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tv   Richard Nixon  CSPAN  April 30, 2017 3:45pm-5:01pm EDT

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his life and having this perfect breakthrough. right in the middle of this, one of the other guys in the dating for the him and said hi5 dude. he's right in the middle of this cathartic full-body cry and he relies on the life and everyone's like hi5 dude. i feel like that's are in that zone and someone comes up to you and you can just be like hi5 dude. you really don't know what's going on inside me and you don't realize what you're i went through especially when you first come back. you're in that zone and it can feel like hi5 dude. back you watch this and other programs online @booktv .org.
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>> good evening. i'm not sure the microphone is on, can you hear me? you can? great. my name is vanessa beasley and i'm the dean of them at vanderbilt university. tonight it's my great fortune to welcome you to this panel, the wonderful discussion that will have about the presidency of richard nixon. i'm also happy to invite you to a conversation which will have on that same theme and question. before we get started, in earnest though, it is fitting that we take a moment to remember the space that were in and who founded it. tonight we are gathered in the first amendment center in vanderbilt university which was founded by. [inaudible] you may not remember him or be
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aware of's legacy but he served as 43 years as an award-winning journalist for the tennessean. as retirement he was editor, publisher and ceo. in 1982, he became the founding editorial director of usa today. he served in that position for a decade. he left journalism in the early 60s to serve in the us justice department as administrative assistant to each attorney general robert kennedy. his work in the field of civil rights led to a service as chief negotiator with the governor of alabama during the freedom rights. during that crisis, while attempting to aid freedom writers in the montgomery alabama, he was attacked by a mob of klansmen and half life. in 1991, he founded the first amendment center where we gather tonight. housed at vanderbilt university
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with the mission of creating national discussion, dialogue and debate about first amendment rights and values. one of the first amendment rights that we enjoy are the opportunity to look critically at her own past at citizens, members of the us democracy. tonight to meet us in that discussion we are very important to have john farrell, author of the book richard nixon, the life it's hot off the presses, literally and available in the back of the room. john farrell is the author of three biographies. first, the great american attorney clarence darrow. second, speaker tip o'neill which one the lyndon johnson foundation award for the best book on congress and third, richard nixon. the book will be discussing tonight. this will be published on march
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208th. somehow, we arty have a copy. he came to biography after a long career as a newspapermen most oddly known for the boston globe in the denver post. in late 1970s, as youngsters, john and one of her other conversational partners david maraniss competed as reporters while covering the legislative rivalry spirits. mr. farrell says he did not fare especially while in that position. to farrell, david is an associate editor at the washington post for his work for 40 years. he is the author of 11 books including biographies on bill clinton, barack obama, vince lombardi and roberto colletti. the final book in that series was once in a great city: a detroit story. winner of the robert f kennedy book price. maraniss is also a recipient of
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a pulitzer prizes and a pulitzer prizes finalist for other three times. were so happy to welcome him back to vanderbilt as a visiting distinguished visiting professor teaching classes in political biography and america in the mccarthy era. he and his wife linda have welcomed taiga bonds spending time in washington dc, madison and wisconsin and in nashville. he is mostly known for being the father of andrew maraniss. the book about vanderbilt alumni , perry wallace and race and sports that have become the freshman book reading for the second straight year. our other conversation partner will be professor thomas schwartz. he's professor of history and political science at vanderbilt university educated at columbia, oxford and harvard universities,
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he is the author of the book, america's germany: john j mccoy and the federal republic of germany, and lyndon johnson in europe: in the shadow of vietnam. with matthias scholz, the edited volume the strained alliance, your s european relations in the 1970s. sports has received fellowship with the german historical institute, the norwegian noble institute, the woodrow wilson center and the social science research center. he served on the historical advisory committee of the department of state and was the president of the society of historians of american foreign relations. he is currently finishing a biographer study on former secretary of state, and reconsider. with all of the overlapping interests and expertise, i'm sure you'll join me in welcoming our distinguished conversational partners, will be a portion of the evening when you two will be invited to be a conversational partner but with no further do, get started discussing lessons from a failed presidency.
