head, the jackson song on the march of washington, how we got over. how we got over. there is some who said, it
couldn't happen, who said, you can't do it, but but we did and we did it. we gather here today to dedicate the building, but this places more than a building, building, it is a dream come true. uni, each and every one of us are caught up in the sea of light. the volunteers that are born in. the mine of a life better and their supporters. they met right here in washington, d.c. in 1916. exactly 100 years ago. the 19th street baptist church is still in existence today. see what a dream can do. you can roll up a sleeve of those veterans, touch a rubble
on their backs, you you might find the wounds or shackles and whips most cannot read the declaration of independence or write their own names. it in their hearts, burn andd enduring vision of true democracy. that no death ever erased. they understood the meaning of their contribution. they set a possibility in motion , passing down through the ages from heart to heart and breath to breath. and we're giving birth today to this museum it is a testament to the dignity in every corner of the globe who you're in for freedom. it is a song to the scholars and
scribes, scientists and teachers, to to the revolutionaries and the voices of protests. to the ministers and the author of peace, it is a story of life. the story of our lives. it is wrapped up in a beautiful golden crown of grace. i can hear the distant voice of our ancestors whispering, they might find, still away, steal away home, we home, we got long to stay here. a big bowl -- i woke up this morning with my mind stare in our. all their voices are roaming for centuries are finding their home here in this great monument. through pain, suffering, and our victory. when i was a little child
growing up in rural alabama was hundreds of miles from washington in the washington monument or the lincoln memorial. my teachers would tell us and cut out photographs of picturesr of great african-americans. because it was the nigbor history week, now called african-american history month.i i looked at george washington carver, rosa parks, and so many others who lives and works were being enshrined in this museum. as these doors open it is mydigt hope that each and every person who visits this beautiful museum will walk away deeply, withti
greater respect for the dignity and the works of every human being. and a stronger commitment to their ideal of justice, equality, and true democracy. thank you. [applause]. >> and now joining us life here at the national book festival is congressman john lewis and his co-author andrew id. here is the book "march, book three" it is the nominee for national book award for you what. of time does this cover? >> guest: this cover the latter part of my own involvement in the civil rights movement. that part that starts with right after the march on washington, the bombing of a church in birmingham that took place on
it is not for phone calls it is for text messages only 202- 202-808-6251. please include your first name and your city. >> we're talking about the african-american museum is opening today. >> the opening of the museum tells a powerful story. it's a history of african-americans. i've have an opportunity to walk through this museum. i cried. and even today i shunted some tears on was a sea of humanity owned them all. the museum is located on the front porch of america.
we were sitting there on the front porch of the museum and one of the reasons that we insisted that that be a friend porch they would come and they would take seats on the front porch of the house of their homes. i think this museum would be hundreds of thousands of millions of people from all over the america and around the world. this museum is not just a story of an american story. it is our sorrow in our pain but also our victors. >> have he put a day like today and working with
representative john lewis honey put that into context? >> i've served on the staff for ten years. one of the things i have seen is how the congressman doesn't simply look at things as a short-term objective he always has a long view. and sometimes those long-term projects all come together on a single day. to see the national museum of national museum and culture open on a date when the date when he's going to the national book festival and part of the same mission. it's a part of his dna prior to his mission. we can't understand the politics of today. at the time everybody thought was a longshot to get this museum passed through the congress. everyone thought it was a long
novel. in the persistence persistent can work in change this country. >> what's your background. i was raised by single mother in atlanta and my father was a turkish immigrant who came to this country and then actually left my mother when i was very young i already been a rabble-rouser. you see a single mother being treated be treated the way they are in america you can help but ask yourself. what can i do to make it better. so the other people don't have to watch their parents suffer that way. and that developed i developed my own social consciousness. it made me want to be a part of the public service. i wanted to be a part of the
there were people on other sides of the bridge that were getting kill you why do they kill other people to keep someone else from killing them. and we have a right to march from selma to montgomery. we did in an orderly nonviolent fashion. i love everybody. i can have an opportunity as i decided to take congress back to alabama to montgomery. at home in his bed. he was paralyzed.
he wanted us to come by and see him. he was in his bed smoking a cigar watching the story on tnt. they were reluctant to shake his hand. i described him by his hand and said hello governor how are you. and then they all came in and shook his hand. >> let's hear from our collars. -- collars. >> i have to tell you it is wonderful to get to see a hero and i want to thank you for everything at civil rights and
rights in general. i wanted to ask this one of mister woodward. what are your concerns about donald trump and his presidency. in my second question is i've been a democrat my whole life. i don't feel like i have a voice in my party is there something that you see that you can do to help women not having to go in that tragic direction. >> i think we got the first part of your question. speemac i don't want to see mister trump become president first of all, i don't think he is qualified i think he has a mean spirit and he wants to
take us back to another time. i think his presidency would divide america we've come so far we've made so much progress and we must still make progress. we must lay down the burden of a race in division and create one community, one family and it doesn't matter whether were black, white, latino or native america. we all live in the same house. or the world has. and we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters. colin kapnick. kneeling during the star-spangled banner. what he's seen other people are taking part as well. he has inspired something. we almost jokingly said that
all of this has happened before and all of it will happen again. we know way of knowing how great we were. he is a key part of bringing protest. they can in fact either reinforcement. in people where the driving force in many ways of this civil rights movement. and they were the key component in pushing some of the most important reforms that they achieved. if he is able to inspire young people to participate to speak up and speak out that he's doing in this nation a great disservice. >> next call for our guest. came in, go ahead. it's an honor to talk to you. i'm a student of the university of maryland baltimore. in my question for you is what
advice do you have for people who are involved in the black lives matter movement. >> i know you're president is a wonderful young man. he was very much involved in the city in birmingham during what i like to call the children crusade. into all young people and it doesn't matter if they're black, white latino asian america. do in a peaceful organized nonviolent fashion i would ask my mother and my father about segregation and racial discrimination. don't get in trouble.
