tv Presidential Biographers Panel CSPAN November 25, 2016 5:00pm-6:39pm EST
at the whole system, asking questions like, how -- how does nature work and how -- what might we learn from that, and by looking at systems as a whole in the context of our social and economic circumstances.ns tonig .. [inaudible conversations] >> good evening, everyone. it is so nice to see you all here in this great greenberg lounge of the new york law >>
>> of the passing years we have courses and public programs of people who have been deployed along negative deeply affecting your world of individuals like frederick douglass, georgia o'keeffe, martin lutherhe king, jr., both francis and many other steadied in context. not all american presidents are transforming give.sf [laughter] but some have then as the panel the my own interest is of abraham lincoln.at student the is my belief students to spend an entire semester studying a person like lincoln douglas corporation elizabeth cady stanton will never forget them theyta become part of the turtle
universe.ef all one chief ally is the biography seminar at nyu. founded in 1976 by the nyu professor and acclaimed author.to suppo it has brought together career biographers to share in their work. is my pleasure to work closely with the chair john maynard and his circle of leadership including charles and james and ann. tonight's program in fact, was put together by james asked me to say nothing about him laugh laugh so for those who don't know he is a dynamo he will introduce uh
distinguished moderator and panelists and i will also like to thank them for their generous giving of themselves this evening things for coming. [applause]me is st >> en el the cubs game is starting so i will get you out of here soon as we can but phillip is always somebody that i go to when i have a strange idea and the adm that i have after watching might television on my phone one in amazement and horror as with an colter and others i was supposed to
be working but was part of that fact based community hungry for a fact. one fact. i would cry at the end of the day. so i do know people that they are up here today. items anything about them because they are fixtures of the culture and political scene and have been for many years. and david maraniss with the eyewash in 10 post or ay whole variety of associations. to have i left out?founde
the founder or co-founder mayor also into as legends but to talk about my passion which his biography with those distinguished people that they are all that i recommend to you and jonathan is at work on the biography and david maraniss has written many books and if not the official authorized biographer of clinton and jonathan alter wrote on president reagan and somehow david remnick miraculously wrote a book about obama while doing his day job and i know they will
bring considerable because they're most journalist hopes and now biographers.t man so the guy that i will call that man that is what the fdr enemies call him. on tuesday can we talk about something else? so i will hold you to that.how t me but i am sure that is somehow that will play out i was that a phone day a couple weeks ago class today were voting for i am it is
supposed to be democrats who he said no this year we trump it. so to preside over theheinvite scottish architect i invited my hero leslie stahl and getting people to talk hervery n so i feel very confident this will turn out wellank yo thanks for coming. [applause] hot. >> can you hear me? i will start evening by asking each member for to say something very briefly about their book each one has been assigned a president and by the way we
will hold off on trump as long as we can. >> strangely enough there has not been a biography of carter one unless you include that / ginger series but duffel biography in 25 years written by one of the t aids so i sought a gaping hole in the line of scrimmage with a president who has been bad lead misunderstood who now has 92 years and counting and this is sad man who was the only major american figure who lived in three centuries
borne 1924 compared and at that time as described the man is will be born in 18 niihau there was no running water wheel mechanized farm equipment in life is changed for hundreds of years so they finally got running water but with the 20th century he was not part of that civil rights movement who in the way that he handled the profound change of the jim crow south
obviously made him what bill gates considers of cuttinge edge issues like conflict resolution home so as far as uh presidency goes to say a political failure. >> i cannot wait to ask you about it you are the reagan experts i cannot wait tosa hear what you have to say. >> this is the most fascinating subject hot. w >> i will say that i have the passion for reading and
writing short biography then i try to figure out how to do an even shorter one of ronald reagan to be a huge number of incredibly long biographies with this american president series that was now complete butth for two presidents so to make it interesting for me so to figure out what i could be doing so i ask myself what are the mysteries of ronald reagan after reading these books are that i am unsatisfied? the first is an obvious question heidi switch from left to right?
the beginning of the '50s and liberal democrat, tohe support harry truman but by the end of the '50s where nearly '60s he was so conservative he was off the charts with the republican party with the goldwater campaign they were scaredd and they would make can look bad so was us huge mystery that igo hard from left to seght the second question how is the end of the cold war and the hardest question is what was going on inside of reagan's head? and several have gotten in trouble.
