tv True Faith and Allegiance CSPAN November 26, 2016 1:45pm-2:31pm EST
i used precisely that standard. what would the later bobby kennedy said about the early one and he would have said at the mccarthy era that america was anticommunist and was standing up legitimately against communist threat. the early bobby kennedy was tone deaf to all of joe mccarthy's victims in the way that bobby kennedy would never have let him get away, that he would have said about vietnam and went to vietnam and said in vietnam, we will standby you because we think you can win this war and it's an important fight and one of the primary authors of the u.s. counter and he did that issue after issue and so that the standard it's the later bobby kennedy.
he said that the bad bobby and good bobby, by the end there was the dominant personality. it's not accidental that barack obama and i think hillary clinton looked as role model more than any politician in american history to bobby kennedy being the one they we wanted to model and go after. as we end, i would like to just say one last thing, so bill green joked that i had written books on strange topics and including a guy named superman. i would like to present this shirt to bill green. it is -- i won't make you put it on tonight. [applause] >> but we give him a wonderful round of applause and if nothing else reading the book twice. thank you very much. [applause]
9:00 american enterprise institute charles murray discusses his plan to replace the welfare system with the universal basic income. on book tv after words program at 10:00 p.m. eastern the guardians gary young reports on gun deaths in america and we wrap up our saturday prime time line-up at 11:00 with the reair of this book awards. that all happens tonight on c-span2's book tv. [inaudible conversations] >> welcome to the 21st annual texas book festival. thank you for coming out today in support of our authors, the festival and celebrating great literature. as you may know, the texas book festival is a nonprofit organization that works year
round by awarding library grants and program sending nationally recognized authors and illustrators into title one schools and donating books to those students by being here today here today you aree import funding, please silence your cell phones, the authors will be signing books after the session including al gonzález, books are available in the tent just down in the next block. my name is clay johnson. it's my honor to be a moderator of this session today. we are here to hear about alberto gonzález, true faith and allegiance, a story of service and sacrifice and war and peace.
al has served the country and our state as attorney general, counsel of the white house as a member of the texas supreme court and chief as secretary of state in the state of texas. i worked with al in austin and in washington, d.c. and we both agree it was such an honor and such a privilege and really hard work and to work at the highest level of government in the state of texas and in washington, d.c. i thought i knew everything, big picture wise that had happened with governor and president bush but reading al's book made me realize there's a depth and complexity that i had no notion and i found this book really inspiring, really interesting, it was about the key decision that is were made, what decisions were made and how they
were made and why they were made. it's also in my opinion -- al becoming supreme court justice, the attorney general of united states, coming from the background he did in houston i'm told time and time again only happens in america and the form of government we have as pointeo out by this book only exists in america. it's a wonderful, wonderful read but i'm a little bias but i've known al for a long time and i worked for the governor and president also. let's get on with the discussion alberto, which we refer to him as al gonzález. al, what's your story? i will be back in 340 minutes. [laughter] >> let me begin by thanking clay and anne johnson who are hosting us for this visit.
