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tv   After Words  CSPAN  October 9, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm EDT

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if you want to follow up on the new clinton e-mails released over the next several weeks, go to no matter what happens, we'll be on the case. thank you to all of you joining us and, hopefully, we'll have a panel like this soon again, so stay tuned. but you can track us on the web at, and we're on facebook and twitter as well, and you can learn more about all the panelists on our web site and find out more about them and pirg out how to get their books and other information. thanks again for joining us and have a great week. [inaudible conversations]
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>> c-span, created by america's cable television companies and brought to you as a public service by your cable or satellite provider. >> face the nation's john dickerson is next on booktv's "after words" program. his book, whistle stop, discusses memorable moments of past presidential campaigns. >> host: john, thanks so much for being with us today. i've been looking forward to us. you've written a great book or more political junkies, and i'm one of them. >> guest: thanks, brian. i'm looking forward to it myself. >> host: right at the beginning you helped to set a theme when you said while we're watching one race, there's usually an an echo from the past that gives you a guide to what might happen. i'm wondering, as you look back
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over past races like those you've written about, what do you think is most relevant or compares most closely to what's going on these days? >> guest: well, you know, that's where it started which is that every one of the races i've covered you're just trying to to figure out what's coming next and what to keep your eye open for. and there's so much false information out there, so much spin and all of that. so you go back and look and think, okay, maybe this will come next. and i think there are a bunch of different races, and we can go through them. going all the way back to 1824. when andrew jackson ran, he was an outsider the way donald trump was. they worried about him being a demagogue. he was a reality star, you know? he'd been a general -- [laughter] and there was a great worry that investing all of the hopes and treatments of the electorate boo this one general -- into this one general because he was a flamboyant and successful general would take democracy off its mark because people would think you could do it all in one person. so when donald trump says i
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alone can do it, it's very much playing into that same fear about jackson. but if you go back to 1964 or 1968, in '64 the stop goldwater movement was very similar to the never trump movement, also equally as successful. and in 1968 george wallace running as a third party candidate running and playing on the same resentments that donald trump is playing on. and he was considered a joke at fist the way many -- at first the way many people did donald trump. and changed the race, even though he didn't win, changed the conversation in a way, obviously, donald trump has. so those are three races that are just in this book. i feel like we could find a lot, and it's funny because donald trump is also completely his own kind of creator. we've never had -- we've had businessmen, wendell willkie, but never a marketer, which is really what trump is, running for the presidency. never somebody who flew his own plane over a stadium before speaking to it. [laughter] he's, obviously, his own new
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thing, but there are some parallels in history. >> host: some would say con men, but they said the same thing about those past candidates with strong personalities, didn't hay? >> guest: i think that's right. i think the standard now though, and we can date it back if we want to jack kennedy, the first sort of television president in 1960, although warren harding's race was kind of the beginning of using advertising techniques to sell candidates like soap, which was the beginning of the idea that a candidate is being sold more their aura, but even it seems like i have a jackson fixation, but the reason jackson got into the race in part was because the tennessee democratic republicans wanted to have a name that people could know at the top of the ticket, you know? nobody votes by tickets now anymore, but back then there was a piece of cloth paper and old hickory's face was at the top. and so if you were a voter and saw that guy, you'd vote the
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whole ticket. who knew who other people were. but that was the point, to have kind of a celebrity at the top. so that's not that distant from the celebrity that donald trump was and is and that he used really in the primaries in particular with that roughly 100% name id that gave him an entree that other kinds of candidates never could have gotten even with the most crazy activity on their own that they might have tried. >> guest: yeah. remembering george wallace in the '60s, before i read your book i'd been making that comparison, in fact, that there aren't enough folks around to who remember wallace, but you wouldn't think of that because he was from alabama, identified with being a segregationist. donald trump's a new yorker -- [laughter] but in both cases though their appeal went way beyond the states they came from. >> guest: you're exactly right, that's the thing -- >> host: the region. >> guest: yes, precisely. and wallace was such a region
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regional candidate. he would say to his audiences, he would say they, meaning the elites, have looked down on us, us being anybody from the south, and we're not going to let 'em do it anymore. really making a regional -- [inaudible] so that's one of the reasons johnson and the democrats weren't unhappy because they thought, okay, we'll let wallace cohis work down south and tie up richard nixon, and that's great. then what got them nervous and ultimately got humphrey nervous was that in the north the suburbanites who were worried about the riots in the cities, and and growth of the african-american population, started to hone in on or listen to wallace's message. it got to them through those same similar channels. so then when democrats saw union voters in the midwest starting to be appealed to by wallace,
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they started to get really nervous, and that's much the same way donald trump -- as you say, a new yorker to the bone -- is suddenly playing in precincts you wouldn't have maybe guessed when you first heard him talk. >> host: yeah. after reading your book, i realized how well jackson fit into that too. i never thought of donald trump as a jacksonian, but there are similarities. now, of course, jackson was the war hero, again, they don't seem that similar on the surface. jackson was the first pop list, wasn't he -- populist, wasn't he? before him there were elites. >> guest: absolutely. and jackson fought against the system in a similar way trump did, although in the end the system and establishment essentially capitulated to trump, so he in the end didn't have to fight the final battle. but in 1824 when jackson -- you know, there's essentially one party. the challenge in 1824 there was
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the democratic republicans. the federal its were pretty much shot after the war of 1812. so the way the party picked their people was a caucus. the representatives of the party in washington would pick the nominee, and because there was only one party, whoever the nominee was meant that was going to be the president. and jackson and others revolted against that system in much the way trump revolted against the you remember when we knew the number of dell gates past -- delegates past which he had to get. and when it seemed for a moment or two like he might not get those, trump said the system's rigged, the people should be making the choice, not the delegates. well, that's the same thing jackson was saying. the people should be making the choice, not this king caucus. they nominated william crawford, secretary of state, who had had a stroke and was people bl and blind -- feeble and blind. basically, jackson's point was proved that-just a game for insiders.