i know the three questions i will ask you. >> so david maraniss is here to talk about the clintons. >> it was called first his class he was never first ins his class he was rarely in class.ghter] in so high the mcgovern campaign in the mud as classmates would test better than she did, and that is my arms generation to reach the white house.'s reall and that is what compelled me to write the book. my first book i will get the day after the election 1992
the issue but i was beating myself up dead-end be obvious became obvious to me which of course, those same impulses would also go andnd positive ways. that is true of human nature with those contradictions but it is just an examination of all of us. >> what about obama? to not talk about donald trump. >> i think we will wait nine or 10 minutes first one i will say i am the best judge nobody close. other real scholar throughre
on this stage i am on the third best book of barack obama. so i was getting somewhere with this book he was talking about his obama book and said the title would be the promised which i thought was my title. [laughter] so then i published a booke brie that was read titled. [laughter]g therea in then not long after that was true ba magnificent biography so my book is not a biography at all buty really writing about that journalistic life but with
these aspects it is all about obama and it was written in light of his own memoir. especially as an obscure state senator with the examination is itself want which comes in a long line of african-americans that'd is a spectacular and rich john rau.and if y so if you take into consideration so with that title we think can wear chief affiliated is promised as the first african american and president bush also in his terms to be a
trans formative president. he was in a hotel and talking to a reporter and looking at all of these presidents and said if i went to be a president want to be trans formative.ow and f from now until the end ofd january. [laughter] game pl we here it is the game plan we will go round chronologically to ask on your president and then openf to broad questions were so speaking of jimmy carter cartoons the most fish issue of first about doc president was done on board jimmyy
carter but then finally he you brought up the idea that he succeeded legislatively but considered a failedfa president. can you tell us how that contradiction came about? >> i think any presidentbe b inevitably is seen as a political failure the late george h. w. bush was not represented here tonight he has been getting better marks than carter who was much more of a punching bag with herbert hoover before he was president was thought
of as the great humanitarian . he was president and a bitter time in the '70s when people really did not like anything. been i am not speaking of you personally but the press corps as a whole was comingco out of the post watergate mentality with a head taken down nixon and pretty much every story was how can we want figure out the end gabelli -- underbelly of? and he had less than one month from of coverage right at the time he was
inaugurated in even then did not get good press. who i am not blaming that because he made mistakes from the way he set up his white house to the way he would manage his own time. with his engineering background as a double-edged sword would allow him to engineer peace that is helpful during the camp david accords but it is theee best thing since the creation of the state of israel with the only military force to destroy a israel to take that off the
table over the last nearly 40 years and counting. and they did that through a force of diplomacy not justp can't david but the years that followed. he also got the panama canal treaty through as they expected they would be defeated as they were leading the charge but without them, very likely there would have been a war ag central america against the united states that would have been much worse. and with the human-rightsgn campaign that it was maintained by reagan leading
to a transformation of democracy throughout latin america as well as giving a great sustenance to the soviet union and eastern europe. that isn't even the domestic achievements but to set aside more land for protection that all presidents including roosevelt combined. i could go down the list and done like bill clinton and barack obama carter had four years and put a lot of points on the board and got almost no credit through the many pieces of legislation so there is a gap between perception with and what changed in the country as a result and we do judge
president politically and to lose zero overwhelmingly to reagan in 1982 have a very hard time to be resurrected. >> i feel as a member of the carter press corps i have to defend myself that while he did accomplish all of those things he had double digit a and ation and the hostages and i will tell you as a cover the white house over many years, he was so unpopular even people in his own administration would call me to give me negative stories. >> i hope i made it clear i am not blaming the press of his ineptitude but the hostages came home wall in one piece.
we did not lose a single american soldier to hostage afire during his presidency.y. not one. not since the dawn of the republican. jimmy carter is very proud of that. that was not done through appeasement but through a very messy foreign policyy deat left him deeplyly unpopular will those long-term effects, word day harmful? but to blame him for that is a cleaning obama with isis.to he failed to rescue those hostages that cost him in apri politically april the 1980. but eventually they did come home to give ronald reagan
and the credit just after he a took office the iraniansir released hostages. one thing after another.here wer but the little things kept happening that they were symbolic of his problems like the killed rabbit to emerge so that took weeks of attention as if that was representative of something. a and he was a long-distance runner and he stopped a marathon and that was seen as a metaphor. this was the time whenose people used to use that to tell us everything we need
to know about president and there was the habit in the culture to get thosein long-term changes it is important to get past the fact he made a mistake to let the public know he had him rides -- several aides and montezuma's revenge. [laughter] >> moving on to reagan what was in his head. >> first of all, before asking you common he is seen in comparison as a giant in the 20th century actually did you come down to think he was the giant?
was he transforming give?s was the one of the great presidents of all time? immigrate is a harder term than transformative i think if you look at the new deal era 1933 through the end of the carter presidency then you are with a transformer that party of what conservatism stands for release going in the direction of the new deallearly but the new deal was mostly suspended between 1981 and 2009 and extends through the president -- present-day we will not talk about trump but that this uh dominant ideology but let's talk about what was maybe going
on inside of his head the first week knowledge that we don't know when will never know because he did nott leave record he was a voluminous writer that was so fascinating to me for the speeches and the radio thripps but he did not write in a way to give us a huge in sight he was close to two people in his life i don'trr think there was anyy correspondence. but he has a tremendously objective terrible child when he was in 10 different homes by the time he was 10 years old his father was an alcoholic dragging the family around to get a job that went to chicago, at one
point in a department store store, then arrested for public drunkenness when you hear ronald reagan older brother describe the historywa it was miserable. we eight stone soup and and we were practically starving one reagan said it was like tom sawyer "huckleberry finn" childhood where he was out skating on the frozenoc rock river we were poured but we did not know it so what is going on?th not j not just with be optimistic imagination but somebody who can to knout in reality and the psychological theory was that he could do this or a selective hearing that was tremendous functional quality.
