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tv   Destiny and Power  CSPAN  October 2, 2016 1:00am-2:01am EDT

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numerous law enforcement and journal investigations about himself. that's an accomplishment. it may not be what most people think of, but it is. it's positive from his perspective. the fundamental fact is, no, i tried very hard. when you read the book i think you will see why. donald is a world-class narcissist. he is only about donald. you don't exist except to either glory donald or be a foil. he has no empathy for other people. everything he does is about money. cutting off the health care for this child is about money. when i was working on the book and i was sleeping and writing and i called up some other people and i said i need some perspective. let's go through some things donald has done and nobody could come up with anything. his businesses fail because he doesn't know how to run a business. he's not a good negotiator. there are people who teach
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negotiation who have written about this and the terms of his deals tell you about that and no i can't point to anything beyond the signature accomplishment of building trump tower. there he benefited from his father, having the best friend as the mayor of new york, he issued orders, orders, whatever trump wanted he was going to get he told people it was a pro bono project and he got him to work for free. no he got $10 million for. it is literally all a fraud, his life. i'm sorry. if i had one i would tell you. listen, thank you all very much. [applause] if you have books i would be glad to sign them. [inaudible conversation]
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>> here's a look at some books that are being published this week. they explore the opposing viewpoints of general macarthur and president truman during the korean war in the general versus the president. washington post columnist sebastian mala be profiled former federal reserve chairman alan greenspan in the man who knew. they described her life as a teen refugee from syria in her memoir. also being released this week is why they do it in which harvard professor explores the motives behind white-collar crime. senior fellow michael duran
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looks at the 1956 suez canal crisis and how the events shape america's future role in the middle east in the gamble. the university of london professor provides history of the islamic caliphate and in we wanted workers, harvard economic professor argues immigration has largely not affected the american labor force. look for these titles in bookstores this coming week and watch for many of the authors in the coming future on book tv on c-span2. [inaudible conversation] >> good afternoon.
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welcome. i am cameron bar, managing editor for news and features at the washington post which is a charter sponsor of the national book festival. first, a word of gratitude to the cochairman of the festival, david rubenstein and the many other sponsors who made this event possible. if you'd like to add your support, please note the information program or the app. we will have some time today for questions and i've been asked to remind you that those who query our distinguished guests will be videoed for the library archive. jon meacham is a frequent speaker at this festival. he is a journalist and historian i hadn't met him until yesterday so i consulted don graham who employed him for many years at newsweek. he pointed out he is a former boy wonder. he became national affairs
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editor of newsweek by the age of 26 and by the age of 37 he was named as editor. those were not always fun years at newsweek including the times of the grand sale in 2010. the he was a wise, thoughtful and successful editor of newsweek's under impossible circumstances. his colleagues would tell you, even in the earliest years of his career he was wise beyond his years. week after week john would replenish the building with new ideas, very, very often drawn from his deep knowledge of history and religion and literature. sometimes they fail to deliver on the promise they exhibited at the dawn of their careers. not jon meacham. his passage from journalism to
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writing and publishing has been marked by success.his pa it has helped him emerge as a public intellectual. relation more recently, john's book thomas jefferson, the art 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 a surprisingly intimate look at ast underestimated occupant of the oval office.or my colleague wrote that it pulls up a neat trick. it completes the historical rehabilitation of its subject by deepening rather than a bending common misconceptions of the 41st president.
