tv Presidential Biographers Panel CSPAN November 26, 2016 11:00am-12:46pm EST
>> who aren't on the programs have to get out and seems fair that others work as well. that's a general mindset. and so, that's why i, at the end of the day, say if we're actualry going to solve some problems and i agree with charles and nick that there are a lot of guys who ought to be working, but aren't we ought to look at that, we had a subsidized jobs program and
subsidiz subsidized to 80, 90, and public sector jobs, 80, 90%, time-limited. i thought was a successful program. >> we have come to the end of our time and i would just close by saying in a year which has been characterized by incredible polarization, people who disagree with each other and can assume must hate each other, i think that jared and i have done a terrific job. [applause]. >> always great book tv is on witter and facebook. tweet up twitter.com/booktv or
post a comment on our facebook page. facebo facebook.com/book tv. >> beginning now on book tv, a presidential history panel with biographer biographers. and authors. this was recorded prior to the election november 8th. good evening, everyone, it's so nice to see you all here in this great greenberg lounge of the new york law school. i'm the director of the nyu center for the study of transformative lives and over the past six years we've sponsored courses on people who have deeply affected our world for the good. individuals look frederick douglas, margaret fuller, georgia o'keefe, martin luther
king, jr., and appropriate francis and many others always studied in contest. not all of america's presidents are transformative, but some have been, as members of tonight as panel know well. my own interest is on lincoln and his times. it's my believe that students spend a semester studying lincoln, king, and others never forget them and they're part of their universe. the biography seminar at nyu, founded in the 1970's by ilene ward, the nyu professor and acclaimed author. for decades, this group has quietly brought together economic and career biographers
to share each other's work. my close work with the chair, john maynard and his circle of leadership including charles defonty, ann heller and james atlas. tonight's program was in fact architected by james, who asked me to say nothing about him for those who don't know, he's a dynamo in the world of publishing and biographer. introducing the distinguished moderator and panelists and i'd like to thank them for their generous giving of themselves this evening. thank you all for coming. please welcome jim atlas. [applause] this is about a foot
here. i know the cubs game is starti starting and many are cubs fans as am i. we'll get you out when i go. and when i go to, i have a strange idea i want to invite 400 people to share with me and the idea i had after days of watching tv on my tv and phone and i watched in horror wolf blitzer and ann coulter and one named chris, and i became as a member of the fact-based community hungry for a fact, one fact, a fact. i ask the kingdom for a fact, i'd cry at the end. day. i do know people who know facts
and they're up here today. and there are only four. i know five. but-- and i don't have to introduce them or say anything about them because they are fixtures on the cultural and political scene and have been for many years, david remnick, and david maraniss with "the washington post" and john alter with a whole variety of associations, including news week and msnbc, and who have i left out? jacob weisberg of slate. these people are known to you as legendment i wanted to convene them to talk about my passion which is biographer. in addition to being english people that they are they've written books and jonathan is
at work on a biographer of jimmy carter right now, author of a distinguished work on fdr. and david maraniss, a book on clinton and jacob wrote a book on reagan and david, miraculously mapped to right a 600 page book about obama while attending his day job. and today, i hope-- i know will bring considerable depth to this discussion because they're both journalists, writers and now biographers. now, in terms of the guy that i will call that man, that's what fdr's enemy called him "that man", and i wrote each of the
participants and i said why don't we layoff and try to talk about something else and david remnick wrote back, yes, of course, i'll be focusing my remarks on polk and buchanan tonight. [laughter] >> i'll hold to that. but i'm sure that's not how it will turn out. i was at a phone bank a couple of weeks ago, i won't say for which candidate because this is new york, so who knows, but i asked who they were voting for, that's the first question i'd ask and they were supposed to be democrats, but this guy said, no, man, this year we're trumping it. so, i guess we'll be trumping it a little bit. and to preside over this, i invited my hero, leslie stahl, who has spent the last quarter of a century at cbs, "60 minutes" getting people to talk. i don't think that will be a problem tonight, but she's--
it's been her life's work so i feel very confident that this is going to turn out well and i hand the proceedings, leslie, over to you. thank you so much for coming. [applaus [applause]. >> host: is this working? can you hear me? great. i'm going to start the evening by asking each one of our biographers to say something very briefly about their books. each one has been assigned a president and we'll go chronologically. so we're going to start-- by the way, we're going to hold off on trump as long as we can so that we can talk about these presidents. so first john alter and he is writing a book about jimmy carter, take it away. >> guest: so strangely enough, there hasn't been a biography of jimmy carter unless you include the arthur slessinger
series, a very short one. but a real full biography in 25 years and that was written by one of his aides, a by named peter borne. that's the only one out there so i sort of saw a gaping hole in the line of scrimmage on a president who i think has been badly misunderstood and also, has now 92 years and counting of a fascinating life and this was a man who, i think he's really the only major american figure who effectively lived in three centuries. he was born in 1924 in sumpter county, georgia in plains and at that time he might as well, as he describes, he might as well have been born in 1880. his family was not poor, but they had--
there was no running water, no mechanized farm equipment and life was really unchanged for hundreds of years. so they finally got, when he was 14. they finally got running water, but it was basically a 19th century life and the 20th century, he was not part of the civil rights movement. he was kind of caught in the buys rights movement in the way he handled that change in the jim crowe south of his youth and serving as president made him a significant 20th century figure. now, the 21st century, he is on what bill gates considers, you know, the cutting edge of 21st century issues like conflict resolution and disease eradication. so i think it's a big life and i'm-- as far as his presidency goes,
i'm basically going to conclude that he was a political failure, but a substantive success for reasons i can explain as we go on. >> host: can't wait to ask about it. you are our reagan expert and i covered him, he was my most-- this is a fascinating subject. >> it's a little intimidating to do this with you. i share with-- sorry, that was me, i share with jim atlas, reading and write short biography and i did a short one about george bush and a shorter one with reagan. there have been a huge number of incredibly long biographies of him and i was doing it for the american president series,
started by arthur shlessinger. it was interesting to do not just a digest, but figure out what to do that would be new in that space. i asked myself, what are the mystery of ronald reagan for me. after reading these books what am i unsatisfied about and i came up with three. and the first one, which i think is tremendously obvious question, but written about hardly at all, is how did he switch from left to right. the beginning of the 1950's ronald reagan was a liberal democrat who has almost draft today run for congress reported harry truman. by the end. 1950's or the early 1960's, he was so conservative that he was sort of off the charts in the republican party and you know, by 1964, the goldwater campaign
was scared he would make them look bad he was so right wing when he did the television broadcastment and it's a huge mystery and i go hard in the book how he went from left to right and the second question was the end of the cold war and how much credit he got for it, hotly debated subject and lastly biggest and hardest question, what was going on inside of reagan's head, a subject on which at least one biographer famously foundered and several got in trouble and the short answer to that is not nothing. >> host: really, all right. i know the three questions i'm going to be asking you. so, david maraniss, he's got a book on obama, but he's here to talk about clinton.