>> but that same kid would not know he was pour could not hear him to tell him you have to choose if you won a budget deficit or a defense budget so there is a way that by not hearing things that were uncomfortable could preserve his political effectiveness and there is the positive side to that end in negative side to that but it was also sociological reagan had pour eyesight did not know he needed glasses until he was a teenager. >> want you to explain a person who does not hear what other people telling him. how is he affected? he goes into the white house not listening or he seems to
but then comes back but yet he is incredibly effective. >> so just to talk about the regional economic planfacing facing those things he was told was incompatible he buzzed choosing to have a very large budget deficitd because he wasn't going to give up his tax cuts soap defect code to have a large deficit sunday was not goingh to knowledge that was the choice he was makingchoice. benefactor it was a choice and it was good and ended up the original reagan economic plan ended up to be classical to stimulate a weak economy where those two
primarily for defense but then they said drop them out of the helicopter if you need to put it would work at many levels but to read knowledge that contradiction to bolster his own idea of what he was doing but in that same position carter and add an intelligence that he could never get away to recognize that choice. >> that is what i mean when i say it was functional bute unn to end up working politically he did not like conflict would let certain things get resolved without using is personal political capital.in
>> when he came into office jimmy carter created a weakness in the country was therefore seen as weak soo release overnight suddenly everything is looking up so if you can talk about reagan but also the president's and general through the fifthth shearer thrust of personality can he completely changed just by being an apple presidenty? with an optimistic personality quite. >> timing helps the mood in the carter years they were m probably on the mend. hostages were released, the previous recession was over over, watergate was further behind, there was a lot of reasons but they had gotten too pessimistic so was a
good moment for somebody to come but it is interesting but with conventional wisdom in politics that optimism and positivity is the way to win elections you see that with clinton and with proper obama -- barack obama. in some candidates are incapable to pull that off.'s >> since carter in is involved? >> well beyond the point i do want to say it was important to fdr but i do have a fed is centric view of presidential popularity
and jimmy carter appointed paul volcker as the chairman of the fed and volcker applied very, very stiff medicine which basically sent interest rates through the roof which was the main economic reason why a unemployment data was notnt bad because interest rates were insane they were approaching 20 percent inflation was insane. soulful replies his medicine , it really hurts carter but also hurts reagan if he looked at the popularity, one of theas reasons he got off to such a late start 1981 he was shot in the same way fdr was almost shot before he took office in both cases he just
escaped assassination many americans felt god's spirit him for a purpose and this helped enormously but his popularity went way down in 1982 for all his optimism and quality he was really unpopular because of falkirk policies finally worked in 1984 that he had a monstrous reelection so did you elector reagan in 1980 and reelected in 1984? >> i don't quarrel at all with that statement of paul volcker do think that was the right thing to do and reagan accepted that he didpt not challenge the fed but there is something else because of the unprecedented inflation you could not use monetary policy further to stimulate the economy that
is why this keynesian so was so important with a huge taxa cut with the militaryng spending he stimulated the economy the only way that you could. so it was a combination of these two policies held with different views that ended up producing economic growth >> that is brilliant. >> thank you. >> today is a good question to ask to focus on thehe marriage was said to a: presidency? how did the husband and wife really work together in the warehouse? >> when they first met at yale law school, from the very beginning, what i call a fair fight. to very intelligent,
ambitious, pragbiic matic people who saw that they could rise to gather that they could not a part. so the symbiotic relationship was first felt with hillary against all the vice of her friends moved to arkansas 1974 with her boyfriend running for congress and from then on on, at various stages in their life together, she was central to what he did. when he was governor of arkansas, after the first term hillary realized because of social pressures she had to change her name to hillary rodham clintone and change your hair and she pushed him to go back andd run again. she stayed married to him
and then in the second coming of governor clinton hillary was doing the education reform policy so he relied on her time and time again and during the campaign if they said by one -- buy one get one free he was thinking they were a team from the start but then from the start in their political careers together for the reasons that not his fault she failed him with a first-ever compelled care reform because of the moneyney against your but that was the defeat that caused them to lose congress and on his
heel for the rest of his presidency. the interesting thing about the relationship is generally speaking when one is up the other is down. so whenever trouble he would get in his personal life her popularity would rise as a sympathetic figure. when she was done after health care his popularity started to rise. has been that way and essentially you could see that devolving 1991 and was returned ever since but i consider bill clinton a master campaign strategist for everyone but his wife. [laughter] and virtually every time he is involved something has
happened. >> she helps camelot when he was president. will he helper? or will he hurt her career. >> when she is president quits anybody try to imagine what that would be like ifg he is back in the white house. is mind-boggling.e always and as i have always saidll gete the good and bad there will be times she wishes he is not around and other times he will be helpful but he will still we doing something even if you send him around the world of laugh laugh laugh but you will have this cycle of turmoil and success and recovery and anything
surrounding them will be interesting but that is today are together but people wonder who hillary rallying is and where she once more transparency but in her defense of them together she has this defensiveness that she does not even see entirely but because they have risen to gather and basically all of the trouble he was getting into. so will some of that washe' away when she is president? i am skeptical of not cynical but i do think there is some of that but this could be a better self for
her. >> want to ask about the recuperative nature. reagan was like a phoenix rising from the actions. but clinton was the most extraordinary phoenix. hall and to explain after monica lynn ski quite. >> that is a surprise me at all.ack, and and then he comes back and gets in trouble again andd then get in trouble again. so if i could step on david for a second to describe the two of them is they have similarities the bill cannot of arkansas and dysfunctional families obama had the additional problem to figure out who he was racially but everything life
surratt them they dealt with them in different ways but barack obama spent eight years to figure himself out socially psychologically racially and pretty much succeeded that came to his self-confidence that helped him get to the white houseing oo claim jesting opposed with clinton who never dealt with his problems just figuring out how to get past them how to survive so forgive yourself and keep going but he became so good at that through professionals, politics meeting people he is a master survivor and then of course, got intous trouble because of that. sodium rising like a phoenix as part of the cycle.