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it is a book that asks us toth consider a contest between two widely disliked contenders of the presidency, the the importance of personal honor in our leaders. ladies and gentlemen, jon meacham.between two widely disli [applause] >> thank you. i appreciate that a great deal. i feel a little bit more warmly received at this particular festival than i did eight years ago to talk about andrew jackson who has had a rough couple of months. i was on my way to give my talk and a woman ran up to me which doesn't happen enough as a basiu migh rule, and said, oh my gosh, it's
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you. exponentially speaking, that's hard to argue with. we wait right here, i want you to sign your book. then she brought back john grisham's latest novel. whenever i think i am a boy wender who survived boy wonder hood, i remember somewhere in america, there is a woman with a forged copy of the runaway jury. memento mori as the mid- evil is called it. thank you all for being here. you are the reason that many of us do what we do. you are the ones on our minds to
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make sure we maintain ourak covenant with you in terms of creating compelling narrative nonfiction. i don't know if y'all have noticed there's a presidential race going on at the moment. i just want to say right off the top, the movement in 25 years from george herbert walker bush as the republican nominee for president to the incumbent republican nominee for president years from , george bush, who could not talk about himself, is donald trump.nt. to quote henry adams, this proves darwin. [laughter] that's where we are. my view of president bush is that culturally and temperamentally, this is not a
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nostalgic point, culturally and temperamentally, he 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 than we do from saints. he made compromises along the way and we will talk about those, but at the end of the day, in his heart, he was about honor and service and duties. we believe that every point he wanted those of us who came after him to put the country first. i think many came as close as any mortal can do to doing that. we will talk about that. the history of this book is somewhat interesting to you all,
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but because because you're here it's because you're part of thea broad dork caucus.s i hope you have your cards. you get a free library card and you have to watch these.ds and the key thing to understand about him comes from two graphical moments so i want to start there. on june 12, 1924, he was born in milton massachusetts. eighteen years later, three things happen. he turned 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 he very much wanted to go into the service right after pearl he looked into joining the royal
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canadian air force because you could get into the royal canadian air force without graduating from high school. his father prevailed to wait another six months or so and in his own way when i asked him, why was the impulse there so soon after pearl harbor, president bush said it was a red, white and blue thing. your country attacks and you get in the fight.. on september 2, he is flying aar mission to take out a radio tower going back to the home island. ferocious japanese lack, the torpedo bomber is hit in the wings of the plane go up in flame in the cockpit fills with smoke. he knows he is going down, but he keeps going over the island to take out the tower. he goes out to sea and tells his
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crewmates to bailout and then he bails out. at this point, tragedy almost broke out. if you bill out of a plane, if if you think about it, the plane doesn't stop. the plane keeps going. he gashes his head on the tail of the think about ita another six or 8 inches and he would've been decapitated and that would've been the end of the story. he plunges deep into the pacific and his life raft has fallen nearby and he plops into the raft. he cries and wretches up the seawater and realizes that his crewmates have not made it. at some point today, in maine, he will think about the two men who lost their lives that day in his care. anot
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who was 20 years old and had two other men's lives in his hands. i think the further we come away from that culture, the further we come away from that that generation and it's difficult to remember the immensity of that responsibility we put on remarkably young men. one of the many moments the president cried in the course of our interviews for this book. i interviewed him for nine years for this. sometimes it was the world's worst wasp on wasp therapy. he would cry, i would cry and we change the subject. most of our debates were removed, anyway, i asked him what did you learn from this. he said, the chief question that came out of his mind about the war experience was why was i spared. i submit to you that in many ways george w. bush phonetic
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journey from the autumn of 1944 until this hour is driven by his eagerness, his need to prove that he was worthy of being spared when others were not. he had to prove himself worthy of their sacrifice. it's an elemental drama and i believe deeply that is a big part of what has driven him. he came back to it at different times during the interviews, always with tears, always in a conversation and the other thing about his speed in life is he has always been moving rapidly. this is the man who could play 18 holes of golf in 32 minutes. i played with him once in my excuse was i was made nervous by secret service guys with machine