but i was inspired to get in trouble. necessary trouble. they have an obligation and a responsibility to do. i was invited to meet privately with the president. this was my first visit to the white house since the march on washington. my first one on one visit with the president. if you go back and get all of those folks registered. you have to squeeze. president johnson was very colorful.
and sometime you would listen to him you would smile and you would laugh. he was making a plain and clear their trading everybody registered to vote. >> i think nate foul is one of the finest graphic novelist of his time. he is an artist on this book. were sorry he is not here today. he has been good. working as hard as anybody on this team could. i am very proud of you.
with your life history. my question is with all of the resources we have and how fast they are motivated to do something about white, black and everyone like you have a march on washington now. the best march we can have right now in america is on election day november the eighth for all of us all over america black and white native america. the young people to march to the polls. the vote is precious. it's almost sacred. let's go to the boat. dr. king maybe if they can't
run, crawl. just go to the polls. and vote. they'll be the best march we can have at this time. do you have a sense of optimism about race in our country going forward. i'm very optimistic and very helpful that we can lay down the burden of a race and working to create. we would serve as a model for the rest of the world. sometimes people tell me that nothing has changed. come and walk in my shoes. and i would show you change. elizabeth and denver colorado.
this is truly an honor. my mother lived in mississippi during that time. i know you have to explain it to you. i would like to know what advice you have for they don't people to that are struggling with that today. it's hard for them. i would like to know what advice you head for them. to feel more included but to be less violent. i grew up in rural alabama. i remember so well august 28 i saw the pictures i read about it they get the
african-american museum. i said to the young people never become better, never become hostile. never to hate. be optimistic. and never get laws in the sea of despair. we will change america. will take it a better place. i did not realize this. was there a connection between that and the fact that though march on washington was on august 28. i think some of the people have that date in mind. it was also the beginning of
the bus workout. and rosa parks said how do you do it. she couldn't get out. i thought about what have happened. >> the next call comes from a place called troy alabama. this is jason jesse in troy. >> you are raised with my mother and grandmother and stuff. i like what you're doing. my question for you is what do you think about what's going on in charlotte and the other places with the police brutality that's killing the black young men? >> thank you so much for your calls. i'm very sad about what
happened in charlotte north carolina what happened in oklahoma and other parts of our country but police officers and young people in all of us must come together and talk to each other never hate each other. we need more of what we call community policing may be police officers along with young people. then should study the way a piece of peace in the way of love. during the 60s i was arrested in jail beaten and left bloodied. and never became better. when i see young police officers with the african-american we think you for your service.
they're out to protect us and protect our society. it was moving to see the young demonstrators in charlotte, north carolina, shaking hands and hugging the national guardsmen. >> how old are you. you didn't live during the era of march. when you think about what's going on today and what you've learned about in this history what are your thoughts. there is a bright light and the fact that we are actually seeing many of these killings i don't think they are happening in isolation i don't think they just started. i think they've been happening for quite some time but because of the nature of camera phones and technology in technology we are able to record these incidences and they can't be swept under the rug anymore. i think the first step towards
dealing with them. and finally we are able to have a national conversation around it. and my hope is that that spurs organizing protesting and action on the part of our elected officials. for me growing up in the district i heard about the civil rights movement. i saw some parts of it. but i never have the opportunity to hear the story of the young people and so what i was constantly trying to do was to tell a story that i heard john lewis say and make them meaningful in important so my generation could understand what it took to get the progress that they have achieved. >> with a call from another city. this is well in atlanta. >> i appreciate you taking our call. looking back all of these years on sunday morning i'm
grateful that it turned out the way it did given the scandals that followed and what happened publicly afterwards. the fact of the matter is voting is not almost sacred it is sacred. we as a nation were founded in the covenant of the university. there might be multiple parties and there's only one god. if you're not serving truth and justice. >> this is a text message a few words about shirley. i met her years ago. she came to congress to put her on the ag committee and she represented brookland but
she served us very well. and she tried to help get food to starving people in the south and were rural america in virginia, and kentucky. all over the place. and she was the first woman to get out there and get her name on the ballot to run for president. >> let's take another call with time for a couple more calls and of course i have lost my place in this modern technology i will work my way back in two seconds while i'm trying to find what it says to do how did you find out. i showed the work.