>> isn't there a way he gets in trouble to get out of it? [laughter]r] >> that is what he does his whole life and spirit thatas was my revelation. >> sometimes you need subconsciously? he would get in trouble but he felt no matter what he would find his way out in that paradoxically fact because the public realize he is in trouble but he can't get out of it and heill. will. so it was optimistic. >> here is my big question about obama. when he decided to really would not deal with congress anymore and calculated the
matter what he did they would stick him so i will g not go there, or does he have and impediment that we see that he just cannot reach out? which isn't quite. >> the former. >> can we just stipulate and point out for the overarching theme of this discussion that has deeply weirded these people are. [laughter] my friend with nixon and johnson and reagan and clinton even carter, these strangeness of these peoplech in their own way it is striking.
>> there is a point to this. >> guy when not agree with all of that.strangel i would not say that to nixon nor johnson. >> but when it comes to barack obama and to david's point again, i am not a historian i am a reporter but as far as i can tell from that vantage point for them to be alive in this time this is the least strange person to occupy the white house certainly in up posters or era. and if only they played more- golf with john boehner that
is just bad math and bad history so the increased radicalization to the house and senate is a historical fact is the fruitcake. [laughter] that we now know has come out of the oven so if i could extend this metaphor that was prepared by the republican party with a generation of constantly radicalizing the republican party. so the notion that barack obama who won the health care battle by the tiniest
of smidgen however flawed or however premiums are going up was that the time with those advantages seen along perhaps.ink it i think it was a fantasy. from that occupational point of view that job is not to praise power but put pressure on power. that is our job. to have questions about barack obama or criticism but i must tell you in my lifetime i have kind to the end of no presidency right have more of good to say in the character argument. he is the most sane and self knowing person in that office that i could imagine.
>> does that lead to good leadership quick. >> i think in my view the results of his leadership is politics so yes. i think the moral political it will be the biggest question mark in my mind is syria. and philip gordon is one of his middle east advisers said the quandary i will get the words wrong but essentially the unitedet states invaded and occupied country named iraq it was a catastrophe the united states participated in fail to occupy a country called libya and it was a catastrophe. and we have done next tobe nothing because the previous experience of syria is a
catastrophe and it is ah catastrophe half-million people dead 11 million refugees from love anon jordan, turkey and the entire european continent and we are having an argument about syria about 10,000 refugees coming into the country. so i sympathize with the quandary about this with that differential that was a lock but he was right. where he was right especially with libya that was part of the screw up they took the eye of the ball see you can see why this happened with that glaring question mark on
domestic issues and foreign issues whether cuba i think he has a remarkable record. >> >> we are encouraged to say what we think now. >> and never had anyny hesitation. >> asked each historian journalist to tell us an anecdote that gives us a real insight orlando of the quality of mind and be to their presidents so we will do around on that starting with jimmy carter. >> i guess maybe with camp david the 13th day on page number 13 they believe they have an agreement after a
tremendous amount of our work cut by carter but negative also deserve a lot of credit but carter and had promised he would have a side letter that was not relevant directly on jerusalem and basically to reiterate in 1967 and was not a change of american policy but he would blowup level thing on the last day.kedi it looked like it was ending in failure which wasg for ca complete the humiliating for carter and carter with the help of his secretary into
them get down into those details. >> but with the reagan he is us president that was most governed by some there is the real reason he did that he was not attuned to abstract, thinking by making stories about people which they did incredibly well. sometimes you thought they were true and they weren't the here is an anecdote about reagan. >> like when he said he wentwh to war? >> that did not happen we could discuss that but i think that he claimed to have liberated auschwitz. he was not completely detached from reality but in 1967 when he was in the governor's office this been
some time that the reagan library after a few days they said would do like to deoking inside his desk? and it turns out there were five boxes and is laypeopleca spasms cards but there is some interesting documents they cannot bear to throw away when he would clean outhr his desk one is an article from 1967 with a translation attached that when they came to interview him from sacramento 1967 to say i am not scheerer he would want to see me but it was superior they thought they
just got him in the office they could convince them but as a capitalist governor but by the end of that he said he is very gracious and bygr the end of it he kept his keptbut this is what he did water was the correspondence or any of the soviet leaders at this point if i couldld just get them alone in a room i think i could convince them. >> his secret sauce was his charm and his weakness. he could charm anybody.