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guns. that's a lot to blame for my game, but it's there. it was a journey forward, always moving. in 1980 when he was running against ronald reagan for the republican nomination, he was so excitable that he shook the hand of a department store mannequin in a department store. now lyndon johnson would have tried to register that mannequin god only knows what bill clinton might have done. always had long, always looking looking forward, always moving to the next thing. looking forward, looking forward. i've never met a man with that level of politics and that little interest in how history would view him. he believed he got some things right and somethings wrong wrong and people like me and those who come after me will have to make
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our best decision. there's a level of confidence in that. i would also submit that the values and the vision in many ways, the character and the ambient committee that the bush family brought to our national politics is something that we are in woefully short supply as we enter the fall of 2016, and recovering some of that dignity will be one step toward a saner political life. the second thing that affected him deeply was the loss of his daughter robin in 1953. they lost her to leukemia. she had been born in 1949. george w was born in 1946. she had she had just been born in january of 1953, robin was four years old. the bushes had never heard the word leukemia until they heard the diagnosis in the pediatrician's office in texas. they had come from texas after
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yale in 1948 and when they moved to odessa texas, mrs. bush mother was so convinced that they had moved to the frontier that she would send her daughter boxes of soap because she didn't think that texas had any. they moved to midland, they get the diagnosis. the doctor says, with all sincerity, i think the thing to do is take her home, make her comfortable and she will be gone in a few months. george bush, being george bush cannot accept that. he walks outside, gets on a pay phone and calls his uncle, john walker who is the head of memorial in new york. he said bring her up, we will do it we can. she survived through some difficult treatment through october, columbus day weekend of 1953. it was the great cataclysmic
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crisis of the bush marriage and the bush family life. it brought them closer together as you all may no, many couples who lose a child drift apart. interestingly, mrs. bush was strong when president bush was weak and he was weak when she was strong. he could not stand watching robin be treated in the hospital, he can stand the shots and seeing her in pain so he would bolt out of the room leaving barbara to maintain the order and the love in the hospital room in that hour. after robin died, it was president bush who would hold mrs. bush all night as she cried and stopped for month after month as she tried to cope with this unimaginable loss.
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i also asked president bush, inl the course of doing this, what did the death of robin teaching. he said without hesitation, life is unpredictable and fragile. i submit that he led his life and govern the nation and what henry kissinger once referred to as the most tumultuous. and he since truman. with this sense that everything could end tomorrow and therefore you had to do the best you could today. you had to do everything to make fo the world a little bettererythiu because one could never be sure when everything would be taken away. i think these two experiences, not well-known, it's not read my lips or dana kirby or the things that really shaped the man who
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became the 41st president of the united states. a couple of things on the other thing side. states. my view of president bush is that he was a much more effective politician than we give him credit for. he was running against bill clinton who was the sam walton of partisanship. bush was, by 1992, president bush was not in a political world he understood in many ways. there was the reflective partisanship and the rise of alternative media. before there was trip twitter and trump, there was cnn and ross perot and cable tv and bill clinton.s se as mark twain once said, history may not repeat itself but itan does rhyme. in 1992, it rhymes with 2016. bill clinton went on arsenio
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hall. they thought it was a building at andover. that's where we took spanish. he had no idea. andover. he was just, it was not his time. it had been 12 years under reagan and bush and we had not had more than eight years of single party rule since james monroe except for the roosevelt and truman era. h it was already a historicaleighf anomaly anomaly for him to be in power.r. there were three things he did along the way to amass power that were not wildly admirable. my own view is that he always redeemed himself and that's what makes this tone, this level of conversation possible. he is running for the senate in
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texas and 1974.rst is that he'sg george hw bush opposed the 1964 civil 64 civil rights act. it's not something we like to talk about, particularly not today in washington. in 1968, in the wake of the assassination of doctor king, george hw bush who had won a house feed in 1976 representing houston voted for open housing. he goes down to texas and memorial high school for a ferocious meeting with his constituents. they were screaming things at him, using epitaphs that they shouldn't of used then and you sure can't use now, saying we didn't send you up there to help these people. bush stood his ground. he was 41 years old and he stood his ground and he said, i cannot
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send 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 your representative is not simply offering you a mirror of your will, but offers you his best judgment. in that moment he showed a measure of political courage that helps give him the strength to keep pushing on. he won the crowd over and he moved forward. the second thing that was not particularly admirable was the in 1998 campaign. many of many of you remember it. it was not high-minded. we talk about the pledge of allegiance and flag factories and flagburning, it was a values campaign in many ways and many people thought it was unfair to the governor of massachusetts.