>> and clinton was never first in his class, he was rarely in class. in yale, spent an entire fall running the mcgovern campaign and he came in and borrowed notes of a classmate and aced the test better than she did. he was the first member of his generation, and that's my generation, post-baby boom generation to reach the white house and that's really what compelled me to write this book. it was my first book, first of 111. i woke up the day after the election in 1992 and just realized this was something i had to do and i was ready for it and spent the year writing about bill clinton and wanted to do this book. and the central thread of the book is within of loss and recovery. that's the repetitive cycle of bill clinton's life starting with the loss of a father before he was born, loss in
politics as the youngest governor in american-- youngest ex-governor when he lost in 1980. the quintessential rhodes scholar, a bright young man with a bright future in front of him and when i was finishing the book, because it was my first book and first biography, i struggled with the central question, which is well, do i like him or not? what is it about bill clinton? you know, i thought as a by o biographer i had to come down on one side of that issue. for three months i was beating myself up about trying to finish the book and trying to resolve that and then the obvious became obvious to me, which is of course, he's both of those things and i think the same impulses that drive bill clinton in negative ways also drive him in positive ways and it's only--
that's true of all of us, of human nature, we have those contradictions within us and with bill clinton it's an exaggeration of all of them. >> host: all right, mr. remnick, obama. and don't talk about trump. >> i wouldn't-- i think we're going to wait nine to ten minutes before we mention trump. i would say this, that on this stage that i am the best of talking carson-- however, i am no scholar, i think as i walked in and saw real scholars in the room and on this stage i'm probably-- i've written the third best book about barack obama. and i sat out this book and getting somewhere and i saw john alter at a birthday party and he was talking about his obama book and he said and the title is going to be "the promise", which i thought was my title. [laughter]
>> and then i published a book called "the bridge" hastily retitled. >> you're such a mench. >> and i got david maraniss' book, a good start on many presidents. and my book is not a biography, it's about the theme i've been writing about a lot of my journalistic life is race it's there are biographical aspects to it, but it's all about obama ap race, and it was also a book written in the shadow of or in light of obama's own memoir which he wrote remarkably when he was 32. who writes a memoir when they're 32, especially an obscure state senator. and an examination of what that
book itself is, "dreams from my father", which it comes in a long line of african-american ought biography which is one of the most spectacular and rich genres are american fiction. so it is indeed, it has biographical aspects, but it's really about race and if you take into consideration, the book's original title and john's title, "the promise", i think we're all thinking now to what degree did obama fulfill his promise both as this historical marker as the first african-american president, but also in his attempt to be, in his terms, a transformative president, one very, very short story. when he was running for president or thinking about running for president he was in a hotel that had a portrait of all the presidents and talked to a reporter and that reporter may have been jake weisberg and he looked at all of these presidents and et cetera, et cetera and he said i really want to be-- if i'm going to be president i want to be a transformative president and i think that's a
lot of what the heavy breathing journalists now until the end of january will be about, to what degree this promise, good title, john, was satisfied. [laughter] >> all right, here is the game plan. i'm going to do a round and go chronologically and ask questions about each of our presidents, and then open up for broad questions for all of you. let's start first on jimmy carter. speaking of cartoons, some of the most vicious cartoons you'd ever see about a president were done on poor jimmy carter. he shrunk as his presidency went on till finally he was just teeth, if i remember. but you brought up this idea that he succeeded legislatively, but he was considered a failed president. can you explore that and tell us how that contradiction came about and why there was a contradiction? >> well, i think any president
who runs and loses for reelection, especially overwhelmingly, will inevitably seen as a political failure, although i have to say george h.w. bush, who is not represented here tonight, nor is his son, you know, he, i think, has been getting better marks although he, too, was a one-term president than carter who has been much of a punching bag and is most often compared to another engineer, herbert hoover, who before he was president was called the great humanitarian. i think in carter's case after his presidency he's thought of as the great humanitarian, but he -- he didn't-- he was president of bitter small time of the 1970's where people didn't really like anything. he was, you know, i'm not speaking of you personally in
this, leslie, but the press corps as a whole, i think, was coming out of a post-watergate mentality and they had taken down a president, richard nixon, and pretty much every story was how can we, you know, figure out the hypocritical or unimpressive underbelly of this presidency and he actually only g got-- they rate coverage and less than one month of positive coverage in four years, just right at the time he was inaugurated and even after the camp david accord did not get particularly good press. i'm not blaming that because he made many mistakes from the way he set up his white house to the way he managed his own time. i think his engineering
background, which was a-- kind of a double-edged sword, it allowed him to engineer peace. it was enormously helpful in him doing the camp david accords, which have the best thing, interesting, considering how many american jews and israelis don't like carter, it's the best thing for israel since the creation of the state of israel, it took the only military force with the capacity to destroy israel, the egyptian army, off the table for the last nearly 40 years and counting. and he did that through a tour deforce of diplomacy not just at camp david, but the years that followed. and he also got the panama canal treaties drew against great odds. everybody expected they would
be defeated as ronald reagan and others were leading the charge against these treaties had have been kind of neglected by history. without them there would have likely been a war in central america, a guerilla war against the united states which would have been much worse than what later happened in central america. and the human rights campaign that he initiated led to -- led to the -- it wmaintained after hesitation by reagan and led to transformation of democracy throughout latin america, or partially led to this, as well as giving great sustanence to dissidents in the soviet union and eastern europe. and that's not even talking about various domestic achievements, the alaska land bill, set aside more land for protection than all prior
presidents, including theodore roosevelt, combined. and i could go down the list, but because he had a democratic congress, unlike bill clinton and barack obama who only had two years of a democratic congress, carter had four years and he put a lot of points on the board, but got almost no credit for many, many pieces of len. so there's a gap here between perception of carter and what actually changed in the country as a result of this presidency. unfortunately, we do judge prts politically because he did prove to be so inept politically and he lost so overwhelmingly to ronald reagan in 1980. he has a very hard time being resurrected by history in it. >> host: i feel as a member of the jimmy carter white house press corps that i have to defend myself here and that is while he did accomplish all of those things, he had double
digit inflation and he had the hostages and i will tell you, and i covered the white house for many, many years. he was so unpopular, even people in his own administration would call me, leak stories to me, negative stories. so-- >> no, i hope i made it clear that i'm not blaming the press for what happened to him. i'm just saying that that was the climate that his ineptitude took place in. remember the hostages came home all in one piece, we didn't lose a single american soldier to hostile fire during his presidency. not one. the first time since the dawn of the republic. and jimmy carter is very proud of that. now, did he do that through appeasement? no, he did it through a very
messy popular that was deep i unpopular, with long-term effect of what the iranians did and the hostages, were they harmful to the united states? clearly the iranian revolution was. blaming him for that is kind of like blaming obama for isis. history happened and he tried and failed to rescue the hostages which cost him hugely politically in april of 19 880, but they did eventually come home they did so in 1981, gave reagan the credit. and just after reagan took office, they released them. it was the little things that kept happening were seeing now-- now days we would call them memes.