>> clinton? [laughter] >> there are so many. when the book came out, clinton responded by reading parts of it to his staff and then to deny the other half of the book at the same time publicly saying that he did not read it. so to me the one where the only valuable thing from the kenneth starr report from the scandal is the addendumli that list all of the books of the study behind the oval office. one of the books it says it is first in its class with annotated notes whiff b.c.
he's talking about golf and falling down the stairs in my father's first words to him are nice time mr. president. i'm in new york city at dinner and judge stephanopoulos is there, a former aide at that point and we were talking about how exhausting and interestingnt and all the different characteristics that billst clinton has endured for many years and stephanopoulos said while david did he ever talk to you after your book came out and i said not really. the only words we have better exchanges when he said nice tieh stephanopoulos said you know what nice tight means in clinton's lexicon?s i said no and he said it's fu. [laughter] he unwittingly responded inwi kind.
[applause] i can can't tell you how many correspondents came up to me after that instead of i thought he really liked my chai. i love the tie. that's not what it means. [laughter] >> i promised david money if he told that story. [laughter] >> i should say before i get to obama the clinton story a may be apocryphal but i thought when he was in the hospital, his nurse came to see him and he's in hiss hospital bed and he said what do i have? she said mr. president you have acute angina.u have a [laughter] and he said, you are not so bad
yourself. [laughter] apocryphal, apocryphal, not true not true. the most telling story i can offer about barack obama is david had this experience and john has as well.. what happens these days in obama land if you are writing a book and take them at least reasonably serious which is to say not written by ed kline or something, you get an interview and they tell you it's going to be a half an hour and it may go 45 minutes in the case of david it went longer because he had uncovered his girlfriend and obama wanted to know all about it. it was focused almost completelw on race and he was somewhat open about things. you know he would talk about malcolm x and the white house in the oval office which probably didn't come up a lot with
richard nixon except on the tapes. but he was very guarded in that obama way but more so on the subject of race. full paragraphs came out without a single syntactical glitch and everything completely gathered and we finished this conversation and he walked down the hall to go off and do something come here no check on the nuclear codes or whatever. then he came all the way back at a clip and he said i have got to tell you, it's not something he does.y efficien he's very efficient at this time. he is not a linger earth. chris would have been there for three hours and not answer the question and all that. you have to understand this is early in the administration.
it was a big subject about which historians will chew over this for a long time. when i talk about race you know i am perfectly aware that the most important historical aspect in race happened at november and inauguration and i get that but if i put a single word wrong ord even half from the world can go crazy and this has happened time and time again. you remember the summit. obama convened a summit with skip gates in the police officeh who essentially a salted skippg gates for the crime of breaking into his own house with his own keys and some large majority of the american people were in p favor of the cop not skip gates and were very destabilized by obama's performance at a press conference in which he said than potentially could have been me. so it will be extremely interested to me to see once he
leaves office, wants january 20 happens to things are going to happen. one for sure, he's going to get me thickest book advance in the history of nonfiction and then the second thing is will he write the first truly presidential memoir in the presory for the presidency? ... grant wrote about the -- and mark twain which is really a nice author to have. will it be more of a product by the book that he wrote as a kind of testing testing a ph paper fr whether he should run for president or not which is an okay book. it will be fascinating to me and how you approach the subject of race, what he has to say about it considering enormous intelligence and that singular experience of being president afd the first african-americanan president will be the holden for
a long time. >> do you think you'll have the ambition to write a book? >> anyone has that in mind to write something at least good and i think obama has that attention. any number of anecdotes when he writes speeches, even the nobel prize which he is still lets just say ambivalent at about winning his reaction to winning the nobel prize which he broke the obscenity barrier here with you have that to be kidding when he was told that. and labored over the speech was essentially the office which is what the narita and wanted to hear an oslo which was supposed to be a rebuke of american power. it was much more nuanced speech about the proper use. >> i know that we are going to invite the audience to ask a
question that first let's talkt' about the current roster and the people running for president and can any of you are all of you jump in and tell what you have learned from your president that if you could give advice would help either hillary and/or mr. trump.or in other words, what did you learn that makes for a good president? what would you tell them for what you have learned? anybody? or do you just want to talk about trump? [laughter] >> i would say one thing leslie which is i think the thing that hillary denton has found the hardest to do is to frame his ideas in narrative terms, in human terms and in thematic terms.