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what does bush do after he wins that campaign. he was in houston where he announced jim baker would become secretary of state and he is asked about this campaign andco bush said that's history, we are moving forward. he drew a direct line, somewhat to his political detriment between what he said on the campaign trail and what you did as a responsible member of government.e, he learned this in china. this is a man who was a member of congress, the investor of the nation and director of the cia, vice president for eight years,m he never hosted a reality showi, but besides that he had every possible qualification for president.
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he said it was history and what he learned in china is that campaigns were about firing the empty canons of rhetoric. ronald reagan would have never said that. franklin roosevelt would have never said that. they saw a connection between politics and government. if you did not run for a particular mandate, you would have trouble governing and that happened in bush's term. he did not run for a particular mandate. he ran as a particular man. his argument was highly personae it was that he could be trustedi with the affairs of others. wash my own personal reaction to him, the the reason i wrote this book is that i had a. character sense of him. i was an undergraduate for most
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of his presidency and attended d small college called the university of the south in tennessee. there may be one or two of you who are not familiar with it. the combination of downton abbey and deliverance. my best friend in college was a man from tennessee and his name is jack daniels. i was a little fuzzy on a couple of things that unfolded. i thought the gulf war was about. [inaudible] in florida. when i met him i had this danalo kirby view of him, but most instantly i realized he possessed a quiet persistent charisma. how many here have met george bush? pretty good number. how many here have received a note from him?
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probably a dozen people in this room. he has this sense of command. i had a teacher want to define charm as the capacity to make others love you without their quite knowing why.i had a that's true of george bush. there is something about him. it is why, if you met him, youat are with him, if you only knew him from television or electronic media, you probably probably were not going to be as impressed. as he once put it he said i have 30,000 friends. he did.yo he saw life as one long reunion mixer. a he was never happier than when he had a vodka in his hand and was playing horseshoes with somebody. back to 88, quickly. quickly. h the campaign is a disaster, he comes in and he tries to build a
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culture of, the he is the last to pass bipartisan legislation with significant majorities from both caucuses. he passes the american with disabilities act. i had a man walk up to me last night and say he was a special needs kid, a young man and that he thinks that every day for president bush because without president bush he couldn't of gone to college because the accommodation for his test taking and making sure he got the help he needed would not have existed. it would not have existed without the americans of disability act, which is thee single most unreported and bill you can imagine.xisted. bush assigned 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, greenwich, his nickname was have have because if he had a treat
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or dessert he would cut it in half and give the other half to other kids. his brother said he was born within innate empathy and there is something about, as we head into next week in the next 40 days which sounds biblical and we may be facing a biblical thing, the moon shall turn to blood -- i don't see the lionsea and lambs lying down together, but maybe in a swing state or two. the greeks were right andin policies change, circumstances change, but character cannot or tends not to when people reach the point at running at this level for president. george bush's character wass always one, while driven by ambition, driven by appetite, he was delighted. he wanted to win. if he won the nature of reality
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is that somebody had to lose and that was just fine with him, but by god, he was always going to reach out right afterward and bring people together. quick tori. in march of 1989, john power failed to become the secretary of defense. bush reaches out to dick cheney who was then in the house to become the secretary of defense. that opens up a place in the house leadership. this is like a wing of the butterfly that produces a hurricane. newt gingrich runs for that job. the congressman from minnesota named ben weber runs newt gingrich campaign.ns a place they say he is being directly attacked by newt gingrich confrontation. he put out a memo saying use the following words to describe democrat.