and when i booted up the computer all the sudden i have all of these messages what are these people talking about. i finally have a goat look at the website. i said what has just happened. and that's how i just found out. i got a call the congressman and tell him. i think so. we should be there. if we are finalists we will be there. we both head day jobs but for something like this we should leave the day job. martin is calling in. i would just like to ask a question i am originally from chicago. my uncle felt the original
stadium. now my question is i have seen chicago to the point that it is embarrassing to the nation i live in texas for 12 years now. however, my question for you is what happens with the morality of blacks in america. i am saying whoever mentions the fact that the deterioration of the family and what is the excuse for that. you've all of the people there at the congressional representatives the oprah winfrey's how do you explain sir and i will only ask that. >> let me say thank you so much for your call.
there are many african african-americans in chicago and other major urban centers all across america our doing very well. but there are some people in our society that have been left out and left behind. and they're not just african-american but they are white american. as a country in the people we must see that all of our citizens i looked it up and that they have the grace and the support to move ahead. we must see that all of our children receive the best possible education and great health care. i am a history teacher in richmond virginia. it is an excellent resource i let students know that this was a movement by young people.
what else do we need to do to combat youth apathy. to help young people ask what would gandhi post on facebook how they use these tools. so in the sense i tweet for a living. but for these young people they head at their fingertips the capacity to organize on a scale never before seen on the face of this planet. if we can put them into context of what these great leaders had to go through and then ask them how would they use the tools of today to achieve the same results i think that empowerment will help them feel like it's not out of touch. it's not something that should be available to them. they have the capacity and the necessity to act.
i think it's important to young people to understand to read my story but also to come in and visit places all across america. to walk through the pieces of history. to make a contribution. i was deeply expired -- inspired by rosa parks. i met her when i was 17. i met president kennedy when i was 23. and worked on kennedy's campaign. all of these people help make me the people that i am today. >> you've a lot of people here
at the national book festival watching it right now. a bunch of young people here as well. what do you tell them? >> their parents want to know. thank you for being here. stay in school get the best possible education that you can get be helpful, be optimistic and be happy. don't get lost in the sea of despair. >> here is the book. as the illustrator. nominated a frat national book award. this is again a book three representative lewis has written to others in graphic novel form. for longer conversation with congressman lewis. they sat down with him for three hours on her our in-depth program. if you go to our website type
and representative john lewis include the word book otherwise you will get all sorts of videos from the sea stand archives we sat down for three hours. thank you for being with us here on book tv. our coverage from the national book festival now continues back to the history and biography room here at the convention center. you will hear from john meacham. it is about george hw bush. i had been asked to remind you that you will be videoed.
>> john is a former boy wonder. he became a national affairs editor of "newsweek" at 26, by the age of 37 he had been named editor. those were not always fun years at "newsweek" especially in the time preceding the sale of the magazine in 2010. john excelled even in adversity. he was a wise, thoughtful and and successful editor of "newsweek" under impossible circumstances. as john's colleagues will tell you, even in the earliest years of his ascent he was wise beyond his years. much more capable of dry wit and ironic detachment than your typical, as we would say today, millennial.
week after week, john would replenish the building with new ideas, very often drawn from his deep knowledge of history and religion, and literature. sometimes the boy wonder's sputter or fail to deliver on the promise they exhibited on the dawn of their careers. not jon meacham. his passage from journalism to book writing has been marked by distinction. the success of his 2004 book, franklin whiston, the relationship between churchill and helped him emerge. andrew jackson in the white house was awarded the 2009 pulitzer prize for biography. more recently, jon's book, thomas jefferson, the art of thomas jefferson, the art of power was on the times in the post best books of the year list. john is here today to talk about destiny and power. the american odyssey of george herbert walker bush.
sometimes surprisingly intimate look that is sometimes overlooked at the oval office. my current colleague posted a nonfiction book critic wrote that it pulls off a neat trick, it completes the historical rehabilitation of its subject by deepening rather by offending common perceptions of the 41st president. it is a book that asks us to consider as we witness a contest between two widely disliked contenders for the presidency, the importance of him personal honor in our leaders. ladies and gentlemen, john meacham. [applause].