then they were called symbolic of his problems. and at one point a killer rabbit emerged from a pond in his mother's pond in plains and that consumed weeks of attention and somehow seemed representative of that. and at another point. he was a long distance runner and he overheated and he had to stop a marathon. and that was also seen as a metaphor. this was at a time when, you know, people liked to use those kind of things to tell us everything we need to know about a president that gerald ford stumbles when he comes out of air force one. and i think there was a bit of a habit and a culture which is important for historians were trying to get at the long-term changes in the country that a president brings. it's really important for us to get past the fact that he made the mistake of letting the public know that he had hemorrhoi
hemorrhoids. >> host: and that he had montezuma's revenge. >> guest: and that he had montezuma's revenge. >> host: i'm going to move along to reagan the man who trounced jimmy carter. >> guest: i get twice as long because he had two terms. >> host: before i ask you what was in his head. he's seen very much in comparison to jimmy carter as one of the giants in the 20th century, actually. did you come down thinking he was a giant as a president? was he transformative and was your assessment that he was one of the great presidents of our-- of all time? >> well, great is a harder term for me than transformative. i think he was clearly transformative, the new deal era from 1933, really, until the end of the carter presidency and then i think after that, you're in the
reagan era where reagan transformed the republican party, transformed what conservativism stands for. it at least arrested the direction of the new deal, that he reversed it is subject to debate. the new deal was mostly suspended between 1981 and 2009 and arguably the reagan era extends to the present day. actually we're not going to talk about trump, but i think that trump signals the end of reaganism as the dominant ideology inside the republican party. but let's talk about what was maybe going on inside of his head. >> host: what was in his head. >> guest: first of all, acknowledge we'll never know. because reagan didn't leave a record. he was a volumous writer, one of the things fascinating to me, he was a good writer it was for mainly speeches and radio scripts, but he didn't write in a way that gives us huge insight into that. he wasn't close to a lot of
people. i mean, i think he was really close to two people in his life, his mother and nancy, and maybe, you know, something more will come out. i don't think he left, there was any correspondence or record of relationship with his mother that tells you. but i think what we do know is that he had this tremendous, objectively terrible childhood. he lived in ten different homes by the time he was ten years old. his father, who was an alcoholic, dragged the family from pillar to post, getting jobs and they went to chicago at one point. he got a job and a department store and then he got arrested for public drunkenness and they'd move back down state. when you hear reagan's older brother describe this in an oral history, this was miserable. we ate bone soup and practically describing. you hear reagan describe it, he said it was like a huck finn,
tom sawyer childhood. he'd been skating on the frozen rock river. we were poor, but we didn't know we were poor. what's going on there? someone not just in an optimistic imagination, but someone who is actually able to tune out reality, and my kind of psychological theory of what was going on inside reagan's head was, he was able to do this. there was kind of a willed fogginess or a kind of selective hearing and that actually became a tremendously funkal quality for him in politics. and the same-- >> so optimistic. >> guest: the same kid who would not know he was poor, could not hear david stockman telling him you've got to choose whether you want to have a budget deficit or you want to have your defense budget and tax cuts. and there was a way in which reagan, by not hearing things that were uncomfortable or
involved conflict, preserved his political effectiveness and i think there was a very positive side to it and a very negative side to it, but i think, you know, at some level, too, it was physiological. he had poor eyesight when he was a child, didn't know until he was a teenager. >> host: can i stop you? i want to know how a person can't hear, i know a great deal about this, how is he effective? he goes into the white house not listening to what people tell, he seems to listen and comes back the next morning and gone, and yet he's an incredibly effective president. >> to pursue the example i was talking about, about his original economic plan where there he was facing a choice of things that he was being told were incompatible. he actually was passively making a choice, he was choosing to have a very large budget deficit as the least battle alternative.