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[applause] >> thank you, vanessa. i'd also like to say thank you for those who sponsored and the history department. thank you to the audience. in the front row we have my great colleague and political scientists and she is our student. will do it in four parts. we'll talk about the making of the book and professor swarts and i will talk about the substance of the book and then we'll have some questions from these four in the front row and open it up to the audience. as we used to say about richard nixon or who knew he would be so
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relevant? i'm going to save, when he was on campus today and when he was writing the book he was realizing that he was writing it for the students of today. when nixon was the. [inaudible] scandal of our generation. even the students parents were just kids when richard nixon was president, and some degree. i'm going to save them the trouble of those fairfax doesn't know richard nixon was born in 1913. he died in 1994 at age 81. he was a congressman from california, served on the house of american committee and elected to the senate the same year as jfk, served briefly in the senate and it was vice president for eight years under eisenhower, iran for president in 1960 and was defeated.
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two years later he lost for governor of california. then he came back and was elected in 68, left to five years and then resigned after facing articles of untrained impeachment. i know that as an author myself, all authors mostly based the question why? i'm not going to ask that. i don't want to ask it. how. how did you come to this book and how did you conceive of it? >> there has been a tide of new nixon materials since around the turn-of-the-century. all it takes all the tapes that are public for consumption have been released. hundreds of thousands of documents transcripts of henry
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kissinger's telephone calls, 450 oral histories of nixon's childhood friends and family, all came out in the last ten-15 years. the last major biography to take a shot at this was back in the early '90s when nixon was still alive and had no use of the tapes whatsoever. doubleday, my publisher, thought they were groomed for a new up-to-date single volume nixon biography. he asked me if i wanted to do it it took me that long to say yes. this guy had been such a fascinating political leader and such a major part of my life in the late teens and early 20s. but, you asked how. i went into it feeling that i
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couldn't do one more hatchet job on richard nixon. no one would want that. what i had to do was try to write straight down the middle biography. i found that he was much more than the character. he was in many ways, a fellow that you could have empathy for. one of the things that i enjoyed most today and talking to your students, david, and finding that came through the writing of the book. how did you go about researching this? >> that's a sad story. i was outside washington dc and all of nixon's documents and tapes were seized by the federal government and put in the national archives about 15 minutes for my house. until three years before i got the contract of my book than they were moved to california which is as far away from dc as you can get. i spent many hours in staying in the extended stay hotels and trudging in every morning into the basement vault and turning page after page of old nixon
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record. the easy part of the research was that so much had been put on the internet these days that i could do a lot of research at home. i predict a day, probably in the next 20 years, you'll experience this as well, where somebody could write a major biography on a major public figure and never have to change out of their pajamas. >> i'm fascinated by the process of putting together materials. how do you decide what's going to go into the volume of biography and how do you organize? >> i wanted to make it readable. the second most important thing is to aim it at the huge part of the american population that had not experienced. somewhere between two thirds and three quarters of the american population either were not born or were not living in the united states at the time nixon resigned in 1974. that was a big audience of
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people that didn't know anything about his first congressional race for his time as vice president with eisenhower. if anything, this book is weighted away from the presidency and towards his development as a man and political figure, husband and the trade-off that he made as he went through his career before he became the tricky dick that we all know. if you get down to the technical part of research, biography is very easy, maybe the easiest book length to craft. the plot is written for you already. the person's life from birth to death and chronology is her best friend. you to start making chronology, i start off with decades and before too long long chronologies to extensive separated into five-year groups and by the end in some cases, you have it down into six-month blocks of computer files.