>> thank you i appreciate that a great deal. i feel a little bit more warmly received at this particular book festival than i did eight years ago when i was here to talk about andrew jackson who has had a rough couple of months you might know. but i was on my way to give my talk about jackson and a woman ran up to me which doesn't happen enough. as a basic rule, and she she said oh my god, it's you and i said well yes. she said will you wait right here, i want you you to sign your new book. and i said yes and she brought back to christian's latest novel. so, whenever i think i am a boy wonder who survived the boy wonder hood, i remember that there is a woman somewhere in america with a forged runaway jury. so, memento mori, as the
medievalists called it. i'm thrilled to be here, thank you all for being here, you are the reason and many of the reasons a lot of us do what we do. and the lonely hours of footnoting and trying to make sure that you get everything right, you are the ones on our minds to make sure that we maintain our covenant with you in terms of creating compelling, hopefully compelling narrative nonfiction. i don't know if you have all noticed there's a presidential race going on at the moment i just want to say right off the top that the movement in 25 years from george herbert walker bush is the republican nominee for president to the incumbent republican for president. george bush you cannot talk about himself to donald trump,
to quote henry adams, it disproves darwin. [laughter] [applause]. so that is where we are. my view of president bush is that culturally and temperamentally, and and this is not a nostalgic point, will truly and temperamentally has more in common with the founding fathers than he does with this political generation. it does not mean he is a perfect man, we always learn more from sinners and saints. he was driven by a consuming ambition to control the fates and destinies of millions, even billions of people, he make compromises along the way and we will talk about those. but at the end of the day, in his heart he was about honor,
service, and duty. he believed at every point that he wanted those of us who came after him to say that he had always put the country first. i think a fair-minded judgment suggests that he came as close as any mortal can do to doing that. again, we'll talk about that now, the history of this book is somewhat interesting to you all, because you are here it means that you are part of the broad dork caucus. and so i hope you have your cards. you get free library cards and you have to watch c-span. , in the doctor's office. i think the key thing to understand about him comes from two biographical moments. so i want to to start there. on june 12, 1924 he was born in
milton, massachusetts. 18 years later as a senior at andover, at the, at the end over academy three things happen, he turns 18 years old, he graduates from andover, and he joins the united states navy, becoming the youngest flying officer in the navy. he told me that he very much wanted to go into the service, actually right after pearl harbor. he looked into joining the royal canadian air force because you could get into the royal canadian air force without graduating from high school. his father prevailed on and to wait another six months or so. in his way i asked of him why was the impulse there so soon after pearl harbor, president bush says it was a red, white, blue thing. your your country is attacked and you get into fight. on september second. on september 2, 1944 he is fine omission over the islands to take out a radio tower and
communication supply point going back to the home islands. ferocious japanese flag. the plane that torpedoed the bombers hit in the wings of the playing go up in flames. the cockpit bills with smoke. he realizes he is going down but he keeps going. he keeps keeps going over the island to take out the tower. he goes back out to sea, he tells his two crew mates to hit the silk, to bail out. he turns the plane so they can do that, he do that, he turns back and then he bails out. at this point tragedy almost broke out. if you bail out of a plane, if you think about it the plane does not stop. the plane keeps going. he catches his head on the tail of the plane, another six or
8 inches and he probably would have been decapitated. that would've been the end of the story. he plunges deep into the pacific, his life raft has fallen off nearby. he goes into the raft, he cries, he wretches up the seawater, he he wretches up the seawater, he realizes his two crew mates had not made it and at some point today in maine, there and made for another two weeks, he will think about ted's wife and del delaney who are the two men who lost their lives that day in his care. he was 20 years old. he had two other men's this andf
question that came out of his mind about the war experience was why was i spared. why was i spared? i summit to you, that in many ways that george hw bush is a phonetic journey from the autumn of 1944 really, onto onto the sour to some extent is it driven by his eagerness, his need to prove that he was worthy of being spared when others were not. that he had to prove himself worthy of their sacrifice. it is an elemental drama and i believe deeply that is a big part of what has driven him.
hospital room, in that hour. after robin died, it was president bush who would hold mrs. bush all night as she cried and sobbed for months after months, after months. as she tried to cope with this unimaginable loss. so i asked president bush in the course of doing this, what did the death of robin teach you she said without hesitation that life is unpredictable and fragile. on predictable and fragile. i submit that he let his life and he governed the nation and what henry kissinger once referred to as the most tumultuous for your. since truman, with this tragic sensibility and with the sense that everything could end tomorrow and therefore you had to do the best you could today.
you had to do everything you could to make the world a little better because one could never be sure when everything would be taken away. i think these two experiences, not particularly well no, it's not read my lips or dana carvey, they're the things that really shaped the man who became the 41st president of the united states. a couple of things on the other side, my view of president bush's that he was a much more effective politician did we give them credit for. part of that is because his last political act only netted 37% of the reelection vote, he was running a bit cancer bill clinton who he wants later said was the sam walton of partisanship. bush, by 1992 president bush was not in a political world he understood.
in many ways, there is the rise of partisanship, there is the rise of alternative medium, remember, before there is twitter and trump, there was cnn and ross perot and cable tv and bill clinton. as mark twain once said history may not repeat itself but it does rhyme a 1992 rhymes with 2016. remember bill clinton went on arsenio hall. george hw bush thought arsenio hall was a building in andover. that's where we took spanish, he had no idea. no idea. so he was just not his time. it had been 12 years under reagan and bush. we had not had more than eight years of single party rule except for the roosevelt and truman area. there are three things that he
did along the way to amass power that were not wildly admirable. my own view, my biographical view that he always redeemed himself and that is what makes this tone, this this level of conversation for my purposes possible. the first is that he's running for the senate in texas in 1964 running against ralph y'all burrell who is the great senator there. george hwb show posed to the 1964 civil rights act. it's not something we like to talk about, particularly not today in washington. but, in 19681968 in the wake of the assassination of doctor king , george hw bush who won the house seat in 1966 representing the second district of texas in houston, votes, he goes down to texas to memorial high school for a meeting with his
constituents. they were screaming things at him. they were using words they should not have use then and you surely can't use now. saying we didn't send you up there to help these people. bush stood his ground. he was 41 years of old. he stood his ground and he said, i cannot see sending african-american soldiers to vietnam to fight for america and then say, they can't buy a house in a given neighborhood. he quoted edmund burke who said that your representative does not simply offer you a mirror of your will, but offers you his best judgment. in that moment he showed a measure of political courage that help give him the strength to keep pushing on. he won the crowd over and he move forward. the second thing that was not
particularly admirable was the 1988 presidential campaign. many of you in the room remember it. it was not high-minded. we talk about the pledge of allegiance, we talk about furloughs, we talked about flag factories and flagburning's. it was a values campaign in many ways. a lot of people thought it was unfair to the governor of massachusetts. what does bush do after he wins that campaign? immediately, the press conference after the election and the george brown convention center in houston when he announces that jim bakker's gonna become secretary of state. he's asked about this in the campaign. bush says, that's history, we are moving forward. he drew a direct line, somewhat to his political detriment between what you set on the campaign trail and what you did as a responsible officer of government.