he wasn't going to give up his defense buildup and he wasn't going to give up his tax cuts and that meant defacto, he was going to have a very large budget deficit. he wasn't going to acknowledge, even with the people close to him, that that was the choice he was making. this read as not making the choice. in fact, it was a choice and i think it was quite a good choice. it ended up the original reagan economic plan ended up being a classic classical keynesian plan to weak and economy and it was a political version of can keynesianism and said it's okay if you drop money out of helicopters if you need to. reagan by never acknowledging those contradictions preserved his own idea of the purity what he's doing and if you imagine carter in that same position. carter had a kind of
intelligence and a kind of acumen that he would never have been able to get away with not making that choice in a clear way or recognizing that choice. >> host: or almost any other president. >> guest: yeah, that's what i mean when i said it was functional. in many cases the passive choice or unacknowledged choice ended up working, if not substantively, working very, very well politically. avoiding conflict, which reagan did, he didn't like conflict, let sort of certain things get resolved without any using up his personal, political capital resolvement. >> host: when he came into office, jimmy carter had created a mood in the country of weakness. he was seen as weak and the country therefore was seen as weak and really overnight, overnight, everything was looking up. and i'm wondering if you can talk about reagan, but also
presidents in general. through the sheer thrust of personality, do you think a president can completely change the mood of the country on a dime just by being the president if they have an optimistic personality? >> timing helps. i mean, i think the mood of the country really had bottomed out during the carter years. it was probably on the mend in many ways. the hostages were being released, the worst of the previous recession was over. watergate was further behind. there were a lot of reasons why the country was-- the countries had gotten much too pessimistic about itself, about the economy and so in many-- it was a very good moment for someone to come in with reagan's attitude. but it's interesting. you know, it's been conventional wisdom in politics that optimism and positivity is the way to win elections. right? and you certainly see that with bill clinton and barack obama. you see it with almost every
candidate at every level. i mean, donald trump is a strange exception. there's some candidates who are just characterlogically incapable of putting that off. >> can i, since carter is involved in this get in for a second. >> i was taking my full two terms. >> while we're on this point, i believe that optimism is very important, it was very important to fdr's success, but i have a kind of a sad centric view of presidential popularity and jimmy carter appointed paul volcker to be chairman of the fed and volcker applied very, very stiff medicine, which basically sent interest rates through the roof, which was main economic reason why carter lost. unemployment wasn't particularly bad in 1980, but
interest rates were insane. they were approaching 20% and inflation was insane. and so if then-- so volcker applies this medicine and it really hurts carter and it also hurts reagan. if you look at the popularity numbers, reagan, one of the reasons he got off to such a great start in 1981 is that he was shot, in the same way that fdr was almost shot just before he took office, and in both cases, fdr just escaped assassination in 1933. in both cases, many americans felt that god spared them for a purpose. his popularity went way down in 1982. it was as low as carter's. for all of his optimism and great qualities, he was unpopular because voelker's policies finally worked in 1984
that he had this monster reelection. so, i asked volcker, you know, did you elect reagan in 1980 and rereleicht him in 1984, some people said that. >> host: okay, it's his turn. >> and paul volcker the thing to do and reagan accepted it. i think that reagan gets credit for not challenging the fed, but there's something else because of this unprecedented inflation, because of stagflation, you couldn't use monetary policy further to stimulate the economy and that's why this conservative cane-- keynesianism was important. and reagan stimulated the economy in the only way you could, the fed had no available bullet. so paradoxically it was the combination of these two policies, held by people with different views of the economy, that ended up producing this wave of economic growth which
spurred reagan's reelection. >> host: that's brilliant. we're coming back. >> guest: thank you. >> host: david, hello. i think today a pertinent question to ask about clinton is to focus on his marriage. so was it a co-presidency? and how did husband and wife really work together in the white house? >> well, going back to when they first met at yale law school, it was from the very beginning a sort of what i call a fair fight. two very intelligent, very ambitious, very pragmatic people who thought they could rise together in ways they couldn't get to apart and that sim biotic relationship, you know, was first felt when hillary, against all of the advice of her friends, moved out to fayetteville, arkansas in 1974 when her boyfriend was
running for congress and from then on, various, various stages in their rise together she was central to what he did. when he was governor of arkansas after that first term, it was hillary who realized that because of social pressures, she had to change her name from hillary rodham to hillary clinton. and she changed her hair and pushed him to run for governor again. she paved the way for him. she flattered the press in arkansas, which was down on her husband. and then, in those-- in that second coming of governor clinton, it was hillary leading the education reform policy in arkansas, which really made him a national figure. and so, he relied on her time and time again until he got into the white house and during
that campaign when he perhaps unwisely said buy one get one free, in his mind that's really what he was thinking, that they were a team and that's the way they had been from the very start. and for the first time in their political career together, for reasons that largely were not her fault, but some were, she failed him in the first effort at health care reform. of course, there were enormous money and powerful interests against her, but nonetheless, that was the defeat that caused him to lose congress and really be sort of on his heels sort of in a defensive position for the rest of his presidency. the interesting thing about the relationship is that generally speaking, when one is up the other is down. that's true throughout their presidency so that whatever trouble he would get in personally in his personal life, her popularity would rise.
you know, sympathetic figure. and she was down after that health care thing, his popularity actually started to rise. so it's been that way throughout and essentially, you know, you could see it evolving in 1999, that it hurt her and irony of what happened since then. i considered clinton a master campaign strategist for everyone, but his wife. and virtually every time he's been involved in her campaign, something has happened hurts her. >> host: she helped him a lot when he was president. what, is he going to help her or is he going to hurt her? >> when she's president? don: yes. >> guest: everybody in this room try to imagine what it's going to be like when the big dog is back in the white house? it's kind of mind-boggling and
i think that as i've always said about bill clinton you'll get the good and the bad. there will be times when he will help her and times when she'd wish he were not around. but of course, you know, you could send him around the world, but he's still going to be doing something. so-- i think, i just think that until the clintons are gone, you're going to have this endless cycle, as i said, of turmoil and success and loss and recovery, and just a sort of a-- everything sort of surrounding them will be interesting and exhausting at the same time because that's who they are together, but i want to say one last thing, which is that you know, when people wonder about who hillary really is and why she's not more transparent and so on, i think that in her defense of him and of them
together, she's built up this encrusted sensibility of defensiveness and lack of transparency that she didn't even see entirely, but it was because of the rise together and because of all the trouble basically that he was getting into. so the real question for me is, will some of that wash away when that's president? will she finally be liberated? and i'm usually skeptical if not cynical about those things and i do think there will be some of that, but i think that this will free her to be her better self. >> host: i want to ask you about, and all of us, actually, the recuperative nature of some presidents. now, reagan was like a phoenix rising from the ashes of iran-contra, but clinton was the most extraordinary phoenix. how do you explain his recouping after monica
lewinsky? >> it didn't surprise me at all. i predicted that he would come back because that's clinton's nature. he'll come back and then get in trouble again and then come back again and get in trouble again. >> host: but we hiked it, didn't we? >> if i could step on david for a minute and obama, the way i describe the two of them is that they both-- they have these similarities, they both came out of nowhere, southwest arkansas and hawaii. they both came out of dysfunctional families, obama has the additional problem of having to figure out who he was, which david's book is about, racially, but they dealt with their-- everything that life threw at them in completely different ways. barack obama really spent eight years of his life trying to figure himself out internally, social lodge -- sociologically, and culturally
and that got him to the white house got him in trouble in the white house. and clinton never dealt with his problems, he just figured out how to get past them. his motivation was survive. wake up every morning, forgive yourself and the world. and he got so good at that that he became the master survivor and he got to the white house because of that and of course, got into trouble in the white house because of that and that's the cycle of bill clinton. so him rising from the phoenix is really just part of that cycle. >> you can go farner with clinton. isn't there a way in which he gets in trouble in order to get out of it, that edition the whole-- that's what he does his whole life? that was my revelation reading "first in his class", subconsciously, you mean? i don't think he would consciously get in trouble, but he felt no matter what he'd
find his way out. when he was president there was an ironic-- or paradoxical effect of helping him. the people would realize, this guy is in trouble, but he'll get out of it and he will. it's a sort of optimistic impression of somebody. >> host: okay. david remnick, here is my big question about your guy, obama. when he decided that he wasn't going to really deal with congress anymore, did he do it because he's calculated that no matter what he did, they were going to stiff him on it, so i'm not going to go there because it's just banging my head on the wall or does he have a characterological, maybe impediment, that aloofness that we see, that he just cannot smooth and reach out? which is it? >> the former.