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in their i try to have a mix of nixon's voice which is very important, the voices of other people who knew him and can analyze them for us and the documentation or historians is very important to say this is a good, well thought out thorough book. [inaudible] was there something you wanted to solve? >> there were. i spent an inordinate time dispelling conspiracy theories. there are many conspiracy theories about watergate and why the break-in was plotted and some of them have gotten very elaborate and i felt that i needed to sit down with nixon's spokesman from the nixon foundation and have them challenge me time and time again to make sure that the story and history books is correct. so that was my great white whale
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was to feel confident that the watergate chapters stood up and little did i know they would have such relevance today but if there were anything subsidiary goal, that was it. connect which is the elephant in the room. since january, when that story broke about his involvement in 1958 and tom's election rise to the presidency in. [inaudible] there's been a comparison between richard nixon and president trump. i'd like to have you go through. [inaudible] >> the most interesting one is that right before richard nixon was elected in 1968, he was accused by the previous
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president of interviewing with foreign power to pack the elections. one of the things i found pretty page after page was a set of notes from bob haldeman who was nixon's chief of staff for the first time put the words of that conspiracy in nixon's mouth. he denied it all his life, he denied it to david ross next interview and there's a little bit in the book that moves history forward, if that piece of the puzzle. what happened was lyndon johnson wanted to end the war before he left office and he had a piece push on october of 1968 and the nixon campaign heard about it and they had a intermediary go to the. [inaudible] say don't go to the talk, you'll get a better deal once nixon's alecto. lyndon johnson heard of this and
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if you listen to the johnson tapes online, you'll hear call him guilty of treason and all sorts of other bad stuff. he had both the south vietnamese industry embassy tailed to some extent so there was a debate over surveillance with that incident in well. in the end, richard nixon was elected. it does not go through the peace process and it made johnson lood credibility problems. looked like he was manipulating the election them himself. he johnson then faced a similar choice as president obama did when he got word that there had been contacts between the trump campaign in russia. johnson made the same decision that obama did which was not to go public with it because it's a great shock this would be
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because they do not have the evidence to nail it down and directly tie it to the candidate of the very many comparisons, that's probably the one that dumps out. of course, additional sweetener that in both cases, we were involved -- were talking about the break-in in the democrat democratic national,. >> what about the larger veracity? >> they both had trouble with the truth, they both had they were unaccomplished liars. they were very good in politics because you just they were a good liar. he had that going for us. they both have press secretaries that have been scorned by the press as being untruthful or
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manipulative and have become sort of very quickly jokes on prime time television. most of all, they both have what i call politic of agreement. they reached out to people and touched their fears in times of economic or national stress and made them feel that the elites, to coast were not paying attention to them and they gave minorities jobs and money in advance i had of them and nobody cared about them in that same sort of way that you saw donald trump. [inaudible] in the election, nixon was very good at that as well. nixon was a little bit more subtle because he had george wallace running as an independent candidate for president who was saying everything blatantly and so nixon came across as the
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candidate believed in a lot of things that wallace did but didn't have to say it because he could seem like the moderate voice of reason. his campaign was very different from president trump's. both were aimed at the sense of resentment and the voters. >> there's a wonderful quote describing richard nixon as going up. [inaudible] >> take us back to where that began and why? >> i had a very hazy concept of nixon's childhood and his upbringing. i knew that he came from some impoverished home and that he
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had shown remarkable resilience and audacity in winning his race for congress and senate in california and they were clouded by allegations of redbaiting. both the house and the senate races. then of course there was the famous checker speech he was picked by eisenhower's and patting his accused of patting his own pockets from wealthy donors. he went on television want me and went he talked about his income, and the family rules families dog checkers. he reached out to the american people on american television and said no matter what they do to me, we won't give up the dog because the girls love it. it was a very maudlin performance. this was all part of the nixon character. as i began to look into his childhood i find that it was really an awful childhood.
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his father was a very unpleasant , cool man and his mom was a cold and reserved religious figure. she would retreat into her closet to pray when she wasn't working the long hours that her husband required at the family store. as nixon once confessed never in my life did my mother ever say that she loved me. then he would e-mail he follow that up with that was not the quicker way. it was a pretty damning initiative about what his home life, emotional home life was like. he had two brothers die in his childhood. a beloved younger brother was stricken down instantly and another brother caught tuberculosis and died over a six-year period and that death and the cost of caring for that brother ruined the family finances and ruined dick's dream of going to an ivy league college.
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he always had this chip on his shoulder that in 40 complex and an anger at those unlike jack kennedy put everything given to him wire as nixon had to scrap everything that he got. the whole experience left him very insecure. that insecurity was his great tragic flaw. he was never satisfied. even his greatest accomplishment , you can go to the white house tapes and hear him belittle his china initiative or the strategic arms treaty that he struck with the soviet union. kissinger once said imagine how great this man would be if anybody had ever loved him. elliott richardson another cabinet member said no, if anybody had loved him, he would never have been a success to have that drive and insecurity that made him such a formidable politician. >> i think you find that to be
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true with most politicians. certainly there inextricably linked and i know the same thing is true. >> absolutely. >> if only, if only he didn't have these laws but that same drive let him to success as well >> that certainly the case in lyndon johnson, as well. he suffered resentment of the east coast elites look down on him and thought of him as a yokel. i see that. we set the. [inaudible] from the failed presidency there are many people who would argue that richard nixon was an extraordinarily successful foreign policy maker. he had a record in changing american foreign-policy that few presidents have matched. >> i'm wondering as you approach , did you find yourself being struck by his successes,
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what was the revelations of the insights that you gained in looking at that? >> the one insight i gained immunity was for all his brilliance he did not recognize the us failures in vietnam. vietnam will always be where he and lyndon johnson of lexmark although as time passes, the effect of vietnam seems to be moving towards being put up on the shelf next to the korean war without the same passions that it engenders in my generation. the greatness that i think of nixon was that he had the ability to look -- first of all, he had the drive from his mother 's side of the family, trigger side, to bring peace. he's constantly talking on the tapes about weekend get maybe 20 years of peace and in the middle of the cold war, nuclear arms race, 20 years of peace was a great deal. in the end, he sort of brought a
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50 years of peace if you're talking about great power and competitions. he had the ability in 1969 to look across the ocean and see that russia, soviet union, and red china were at each other's throats and that this was a time where the united states could do a triangular diplomacy, if only the chinese would let him take the approach. he and his ranger was his lieutenant made this dramatic secret approach to the chinese, carried it out with clandestine turned up trenchcoats and secret airplane flights and sunglasses and kissinger went to beijing and talk to.