becky, my wife and i are delighted to be back in austin. we have wonderful memories of service here and delighted tol see old friends and so grateful that you are here this morning to participate in the discussion. i really have lived the american dream. if you read my book you will get a better appreciation, my story is not unique, i know there aree people in the audience and certainly around the country, hundreds of thousands of people who have lived a similar story. i was one of eight children growing up in a small two-bem house with no hot running water and i didn't have a telephone until i was junior in high school and then from there, you know, to be the son of a dad who had a second-grade education, a mom who had had a sixth grade education and from there going into the air force as a serving as veteran and going to the air force academy and to harvard law
school and going to a big firm in houston and then i met a guy named george w. bush and he gave me several one in a lifetimed opportunities that clay has mentioned, but it really is special. this journey of mine has been tremendous and i hope from that book to inspire others, help others realize what is really possible in america. i'm often asked, what's it like as clay knows better as well as i do, what's it like to work in the white house. you know, what's it like to have walk-in privileges into the oval office and stand in front of the same desk used by franklin roosevelt during world war ii as he worked with winston churchill to end that war. it's the same desk used by jfk as he wrestled with the cuban missile crisis and the same desk used by ronald reagan, what's it like to stand in front of the desk and advise the president of the united states who he should appoint as the u.s. supreme court. what's it like to stand in th oval office porch and watch
marine one bring president the histic day. what's it look to be cabinet secretary and be involved in discussions in the situation room in controversial issues. as american citizen there's nor greater privilege, i can't imagine being -- why is it so important and why is it so special? the most important in the world is in there making decisions every single day. so myself, clay and so many other dedicated americans, we really had a special privilege to serve in the white house. to serve in particular to this president george w. bush. >> there were so many things covered as i said earlier inn such detail, talk about there's
-- in things revealed in great detail than i ever knew about. talk about the biggest revelations in your mind that are written about about addressing the book that they would find new insights to new understanding about?nd >> i don't know whether they are the biggest revelations. i will tell you a couple of stories that you might find of interest. after 9/11 president bush addressed joint session ofee congress and it was a time of great uncertainty at the time as we all remember but also a time of great unity and pride in being an american and i remember after that particular address as he was leaving the capitol, justice thomas came up to him and said, ride tall in the saddle in the tone of justice thomas, and from my perspective president bush did just that in weeks, months following, sort of standing tall for the united states. every time the president addressed the nation it's a pretty big deal. as you know, in -- every time
the members of the cabinet and the leadership of the congress get together one person is asked to stay away and that person is the designated survivor, it is part of government plan so in the event there's a catastrophe and someone is alive to serve as president of the united statesne and in 2007 i was advised days before the president's state of the union, at the time i was the attorney general that i would be that designated survivor and i was given a couple of options about what i could do and the choice i made required me toto spend the evening on an airplane and i remember arriving at andrews air force base and there to greet me a member of every major department and agency caring thick binders and protocols to advise me in the event the unthinkable happened at the capitol. we took to parts unknown and i received a classified briefings and i settled in watch the president's state of the union and as he spoke it suddenly hit me the magnitude of the moment,
i've advised bush, george w. bush through two wars and close to 50 federal and state executions, so i had some pretty good moments before but sitting on the airplane it suddenly hita me, what would happen if as i said the unthinkable happened at the capitol. the president concludes the h speech and he leaves the capitol and we are order today return back to andrews air force base. and my duty now discharged as i like to tell audiences around the country. it is probably the closest i will ever be to being the president of the united states. [laughter] >> one other story that i will tell from the transition, the very beginning from the bush presidency, president bush at the time i was white house counsel, he told me i want to be ready fb supreme court vacancy.o my team and i began working in developing a short list of candidates.
and because of my relationshipip with george w. bush and the position that i held particularly having served as a justice in the texas supreme court, there was speculation that president bush would appoint me to the u.s. supreme court. so we prepared for a vacancy and the stories continue to percolate but no vacancy occurred.e come the end of the first term president bush nominates me and i'm confirmed as attorney general of the united states and then on july 1st, we get word, i get a call from harriet myer, she calls to say we have a vacancy, it's not who we expected. chief justice rhenquist has throat cancer and expecting that we were preparing a vacancy at the chief justice position. i get to the white house and there i met the -- the president had decided that we were going to have a small group of individuals make final