and can we just stipulate late and point out for the purposes of the overarching theme of this discussion how deeply weird these people are. [laughter] >> my friend jeff frank has written about nixon and -- nixon and johnson and reagan and clinton. even carter. i mean, you see outsizeness of the strangeness of these people each and their own way is really striking, with barack obama-- there's a point to this. >> host: but with barack obama he's strangely sane. >> he's strangely sane? i wouldn't agree with all that. strangely sane is not a phrase i would affix to nixon or johnson-- anyway. when you come to barack obama and to david's point, i think this is, again, i'm not a historian.
i'm a reporter and, but so far as i can tell from that vantage point as a reader and observer of somebody who lives in this time, this is the least strange person to occupy the white house in really the post-war era. and and i think that the whole washington, new york, dinner table meme of if he'd only played more golf with john boehner, if he'd had more drink with mcconnell, is just bad math. it's bad history and it's not good journalism. the increased radicalization, right wing radicalization of both the house and to some
extent, the senate, is a historical fact that's born the fruit or fruit cake that we now know that has come out of the oven. [laughte [laughter] >> this is something that was-- if extend this metaphor horribly -- prepared and stirred by the republican party and a generation of constantly radicalizing republican party. so the notion that barack obama, who won the health care battle by the tiniest of smidgens, however flawed, however got less than he wanted, however, you know, premiums are going up, but this historical battle was won in a time when he had political advantages that he no longer had for the the remaining six years, i think is a fantasy, a fantasy. now, look, i feel bad about saying this from an
occupational point of view. i think the job of journalist is not to praise power, but to put pressure on power. that's our job. and you know, i have plenty of things i have questions about barack obama or criticism of barack obama, but i must tell you that in my lifetime i've come to the end of no presidency where i have more good to say and in the characterological argument, i think he is the most sane, self-knowing person in that office that i can imagine. again, he's a human being, he's flawed, does this, that and the other thing. >> host: does that lead to good leadership? >> well, i think the results of his leadership have been, in my view-- look, i have particular politics, so, yes, i do think that. i think the moral political-- i don't know that it's a bad mark, but it's certainly going to be the biggest question mark
of his presidency to my mind is syria and phillip gordon, who is one of his middle east advisors, to me put it-- the quandary most starkly when he said the following and i'll get the words wrong, but essentially it's this, the united states invaded and occupied a country called iraq and it was a catastrophe. the united states participated in a investigation and failed to occupy a country called libya and it was a catastrophe and we've done next to nothing because of those previous experiences in syria and it was a catastrophe and it's a catastrophe in which we have half a million people dead. 11 million refugees, a destabilized lebanon, jordan, turkey and the entire european continent and we're having an argument when we discuss syria about 10,000 refugees coming
into the country and borders. i deeply sympathize with obama's quandary. when he came into the office the differential with hillary clinton was not characterological, it was iraq, where he was right, where he was right, so for him to have acted differently, especially in lieu of libya which he was part of the screwup. the cliche that they took their eye off the ball is unconscionable cliche. you can see why this happened, but the results, i think that's the biggest glaring question mark as he leaves office, but i think on domestic issues-- and then foreign issues, whether it's cuba or wherever, i think it's a remarkable record. and i feel uncomfortable saying that as a journalist, because i don't think that patting presidents on the head is something we should be doing. >> host: we're in an age where we should say what we think. >> i never had any hesitation about it.
>> host: i asked one of our historian journalists to tell us an anecdote that gives us an insight, a window into the cast of mind or the temperament or the quality of mind of each one of their assigned presidents. so let's do a round on that and start with jimmy carter again, john. >> well, i guess maybe go to camp david and it's the 13th day of 13 days and they believe they have an agreement after a tremendous amount of hard work, mostly by carter, but you know, obviously, beingen and sadat. and carter promised that he promised sadat he would have a side agreement, directly
relevant on the sta tus of jerusalem and reiterate what had been said in 1967 after the 1967 war and you know, it was not any change in american policy, but beigen would have found it to be a deal breaker which would have been humiliating for carter. carter with the help of his secretary, brought in photographs of his grandchildren and the secretary found out each of their individual names and carter inscribed one to each and brought them to beigen and then they, he kind of broke down and then carter broke down, and
carter made some adjustments, very clever adjustments in the letter that he had objected to on jerusalem and they went forward to have their agreement. peace making a hard, it's hard work and the engineering quality that made people not like carter very much. who can love an engineer, not a politically potent occupation even if we can personally love the engineers in our lives. the same engineering quality helped him get down into the details where real change happens. >> host: all right. go for it. >> the first thing to say is that reagan is the president who most governed by anecdote. and his-- you know, i think there was a real reason he did that, which is that he didn't-- his mind was not tuned to ab tract thinking and he could in a lot of ways only relate to policy and ideas by making them stories about people.