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[inaudible] and came back and said, yeah, they'll see you. then you had this amazing trip of american president, right wing american president, as mr. spock says, no broken proverb that only nixon can go to china. that came from mouth. only nixon can do from the right what the men of the left cannot. you had nixon, anti-communist, go to china until the american people that this is in your wrist interest and they believed him because no one would ever accuse big nixon of being soft on communism. he also had what i found was fascinating he wrote this article in foreign affairs magazine before he ever took office in which he talks about this revolution that is coming. it's coming in the countries in the pacific rim like singapore and the philippines and japan. it'll be all about computers and independent creativity and he had this ability, this was 1967
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to look far into the future and see what was going on. the only way i can forgive him for keeping the vietnam conflict going on as long as he could was that part of him believed he needed to buy time for these democracies to take root, for democracy to take hold in thailand and the philippines and malaysia. yeah,. >> you make an argument that i had first heard from. [inaudible] the in effect, america bought time for these countries. it is part of that. i'll press you a little bit, what would have been a politically viable route on vietnam when he came into office as you yourself point out, in cambridge massachusetts, boston, people voted against unilateral withdrawal in 1970.
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so what was a policy that could ever? >> i think that he could have -- the technical answers he could've followed the french algerian model which is to negotiate a peace that calls for a long withdrawal of the french forces from algeria and leave it independent and takes care of the algerians with sided with friends. by doing it over a long period of time he could've gone those algerians, the vietnam meanies supported the americans out. the short answer, flip answer is , this genius saw and made this trip to china who -- only nixon could go to china well maybe only nixon could have gotten up there on january 2099 and said, were going home. american people trust him because you know i'm dick nixon and no one hates commies more than i do. this is in our interest. that vision that he showed an
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area he didn't show in vietnam. as you go through the war can't get a quick success successful ending to it you see awful cynicism where he stretches it out causing more and more deaths into cambodia. many of these things individual can be argued that it was the right decision at the time. the vision that he sparked at home helped lead to the pentagon papers and leads to watergate and the whole thing collapses and we lose everything, prestige , the south vietnamese, a million or 2 million cambodians and vietnamese, and the united states goes into this funk for another six years where our foreign-policy is more about our defense policies suffers a fallout as well. i don't think you can divide vietnam from watergate. nixon himself calls it the last
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casualty of vietnam. i think that's true. historians looking back are going to -- as i did, lump the two together and say he bungled it. how much better it would have been if he had just, you know, that at the beginning, let's go home back it's a democratic work yes, and no. >> one of the clear aspects of nixon is the tapes reveal the man who often said anti- semitic things and often talked of jews in very negative ways. on the other hand, anyone who looks at the middle east would argue richard nixon perhaps was the most devoted defender of the state of israel. i'm wondering what you see as his legacy there? >> the phrase, and yet, is used a lot in my book. nixon does have these two sites.