he learned this in china when he was there, remember this is a man who is a member of congress, the ambassador of the united nations, chairman of the republican national committee, director to cia, vice president for eight years, he never hosted a reality show, but besides that he had every possible qualification. so he said that what he learned in china was that he picked up a phrase from that campaigns were about firing the empty canons of rhetoric, the anti-canons of rhetoric. interestingly ronald reagan would've never said that. frank and roosevelt would've not said that they saw connection between politics and government. that between politics and government. but if you do not run for a particular mandate you would have trouble governing. that happened in's term. he did not run for a particular mandate, he ran as a particular man.
his argument was highly personal. it was that he could be trusted with the affairs of others. my own personal reaction to him, one of the reasons i wrote the book is that i had a very caricature sense of him when he was president. i was an undergraduate for most of the presidency. i attended a small college in tennessee called the university of the south. it was -- there may be one or two of you who may not be familiar with it. it is best understood as a combination of downton abbey and deliverance. [applause]. so my best friend in college was man you may have heard of, his name is jack daniels. so i was a little fuzzy on a couple of things that unfolded. i felt the gulf war was about
destin, florida. so when i met president bush i had this dana carvey view of him. almost instantly, this is in the late 90s i realize that he possessed a quiet persistent charisma. how many here have met george bush? a good number. how many have received a note from him? maybe a dozen people in this room. he has this sense of command. i had a teacher once who defined charm is the capacity to make others love you without them quite knowing why. and that is true of george bush. there is something about him, it is wife you met him you are with them, if you only knew him through television and the electronic media, you probably were not going to be as impressed.
as he once put it when he ran for president in 88, i have 30,000 friends. 30,000 friends. and he did, george bush sought life as one long reunion mixer. he was never happier than when he had a vodka in his hand and was playing horseshoes with somebody. back to 88 quickly, the campaign is a disaster. he comes in and tries to build a culture of compromise and consensus. is the last president to pass significant bipartisan legislation with significant majorities from pluralities from both caucuses. he passes the americans with disabilities act. i had a man walk up to me last night and say that he was a special needs kid, young man and that he thanked god every day for president bush. without president bush he could not have gone to college because the accommodations for his test taking and making sure that he got the help he needed would not have existed.
without the americans with disabilities act and that is the single most untraditional republican bill that you can imagine. bush signed it because he believed it was in the spirit of fair play. george bush is a man who when he was a child in greenwich, his nickname was have half because if he had a treat for dessert he would cut it in half and give the other half to the other kid. his brother said that he was born within innate empathy and there is something about, and as we head into next week in the next 40 days, it sounds biblical and we may be facing a biblical thing, and the moon shall turn to blood. i don't see the lines of the lambs line down together but maybe in a swing state or two. the character is destiny. the greeks were right, and
policies change, circumstances change, but character tends not to when people reach the point of running at this level for president. george bush's character was always one driven by ambition, driven by appetite, he was delighted if he wanted to win and if he won the nature of reality is that somebody had to lose. that was just fine with him. but by god, he he was always going to reach out right afterward and bring people together. a quick story on this, in march march 1989, john power fails to become secretary of defense. bush reaches out to dick cheney who is been in the house to become secretary of defense.
that opens a place in the house leadership. it was like the wing of a butterfly that produces a hurricane. gingrich runs for that job. the congressman from minnesota named vin weber runs gingrich's campaign in the caucus. the story, the papers are full of stories of how george bush is compromising conciliatory approach is being attacked by newt gingrich's confrontation this is a man who put out a memo to his republican colleagues same use the following words to describe democrats. sick was one of them. on american, outrageous, this is the opposite of the world that george bush had grown up in print three of george bush's best friends in washington were democrats. ashley of ohio, montgomery mississippi, and a senator from chicago. he kept his stuff in the gym so he could play ball with the
democrats pretty wanted to reach him because he believed with franklin roosevelt that the science of human relationships was absolutely essential to the art of politics. that was the heir he breathed. so when gingrich when, bush calls and asked rich and ben weber, the the guy who ran the campaign within the caucus to come to the white house for a beer. they they go to the residence, and have a beer, and as weber put it, only george bush would have remember to invite the guy who ran the campaign in the house. he was the typical thoughtful thing to do. heat they have the beer, and gingrich and weber can tell that there is something bush wants to say but isn't quite same. that's the definition of being a wasp. and finally is there standing up weber says, mr. president, what is it that worries you most about us?