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they picked somebody not based on the merits because crawford was so ill, and it was based on just the wire pullers. my favorite, i love that expression, right? not the string puller, the wire pullers, the people playing the marion et. and -- marionette. and one final thing about jackson, he goes into pennsylvania and basically wins a contest that's close to our primaries now, closer than all the other kinds of contests where he basically becomes the people's candidate. and that's the first time, as you say, the first populist. this is a long line of candidates afterwards who tried to do the same thing. >> host: yeah, i remember wallace doing so well in michigan and other northern states, but that was a real turning point though and led to what we later would call the reagan democrats, blue collar michigan voters who voted for reagan. >> guest: yeah, that's exactly right. in fact, reagan, there's a signature ad that reagan ran in 1976 when he ran against ford,
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and it was in texas, the important and crucial texas contest because ford had been pasting reagan for much of that race until reagan wins in north carolina, and then fay -- they face off in texas. and there was a commercial that the reagan folks cut with a person who said i've been a lifelong democrat, you know, but i'm going to pick ronald reagan this time in the republican caucus in texas. the funny thing is that person was in the wallace are campaign was the head of the wallace campaign in texas. so there's your guy. he's a reagan democrat, but he started off as a wallace democrat. and reagan's victory in texas basically gave him the boost that allowed him to go on to the convention in '76 and challenge ford. >> go to a different region, which reminds me of your talking about jfk and how west virginia and the coal mining area was so important. well, you actually -- i should point out your book is not in chronological order here. it's interesting, because you
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have a different, what, there's seven parts in which you focus on particular themes, and jfk is and that west virginia race is under that -- well, you should the chapter inflection points, turning points, right, breakthroughs people made. jfk broke through many that state. >> guest: he did. and he was irritated that he had to. two reasons. one, he thought he was doing fine in west virginia. his polling, to the extent that it was, you know, he had good information, and he was one of the first to really hire a pollster and put him on the payroll and work him -- >> host: by the way, there were, if i get my numbers right, there was something like 5,000 members political consultants in 1965, and by 1980 it was somewhere around 50,000 -- [laughter] 15,000. big growth after jfk. >> guest: yeah. because, of course, victory everybody wants to imitate.
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gathering chips, hiring pollsters, tv ads, i mean, other candidates had done these things before, but he did them all in one package. but in west virginia he's going into west virginia, and he thought he was going to -- he thought he was gown to do well in the state. but the real story about west virginia starts in wisconsin where he wins in wisconsin, but it's a totally hollow victory because he's catholic, and and it is framed by the press as a catholic victory. >> host: right. >> guest: so here you've got kennedy saying i'm going to go out and prove myself in the primaries and my connection with the voters, and it's being framed that there were republicans crossing over to vote in the democratic primary in wisconsin just because of his faith. so it got so bad that the kennedy brothers fought with cbs news on election night because cronkite was talking to the analysts on the show about the
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catholic question, and the kennedys called up and said, stop it. stop talking about this as a victory for the catholic candidate. the papers the next day said, well, sure kennedy won, but it was just a catholic thing. so his whole effort to build his prestige during the primaries was totally undercut, so so he had to go into west virginia in a state where there were no catholics and, in fact, one woman interviewed by teddy white as the time said, well, of course they shouldn't have a catholic president. if they wanted a catholic president, they would have put it in the constitution. there was a real bias against the catholics. so by going into west virginia, he originally tried to run away from the catholic question, said i don't want to talk about my religion. what's more important are my policies. midway through he realized that wasn't working and so took it head on and addressed it head on in a way he later would cutter general election with the fame speech to the baptist ministers.