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sick was one of them. on american, outrageous, this was the opposite of the world that george bush was in.lo three of his friends were democrat. bush kept his locker in the house jim so he could go play paddle ball and sit in the sauna with the democrats. that didn't bear much thinking about. he wanted to be part of that conversation. he wanted to reach out because he believed with franklin roosevelt that the science of human relationship was absolutely essential to the art of politics. that was the heir he breathed. so, when newt gingrich wins, bush calls and asked him and weber come of the guy who had run the campaign within the caucus, to come to the white house for a beer, they go to the
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residence and have a beer and, as weber put it, only george bush would have remembered to invite the guy who ran the campaign. it was just the thoughtful thing to do. they have a beer and newt gingrich and weber can tell hehte is something bush wants to say but isn't quite saying. that's the definition of being a wasp. finally as they're standing up, weber says, says, mr. president, what is it that worries you most about us? bush is relieved to have an opportunity to say so and 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 i worry that sometimes your idealism's make it in the way of
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what i think of as sound governance. weber said, he always appreciated, appreciated, bush g didn't say your ideology, your nuttiness, your purity, your inflexibility, he said your idealism. he was giving them credit that they genuinely believed with a philosophical agenda in which they were trying to build a republican house majority which would in fact happen five years later. t what he wanted, and what he didn't get, was reciprocal credit that he would now the senior constitutional officer in united states of america. he is the one public official, as andrew jackson pointed out, elected by by all the people, and he had a constitutional duty, a cultural duty to try to govern soundly, not simply score points to get to the next duty, midterm, to help a given
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movement, to win partisan points i know this sounds as though i'm discussing but this was just 25 years ago, a quarter century ago and this was his ambient reality. can he pay for it. he said read my lips, 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, as only george bush could say.that he dana carvey, i told you i asked. him how did he build his impression of george bush. he said the key to building george hw bush was mr. rogers trying to be john wayne. not gonna do it.rying i spent a lot of time with these
1:36 am do that to me is the key legacy. this is a man who did put the country first. in president obama's view, i interviewed i interviewed him for this, he wasn't perfect by any means. it's arguable that there wasn't much to do in his second term, but i would suggest, given where we come in the last 16 years, now 20 years, he left office. then we really need to consider recovering as best we can the virtues that were embodied in this particular man.vering the partisanship changed, the media landscape changed, it's not the world that he grew up or understood, but there are certain values that can be
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recovered.which and he i did this book partly becauseul president bush and mrs. bush both share their diaries with me the president kept the galleryec through the presidency. he dictated once or twice or three times a week. it's a remarkable document. he talks into the recorder and you can hear the blaze of air force ones and the coffee slurping and sometimes a martini or two. sometimes he's just beaten-downg fascinating documents. to make sure i got the whole story, i asked mrs. bush of his she would share her i will say when president bush 43 learned that his mother had decided to let me read his mother's diary, reaction in dallas was not warm.for me.
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who knows what mom wrote. what i found was incredibly decent people. not perfect, but these of the[l kinds of people that you hope ultimately end up leaving the country. i want to close with this. i mentioned the death of robin bush. the george bush i got to know is the one who i think is still not as well-known as he should be, though i am doing all i can. he is leaving this wonderful retirement life, he's been in a wheelchair for four years. he's suffering from a form of parkinson's. i saw him three weeks ago and he still follows everything and p it's devastating. when he does speak he is right
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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. this was also shortly after the moment where when he was jumping out of a plane at 90, he was was going to land at st. anne's and mrs. bush that it's a good thing were doing it at the church so that we can just bury him right there. they had been married for 72 years. when i was out 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 the guy down front said, jesus christ. i think he had a long ride home.