recommendations to him about who he would appoint to the supreme court. those people would be the vice president, dick cheney, the chief of staff, myself as attorney general and karl rove, the political consultant. so i arrive at the oval office and everyone is there except for andy but he's on the phone, via teleconference and we talk about how we are going to prepare to roll out this announcement and how we are going to prepare to help the president make the decision and we talk about half an hour and we all get up to leave and president bush said, al, would you stay behind.t and so i'm standing in the oval office with the vice president and the president and before i even sit down president bush said, i'm not going to put you on the court. he said you're doing a great job at justice, you've only been there a few months. i need to keep you at the department of justice and so my immediate response, of course, i was disappointed. it would have been quite an honest to be the first hispanic
to the u.s. supreme court but my response was fairly simple which was you owe me nothing, i owe you everything. i'm grateful for the appointment of attorney general of the united states and i looked forward getting your nominee confirmed. i left, the stories increasede about me possibly going on thehe court, becky and i met for dinner that evening, we sat down and i said, i've got something to tell you.ev and first thing i said was, i'm not going to supreme court and in a since somewhat of a relief. i actually were anxious to leaf washington, d.c. hopefully to come back to texas. also it sort of freed me up to do my job as attorney general not having the pressure of possibly being the nominee. but then i give her the second bit of news, tomorrow i'm going iraq and she said, what. of course, we minimized the number of people that know about that kind of travel because off security reasons.d i think she probably felt -- shl probably felt better, safer for
me to be in iraq and go on the supreme court.safer. [laughter] history is going to look back and i firmy believe at the appointments of john roberts and conclude that those represent two of president bush's finest decisions. >> i read different reviews of the book which i shared with you and there's a lot of candor about everything in the book and you talk on a couple of cases about things that you know your job is not a game of perfect, being president is not a game of perfect but if you had to do all over again there were a coupleam of things that you you would probably do differently or make recommendation. why don't you talk about -- pick one. things w
i wasn't talking about of course the purpose of the geneva convention but simply their provision that say with respect to prisoners of war. access to scientific itic permits he have to you to give them monthly allowance. i just felt like the american people would not stand for those kind of a privilege of't being given to terrorists who just killed 2000 americans. this draft got leaked. i was pillared in the media and critics. the fact that i felt like they thought i was being careless.soi to minimize the amount of information that you put in writing be very careful about your e-mails as we know now today the dangers of that and that's a shame because it's hard for historians to come back after the fact and develop a really accurate history of the decisions that
were made in the reasons for that. >> what prompted you to write to the book. and then how did you write it.ble. i decided to write the book because are concerned about some of the rhetoric and what i tried to do is to give the background and the details of decisions like that why do we choose guantánamo bay. what about the decisions that led to electronic surveillance. and so there is a lot of stories out there a lot of conflicting different ideas and opinions about these things and i just thought itig would be important to set the record straight from the perspective of one of the lawyers. and some of the key
recommendations and opinions. i wanted my son to know what their dad did and why he did that. and in terms of the process of writing it i began right after i left office so many yearsma ago in 2007 and started writing handwritten chapters and i wrote the entire book handwritten i would ask my wife from time to time to type it up and she would try to read my cursive eventually we may have had five or six chapters that were there. i wasn't really making much prox -- progress. it would sit there again. in terms of what to include
and what not to include. five years ago i met an individual named ken abraham. he has been involved in writing and company co- were writing over 70 or 80 bucks and he lives down the road for me we got together and he said i can help you finish your story.lp with his help i was able to get the work completed. even if it's a book about your life and something you thinking a lot about it is incredibly hard and it takes a great deal of patiencere encourage to go back through all of the controversial things that i went through to relive all of that was very difficult for me. but it was very helpful to talk about it. but it was very hard but i'm so glad that i did it but i'm i so glad it's over.
>> there were so many quotes. what about those specific quotations. the o i was a president every meeting in the situation room. and so if the president president's gonna say something i wanted to make sure it was an accurate record so that some the after-the-fact would not say something that he didn't say. when you're sitting in these later on i might write it down.wrote i just wrote notes on my calendar and very comfortable in terms of if i put something in quotes that it was said. what is reflected in the book is my perspective others who
are present there may have different recollections and different perspectives. the other thing that, located the come located the writing of the book it took about two months for the government to clear the book because we talk about a lot of the sensitive information some of it was classified. as you read the book there may not be parts that are clear they asked me actually told men not to say certain things in order to accommodate their desires and of course the publication schedule.hedule does anybody else have an indicated question that they would like to ask at the end. there are several back there.