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but by winning in west virginia, he kind of put away -- put away humphrey, that was good for him, but he also put away the question that a catholic couldn't win outside of the catholic enclaves like wisconsin. >> host: yeah. we were talking about earlier about barack obama running in iowa. i see parallels. i'm old must have to remember both of those -- enough to remember both of those. it was a gale game-changer to use that now-clicheed word. >> guest: you're exactly right. the whole book came out of this podcast that i do, and the podcast must continue even though i guess we're getting few stories for the second volume. so i'm working on right now obama's victory in 2008, and you're exactly right. it was here's an inexperienced, you know, first-term senator, no executive experience using the primary and caucus process, and david axlerod writes about this explicitly in his book, "believer." that you build your prestige in the contests so that people
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start to see you as presidential even though you've never had any executive experience in your life at all. and in iowa he not only, you know, won in iowa, a state that is basically, you know, white state for all intents and purposes, but was able not just by doing that and overcoming hillary clinton with all of her advantages, was a able to to say, you see? i can put together something in this place that's not friendly territory to me. so, yeah, it's exactly like winning in west virginia for kennedy. >> he needed to build credibility, of course. by the way, he was also black. [laughter] >> guest: right. >> host: so it means more to win in iowa than if he did in district of columbia. >> guest: precisely. exactly, exactly. >> host: well, i want to get back to your title. the word whistlestop is newer than i thought it was. in fact, this was intriguing. i've got to say parenthetically, you brought back memories. when i was, what, 12, 13 years
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old living in middletown, ohio, and i watched the debates on tv at a tv station i would later work for, but that's another parenthesis. but richard nixon came to town. >> guest: yeah. >> host: and i got to go out there and see him on the back of the train talking to the crowd, a up to of about 45,000. john boehner's district. very republican area near cincinnati. and there was an -- i was watching nixon with the crowd. then i started watching the reporters with those press passes around their necks. and i said, oh, i want to have one of those. [laughter] that was an exciting thing. do they do whistlestops like they used to? certainly not by rail, unless it's a gimmick. bill clinton did. >> guest: right. and obama did one on, i feel like he did one on the way to the convention or he did -- >> host: you may be right, yeah. >> guest: on the obama -- i remember riding on a train on the obama campaign, and the big memory i have is that was the time in the campaign -- one of the whistlestops he did was
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during the primaries because -- maybe he did it on the way to in-- >> host: he wanted to get back to lincoln. >> guest: that's right. during the primaries it was when they were taking on hillary clinton for having fabricated the story about the snipers in bosnia. >> host: right. >> guest: and i remember they put together an impromptu sort of talk, a press phone call, i think, while we were on the train trying to hit thint on that point. -- hillary clinton on that point. and i feel like we were going through pennsylvania during the primaries. but it's basically a huge gimmick now that doesn't, you know, it's -- there's no practical reason that i can think of for it other than you do get a chance to touch some rural areas, and that just, you know, when truman who i write about in here in the whistle stop campaign of 1948, most concern a lot of it was the fact that he was going to these rural towns and just showing them he cared.
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and he was masterful at it, had the first real research department that would tell him, okay, the important thing to know about this town is x, y and z, and when he'd get there, he'd talk about that, and can the people there would think, wow, this president from off in washington where we think they don't care about us, he actually, you know, knows about us. is and truman was such a kind of folksy guy anyway that the way he behaved seemed like, hey, he's one of us. he's a little clumsy, but he's a hard working guy full of grit and, you know, he's okay. and so that, you know, conjuring that when you go through a rural isn't bad even though now everything you do whether it's in a closet is on television everywhere, it might as well be in the middle of new york city. but paying attention to people outside of the big cities, you probably get a little something for that these days still. >> host: speaking of truman, i was delighted to see you mentioned my newspaper declared him to be the loser against
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duy -- [laughter] dewey. but you made a larger point though, and i'm going to try to quote you. we heats are not -- elites are not very good about predicting. >> guest: yeah. well, that's one of the constant stories throughout. >> host: yes. >> guest: again, going back to jackson they thought jackson's not in this race for himself, he doesn't want to run to be president. they thought he was in the race to help john quincy adams which, of course, in the end the two of them would be many a neck and neck race. john quincy adams was his bitter foe in that race. they got it wrong in 1824, but in '48 what's so fun is many september elmo roper, the pollster, basically said nobody has lost who is this far ahead. dewey is ahead, so we're not going to do any more polling. [laughter] and so they didn't -- >> host: how far ahead was that again?