you know, which he did incredibly well. of course, his anecdotes were true and sometimes he knew they weren't true and sometimes they weren't true and he didn't know weren't true and here is one-- >> like when he said he went to war, that he was in combat? >> that didn't happen. we can discuss why i think that didn't happen. i think that's a myth with reagan, that he claimed to liberate auschwitz. he was not completely detached from reality. but in 1967 when reagan was in the governor's office, well, first, a preface. i went to the reagan library and after i was there a few days would you like to look inside reagan's desk? sure, it turns out. he kept, five boxes and they're the things he took from california to washington, back to california, and you know, it's like people's business cards and matchbooks from restaurants, kind of thing, but there are also some really interesting documents in there
and these were things that he couldn't bear to throw away when he would clean his desk, he'd hold onto. one is a photostat of an article from provda and it was that they came to interview him in 1967 in sacramento. theccount saying i wasn't sure that reagan would want to see me. but he wanted to convince me that capitalism was superior to communism. [laughter] and reagan clearly had had this article translated because he thought if he just got this guy in the office, he could convince him that capitalism was the better system. and you see yuri is writing this article, very stern, you know, kind of letting pravda, you know, reagan, you know, capitalist governor of this sort of powerful industrial state, military industrial -- blah, blah, blah. and by the end of it, dam it if
you -- dammit if you can't see reagan has charm he says he is very gracious. by the end event reagan abandoned communism and got a job with pravda. whether it is correspondence from pravda or mikhail gorbachev, if i could just get him alone in a room i think i could convince him. >> reagan's secret thought was his charm and sweetness. the press corps needs to know, could charm anybody. clinton. >> clinton responded, reading
parts of it, and and the one valuable, the only valuable thing in the can of starr report. and list all the books, the study back in the oval office, among the books, first in its class, annotated notes by dc and hrc. i can only imagine what those were. fast-forward two years, clinton hasn't talked to me for two years. for a lot of different reasons. we never meet until the association of newspaper editors have their annual convention in washington where the president speaks. and bill clinton had just fallen
off the front stairs in florida. he comes in, gives his speech and to work the rope line which he has to do, he has to come by me for the first time in two years which i'm completely tongue-tied, had so many questions i wanted to ask and bill clinton always said the right thing to say. congratulations on your work, nice tie. my father in the audience, works for world line, he won't talk to me, talking to my dad about golf and falling off greg norman and my father's first words are nice tie, mister president. two months later, new york city dinner, george stephanopoulos is there, former aide by that point
and we talked about how exhausting and interesting and different characteristics bill clinton has, and george stephanopoulos said did he talk to you after your book came out? no, not really. the only words exchanged were nice tie. george stephanopoulos said you know what nice tie means and bill clinton's private mexican? no. it means as you. i was thinking my father who wrote this responded in kind. [applause] >> can't tell you how many white house correspondents came to me after the story ends that i thought he really liked my time. he said i love the time. that is not what it means. >> i should first start by
saying i promise money if he told that story. [applause] >> before i get to obama, it may be apocryphal, and his nurse came to see hospital beds, what will i have 2q she says you have a cute angina. and he said you are not so bad yourself. it is apocryphal blues not through. not through. had this experience, john has as
well. what happened in obamaland, reasonably serious, written by a decline or something, you get an interview, half an hour, it goes 45 minutes or in the case, uncovered his girlfriend and obama wanted to know all about it. my interview with him, and was somewhat open about things talking about melchor x, doesn't come up a lot with richard nixon except on the tapes. he was very guarded in the obama way but 10% more so on the subject of race, full paragraphs came out without a single syntactical glitch at all.
everything completely gathered and we finish this conversation, he walked down the hall to check on the nuclear codes or whatever it might be and came all the way back at a clip and he said -- very efficient with his time. he is not a linger like clinton would have been there for three hours, not answer questions or all that. you have to understand early in the administration, a big subject -- when i talk about race, i am perfectly aware the most important historical aspect happened in november, i get that. if i put a single word wrong or
even half wrong the world would go crazy, this happened time and time again. remember the beer summit, obama convened the beer summit and police officer essentially assaulted through crime breaking into his own house, large majority of the american people were in favor of this and very destabilized by obama's performance at a press conference in which he said that. it will be interesting to me to see once he leaves office, once january 20th happens, two things could happen. he will get biggest book advance in the history of nonfiction and the second thing will be will he write the first truly great presidential memoir in the history of the american
presidency? list these as grant wrote about the military, mark twain's help, will he write the first really great and open book that is reflective of his first book or will it be more of a product like the book he wrote as a kind of testing ph paper whether he should run for president or not, that will be fascinating to me and how to address the subject of race considering enormous intelligence in the singular experience being president will be something for a long time. >> the ambition to be the first to write a great book? >> anybody who sits down to write a book has it in mind to write something at least good and i think obama has that attention, any number of anecdotes when he writes speeches, up all night with a
speechwriter, he felt ambivalent about winning. his reaction to winning a nobel prize, broke the obscenity barrier, you got to be kidding when he was told that. then labored over this speech, the opposite of what the norwegians wanted to hear which was supposed to be a rebuke of american power, much more nuanced speech about the proper use of american power. >> i know we are going to invite the audience to ask a question the first let's talk about the current roster of people running for president. can any of you or 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 mister trump, what did you learn that makes for a good president? what would you tell them from what you learned? anybody? or do you just want to talk about congress? >> i will say one thing, i think the thing hillary clinton found hard to do is the thing reagan did naturally which is reframe his ideas in narrative terms, in human terms and the maddock terms, hillary understands the limitation as a campaigner, but the reason she had a hard time breaking through is misogyny and other factors, but she does tend to offer a list of policies, not good at telling a big story,
something bill clinton was excellent at, it is natural to him, naturally a storyteller, that is very tough, you are giving up on being able to relate in a certain way that are not likely to be engaged in policy at a specific level. >> one thing that the price me about reagan was how much he contributed to his speeches. i was under the impression he had a great stable speechwriter telling what he wanted and they often did it. i have seen his speeches. >> improved on all of them. he was a really good writer and came out of his early days writing radio scripts, none of his original radio scripts he wrote when he was a sportscaster in iowa and illinois survived
but we know the legends about the cubs game when he had the tap dance when results start coming through. the later radio script in a 70s survived and having read those they are written out in longhand, he didn't have help with those. i -- he really wrote a good punchy column and gave a good punchy speech. george will as an anecdote, he had written for foreign policy speeches, and what do you mean? you write for the i what most people do. and think about how it sounds to people and telling a story in front of him is a different kind of writing but he was a really good writer of that kind.