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he has us incredibly dark, ugly side in two places are ugly as anti-semitism and yet, henry kissinger, arthur burns appointed federal was jewish and alan greenspan was jewish. if you were on his side, nixon was not as ugly. he reserved the real ugliness for the owners and editors of the new york times, the federal judges in new york were jewish and ruled against him and the pentagon papers. that ugliness was in there and to his great dismay -- as someone said his other day, he's looking up at us. [laughter] the tapes are going to forever cloud histories version of him. what was the second present? the middle east. >> yet, part of that was the
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great power politics. the russians were trying to use the israeli, egyptian war to increase their influence in the middle east and so, he was alerted to this because he was a cold warrior. this was all about the soviet union throughout his entire presidency. on the other hand, he brought the thought the razors were. he thought they were spunky and loved gold a mere and the israelis thought that his image of militant underdogs bought and in fact, the defense department came to him and said we can get those arms in their but we have to be careful fly only at night because the rest of the world sees were arming the israelis, it will affect our calculations and he said what are you trying out? three flights a night. he said three flights a night, i
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want you to fly everything you have because at one plane lands the same as having 50. the american arms went to israel was astonishing. golda my year said we probably staved the state of israel at the time. if he was truly anti-semitic like a hitler he never would've done that. his anti- semitism was very ugly but it was also a part of the parochial southern california outback where he grew up and part of a product of his father's ignorance. >> one more question and then we'll go to. then nixon and kennedy relationship. they started at the same time,
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buddy's, and yet, by 1960 there's this powerful about losing that election to jfk, never be out down by a dirty trick. [inaudible] >> they both came in in 1946 and because they were freshmen, they were put on the same committee and the chamber of commerce and key sport pennsylvania had them come up in debate a labor bill. they took the train back to washington together. they both had been in the navy, south pacific at the same time. they later talked it over and figured they may have even met. a friendship grew and jfk respected nixon for beating jerry was a new deal stalwart and nixon basked in the fact
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that the rich ambassadors on was his friend and the two of them, the nixon's were invited to jack and jackie's wedding. they were close friends. in fact, in 19881 of nixon's former staffers went to massachusetts to run for secretary of state or some lower office and asked nixon to come campaign and nixon said i can't go into massachusetts because jack's running for reelection and people ask me whether i support his rival the republicans and i'll have to answer candidly on behalf of the republican and i can't do that. he stayed out of the race to his aides great dismay. kennedys turned their money and charm and ruthlessness on nixon in 1960 indeed right up to an election night where he believes that they throw the election in illinois and texas, it steered him not as a bad loss but. [inaudible]
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this was somebody love is it too strong word but maybe it's not. he admired and had great affection for jfk. to be treated like this, nixon was a betrayal and from that point on, nixon was determined that he would never be out tricked again. there's a great scene from the 68 campaign for a secret serviceman is walking down the aisle of the plane and looks at nixon and nixon in his air seat and aircraft says gotta be tougher, gotta be tougher, got to be tougher. it was that kind of feeling that comes out in the tapes and you see watergate eventually happen in the tragedy a rise. >> what professor shwartz was saying, one of the hallmarks of
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nixon's presidency that you can see today is relationship with the press. nixon hadn't adversarial with the press and it might be understanding it. and that might attributed to his downfall. looking at then from today is there anything nixon could have done to use his political gamesmanship to change our relationship with the press and if that could change the outcome and it speaking more broadly, if there's any long-lasting impatience with that relationship between the press and the executive branch that we could carry on? nixon had several problems with the press. i stop the narrative for only two things in the book, i stop it to talk about two things. these are good indications of his character. he grew up or entered politics as the favorite of the alleged los angeles times which is a conservative newspaper in southern california and came to
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believe the game was rigged. that newspapers declared favorites and there wasn't any tradition of objectivity in the reporting and when you got to washington he expected the same thing as when they were critical articles written about him, he saw them as enemies from the other side. he had never actually went into them in california but now, here they were, and they were against him. leave it or not, large segments of the american media are left-leaning and liberal. they didn't like nixon from the get-go. he had defeated liberal heroes to get to washington and he didn't like him because as soon as he got to washington he exposed former assistant secretary of state is been a soviet spy was the darling of the left. right from beginning, there was this confrontation. another man like jfk, more secure initial may have been able to endure this but not