and bush is relieved to have an opportunity to say so he says, i worry that sometimes your idealism may get in the way of what i think of as sound governance. i want to repeat that at the risk of pulling a rubio. i worry that sometimes your idealism may get in the way of what i think of as sound governance. and weber said, he always appreciated bush did not say your ideology, your ideology, your nuttiness, your purity, your flexibility, he said idealism. he was giving them credit that they genuinely believed in philosophical agenda in which they're trying to build the republican house majority. it would in fact happen five years later. but what he wanted and what he didn't get was reciprocal credit
that he was now the senior constitutional officer in the united states of america. is the one public official as jackson pointed out, elected by all the people. he had a constitutional duty, cultural duty to try to govern soundly, not simply score points to get to the next midterm to help a given movement, to win partisan points. i know this sounds as though i am discussing. [inaudible] but this was just 25 years ago. a quarter century ago and this was his ambient reality. and he paid for it. he said, read read my lips in an uneasy marriage to supply fighters he worried all the time that he was going to have to break it. he had to break it in 1990. as he put it he knew he was going to be dead meat is only george bush could say. dead meat, dana carvey, told you
i asked him how did he build his impression of george bush, he said the key to doing george h dubya bush was mr. rogers trying to be john wayne. [laughter] so you not gonna do it. so i spent a lot of time with these people. so to me that is the key, the key of the legacy that this is a man who did put the country first, it's president obama's view, view, i interviewed him for this. he was not perfect by any means, it is arguable there was not much to do in the second term but i would suggest, given where we have come in the last 16 years now, now 20 years since he left office, that we really need
to consider recovering as best we can, the virtues that were embodied in this particular man. the partisanship change, the media landscape changed, it is not the world which and he in any way gropper would have understood, but there are certain values that can be, i think ultimately recovered. i did this book partly because president bush and mrs. bush both shared their diaries with me. the president kept a diary through the presidency he dictated, once, twice, twice, three times a week. it's a remarkable document. he talks into the recorder, you can hear the blade simmering one, you can have the engines of air force one, you can hear the coffee sleeping, sometimes a martini or two.
sometimes he is just beaten-down. a fascinating document. and to make sure i got the whole story i asked mrs. bush is she was sure her diet. i would say that when president bush 43 learned that his mother had decided to let me read his mother's diary, the reaction in dallas was not warm. as he put it, that's not good for me. [laughter] god knows what mom wrote. [laughter] but what i have found was incredibly decent people, again, not perfect not perfect but these are the kinds of people that you hope ultimately end up leading the country. i want to close with this, i mentioned the death of robin bush, the george bush that i got to know is the one who i think
is not as well-known as he should be, though i'm doing all i can. he is leading this wonderful retirement life, he has been in a wheelchair now for four years. he he is suffering from a form of parkinson's. i saw him three weeks ago, he still follows everything and is devastating. when when he does speak he is right on point. we were at lunch this summer and mrs. bush was showing a bracelet that he had given her and he looked at it and said, i was a romantic devil. [laughter] this was also surely after the moment where when he was jumping out of a plane at 90 he was going to land at saint ann's, the parish near the house. the mrs. bush said it is a good thing we're doing it at the church is a just bury them right there. [laughter] so they have been married for 72
years. seventy-two years. years. when i thought talking about the book last fall i was with an audience and down front there was a slightly older man with his wife and i made that point and i said 72 years and the guy said jesus christ formation point. [laughter] i think he had a long ride home. but the true story. he just couldn't get there. but this is the real george bush. this is the letter he wrote to his mother in the late 1950s. it is about robin's death, it is about robin, this point george w, jab, marvin and jab, marvin and neil have both been born. i was 1959 so we think this was written in 1957 58, it was found in his mother's papers. she died
two his mother's papers. she died two weeks after he lost the election to bill clinton. and this is the george bush that i got to know and i hope you do too. he wrote, there is about a house need. a running, pulsating, restlessness of the four boys as they struggle to learn and grow needs a counterpart. we need sums large crisp rock to go with all of our tour need blue jeans and helmets. we need some soft blonde hair to offset those crew cuts. we need a dollhouse to stand firm against our fortson rackets and thousand baseball cards. we need a legitimate christmas angel, one who doesn't have cuffs beneath the dress. we need someone who is afraid of frogs. we need someone to cry when i get mad, not argue. we need a little one who can kiss without leaving a gourd
jam, or gum, we need a girl. we had one once, she would fight, cry, and play like all the rest. but there is about her certain softness, she was patient, her hugs were just a little less wiggly. should stand beside her bed until i felt her there. silently uncomfortable to put those precious fragrant locks against my chest and fall asleep. her piece made me feel strong and so very important. my daddy had a caress, search and ownership which touched a slightly different spot than the high dad, i love so much. but she is still with us, we need her and yet we have her. we cannot touch her and yet we can feel her. we hope she will stay in our
house for a long, long time. in the course of interviewing the president i asked him to read that letter allowed to me in houston. long before he finished he wrote down with an extraordinary level of physical sobbing. so much so that his chief of staff's office was next-door came in and she said, why did you want president bush to do that? and i said, if you want to know someone's heart, and before i could finish my sentence the president said, you have to know what breaks it. thank you very much. [applause].