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>> guest: that was in september -- >> host: for a november election. >> guest: and i don't know how far ahead dewey was above truman, but enough it wasn't you didn't need to take minnesota anymore. and be the series done of the newsmen of the day all saying that dewey was going to win, who was going to be in the dewey cabinet. and the columnists, the most fun were columnists who wrote on monday to be published on wednesday with election day tuesday falling in between, and they were so confident that dewey was going to win on tuesday that they were writing stories about his administration and so forth and so on that would be printed on wednesday. >> host: right. >> guest: they were, you know, it was like we all know about the dewey defeats truman headline, but these columnsts had to do something worse which was go through long, convoluted arguments about the dewey administration. [laughter]
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it was like printing that headline over and over again. and there's this great line, mr. president be, the only question for the press now is how do you like your crow cooked. >> host: right. >> guest: and there was another line. mr. president, we're ready to eat crow whenever you're willing to serve it. [laughter] i mean, there was a lot of -- tom brokaw said after the debacle in the 2000 elections when some of the networks called the race for al gore he said we don't just have egg on our face, we have an entire omelet. [laughter] >> host: a great line too. but thank you for mentioning the chicago daily tribune was not alone in its foggy crystal ball. polling was much more primitive then, wasn't it? >> guest: it was primitive. it was also -- yeah, yeah. it was primitive, and it didn't get out into the precincts where truman had gone, and this was a lot of conventional wisdom thrown into the reading of the results which is not that different today. and even now you can be in error
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with, one is an air of arrogance which was what was going on in '48, but many polling you can think electorate's going to to look like this, and this is the way we measure the electorate at the moment that gives us the most confidence that that's the way it's going to shape up, but it doesn't. that's why there's so much of it because we don't have a crystal ball. >> host: i was struck by one word pops up repeatedly in your book, and it's word expectations. [laughter] yeah, that's really what it's all about as a journalist. that's what we do. >> guest: yeah. >> host: we cover that which surprises you, good or bad. and is we often get surprised ourselves, don't we? >> guest: yeah, absolutely. and then, and this is not where we come into our finest moment which is we cover what surprises us, and then we write about our surprise as if that's news. and so the problem there is you're building the foundations
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for a campaign based on the surprise about an inaccurate assessment. so it has nothing to do with the candidate necessarily. and you think about in, you know, gosh, there's so many of them. 1972 muskie wins in iowa. and muskie loses in the end. now, in '72 he also had a staffer who said that when he didn't, when muskie didn't get above 50% in the vote, she said it's a total nightmare. so she embraced the expectations. in other words, there is something real about a what a campaign expects to do, and if they don't meet their mark, then it means the voters are not as enthusiastic about the candidate as we all may have thought. i mean, '84 hart does better. mondale wins in iowa, but hart does better than expected, so that causes trouble for mondale.
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the stories go on and on and on. hillary, we were talking about iowa in 2008. hillary clinton's the front runner. she's got more money, and she's expected to do well in iowa. comes in third, barely third behind edwards, but third. howard dean was posed to be the democratic nominee, was on the front of both of the news magazines, the major ones at the time -- sorry, u.s. news. but time and "newsweek" had her on the cover -- sorry, they had howard dean on the cover, and he comes in third with 18% of the vote in iowa and that's a huge loss because of where expectations were. >> host: a that's right. >> guest: hillary clinton rises in new hampshire in -- >> host: i knew you were going to get to that. [laughter] >> guest: in the basement, and yet he elevated them. he turns a second place finish into a launching pad for the presidency. >> host: using the term the comeback kid. i'm the comeback kid which is another chapter in your book. comebacks. >> guest: yeah. well, it's funny, too, because usually somebody who gives themselves their own nickname
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is, you know, slightly shunned, you know? you have to earn a nickname, and, you know, you have to be done -- and so to not only have turned a, but it sort of fits nicely because here you have a second place finish being turned into a great victory -- >> host: that's right. >> guest: which itself is a slight of hand. >> host: not only that, you want to have some fun, ask people who won new hampshire in '92. finish almost everybody thought either bill clinton or they don't remember. >> guest: right. >> host: and paul son gas, bless his heart, who won that race got so forgotten after that. it was really remarkable. it shows you the value of turning a phrase. i haven't seen such an effective phrase turner until donald trump. >> guest: right. >> host: lyin ted, crooked hillary, a child's schoolyard game, but it works. somebody said once he said that jeb bush was low energy, it sounded like nonsense, but it
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seemed like bush's shoulders got a little lower after that. >> guest: yeah. >> host: he just seemed to lose some of that energy. >> guest: well, that's the talent of the marketer, knowing where, you know, how to land something in, an expectation -- not an expectation, but a ready-made, i mean, well, sorry. let's back up. what do marketers do? they introduce people to a need they did not before know they had. now, i don't know that i need to be punched in the face, right? so les some talent in it. -- there's some talent in it. it's one that once you realize you want it, you need it, oh, hey, i need it as opposed to, you know, so there's an art to this. it's not just the fact that something people aren't expecting. so he has that marketer's skill for doing that. and what makes the electorate nervous, of course, or people who study the electorate is the idea that a person can win the presidency basically based on the same kind of slight of hand
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that goes into marketing. and that, you know, people used to think, it's funny when you look at the political analysis prepre-1960s where political scientists looked at voters and said they make a rational choice. they look at the candidates and look at their positions, and they think how can i maximize my value in life or the country or whatever, and they do a kind of a math problem, and they come up with a sum at the end, and whatever that is, that's how they vote. and then in the '60s they realized, you know what? emotion plays a huge role that people project things onto candidates that have more to do with their motional feelings in life. so it's not an active reason, it's an active emotion. and more some people that is frightening. >> host: yeah. i'm recalling how aide laid stevenson back in the '50s when eisenhower, as you mentioned, had the first tv ad but not the first real ad campaign. tv was so new, and it's very quaint to watch those on youtube now.