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[laughter] forma that's a true story. he just couldn't get there. this is the real george bush. this is a letter he wrote him and i jim late 1950. it's about robin death. we think this letter was written in 57 or 5858. it was found in his mother's papers. she died two weeks after she he lost the election to bill clinton. this is the george bush i got to know and i hope you do two. he wrote, there is a betterwe house and need.i got the running and restlessness of the four boys as they struggle to learn and grow needs a counterpart. we need some starch to go with
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her torn needs and helmets. we need soft blonde hair to offset those crew cuts. we needed dollhouse to stand firm against our forts and witho rackets and baseball cards. we need a legitimate christmas angel, one who doesn't have cops beneath the dress.rd 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 canwh kiss without leaving ag or jam or gum. we need a girl. we had one once, she would fight and cry and fight like all the rest, but there was about her, a certain softness. she was patient. her hugs were just a little less weekly. she would stand beside our bed until i felt her there, silently
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and comfortable she would put those precious fragrant locks against my chest and fall asleep her piece made me feel strong and very important. my daddy had a certain ownership which touched a slightly different spot than the hi dad i love so much. she is still with us. we need her and yet we have her. we can't 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 and long before he finished, he broke down with an extraordinary level of physicalt sobbing, so much so that his chief of staff, whose office was next door, came in, and she shef
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said, why did you want president bush to do that? 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] thank you. we have some time for questions. how much time do we have? >> john, i just finished your book, this book. it's fantastic. i read a lot of history and there was one question. you said every other page when george bush bush went home, he
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wrote in his diary. did he type it? you mentioned to use 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 in his briefcase, carried it everywhere. he often did it late at night, early in the morning. he used the office in thegovern residence and he loved that study off the oval office. he got up around five every morning and would take the dog out and read about five papers and he would go down and do some dictation. fortunately, he tended to do more in times of crisis then not, which for most diary keepers, is the opposite. part of the power of the diary is that he didn't reallyh
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believe, it was part of his code that presidents don't complain. as he put it, they they don't whine about woe is me. you're just damn lucky to be there. i think he said things to himself that he could not say to mrs. bush, to governor sununu, dan quayle, people of around him i actually believe it's a therapeutic document. i'm going to publish a portion of it but i'm going to wait until he's gone. at the rate i'm going, i'll be gone first. >> throughout the book you cite this and it's a quotation from the diary and i'm wondering, as a historian, do you do you ever have the opportunity to get into a deep persons mindset like that
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andrew jackson didn't have a diary or whatever. >> no, that would require self reflection. >> it must've had a lot of impact on your personal feelings toward him and writing the wayve you wrote the book. >> yes, the reason i did the book is because he offered meur the diary and he offered to talk to me as much as i wanted. if you do what i do, that doesn't happen much. there are only 44 of these guys in the art that many still kicking. gu it was a remarkable historical opportunity. i feel very privileged to have had the chance to do it. i should say there were no conditions on the project. no one read it, no no one reviewed it. the one exception was condit mrs. bush's diary because it had so much personal stuff. she kept kept that diary fromit 1948 until this morning. she gets up at five am every morning and writes in her diaryt several of her children said please don't tell me what sheth
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said about she was going to seal that for 50 years after she died and people said how did you get her to give it to you. my technical historical answer,a i don't want to overwhelm you with an eye brow answer but thet answer is, i begged. there was one condition on the project and she wanted to see any direct quotations from herself which, given a document that that spans 70 years, i thought was totally reasonable., i took her 90 pages of excerpts. we had a fascinating afternoon at houston one day. she was reading along and she would say mike, i was an opinionated 37-year-old. fascing the apple doesn't fall far from the chronological tree. at 91 you're not not pulling a lot of thank you. far
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>> thank you, i was just interested in how you were kind of drawing comparisons between what's going on in the campaigns now and president bush and how y he conducted himself. it's interesting, on npr, i can't remember the analyst name, unfortunately, but just on friday they were talking about some people believe the direct line from the bush and lee atwater and karl rove to what is now going on with trump. only that during the bush era and relative to theire personalities, their status, eth cetera that they did not say these things themselves and now the differences they use other people to kind of put these negative thoughts out there that would be political advantageous to them, but they did use that
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as a tactic to win their elections where is now trump has taken it to a different level and he actually is the messenger to >> the idea of subcontractor. >> i think the connection is very unfortunate and i'm just wondering whether you've painted a very positive picture of president bush. i was very disappointed about the lee atwater and the willie horton situation. that comes to my memory but i'm just wondering if, in your view, him is a decent manation. participating in that says something 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 is that important, but i didn't yet the sense from your comments today, i haven't read your book unfortunately so i