now, talk about your family i'm fascinated by that. and your mother watching you talk about that. my mom is a typical hispanic mother strong catholic and her faith. she really ruled the household.hold my mom is still alive today.livn i told the story about my mom.t seme my mom came to visit me when i was still working at the white house and we did all of the things that tourists do. i also took her into the oval office. i wanted to show show her what
i wanted to accomplish. and the sacrifices of my father. when i was a boy we have a daily ritual. i wanted have breakfast with my dad before he went to work.o i and we always have the same thing for breakfast which was eggs and tortillas. thing my mom would always make the same lunch for my dad. this was a daily ritual.anyway, i took my mom into the oval office and then on her last day of her visit she was upan making breakfast for me just like she have done every day for my dad i have my suit on. the most powerful person in the world. when i think of the wonder that must've filled her
heart. i would take her to the oval office. that is the american story and that's really god grace when i look back on my life. >> the author that is speaking after you hear i believe is talking about immigration on this has been a topic of conversation in this current presidential race. talk about immigration policy.you've i wrote a book about my thoughts on immigration. i think my mom and my wife bought the only two copies. i'm hispanic. i'm also the chief law enforcement officer in this country. that is we are a nation of immigrants.mi
were also a nation of laws. in this book i do talk about the things i would urge the congress to consider. one is permanent and one that only congress and the president can give us. one has border security and one that doesn't. one that recognizes that we are a nation of immigrants and there has to be exceptions for external circumstances of extraordinary circumstances of family relations and situations. what do we do about the peoplewt that are brought here by children.ring the i think these are all very complicated issues and i get it. i think what is lost in the debate is that everyone that cares about this is not to getar everything that they want everyone has to compromise. to
in order to get something done. because it has become so politicized. i know you will hear a lot more about immigration fromou other speakers i think it's an important topic. hopefully it is something with the election of the next president whoever happens to be will make some progress. a good immigration policy is can help our economy and help secure our borders. let me give you some of the questions that we've gone from the people in the audience. did president bush review the book before it was published.e , they spent some time with them. the book was getting ready to come out.
there could be some reasons. the first reason was he trust me. he's been out there for a longng time. he probably thought what else could be said negative about me. i like it that it's a former. you'll had to ask him quite frankly. your book is titled true faith and allegiance. you speak about your faith and how it impacted your public service. these jobs are so difficult.on certainly on those decisions.to i always believe that you need to head faith in a higher power in decisions that are much bigger than yourself and in these positions oftentimes the decisions are much bigger than yourself.f. so for that reason when i look
at someone who wants to be president i think some of them that believe in god and the power of prayer is so important. for me having not believe in god and praying about decisions that i have to make. it was very important. and president bush is fairly private in terms of prayer and things like that. there were times when he woulder simply say i have to go pray about it.i' it's very important to have people of faith and making some of these decisions. this is a question for me. in the book i do talk about those difficult moments in thek trying times particularly when i became attorney general.revio
i know how hard those jobs can be. it seems like the whole world is against you have to head confidence in yourself and also faith that you are doing the right thing. >> what do you think will be the most new news part of this book that's dealt with least of all by other reporters that you think this will significantly add to the clarity. i think you may be surprised about how hard we work to get it right. the lawyers worked so hard. i've heard some criticism that it has been over lawyered. they wanted to make sure that we got it right. a great we were dealing with a new kind of enemy and conflict. and oftentimes there was
nothing to rely on. i spent some time going into detail about all of the issues that we dealt with that we considered certain options hopefully the people will see this.ta talking about how hard we work to get it right. we worked very hard to get it right. we worked very hard to get it right. data flatline management style when he was in the government how did it translate in the white house in washington culture.e. i remembered after he was elected i came to austin and have my first conversation with governor bush. idea
he talked about his style of management he said he's the chief of staff. all of you are my senior staff. you will have direct aspects from me. there were certain individuals who had that same kind of access assuming the president was not in the meeting if i needed to see the president i got to see the present. it's really true in austin. there would be afternoons when i would come over and we just talk about three things weal talked about policy and he
loved baseball. you don't do that with the president of the united states. those moments are so special. the time is so precious.i' it's about decision-making if you cannot make a decision you cannot be president because you can't meet worried about being criticized. if you make a decision andde move on. the next big decision is rating -- is waiting right outside the oval office door. the times i would must oftens see the president was between seven and 7:30 he was a morning person generally i could go down to the second floor office and talk to the president about issues that i needed his guidance. in terms of where he wanted to go.e he wan you talked about your mother's
love for you and things that you wonder your professional career had you run a cost trend just back in the day before he became and what is their response and what kind of conversations do you have but then your friends from before you were a senior official here in washington. >> we just kind of keep it real. i would like to think i'm pretty much the same guy is where i grew up. i really respect the accomplishments of all my friends i know that i've been very fortunate and i worked hard for the things that i've accomplished and as you read the book you will see about the things i have to overcomyo i really am grateful for all of the people not until today
come up to me and remind me about the stories from our past i remember during the transition into thousand she was being interviewed by reporters and they said you must be so proud of your son and my mom said i'm proud of all my children. what procedures would improveocr assimilation by hispanic -- hispanic immigrants. i am proud to be hispanic. it's who i am. so the first thing we did back in austin yesterday was go to the mexican restaurant on east side. but i'm very proud of it. i would not expect to give that up at all.