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>> guest: it sure is. >> host: saying i will not be marketed like a box of soap. i talked to his son -- [laughter] about this. he might have changed his mind had he realized how powerful tv was at the time. >> guest: yeah. well, and in general mcginnis' book about kennedy -- sorry, the nixon campaign in '68, selling the president, has a picture of -- i think this is right -- a picture of nixon on the front of some editions anyway as a box of cigarettes, you know, marketed like a product. >> host: that's right. >> guest: and as i say, that started really, or one with harding, harding, so that goes way, way back -- >> host: well, harding was the beginning of radio era -- >> guest: yeah. and the chicago ad men. it's all chicago's fault. [laughter] the chicago style of advertising gets moved into the presidential campaign, and haas a whistlestop that hasn't been done yet, but
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it's a great beginning of the story of how candidates were sold like soap. and, you know, of course, we should mention that in the first -- until about 1840 and then even well after that any candidate who participated themselves in a campaign, let alone being sold by soap, even the most high-minded campaign you weren't supposed to participate in because it showed lack of virtue for the office. it meant you wanted to elevate yourself, and that isn't why you wanted to be president. >> host: on that tone, by way, it's remarkable to me how little campaigning eisenhower did. >> guest: yeah. >> host: he never really ran in the primaries at all really. >> guest: no dummy, he. when you think about the modern equivalent, eisenhower's the only one i can think of unless maybe there's some fantastic example that i'm not -- >> host: i think he's it.
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>> guest: yeah. where literally he's carried up by the minnesota primary where they have to write in, i think they called it the minnesota miracle, write in his name. and there were so many misspellings of eisenhower. but nevertheless, you know, he was -- they wrote in and got him, and he won as a result of that popular uprising, essentially, for him. and we haven't really seen anything, a bolt out of the blue candidate like that. he, obviously, had a pretty good resumé. >> host: there was also a wonderful underground campaign going on on his behalf at a time when people weren't really sure or if he was a democratic or republican. that madison square garden rally after the game and all. >> guest: absolutely, right. exactly. and be wonderfully used the sort of, come on, ike, join the race as a both -- which burnished his credentials but then, as you say, was a campaign itself.
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in other words, it got voters interested. it did everything that a campaign would want to do, just didn't have the candidate working on its behalf, and that's not a bad way to go. in fact, you can imagine the if we were confecting the next presidential campaign, you want to do that because people get so sick of the candidates that you'd want the candidates' arrival to be something of a piece of excitement. also it would benefit that the candidate wouldn't actually have to say anything which is nice because then they won't offend anybody. now they have to go out and be in a position of not saying anything when there's a month right in front of them which generates some disappointment among people who hope their people running for president would actually say something of substance. ..
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guest: motherhood is good and the future is ahead of us. host: that his leadership, but it helped to be a war hero, does it like with jackson. guest: it really helped to be a war hero, but what's interesting is he becomes the commander of nato and that's a huge foreign-policy debate at the time, so his military expertise, which, of course., he was a hero without question, but then nato peace was a bit strictly within the republican party, where there was debate over whether the comments or was in europe or asia, so in that sense his military career was a mild downside to it and this is the
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story i don't tell and don't know as well, but at the last minute when it's clear taft will lose to eisenhower at that convention there's an emergency sort of draft, macarthur movement that goes on and one of the things i want to spend time with in the future is macarthur's-- macarthur's flirtation with the presidency over time and macarthur's efforts to play on that hero stature and of course macarthur had a bumpier situation having been fired by truman, although in the republican primary was a good thing to be, so anyway that was another parallel story going on. host: there are so many. i would be remiss if i didn't asked you a bit about yourself because everyone knows you anyway here, but it's always good to interview a fellow interviewer.