hillary i think she understands the limitation as a campaigner this way but i think part of the reason she has had a hard time breaking through and of course the misogyny and there are also other factors but she does tend to offer a list of policies.s. she is not good at telling a big story. something that del quintin i think was excellent at and i think maybe he learned it in part from reagan but it comes naturally to him. he's naturally a storyteller and you know that's very tough but i think if you don't do that you are giving up on being able to relate in a certain way to a lot of the country that is likely to being gates and policy. >> one thing that surprised me by the way about reagan is how much he contributed to his speeches. i was under the impression he had this speechwriter including
peggy noonan and he told them what what he wanted and they went off and did it.n i've seen his speeches. >> be improved on all of them and he was a really good writer. he came out of its early days writing radio scripts. none of them are original radio scripts that he wrote when he was a sportscaster in iowa that we know the legends about the i cubs game when there was all annds of stuff coming through. having. those and they are written out in longhand. he didn't have any help with those. i would give him a call from slate. he really wrote a good punchy column and he gave a good speech. george shultz has a good anecdote that schultz had written some foreign-policy speeches for product and he gave it to reagan to look at. reagan said well george that i would have done it a littled,
differently and schultz said what do you mean? he said you write for them that i like most people do but i write for the year and you have to think about how it sounds tot people and in telling his story, telling it from my point is a different kind of writing that he was a really good writer at that time. >> i know david you've been dying to talk about trump all night because you told me so. >> i'm so sick of it i can't begin to say. let's be honest what we are witnessing. we are witnessing an we freak. [laughter] [applause] i'm sorry, i don't mean to pander over much. i can imagine at nyu among like-minded people i'm not saying it but this is a hideous moment in american history that just happened. i can't even say it's the
logical extension of the kind of radicalization and real real decadence of a major political party in american history but i think there is. we were discussing before wewe came out is he like hitler, is he like mussolini?ni? i don't know. it seems to me that this is a very american thing. the incubator that he grew up in was not turn-of-the-century austria. he grew up in reality television world. marc fisher my college roommate and now biographer of trump who has had hours and hours of time with trump at the "washington post" wrote a very good book ono trump and asked him what everybody on this stage essentially has been in the subject and you would if you could and switches what do you eat?
what is forming you will forgive the expression intellectual -- [laughter] your view of life or his trump would say this -- and trump it's as if you had asked him to reinvent the calculus. he could not give anything and then he went to after high school. he was not embarrassed in the least about this. no one is asking a president to be tenured professor of astrophysics or history but you would expect some input going in or you hear in the republican party constantly about "atlas shrugged", this is what you hear all the time and nothing. he found he said all quiet on the western front which i read in high school.ool. this is kind of blankness in himself. the ability to say anything that
he feels will appeal to whoever is in front of him by their it's howard stern or a rally in texas or a rally here and there and he has been formed by a feel not just himself in his own biography but a moment of american history both serious and pop that has bubbled up in the ugliest way and god willing we will be done with it in early november.t it w it's something we will be grappling with for a long time to come. i think politically, not just historically speaking, because a lot of people didn't vote for him. >> i just worry about what happens when somebody goes out of bounds as he has over and over again from a very early point and we have never seen a
demagogue, anywhere close to this closed to the american presidency in all of american history. we have only had one candidate wendell willkie in 1940 who hadn't served at all in government. all the other major party candidates were either in the military or an elective office or the cabinet. so in that sense, just the sheer demagoguery of it, we have never seen and the fallout, i don'thi think we are necessarily ready for it. i hope there is, if he loses a real reckoning for who were trump appeasers from the republican party and who were never trump and the never trump folks whether they are very conservative like lindsey graham or some of the others, theyy
deserve to rise in the future the republican party. i'm not sure they will but we hold the other ones to account because they were in my mind and patriotic. that's a very strong word but if you're an average voter. [applause], you ha if you are for jumping of a busy life and you don't pay much attention and you like the f umax politics that you represent, i can understand you've been left behind in the global economy. but if you're an educated person you are a politician and you know as marco rubio said he is a con artist, you'd know he is a con artist and you support him? you are putting a con artist in charge of our constitution and our nuclear codes?r what could be a less patriotic
act than that? i don't think we have fully confronted the moral ramifications of politicians wha put party ahead of country and decided they had to support trump. >> well said. [applause >> i agree completely with that. there's no reason for me to go on about trump except to say that i think it's important to note for history's sake that the people who supported trump have always been there. they were there in the 1960s in the south fighting civil rights and they were there supporting george wallace in michigan. they were there in 18 50's. they have been there through american history and it's only once in a while but a demagogue can come a long to tap this or that in the way the trump has.u- to switch it over to hillary clinton for a second, before i ever got a chance to ask either