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nixon. it gnawed at him, he was always insecure and that insecurity, no matter what his accomplishment, it was never enough for him. he felt bad about himself as a person and felt that it would never last and he would never be happy. the press was this constant irritant to him. the files are filled with advice from well-meaning aides, reporters, from the reporter saying stop, go to the press, have a drink with these guys. make connections. this is to self-destructive behavior, but it's true. at the end of his first term when the peace negotiations with north vietnam hit a bump, he ordered a massive bombing of north vietnam called the crispin bombing. on the tapes there's this amazing transcript where kissinger comes in and they're talking about military strategic and diplomatic maneuvers and all
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of a sudden, nixon starts screaming at henry seigneur the press is the enemy, the press is the enemy, write that on your blackboard, the press is the enemy. it would erupt like that over and over again. >> kissinger ignored it. >> he didn't say that the press was the enemy of the american people which is a step higher. in nixon's case of line, nixon had a basic respect for the basic intelligence of people that his work cover lies. president trumps are such blatant lies. i've been wiretapped by brock obama. it's almost surrealistic. it's an insult that nixon would never have died and i give you
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an example. when they came back from china, someone had said, we want to preserve a set of the chopsticks for the nixon library and nixon says, grab any pair of topics. people will never know. he didn't have a basic reverence for truth either. >> i attended a talk a few years ago and it was a guy from nixon's administration and he said, there was a loyalty with an any administration that he was being sworn in he felt like he was swearing to nixon and not the pledge allegiance to the country. how do you think nixon was able to establish that kind of disrespect nixon's favorite football courts was george allen and he was a coach for the washington redskins. george allen was famous for the common tactics that coaches are caring to the extreme of making
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the other team the enemy. making the other team the bad guys. that was one thing that nixon tried to do with his people. he had a very nice, much, much longer honeymoon with the press and the public then president trumps is having. his honeymoon lasted almost six or seven months. he was given a lot of leeway, people were patient, they wanted to see what he would do about vietnam and so, he didn't really turn paranoid until the fall of 69 when the students got back on the campuses and they began to protest the war again.
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possess he had his shot. he had six or seven months. and i don't mean to make it sound -- >> the honeymoon because there was someone more famous to him coming to washington at the same time, vince lombardi. nixon being overshadowed by another president. >> thank you. so far. this has been great. i'm wondering in speaking of lessons of a failed presidency, in the hopes that now we will have a successful presidency, what lessons would you wish to impart from your knowledge of
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nixon to our current president in terms of isolating and going of groups in the way that nixon did in his involvement in the house on american activities committee. >> i think at this point donald trump still has a chance to have a very successful presidency. we're so early in a four-year term, but the question with trump is not that he is not get going advice because you can see it, like in the state of the union speech, he can do the reagan-esque perform bops he trump has to be trump and tweeting out, my inauguration crowd is the biggest. if he had the self-disminimum and control of somebody like reagan he could turn it around quickly and have a democratic
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nightmare in that an effective president and the house and senate in the republican hands and the supreme court going back to where is was ball the greatest on stack tell to trump's -- obstacle to trump's extent is trump himself. >> man you don't want him learn he lessons. >> we're getting the democrats a pass. they've been very silent watching the trumped a self-destruct. they could be trying some basic pavlovian techniques and they're not. >> professor oppenheimer. >> jack, very nice job of discussing nixon and civil rights and if there's a new nixon running for president in 1968, there's also a new nixon
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on civil right transform from the nexton who in the eisenhower administration, along with the attorney general or really pushing as hard as they can on eisenhower to take a stronger pro civil rights stance and help inflame passage over of thesive rights act to a incomeson to win the election gets in bid with strom thurmond and allows southern strategy to prevail. does that change something you can see coming? where does that fit in the analysis that you do of nixon. >> i stop the flow of the book twice to zero in on where we are in civil rights. it really illustrates his character. all i think politicians are expedient to some degree.