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you mention your mom in the book and someone who watched her on television and for those of us that don't remember tell us a bit about your mom. guest: first, she was the first newswoman correspondent for cbs news and there were many women on cbs-- tv at the time and when she was on the air in 1960 in the first woman on the floor to report from the florida the convention back when conventions meant something and there was real excitement and things going on, so she was a woman in a man's world and she was with cbs for eight years before she was allowed on the air. she kept asking and they kept saying no. she loved the hill and started their. her first job was a broker. she knew the senators and said would you please come on our radio programs or tv program and one of the tv programs she worked with before she was on here was face the nation on the first broadcast and she hoped to get joe mccarthy, senator joe mccarthy who was at the
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time in the middle of being-- about to be censured by the senate and went on face the nation on its first broadcast and said, called the senate in curie and his behavior a lynch be as all senators who were unhappy with the joe mccarty-- joe mccarthy at the time were more so because he was saying basically this is a kangaroo court with no legitimacy and they are just trying to win should me, so they made a little news on that first broadcast, but she then worked for cbs and in 1963 went to nbc right before the shooting in dallas when john kennedy was killed and she had been close to lyndon johnson when she was on the hill. he liked her and so when she went over to nbc, suddenly now there is any president and the-- she was his-- one of his favorite reporters, so she covered him a lot and then finished with
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nbc and 73 went on to make documentaries, so all of this happened much before i was born and so i wrote a book about her life because she left me everything that she had about 48 of those long lawyers zero boxes full of everything including the reason i write about it in here is a lot of those old books. scott, pennsylvania senator, moderate who was never part of the goldwater movement, but also try to get eisenhower to run in the race. he has a great book about the republican party and the challenges between the moderate and conservative wing spirit there was a moderate wing back then and he was a proud member took it to greybull, but one that he signed it to mom back when she was covering him and there are a bunch of books come on the taft books about senator taft's interlibrary. there is one that stephen shattuck road about barry goldwater in which the sub had--
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subhead of the book is, free to miss his flight pan because goldwater was a pilot and he was his longtime campaign manager and congressmen-- father of commerce been john shadegg, so i kept bumping into mom's history when writing this book, but the previous when i wrote 10 years ago was about her life because it took place before i was either not on the planet or old enough to really understand what it meant, so i spent a lot of time with her since she passed away 97, through the process of writing. host: raising a child in washington with this media saturated town and all of that can be an interesting challenge in itself, but it's interesting to see how a kids response and i have learned that if a child was to be like his or her parent or was to be as far away from journalism as they can. how about you?
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guest: i was actually in both camps are part of the book in my story with her is that we had a rough relationship between about when i was 14 when my parents divorced and i went and lived with my dad till i was about 24 and it was very rough and contributors on both sides. i was no picnic. host: a great time of life. guest: exactly, adolescence, it's surprising how much i knew about everything. host: you have children. guest: i do, 12 and 14, white on the cusp. host: welcome, dad. guest: they are angels in every respect. that will be the condition going forward, but part of the book is about as reading a team together our relationship. if you told me out 14 that i would go into her business i would have thought you were crazy, i mean, it's a funny kind of fact that not
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only did i go into the business, but now after being with print for 25 years i switched over to television. host: what changed your mind? guest: well, i wanted to tell stories and i only sort of figured this out after she died when i was actually writing her eulogy, which was so i loved english literature in american history because at the center and the same with this book, it's the best of stories and stories that aren't just pleasant, but tell us something and illuminate parts of either human character or the american character or the country has a whole, but we pass on stories in -- and have since the beginning of time because they use the entertainment value of the story to tell us something that is true about ourselves and our world, so i love writers like jessica conrad who try really to tell a story that has central truth and so that's what
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i wanted to do either in studying literature or writing, but i had to get a job out of college, so i was a secretary and it was right before the 92 race and, you know, i always loved politics growing up in washington. i had been a government to minor and i was interested in campaigning governing, so then i, that's when those two stories came together, i mean, i got to meet a long time, and this for life magazine in time magazine who had that same kind of way of covering i mean the way you write comments about the stuff that we love in that american condition of the story at the heart of politics so, that just kind of, you know, got me going and becoming a reporter where you could instead of looking at stories and books you could just go out and talk to people, so i started covering all kinds of stuff before i really-- the first campaign i
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covered within 96 and so had about four years of covering, you know, they spell strike, wall street, the first attack on the world trade center. i covered health stories really, it was a wonderful training covering basically everything that was thrown at me. host: did you think growing up in washington that it's different than growing up in pasadena or st. louis? guest: i think, yes, probably not in any good way. i had an amazing number of advantages both in terms of places i went to school, but also growing up in this world it was part of my job was to deal with people who are in positions of power and that's intimidating and it can make you nervous except when i was a kid that's what i did. my parents entertained quite a lot and i used it to be the one that opened the door their parties and would greet guests and, i mean, when
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i was 12 i met ronald reagan at my house, so that's helpful because television is distorting washington politics is distorting, so in one sense i will grew up in that distortion, but on the other hand i also hopefully recognize and so through also a pretty careful effort in my career to spend time outside of washington with politics knowing the stories actually not in washington has been helpful, but if you actually come from the real world that's probably better. in fact, when mom broach her autobiography the beginning is basically she came from wisconsin in the heartland and was establishing her credentials in talk about politics because it she came, not from washington, but from the country. quickly in the book she goes to washington and tells the stories about their, so in the book you see the tension between the real world