of them which books they read i realized, i discovered what the clintons brought along on their honeymoon to their -- in acapulco which is the denial of death. >> i wanted to open it up to questions from the audience and i see your microphone here and here, so maybe you could get up to the mic if you want to ask questions. right over here. >> hi there. to the three guys with ties, nice tie.aughter] [laughter] i have a question when he saidid something about the end of the reagan era and the republicaner party and moving forward are we looking, is it going to be a alt-right that is taking the mantle or word you see the republican party moving on after
that? >> i do look at this in a reagan context. the genius of trump as it were is that he senses a tremendous gap between what the party represented and what people, voting republicans actually thought and the party was still eventually fix to reagan's principles, smaller government, lower taxes, pro immigration, free trade and trump kind of figured out that a lot of themdn didn't support any of that. they didn't want less government. they wanted more from government. they didn't particularly care about reducing taxes on the wealthy. they were very against globalism and trade and very anti-immigration so i think going forward it's a little bit different from what john was just arguing in minutes ago.mina a the parties going to have an immediate tendency to blame everything on trump himself but i think the path to victory in
the party in the future is like to be trump's him without trumpt so it's going to be someonegoin without trump's reprehensible repracter and personal qualities but who does represent that few? that's why think the arab s reaganism is over because i don't think you can make a comeback inside the republican party. they will still be there but it will likely be a minority faction. >> david remnick has to leave at 8:00. everyone else stay. david you have any final thoughts on the presidency inl general and what we are about to face? >> only that is my 29th wedding anniversary and if i don't get to it i'm not going to reach 30. [laughter] i will say that what was encouraging because i don't want everybody to go home and kill themselves is that i have never seen a more politically astute
thrashing in any kind of political combat where i think finally everything was unmaskedl and you have tens of millions of people who are going to vote for donald trump.trump an it bears watching for all of usr as citizens and as journalists first of all to understand why this is the case. everyone who is pulling the lever for donald trump, a white supremacist or a member of some incredibly ugly group or thinks ill of all the groups that trump has insulted and attempted to humiliate. i don't know if that's the case. i really hope not and i don't think it is but it's a political force in what shape that takes as jacob was saying before will be fascinating because the
leadership of the republican party, which was given such immense praise for its mastery of policy, paul ryan being exhibit number one. paul ryan who i understand he's the speaker of the house and therefore de facto head of a party that is headed by a not and worse but i do not see, i do not see how a second term clinton versus paul ryan race doesn't evolve into another anor unbelievably episode. again i think she's incredibly vulnerable. when she performs at the level of that third debate in anyl sense of the word in terms of her presidency and delivers them becomes a more transparent political personality and themot way that we have grown accustomed to not thinking about her i think there's real troubli ahead, real trouble ahead.
>> it's really hard for 15 years in a row for any party. that's almost unprecedented. after 12 years people wanted change. it's very interesting that she might run for carter as he repeatedly made decisions he knew were politically harmful to him over and over and over again over the objections of rosalynn carter and he just said look, i'm going to do what i think is right and not that it was never political. >> she won't do that. >> she won't do that but it mayy make her less historic wave presidential because you have to be willing to risk political failure if you are going to have lasting accomplishment. >> you don't think she will do that? >> i don't enter member david -- [applause]
early in the obama presidency garrett once for the peace thing you should do the gutsy thing and just get out of iraqly and i immediately and if you're a one term president so be it. he didn't do it in hillary clinton is twice as pragmatic in that regard is barack obama so i just don't see that happening. >> hi, looking forward in assuming for a moment that hillary wins, she will be facing a media landscape that's much more power rights than what her husband face amasa coming out of eight years it's essentially been scandal free.en when biographies and histories will be written to thank god it will be footnotes probably. given this media landscape and inevitably i imagine there'll be some major either trump up, whatever scandal that occurs, what is the likelihood like
bill's ability to recover that such a scandal could be fatal? >> you know not many of bill clinton's characteristics transfer to hillary but the one that does is enormous well and ability to get past things and work her way through them. i think that she will have that capacity as president just to j test -- just as he did. i also fear the clintons come with not just the baggage of the past but a tendency in to bring people in who can create problems in the way that president obama was incrediblyy smart and lucky to avoid. >> do you think they share a habit of making it seem as if they have something to hide even when they don't? >> bill clinton does usually have something to hide. [laughter] >> whitewater.-gate thos--
>> hillary was the stronger defender of not being transparent about those incidents.d i thin as i said i think she built up this defensiveness as part of t their partnership. so yes, that will be a problem. but the clintons to some degree, of course is true of all politicians that the ends and the means and the clinton stronger sense that the ends justify the means of the means are less important to them than they were to president obama.po >> you know what i worry about for hillary and any other future president is how they are going to reach the american peoplele because the media and i put that in quotes, the media covers everything. bill o'rielly to "60 minutes" and we are all in there together how are they going to communicate with this diverse
means of communication and the minute she goes and makes a speech every outlet, every tweet in the world is just going to chew her to bits. her husband didn't face a world like that at all. obama is just beginning to face a world like that. i can't see the future from the presence means of communicating and selling what they are intending to do. >> they all have the ability to go directly to the public without going through the press. i think the changes in technology which people focus on and more in their personal ability to communicate and i don't think hillary clinton as was saying a minute ago, ex-cells in that respect and i think she has a very bad dynamic with the press where she constantly feels mistreated in part because of scandals that