>> you have been dying to talk about trump all night because you told me so. >> i am so sick of it. let's be honest, we are witnessing an ugly freak. [applause] change i don't mean to pander overmuch. i can imagine at nyu, not saying it for that reason, this is a hideous moment in american history, that this happened. i can't even say it is the logical extension of the radicalization and decadence of a major political party but there it is. we are discussing before we came out is he like hitler, mussolini? i don't know. it seems to me this is a very
american thing. the incubator he grew up in was not turn-of-the-century austria. he grew up in reality television world. mark fisher, my colleagues roommate and biographer of trump had hours of time with his colleagues at the washington post, wrote a very good book on trump, asked him what everybody on stage eventually asked their subject and you would if you could which is what do you read? what is forming your intellectual -- trump was like it is insanity. as if you asked him to reinvent calculus. he could not think of anything
and in high school he was not embarrassed in the least about this. no one is asking the president to be a tenured professor of astrophysics or history but you would expect some input going in where you hear the republican party constantly the fountain head, nothing, he finally said all quiet on the western front which i read in high school. this is kind of blankness in himself. the ability to say anything he feels will appeal to whoever is in front of him, howard storing or a rally in texas, and by not just himself and his own biography but a moment when american history both serious and pop that has bubbled up in
the ugliest way, god willing we will be done with it in early november but it is something we will be grappling with for a long time to come politically, not just historically speaking because a lot of people will vote for him. >> i worry about what happens somebody goes out of bounds. he has over and over again from a very early point, we have never seen a demagogue come anywhere close, this close to the american presidency and all of american history. we only had one candidate, wendell wilkie in 1940 had government with all the other major party candidates were either in the military or
elected office or cabinet. that sounds highly unusual but the sheer demagoguery we have never seen, and the fallout, not necessarily ready for. i hope if he loses, a real reckoning for trump appeasers in the republican party who were never trump and the never trump folks whether they are very conservative like ben sachs, lindsey graham or some of the others, they deserve to rise in the future of the republican party. not sure they will but we should hold the other ones to account, they were in my mind and are unpatriotic is that is a very strong word. if you are an average voter. [applause] >> if you are an average voter
and you are for trump you have a busy life and not paying very much attention, kind of like the politics he represents, i can understand you have been left behind in the global economy. i understand why they voted for trump. and you are a politician and you know as marco rubio said that he is a con artist, and you support him, putting a con artist in charge of our constitution and our nuclear codes, what could be a less patriotic act than fat q i don't think we have fully confronted the moral ramifications of politicians who put party ahead of country and decided they have to support trump. [applause] be change i agree
with that. no reason for me to go on about trump except it is important to note for history's sake that people supporting trump have always been there. they were there in the 1960s fighting for rights, supporting judge wallace in michigan, they were there in the 50s, they have been there throughout american history. only once in a while a demagogue could come in the way trump has huge to switch it over to hillary clinton for a second, before i ever got a chance to ask either of them what books they read i discovered what bill clinton brought along on their honeymoon to a couple, which is the denial of death by becker. >> the denial of death be change
i want to open it up to questions from the audience. i see there are microphones here and here. may be you could get up to the mic if you want to ask a question. >> the three guys with ties, nice ties. >> i had a question. one of you said something about the end of the reagan era and the republican party and moving forward, are we looking at is it going to be the alt right taking the mantle? where do you see the republican movie -- party moving on after this? >> i look at this in a reagan context. the genius of trump is he sensed a tremendous gap between what the party were presented and what people voting republican actually thought. the party was still essentially fixed to reagan's principles,
smaller government, lower taxes, pro-immigration, free trade, trump figured out people voting republican, a lot of them didn't support any of that. they don't want less government, they want more from government, don't particularly care about reducing taxes on the wealthy, they were very against globalism and trade and very anti-immigration. and what john was arguing, and to blame everything on trump himself, and the victory is a party is likely to be trump's and without trump. and trump's representable personal qualities, does represent the view, and don't think those views can make a
come back. it is a minority faction. >> david remnick has to leave. everyone else can stay. what are you about to face? >> if i don't get to it, not going to reach 30. >> what is encouraging, don't want people to go home and kill themselves. i have never seen a more politically astute thrashing, the political combat in the third debate. and the reason everything was unmasked, and people vote for
donald trump, and to understand why this is the case. anyone pulling a lever for donald trump or white supremacist or a member of some incredibly ugly group or thinks bill of all the groups trump has insulted and attempted to humiliate, don't know if that is the case. as a political force, as jacob was saying before, is going to be fascinating because the leadership of the republican party, has given incense praise for its mastery of policy. paul ryan, exhibit number one, a speaker of the house and deeply -- head of a party headed by a
not. and worse. i do not see, i do not see how a second term clinton versus paul ryan race doesn't devolve into another unbelievably ugly episode and yet she is incredibly vulnerable. unless she performs at the level of that third debate in every sense of the word in terms of repressive and delivers and becomes a more transparent political personality in the way we have grown accustomed to not thinking of her i think there is real trouble ahead, real trouble ahead. >> it is almost unprecedented after 12 years, people want to change. one thing is interesting she might learn from carter, she repeatedly made decisions that were politically harmful, over and over and over again. over the objections of rosalind
carter, and just said i am going to do what i think is right, not that he was never political. she won't do that but it may make her a less historically important president. you have to be willing to take the risks of political failure if you want some lasting accomplishments. >> you don't think she will do that be change [applause] >> early in the obama presidency there was a piece saying he should do the gutsy thing and get out of iraq immediately and that makes him a one term president, so be it, he didn't do it and hillary clinton is twice as pragmatic in that regard as barack obama so i don't see that happening.
>> looking forward and assuming for a moment that hillary clinton wins she will be facing a media landscape that is much more polarized and constant than her husband faced and coming out of eight years that have been scandal free. when biographies and histories are written, benghazi and solyndra will be footnotes. given this landscape, there will be some major scandal that occurs, what is the likelihood, like bill's ability to recover, such a scandal could be fatal in this media landscape. >> not many of bill clinton's characteristics transfer to hillary but the one that does is enormous will and ability to get past things and work through
them so i think she will have that capacity as president just as he did. and the clintons come not just with the baggage of the past but a tendency to create problems in a way president obama was incredibly smart and lucky to avoid. >> do you think they share a habit of making it seem they have something to hide even when they don't? >> bill clinton does usually have something to hide is not that it is always important. >> travelgate >> hillary was the stronger defender of not being transparent about those incidents. as i said she built up this defensiveness as part of their partnership and so yes, that will be a problem. with the clintons, to some
degree it is true of all politicians, the ends and the means. the clintons have a stronger sense that the ends justify the means so the means are less important than they were to president obama. >> what i worry about for hillary and any other future president is how they are going to reach the american people because the media, i put that in quotes, covers everything from bill o'reilly to 60 minutes, 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 will to her to its. her husband didn't face the world like that at all and obama is just beginning to face the world like that and i can't see
the future where president's means of communicating and selling what they are intending to do. >> they all have the fantasy of going direct to the public without going through the press. it depends less on changes in technology which people focus on and more on their personal ability to communicate and i don't think hillary clinton excels in that respect, she has a bad dynamic with the press where she constantly feels mistreated in part because of scandals that don't pan out, aren't really scandals and becomes more defensive and the press reacts against her defensiveness and closes down and she becomes more closed down. the email scandal if you look at what was happening i would describe it as a conspiracy to violate the freedom of information act which is not a
crime but in setting up her private email server what hillary clinton was really doing was trying to ensure her communications would not become open either to the press or investigators in congress or historians, part of trying to shut down and be private and protective but that instinct which is understandable in the context of what she has been through is a very unproductive instinct for any politician partly because of the way the press reacts. >> everything will be on the phone. email will be dead in the clinton administration, nothing of significance will be in an email now. >> for the most part you are preaching to the choir. and that is good. i'm going to add to it with a tiny anecdote but then i have a real question and the anecdote is in the midst of the mid-50s my stepfather, new york city
architect of some note got a call from 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 stepfather, very sweet, kind man, agreed and went to queens and spent a day with fred trump and came back and reported fred trump is a really nice man, he has a 10-year-old son could not be chastised, who could not
be encouraged to leave the grown-ups to their thoughts. what a brat. 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, it is evened out, lately. i read the new york times, this journal and don't read the post. it is in the times. a couple columns by brooks, a couple columns, a couple good columns by krugman, even my good friend on msnbc, rachel maddow
was kind of snide about her until very recently. i want to try to understand the stakes are so high, what the wrong with having a hillary bandwagon in the next we 10 days? there is a trump bandwagon. >> you are conflating all the media into one. when you talk about columnists, when you talk about serious reporters there three different entities, you should not say the media. it is not the job reporters to give anyone a pass. it is their job to be discerning in terms of what the real story
and what is not. it sounds self-serving, the mainstream media has taken a lot of hits over the last we 10 years. and for the most part the printed press and the internet press of serious journalists, reading the new york times and the washington post, have done an incredibly good job of revealing donald trump with serious stories and so i refuse to accept the notion we should give anyone a pass but i believe you are right you have to be discerning about the story. be change electronic media, television was manipulated by trump early on in the campaign you call any of these shows, for ratings they put him on all the time, wouldn't ask very hard questions. >> cnn alone.