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and washington, but fortunately i have roots in all parts of the country, so that helps balance out having grown up here. host: outside the beltway, i mean, those of us who live in the beltway were quite surprised by the way this particular election year has come along, but every election surprises us, doesn't it? guest: it does and the surprise in this election having spent so much time in the world-- red covering the campaign and the movement that is now supporting donald trump i mean pat buchanan in 1992 and 96 and then when i covered him when he flirted with running in 97, on the way to running perhaps in 2000 and the tea party movement in 2010. you know, the discipline among grassroots movement, grassroots conservatives different than what we would've called movement conservatives took there's a bit of it cost between movement and conservatives as with
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trump versus cruz. host: interesting distinction. grassroots versus movement. guest: yeah, so these are loose distinctions, but if you are in the movement you read the national review and believe in a certain set of ideological principles that represent conservatives and smaller government, strong national defense, the reagan, three stools of the social conservative as well i'm of the sort of three stools of the republican party that we use it to talk, but there's a philosophical underpinning really to your-- and that's the movement you are in, you're in the conservative movement. some tea party adherents and donald trump himself is not a movement conservative, he's not a conservative by his own admission and he will say and as he has said it's not called the conservative party. it's called that republican party, which means the beliefs are not at its core, just the name of 18 and he is
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not a conservative. rush limbaugh was saying the other day in response to donald trump's family leave policies and so forth, this is not a conservative and donald trump is a fan-- excuse me, rush limbaugh is a fan of donald trump, so it's a populace which nevertheless has people who have identified with the republican party and conservatives, but that more populous part of the conservative coalition, that was out there and we have all known that. host: known it from going back to ross perot and for that matter a lot of populace over time, pat buchanan with similarities between pat and donald trump are close and pat feels personally proud of the fact that it's being carried for so vigorously by tom, but the grassroots folks are the ones we kind of, i used to call them a flash mob movement that kind of popped up like the tea party did
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, but we have to take them seriously now, don't be? guest: the thing is in 2010 you had to take them seriously and basically what caused barack obama so much trouble and ended up leading you could argue that election of republican senator in massachusetts, which is then change the shape of the healthcare bill, so that to me was something that, you know and then we saw in eric cantor's lawson john boehner getting pushed out of office, so we have seen this coming. what surprised me is that they would pick as their champion someone like donald trump. i think this is where i may have gotten populist and the movement of little even though as i say i was pretty where the differences because movement conservatives say the central problem with lawmakers although, again the central problem with these capitulating republicans that made grassroots conservative so angry was that they come pitch
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related and change their mind and given under pressure and did not stay true to their word, so if that is the key criteria to stay true to your were to be consistent, that is not only donald trump behaves. in fact, his supporters now make his flexibility on all things everywhere a great attribute, so that's the thing to me that-- now, some people will say we always knew that grassroots tea party conservatives would say we want smaller government, but don't touch our medicare and social security, so there was an inherent tension in the desirable for smaller government and affection for its largest programs and entitlement, so i guess that is what we maybe see, and i guess finally i would say that my view about this supremacy of staying true to your word was probably my over reading of all the conversations i've had in the real country
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where people would say if they would just do what they promised they would do, if they would behave in private the way, you know, the way they-- that we would like them to. if they would behave in public in a way that did not degrade the culture. a lot of things have been said by voters that i have talked to who say we want a president who says things out loud that we can be proud of have been, have kind of gone away and i probably -- in a way may be over valued what was actually being said by voters rather than the way in which they ended up a voting. host: there's a difference between what we say and think versus what we feel because i think the politics of feelings, used to speak about it lately and flippantly, but i think about seriously because i look at donald trump and the reason why, john, is that it's a suppose empathy i have because i see that excitement in the trump
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supporters eyes and i'm reminded of the obama camp and 08, the excitement that silly people had back then and i confess i'm putting myself because i'm append and give my opinion, i was very excited and i could see we were going to have change in weight saw pas de deux-- and that's what these folks are saying. ohio is in the spotlight now with this book. he writes about this is since the 50s we have gone downhill economically. i guess what a lot of these people are talking about when they say let's make america great it again if they just want that sense of security again they believe in donald trump so well that he is not invulnerable to all of the truth, the facts. those facts won't give them my way, what my
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kind white house. guest: over the last several cycles, but with increasing passion people talk about and want the country that i grew up in an eye when things go back to the way they work and that is an economic message and also a cultural message, the pace of change, you know, i feel like it brings me right back to 1997, with pat buchanan in western pennsylvania in the steel town where they were on hard times, the closing down and effects of manufacturing, changing and automation and all of the economic effects have been around for a while, but this idea that we grew up with a certain set of promises that are being taken away from us and we want those back and we see that both specifically in places where donald trump is working hard, eastern ohio, western pennsylvania where they had been
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specifically hard-hit with closings and changing and economic landscape, but we also see it in a kind of nostalgia for an older time that takes hold among people who are making over $100,000 a year and basically benefiting in the current economy, so it's both a specific feeling that people have about their economic situation one that is much more general that really doesn't have any links that people specific pocketbook concerns because they are doing okay. host: so many of these things pop up in your retelling of history and we go back to it, the jackson period and certainly not pat buchanan period, but once thing we see that these uprisings share in common is a sense of populist anger, discontent with the way things are going, resentment towards that you leads, eastern elites. jackson did not like the federal reserve, a