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don't want to say that you don's cover it but i didn't get a sense that you felt that was important. thank you. >> what i tried to say, i talk about the 88 campaign and were talking about the furlough ads, the horton ads although that was an independent expenditure group and we can spend the next three hours on that. you said something quite brilliant there which is, politics is not appear undertaking. if you want to amass power, toch try to be in a position of influence when the crazies of the age comes, you are going to cut some corners. you are going to have some moments where you say and you things or you count things that are set are done, of which you are not proud. i don't think there's any doubt
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that the 1988 campaign has examples of george bush in his apparatus pushing certain folks on reflection and even in real time that are very uncomfortable and risk falling in to 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. you didn't see that in the term. without that redemption, itco would be a very different story. now, is there a direct line between the impact, i would go back even further, from 196868 and where we are because some of the same people were in the
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campaign in 1968 and that's the popular understanding of the southern's strategy and how that has come along. is the republican party now dealing with the frankenstein monster that has gotten out of control and now has orange hair. that's one of the questions. i'm a little skeptical of that argument in terms of a direct line..coan i think we have to judge political figures on the totality of their lives and the totality of their records and i believe that the country is better off because george bush was president for four years. i don't think he was perfect.e s unquestionably, the attack politics of the strategy were used in his campaign, but i remember interviewing bill clinton about this, and he said
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the thing about the bushes is there's not a racist bone in their body. michael dukakis told me he totally understood why willie horton would be used in the campaign. all of this is in the book. 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 or 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's my view yes, sir. >> you have probably answered this question, at least in directly. i recently saw blood he bloodied andrew jackson which is a parity and i think of our current campaign about unbridled populism and the manipulation of
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that. you see any parallels today? >> between jackson and trump? i resisted this for a couple of reasons. one is the jackson brought an enormous amount of experience. you can argue whether it's good or experience are not to the presidency. he had been a judge, senator, a general and so the idea, fundamentally the choices being presented to us in the next 45br days or so and it's one between the most conventionally prepared candidates in american history and the lease conventionally prepared. i interviewed mr. trump about the spread he makes no bones about this. this is not a partisan point. i should say, by the way, i, i voted for presidents of both i expect to again. what i hope to see in terms of
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trump and populism and that argument going forward is that we can take the energy, the anger at the globalization and find some way to channel those into constructive reforms as opposed to finger-pointing and blame casting 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 ton people who come here. we are the only nation on earth where you can become an american simply by saying you want to be an american. we are not based on ethnicity, we don't have to be born into a certain tribe or clan.
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we are devoted to an idea. i worry that the current populace trend, unlike then jackson era is trying to limit the definition of what it means to be an american. it is historical and dangerous. [applause] let me preface my question by saying i have finished your book and it is superb. >> thank you. that's a enough. >> one more thing. >> it's all down here hill from here. >> there's an aggregate ranking of presidents by historians and presidential scholars that places george hw bush is 22nd among the presidents. how would you respond to that?ha
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>> it takes time. this was the earliest possible point to do this book. my friend has a good rule that it takes 25 years to really get a sense let the passions cool. i think he will rise up. one term presidents have a hard depending on how you think about california, maybe not. it's a tumultuous term, but i think when we look back on and x essential nuclear struggle that ends piece of peacefully, it took reagan and bush, it took the people themselves from truman forward to and the coldc 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
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setting a rhetorical example. reagan was a great negotiator. remember he was the head of the actors guild. he used to save people think negotiating with corbett shaw is tough, they should've met jack warner. rush was able to come in and do things that i don't think reagan would've been very good at. i think that number will go up, i really do. what irony parenthetically is going to be fascinating to watch over the next 20 or 30 years, to what extent bush 41's historical is on the seesaw or on a proportional lift with his son. bush 41, for a long time, believed his historical stock would always be on the seesaw with reagan. he was in star after reagan.
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because of the drama, it's been been interesting to see as people reevaluate george w. bush what that does to george hw bush because that did confront similar problems in different ways. another factor there is going to be if we have clinton dynasty stories, it's going to be like c-span meets lancaster and york. it's just going to go on forever is that it? i want to thank you all very much and everybody go out andrk vote. [applause] forever. is that it? >> i want to thank you all very much. everybody go out and vote. [applause]. [inaudible conversation]
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