but i think as americans it remains strong. the basic level of shared values and pride. i had traveled about 30 countries and there are some wonderful wonders beyond our shores. as i am close despite the negativity and what were hearing every day. we are by four the greatest country on the face of the earth. and when i speak to young students around the country in talk about the importance of stepping up and stepping into the arena of public service. we are great because people do that. and some people are afraid about doing that.hink what they think about what if i fail her but if i can't do that. that's the kind of thinking i think will push us to a second-tier as a country.we
we need the right leadership. hopefully that can happen next week. i remain very positive about america. and with respect to hispanic immigrants who come to this country. i have no problem with them maintaining pride in their culture. if you're in america take pride in being an american.stat, take pride in being an american. do think that instance of voter fraud is too much. now were a long way away from the book. i don't think i talked much about this in the book. even though i will say i think becky would confirm this.
beautiful office in thee capital. to answer very quickly yourqu question. i think when people go to vote they should be who they say they are. we should not make it the physical condition and their education and experience it can be intimidating to vote. we should not do that. when someone votes and they shouldn't be voting. i do care very much about the integrity of the votingmu process whether or not we have w the level have the level of fraud that some people are talking about i will leave that for the experts to answer. what is the fbi can do.
>> about what i'm disappointed.>> i'm people are saying negative things about the fbi of director. that's never a good thing. i am hopeful that all of this will get straightened out that leadership will be applied in the department which includes the fbi and we we get to the right outcome. r i will just say i've been somewhat surprised and puzzledpd at some of the events that have happened during the election cycle in connection with the investigations that are ongoing.
>> we all know where we were on 911. talk about 911. >> most of you look like you ma are of mature age. where we were when we first saw the images and we first heard what was going on at the same airport that they took off up. from within the hour. i was flying there to give a speech.we thi i give my speech by the time i finish i'm told i can -- i
have to get back to washington as soon as i can. all traffic has been grounded. i need to get back to my post in the white house. he's good to be making his way back to the white house. i just feel like i have to be back in my post. i don't know what to do.and i kn we run into the navy officer at the airport. take us there. take us to the base commander. they have transitioned. you have these two yahoos from washington sir, can you help us get home. the last thing he wanted.ll i will see what i can do.we they put us in this room and we just watched television like everyone else.
just like everybody else's. because the lives were overloaded. i remember it later in the morning. an officer came up and said were trying to get clearance to fight you back. he said what if we land on the south lawn. imagine the helicopter coming. the only non- president. and also the concern that they might make a mistake.nally we agreed that they would take us to interest air force base. and finally we got clearance about noon to fly back. they took us to the
underground bunker with other senior members of the menstruation and their. just back and forth making sure that they were all being covered.be when i was asked what moment stands out above all numbers it was that moment and watching as they bring them home. i've worked for governor bush. i was curious to see what i would see when he got off the helicopter. he did not say a word to us. he just nodded and walkedhi right by us. he was determined he was ready to go. he knew he have a job to do.
we have a job to do. he was ready to go. that was my day. i went home about midnight. hadk they took out --dash took off out of dallas. we arrived to a brand-new world. talk briefly what every new agency had you going and he worked with the justice department. and so what is involved in the first week.