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different name at that time, but he shut it down and cause economic havoc, but a lot of folks felt like that's what they wanted because they did not trust the big bankers and the easter. guest: and they had good reason to i mean the economic that had resulted from the decision of east coast bankers had ruined their lives on the frontier and a so why are you doing this to me and him you know, you people with your fancy theories ruining my life and that clearly has to be part of this current verse of populism, which is the recession of 07 to 09, which is essentially is the result of this behavior by the kerry lee come about whether it's the federal reserve board washington lawmakers or the mortgage-backed securities, all are people whose bad decision-making savaged the lives of people who weren't a part of the initial decisions that were made and so that when
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i read about jackson and his feeling about the national bank, you really feel, you just feel very very modern in terms of the anger at people who are making economic decisions that are remaining your life. host: the language keeps coming back in these different periods of time, but what does that say about the american character? guest: it's funny you mention donald trump and andrew jackson. andrew jackson said by their-- by their abuse they shall elect the end he's basically talking about the writers of the time much the same way donald trump plays off of and uses the traditional media as a foil and says, you know and benefits from when the "new york times" writes something negative about him, that helps him with his constituency. there is some tricking us with the general electorate because there are some people who still trust with the "new york times" right
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who are in the electorate and so what is it saito about-- well, guess in one sense it's comforting to people who read the book because they think if these currents have always been there then they will work themselves out as we have seen him work themselves out in the american story. you know there were these moments of crisis in 1824, that was suppose it bargain that took place in order to get john quincy adams elected was with henry clay was, you know, a crisis moment, i mean, people were absolutely outraged. host: mainly because it had never happened before. guest: yes and more outrage than say when the supreme court decided for george bush and bush v gore. you know, the nation survived and continued and so it gives people hope who read this and think like well that if the patterns are the
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same they know kale will be regardless of who is elected and for some people that means regardless if donald trump is the president or for others who are so opposed to hillary clinton can find soulless and that i did that the country has been able to work its way out the past, but i think what it says about the voters is that basically the passions are always there and always ruling what's happening. this is not an active freezing. voting is not an active reason and that's what leads to an critic to build a because we kind of always have to analyze it anyway that seems a logical, but voters paid in ways that has more to do with their internal humors, necessarily than what's going on in their brain. host: accommodation. guest: yeah. host: you mention how elections are opportunities for people to feel like they have an impact on the power structures affecting
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their lives. guest: right, right. host: there is a sense of the trail in people's hearts right now about the way that you leads have been treating. guest: absolutely and by the way that's a healthy thing sometimes, i mean, it's not always that, i mean, the worry of courses that-- i mean, there are two worries that the-- two worries at the beginning of the american experience or experiment i should say, one that we would have a king and that was a great worry, that the people would not have their say and there was the opposite, which was the mob would have too much of its say, so we try to say dallas back and forth between those two things, so it's not always the case that the emotions of the voters are wrong. sometimes they are a great corrected to the fancy theories of the people who have gotten so attenuated from the business of government and what it should be that they have kind of loss that threat, the theme. a lot of people would say that's what reagan did was reset a federal
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government that had gotten off its mark and he, through the emotional connection kind of reset this messy argument. host: reagan's life is interesting also when you consider how he was the-- well, he was like a spokesperson for the goldwater campaign. i remember that speech that was replayed around the country at the time, a racist political profile. guest: a time for choosing. he said he went to bed and was woken up by a call from the goldwater campaign saying-- the figure 8 million sticks in my head, but they raise a great deal of money off of that speech and that's when-- host: 8 million is a lot of money. guest: exactly. today it would just get you a couple of make america great hats, but back then it could do something for you. host: how much is today's politics people trying to get revenge for the 60s one way or the other?
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guest: when people talk about-- it's interesting when they talk about wanting to get back to something. they are not talking about getting back to the 1960s, but-- host: some people think that things were pretty good back then-- maybe they were for you, pal. guest: exactly. that's the thing that's really interesting, the smithsonian african-american museum history and culture has just opened and i was there did an interview with john lewis nyc-- and was talking to him about the pace of change and for those who think it's been to so recently and i was standing there with john lewis who is looking at a picture of young john lewis in a part of the exhibit when he was speaking on the steps of the lincoln memorial. host: warm up for doctor king. guest: yes, and you look at the picture look at john lewis you
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figure in a museum he worked 15 years to get into existence and you think there is the pace of change) mean there is now an african-american president's. this museum exists. host: something else, at the time john lewis was a young radical. there was a lot of concern about what he would say on the podium because he was really angry after jfk and at the time and there was fear he would overshadow doctor king's speech, but they talk to him and he went a long with the program eventually, but in recent years he has been a voice of moderation for both black and white on both sides and type has its impact. guest: yeah, you know in preparing for the interview and also he has got that three comic books that he's a part of about his life in the march from selma for a man who has had many journeys in life that is yet another one. but, that comic book was
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in a court one he had read as he was beginning to be brought into the movement and it was martin luther king in the montgomery story that comic book, which i looked at in preparation for the interview, not only is a great piece of cultural history, but big part of the messages and there is to love your enemy as a part of the nonviolent christian message. ..


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