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nixon was almost totally expedient and yet in the 50s, in part, i again, because, and yet in part because he wanted to get the black vote in the cities against whoever he ran against in 1960. he reached out to martin luther king, and made friend with martin luther king a good friend of jackie robinson, he attended black southern events in washington, dc. the first american vice president to visit a black family in their home. there's a wonderful letter. in whittier, the barber shop had a shoe shine man and the shoe shine man had a tower, and she went to howard university and colombia law school and pass led to washington and dix nixon took her to lunch in the senate dining room, and that must have been a shock just by itself there in the early 1950s and then he writes a wonderful
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letter to a friend of his back in whittier, saying it really just is so affirms my faith in this country that the daughter of the shoe shine boy from whittier is now graduating from columbia law school, a person of such grace and intelligence, and now has a positive future ahead of her. so the feelings were general win if took the quaker abolitionism and -- of from his mother, his grandfather had died at gettysburg fighting for the union army and there was a rumor in the family that the quakers had worked the underrailroad in indiana. so he was -- he had joined clubs that admitted black members in 1920s. so he really was color blind as far as martin luther king could see, and in 1957 when the first civil rights bill hit the under
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of the senate, he was itself didn't one of the mightest champions, as you said. and then in the 1960 election, he loses the black vote but the falters at a key moment. martin luther king is arrested and on a trumped up charge and extent prison in rural georgia, and jack kennedy and bobby kennedy get in contention attempt with the governor of georgia and intercede the case and called martin luther king's wife to comfort her and make a big impact with the black population in america, and the nixon campaign says, no comment. and martin luther king, who had once sad that it if richard nixon is not totally color blind, he's he most dangerous man in america because he was so convinced nixon was big hearted
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and now decided nixon is the most dangerous man in america because he was aim to put on a show of sympathy and support but the first time it countered he wasn't there. and when reagan is running for the presidency and trying to got the conservative votes from the south and nixon makes a deal with strom thurmond in which he promises they the nixon administration will lay off the pro negro stuff, and hesitate on the integration of schools in order to secure the southern delegation at that convention. and then in his presidency, hes to does things like appoint southern racist judges to the supreme court and drag his heels on civil rights measures, and,
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yet, when the supreme court comes to him and says you have to integrate the schools he puts together an amazing effective plan with people like george schultz and integrates the black schools. more black kid got into integrated class from richard nixon than any other american president. so it's complex and the only one guiding line is expediency. he sid that -- he said this is i have to do. the great tragedy of his be trail -- not betrayal -- the switch was that kennedy and johnson put the dignity of the white house behind the civil rights movement. they alived the presidentsive with civil right which is something that eisenhower had never done. truman and fdr had never done. they came out and said this is an american cause that the presidency is all about, and nixon backed off from that, and
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so all of a sudden the moral authority of the white house was no longer with the civil rights movement, and the started talking about civil rights extremists and who want instant integration and forced busing are just as bad as the klan which is a horrible comparison, but again he saw votes in the south and the first -- not the first but a major step of the way towards the total republican control of the south you have now. so many aspects of nixon's life you can rite a book about, from the mccarthy era to vietnam and watergate. obviously watergate is the defining issue of his political career, and how did you choose -- pick and choose what to write about to and a half
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fate through senate what--- -- navigate through that? what sources are did you go to and how much did you rely on carl bernstein woodward and their work. >> university of texas has all the watergate interviews of the -- from the source weather either released them from the off the record guarantee or have passed away. i went down to uta and spent what was supposed to be a 40-minute interview, turned interest a three-hour discussion with bob wood ward which was invaluable if interview ben bradley before he passed away. had a very in feel for their work and great admiration for it but there were also -- what they did, what was so important, they kept the story alive until the -- judge sericca said later the reason he -- i have 0 slow
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done -- so the break-in happens in '72. nixon gets re-eletted desspieth the post reporting and then the burglars good on trial before the judge, and the judge later tells everybody that he decide he had to -- he's a republican judge but had to take a tough stand bus he read the post's reporting that raised nutted questions even though the u.s. attorney wanted a quick conviction of the burglars. the judge threatens the convicted burglars withlong 'n sentences to force them to talk, and they crack, and that's how the coverup finally cracked. the thing i was surprised about was that the tapes show -- there's a famous conversation that nixon has with john dean in march of 1973 when deep says, mr. president, there's a cancer on the presidency.
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we have been committing perjury, raising hush money, promising clemency, your top aides probably have to go to jail, and john dean thinks the president doesn't know but the white house tapes show that from the second day after the blare, nixon was in on everything, constantly calling in halderman and ehrlichman and saying, is mcgoder reliable? is he going to -- does he -- will he commit perjury and not in five years blab about it? we have to keep attorney general john mitchell safe because he can't afford to lose mitchell. how are we doing on raising the money? he money has to be raised. let's hope they wash that money correctly. and it guess on and on. so by the time john dean comes in, nixon knows everything except, lick, one little nugget of information, the exact amount of hush money they needed to raise that particular week. that's the only news in that spire speech as far as i can determine.
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so he was in the coverup up to his neck, and his loyalists have attempted of the years to try to say it was -- that dean ran the coverup or that dean and halderman and ehrlichman bow betrayed him. the tapes show that right from the start he was going play it rough the way they play it, he was going to be tough, tough, tough. and it was a terrible downfall. >> some more questions. >> was nixon a wealthy man? any time in his life or after the presidency in map man of
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some wealth? >> he was certainly not wealthy as a child. had to good to whitner instead of a bitter school. he got go to duke law school on a full scholarship, and by the time he did the checkers speech, his holdings were so meager as to be -- his wife pat was humiliating he was announcing how poor they were on national television, and he made at built of money after he lost in 1960. he became a corporate lawyer and lived comfortably for the rest of his life, but nixon was never motivated by great wads of money. he didn't want to worry about because that was a distraction from what he really like to dream about which was political power and how he was going to remain the globe some become this -- going tore shape the globe and become a great hero. but many rumors spread about hidden nixon wealth after watergate, and not true.