don't pan out or aren't really scandals and become more defensive than the press reacts against her defensiveness andlo she becomes more close down. e-mail scandal if you really look at what is happening there i would describe it as a conspiracy to violate the freedom of information act which is not actually a crime but what is setting private e-mail server with hillary clinton was really doing was trying to ensure that her communication would not become open either to the press or investigators in congress are ultimately to historians. part of trying to shut down and the private and protected butnd that instinct which is understandable in the context in which she has been through is a very good if instinct for any politician partly because of the way the press reacts. >> everyone will be on the phone who will ever put anything of
any significance in an e-mail now? >> for the most part you are preaching to the choir and that's good, and i'm going to add to it with a tiny anecdote that than i have ever a question. and it does is, in the mid-50's by step other, a new york city y architect got a call from fred trump asking him a left-leaning architect of union buildings in the city to design a building, an apartment house in queens for the electrical workers union. fred trump because of his queens connection had been asked to take care of this. my sweet, dear stepfather, very sweet kind man agreed and the
went out to queens and spent the day, sunday with fred trump. he came back and he reported. fred trump is a really nice man. he has a 10-year-old son who could not be chastised, who could not be encouraged leave the grown-ups to their talk. what a brat. [laughter] okay, so we know how dangerous, too dangerous, to contemplate a trump presidency would be. why on earth don't the media people give her a pass? whenever something happens, is evened out. lately, i read "the new york times" every day. i don't read the journal and i
don't read the post but it is in the times. a coupl if there are a couple of columns by brooks but a couple of really good columns, couple of good columns, even my good friend doi "msnbc" rachel macdowell was kind of snide about her until very recently. i want to try to understand the stakes are so high. what would be wrong with havingw a hillary bandwagon in the next 10 days? certainly there is a trump bandwagon. >> you are conflating all of the media into one. when you talk about television
personalities, and we talk about serious reporters they are completely different entities so you should not just say the media. it's not the job of reporters to give anyone a pass but it is their job to be discerning in terms of what is the real story and what is not. not to sound self-serving, think the mainstream media polk unquote has taken a lot of gifts over the last 10 years and for the most part the printing press and the internet press of serious journalists leading with "the new york times" and the "washington post" and those have done an incredibly good job of revealing donald trump with serious stories. and so i've refuse to accept the notion that we should give anyone a pass but i do believe that you are right in they have
to be discerning about what is a story and what isn't.ipulated b >> the electronic media, television was manipulated by trump early on in the campaign. for ratings they would put them on all the time and they would not ask him very hard questions. maybe if they asked them a lot of questions, he wouldn't come on the next time and that would cost them money and ratings. so there is a story that really reflects badly on certain television networks which now i think they have done a pretty good job of trying to redeem themselves in the last few months..he the print press has not been playing even stephen between trump and hillary. it has been much tougher on trump. >> i don't know if that's the right way to put it. it's more prokaryotes to gowi after trump.
>> there is a sense now where a lot of people think balance is more important than truth. but, it's not a cliché, it's real. >> it's a cliché and its real too treated. >> maybe a little tangential in terms of biography but i was hoping to hear your input on this. it was just wondering if there's any way to qualify why it is that hillary clinton can't seem to land the final blow on the campaign of donald trump. it just seems like maybe he is lingering on and this is something to do with her base or is it more along the lines of how he campaigns?avenue >> remember when trump said he could go out on -- avenue and choose someone and --.>> she >> she may be poised to win buto
what is our modern equivalent of a landslide, and eight to 10-point victory would be a huge victory but i think what's frustrating to her and frustrating to a lot of people is that the election has become a referendum on trump and she stands and for acceptable non-trump alternatives. meanwhile she wants to run for president. she is a set of policies andseol she'd like to be elected with a mandate to do the things she wants to do and i think the i frustration for her comments that i've been having the frustration of facing defeat but she faces victor without a mandate because what will the electorate have done it will have rejected this cancer of donald trump but without the kind of affirmation of her.widee and a widespread feeling that she would have lost to a stronger more conventional candidate. >> the latest surveys when you go into the myth that they show for the first time supporters ft are voting enthusiastically for
her more than ever before. that. >> and you think that has to kick in particularly with womena i'm surprised the women in my own family are not more excited about the first woman president that i'm excited about it but you have to remember to be excited about because theme campaign has been so bogged down in a sort of ugliness. affirmative part it has been. but i think there's a possibility it will as realityl. gets closer. >> i'm going to call it a nights because it is late. it's been spectacular and i'm glad you brought up some women, finally. thank you all for coming. a pasta. >> thank you all, thank you allo pick up a book on your way out and you will see some future programs. thank you for coming tonight.
>> i think the trend has been clearly in the wrong direction on both sides. the congress has not been assuming it's response abilities , which has forced at least this president to do more things by executive order. there is no question that they should have come together and passed immigration reform legislation. a pasta and there