[applause]. >> we have time for some questions how much time do you have? >> jon i just finished your book, this book, is fantastic and fantastic and i read a lot of history. and there was a one question, two questions, when you when you answered. you said every other page when george bush was home he wrote in his diary. i was going to asked if you type it? you mentioned he's the microphone. >> he had a tape recorder that he bought at the staples of the era. he didn't wanted to be a government tape recorder. he carried it it in his briefcase. carried it everywhere. he often did it late at night or early in the morning. he is the office in the residence and he loved to the study of the oval office and would often do it. he got up around 5:00 a.m. every
morning and would take the dogs out. they would read about five papers and then he would go down and do some dictation. fortunately he tended to do more in times of crisis than not. which which for most diary keepers is the opposite. part of the power of the diary, i think is that he didn't really believe that it was part of his code that presidents don't complain. as he put it, they don't whine about, oh woe is me. you are just damn lucky to be there. i think he said things to himself that he could not say to mrs. bush, to dan quayle, and too many others, the people around him. so i actually believe it was a therapeutic document. i'm therapeutic document. i'm going to publish a volume of the diary, but he has to be
gone. the the way he is going, i will be gone first, so don't wait up. >> related to my second part was any sort of alluded to that, throughout the book you cite this and it is the quotations from the diary and i'm wondering if a hiss as is his story and if you have the opportunity to get into a deep person's mindset like that. andrew jackson certainly did not have a diary or whatever. >> that would require self reflection. [applause]. >> it must've had a lot of impact on your personal feelings toward him and writing three you wrote the book. >> thank you for saying that. the reason i did the book is because he offered me the diary and he offered to talk to me as much as i wanted. if you do it i do that does not happen much. there are only 44 of these these guys are not that many still kick in.
it was a remarkable historical opportunity. i feel very privileged to have had the chance to do it. i. i should say there are no conditions on the project. no one read it, no one reviewed it, the one exception was that mrs. bush's diary, because it because it had so much personal stuff, she kept that diary from 1948 until this morning. she gets up at 5:00 a.m. every morning and writes in her diary. several of her children said please don't tell me what she said about me. but she was going to seal that for 50 years after she died. and people say well how did she you give get it? i don't want to give your highbrow answer, but i begged. i accepted the one condition on the project which was, she wanted to see any direct quotations from herself. which
given the document that spans 70 years i thought that was totally reasonable. so i took her 90 pages of excerpts. we had a fascinating afternoon one day, she was reading along and every once in a while she would say, my eye was an opinionated 37-year-old. you know apple didn't fall far from the chronological tree. at at 91 you're not pulling a lot of punches. >> hello. thank you. i just was interested how you are drying comparisons to what is going on in the campaign so the president bush and how he conducted himself. it's interesting, on npr and i can't remember the analysts name, just on friday they are talking about, some people believe the direct line from the bushes and lee at walder and karl rove to what is now going on with trump.
only that during the bushes era and perhaps relevant to their personalities, their status, et cetera, they did not say these things themselves. now the differences that they use other people to put these negative thoughts out that would be political advantageous to them. but they did use that as a tactic to win their elections, words now trump has taken it to another level and he actually is the messenger himself. >> trump needs no subcontractors. >> right, i think the connection is very unfortunate. i am just wondering whether you painted a very positive picture of the president bush, i was very disappointed about the lee atwater and -- situation. that comes to my memory. i'm wondering if in your view him as a decent man
participating in the system thing about the nature of our politics within the context of the american democracy? that it encourages decent people to do the wrong thing in order to achieve their objectives, or is this just, maybe you don't see it as that important. i just did did not get the sense from your comments today, i have not read your book unfortunately so i don't want to say that you don't cover it. >> when i tried to say and when i talk about the ada campaign were talking about the furlough ads, the horton ads, although the horton ads were an independent expenditure group and we can spend the next three hours on that. but you said something quite brilliant there, which is politics is not a pure undertaking.
if you want to amass power to be in a position of influence when the crises of the age come, you are going to cut some corners. you're going to have moments where you say, and do things that are said or done which you are not proud. i do not think there is any doubt that the 1988 campaign has examples of george bush and his apparatus, pushing certain troops that on reflection and even in real time are very uncomfortable and risk falling into fear -based politics. there's no question about that. to my mind what redeems george hw bush is that once he got power he did everything he could to do good with it.
so you do not see that in the term. without that redemption it would be a very different story. now, is there a direct line between, and i'll go back even further, from 1968 and where we are because that some of the same people were in the campaign in 1968, is the popular understanding of the southern strategy come along, people have argued is the republican party now dealing with a frankenstein monster that has gotten out of control and now has orange hair? that is one of the questions, i'm a little skeptical of that argument in terms of a direct line, i think that we have to judge political figures on the totality of their lives in the totality of their records.