>> they wouldn't be -- he wouldn't come on the next time, that would cost them money. there is a story that reflects badly on certain television networks, they have done a good job dealing themselves in the last few months but the print press has not been playing even between trump and hillary. it has been tougher on trump. >> i don't know if that is the right way to put it. there is more material to go after trump. >> the sense of balance comes in, more important than truth. it is not a cliché. it is real. >> it is a cliché too. >> this may be tangential in terms of biography but i was hoping to hear your input on this.
i was wondering if there's a way to qualify why it is hillary clinton can't land a final blow on the campaign of donald trump. it seems he's lingering on. is it something to do with her base or is it more along the lines of how he runs his campaign? >> go out on fifth avenue and shoot somebody and people would still be for him. it is really possible for her to deliver a knockout blow. >> she is poised in a highly polarized electorate she may be poised to win, a modern equivalent of landslide, 8.7 victory would be a huge victory but what is frustrating for her and a lot of people is the election has become a referendum on trump and he stands for acceptable, not trump alternatives and she wants to run for president. she would like to be elected with a mandate, the things she
wants to do and the frustration, facing the feet. faces a victory without a mandate, asked what the electorate would have done. rejected the cancer of donald trump but without the affirmation and a widespread feeling she would have lost to a stronger more conventional candidate. >> the latest surveys, one of the supporters, voting enthusiastically more than ever before. in the last few weeks. >> you think it has to kick in particularly with women. women in our own family are not more excited about the first woman president. i am excited about it but you have to remember to be excited about it because the campaign is so bogged down in the ugliness
that the affirmative part has buried but there is a possibility it will surface. >> on election night -- >> i will call it a night because it is late. and brought up the women. thank you all for coming. >> pick up a book on your way, thank you for coming tonight. [inaudible conversations] >> you are watching booktv on c-span2, nonfiction books and authors every weekend. booktv, television for serious readers. >> i think the trend has been in the wrong direction on both sides.
congress is not assuming its responsibilities which has forced this president do more things in executive order. no question they should have passed immigration reform. [applause] >> they were not that far apart. and yet the president and this congress would not sit down and talk it through. in the book i emphasize it doesn't take much to change this, doesn't take but one thing, one person that is willing to be a leader and step up, whether it is a congressman or senator paul ryan has the potential to do that kind of thing as a speaker. i have a lot of faith in him or a president, to say i work all the time -- we didn't agree
philosophically, he was a character but we talked and a lot of times i didn't want to talk. he called one night at 2:00 in the morning, she picks up the phone, says it is the president, hands it to me and i start saying yes, sir, mister president, look into that. and i handed the phone back, what do you want? i don't know? something about central america. here is the point. we talk all the time. we worked through all kinds of things, budget issues, tax issues, defense issues, safe drinking water, you name it is we agree? no. a lot of times, we pressed each other, we would get mad but we communicated. that was true of reagan. we met president reagan every tuesday morning congress was in
session, 9:00, sometimes it was bipartisan, sometimes republicans so this trend of not communicating is a recent phenomenon. it started developing with george w even though he tried hard to get immigration reform. i say to mississippiands immigration is a big issue. if we had done what we should have done in 2007 we wouldn't be here now and immigration reform is not just about illegal immigrants, it is about illegal immigrants which we have people who want to come to america who have something to offer who can't get here. one time i had two doctors from canada who wanted to come to mississippi, and underserved medical area, two doctors highly qualified, you would have thought i was trying to sneak in saddam hussein. it was hard. i saw it coming in 2006 and now this president and congress just don't talk. the deficit worries me more than
ever. now i worry about my grandchildren. it is not about me anymore but the next generation. congress and the president are not dealing with it. the next president, all hillary would have to do if she was president would be follow the role to a degree of president bill clinton. he did meet with us and talk to us or if it is trump somebody, some of us have got to reach out, mister president, you say you will change washington? first thing you need to do to change it is communicate. there are four things you need to make washington work, communication. if you don't talk you won't get anything done. you have to develop chemistry. clinton made me nervous but we had a relationship.
it was a chemistry that made it possible to turn that into action. the other thing we lost is vision. what are we really for any more? republicans or democrats, do we really know do we really know what either side would actually do if there's a majority in congress and have the white house? nast -- last but not least, i have seen it, leadership. one man, one woman that will face the slings and arrows of the media and say we will develop an energy policy in america, we are going to have all of the above, we are going to do it. it could change on a dime but it is going to take a person of strength. washington is a tough place. i rode the high road and got knocked down into the valley but best thing about being in the valley as you learn when you get
back up how to do things better. it can change. i don't see it right now. i don't see it with mitch mcconnell. i don't see it with nancy pelosi. i do see hope in paul ryan. i don't know what to expect from chuck schumer who will be the senate democratic leader. he is smarter than harry reid, every bit as partisan as harry reid but there is a difference, he is transactional. you can do business. they don't say it that way in new york city but they understand it. there is hope out there but it all begins in the white house. leadership begins in the white house.