i believe the country is better off because george bush was president for four years. i don't think he was perfect. i questionably the attack policy politics of the southern strategy were used in his campaign. i remember him interviewing bill clinton about this and he said the thing about the bushes is that there's not a racist bone in their body. michael dukakis told me that he totally understood why willie horton would be used in the campaign. all of this is in the book. so i understand the argument about the direct line, my sense is if you are looking for philosophical or moral consistency, looking at the american presidency are those who seek it is probably not the first place to look. so you need to look at moments
on the totality of the lives where they managed to transcend those shortcomings, that is my view. >> yes sir,. >> you're probably answered the question indirectly, i recently saw the play and statin, bloodied buddy andrew jackson, parody of jackson and i think of our current campaign about on bridled populism and manipulation of that populism. you see any parallels to that? >> with jackson and trump, i have resisted this for a couple of reasons, one is that jackson brought an enormous amount of experience, you can argue whether it was good experience or not but to the presidency had been a judge, senator, general, and so the idea that, fundamentally the choices being presented to us in the next 45 days or so is one between one of the most conventionally prepared candidates in american history
and the least conventionally prepared. i interviewed mr. trump about this, he makes no bones about this, this is not a partisan point, i should say that i have voted for presidents of both parties. and expect to again. [applause]. so what i hope to see in terms of the trumpet, populism and that argument going forward is that we can take the energy, the anger at the globalization, the forces of globalization and find some way to channel those into constructive reforms as opposed to finger-pointing, blame casting on the other. it is an inarguable point that the united states of america has become stronger in direct proportion to how widely we have
opened our arms. from the very beginning [applause]. we are dynamic in proportion to people who come here, where the only nation honor where you can become an american simply by saying simply you want to be an american. we are not based start deafness city, religion, we don't have to be born into a certain tribe, or clan. we are devoted to an idea. i worry that the current populace trend, unlike the jackson era, the current populace trend is trying to limit the definition of what it needs to be in america. that is ahistorical and dangerous. [applause]. >> let me preface my question by saying that i have finished your books and it is a superb piece of work. >> thank you, that's enough.
[laughter] >> one more thing,. >> it is all down here hill from here. >> there is an aggregate ranking of the president. >> and by historians and presidential scholars, places george hhw bush as 22nd among the presidents. how would you respond to that? >> it takes time. this is the earliest possible point to do this book. my friend michael has a good rule that it takes 25 years to really get a sense and let the passions cool. i think you will rise up, 11 term presidents have a hard time, although depending on how you think of california, maybe not. so it's the tumultuous term.
look back on the nuclear struggle that ends peaceably, it took reagan and bush, to be honest it took democrats and republicans, and the people themselves from truman forward to end the cold war. but i think we were fairly lucky because i think ronald reagan did things in the 80s that bush could not in terms of setting a rhetorical example. also reagan is a great negotiator. remember he was part of the screen actors guild. he said negotiating with gorbachev was tough, you should admit warner. so bush was able to come in and do things that i don't think reagan was good at. so i think that number will go up. i really do. one irony, parenthetically is, it's going to be fascinating to watch over the next 20 or 30 years to what extent bush 41's
historical stock is on the seesaw or a proportional list with his sons. i think bush 41, i know this, bush 41 for bush 41 for a long time believe that his historical stop would always be on the seesaw with dragons. he was this asterix as he put it himself. after reagan. because of the drama it's going to be interesting to see if people evaluate george w. bush what that does to george hw bush. they did confront two similar problems in very different ways. another complicating factor there is if we have clinton dynasty stories it is going to be like c-span meets lancaster and york. it is just going to go on forever. is that it?
>> i want to thank you all very much. everybody go out and vote. [applause]. [inaudible] [inaudible] >> book tvs live coverage of the 16th and you'll national book festival continues from the convention center here in washington, dc. the next author you'll hear from in the history and biography tent is another presidential historian, doug, doug brinkley. he will talk about his book, rightful heritage. it's about fdr fdr and environmentalism. that's coming up a little later. as we continue our conversation with authors here we are pleased to be joined by ken burns, documentary filmmaker and author whose most recent book is more
of a children's book. >> it is a children's book. >> so i am the very lucky father of four daughters ages 35 - 5. when they got to be five years old i would read them bedtime stories and then lay with them and recite the presidents and then they would gradually learn and i would prompt them. i would say george they would say washington, i was a john, they would say adams. when they got to the middle of the pack i would go grover they would say kleven, i would say benjamin david sadie harrison, and then they would get very excited and i said we should do a children's book to introduce people to the presidents. to introduce them as human beings and to tell about their families and their siblings, and their pets and hobbies. talk about the central features of their administration without necessarily going into sex
scandals, you can talk about race, you can talk about money, you can talk about things that went wrong, but you could communicate love for the idea of a service. the extraordinary variety of people went there. we have people with great physical disabilities who are president for longer than anybody else but cannot stand on their own. we have people who are just [inaudible] [inaudible] >> history disappear and my thought is the word history is mostly made up of the word story plus a hello. we are to be telling our children interesting stories. >> host: and ken will be with us to take our calls. we'll put the numbers up on the screen.
he is very interesting. you can win a trivia contest. he won three national elections in a row. but as is the peculiarities of the american democracy is the electrical vote that matters. as they found in 1876 and grover cleveland found out when he won the popular vote he won the popular vote again. and was president again. the only person to have it to nonconsecutive terms. >> do we blame our president too much. >> i think the founders would be shocked to come back and understand that for basically since tr and certainly since franklin roosevelt that the president has been by far and large the most important person in the government. they assumed there would be times