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the only thing that bailed him our was he not $600,000 from david frost to do the interviews and then wrote books for the rest of his thrive coop the wolf a. from the door. so, money was never a great motivating factor, which is interesting considering he came from such a poor household. >> can you talk a little bit about nixon title ix and. >> if you go to the nexton library now you'll see a display which lists all of the considerable domestic -- accomplishments, the volunteer army, the epa, the clean air act, and one of the things that came up to his desk was this title ix amendment which said colleges had to treat the female
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sports programs equally with the men. and nixon was a big college football fan and he had lots of friend who had were coached at notre dame and oklahoma and elsewhere, and they all called him up and said this is outrageous. it's going to damage our sport. these gals don't -- all right. some of them can run track or play tennis but you're take can we have to offer teams to them and have equal facilities in you can hear this on the tapes nixon saying why are we doing this? but it was slipped into another bill that was more important that he felt he had to sign and so he sign and it now if you go out into the nixon library they show that a great accomplishment was the signing of title 9 condition which was technically true but had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do. >> given the conservative liberal dichotomy today, you mentioned that he started the
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epa. could you tell me what the motivation for that was back then? >> yes. he was inaugurated on january 20th, 18969 and a week later that would massive oil smile spill awe off of santa barbara, and nixon now out there, talked to the people of santa barbara and made a photo opportunity about this really ignited the environmental movement in the united states, and the republicans and democrats got a race or come ticks who could do more for the environment, and nixon won. of -- if you poll environmental organizations today, they will say that in the number one president was tidy roosevelt and the number two was republican richmond nixon. wasn't just epa. it was clean air, it was coastal zone management, it was endanger
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species act. almost all of the major environmental legislation was signed by richard nixon. at that time. and -- >> signed by nixon or -- >> both. both. it was certainly driven and put on his desk by a democratic congress but he had aides liker ickman and a fellow named john whittaker who were very devoted to the cause. and nixon was aned a hirer of teddy roosevelt, he was from california, watching what was happening in california with smog in los angeles, and this oil spill and other cases but he could never -- never good as far as the democrats, and that began to frustrate him, and because he was a republican and had a business constituency which wanted the super sonic transportation and the alaska pipeline which he wanted to go along with, and so he never --
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he got frustrated and there's a great tape filled with profanity so i can't recite it -- >> we're on c-span. >> but it's from '73 where he starts spouting, i'm not a liberal. i'm a conservative. all get on my desk is this liberal crap over and over begin, we're re-organizing the chaos a little bit better. this all this environmental stuff is bull and i don't know why i'm doing this, and so there was that side of him, too. so when the issue was hot, we was there. in part expediency, and yet as one point they put on his desk a measure which said that we have all this federal surplus land, the military is downsizing, military bases being closed and there really would be nice have parks for urban family and nixon remembering his childhood and
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how a free park was on the few thing they'd could afford, -- they could afford and put his heart behind that. an example of once again this very complex character with complex motivations and if an undernight streak of sentimentality and that's why he has gone down in history and will always be honored by environmentalist us. also, a fantastically admired president by native americans 'he had a football coach in whittier college who was native american, and nixon had this great empathy for native americans and reversed -- there was a horrible policy of assimilation he forced -- force erred assimilation which his administration reversed. so go on tribal councils in the west, still pictures of richmond nixon on the wall. we talked to a student from china, and we asked her where nixon's place was and she said that, well, he is number two,
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inure lives of presidents. i said, after who? after george washington in china, there's richmond nixon -- richard nixon, croons has a survey of where american presidents and are nixon is -- jumped up from the bottom, somewhere in the low 20s and probably stay there bulls of watergate, but it's -- i think he's going to be endlessly fascinating because of the character that he was. >> before we get carried away if is greatness -- >> you told me it's impossible for a buy i biographer to not feel -- >> it's not about you. we saw an column that wrote: in the end the presidency is the wrong job for an amoral man.
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>> you could probably make a very good argument that nixon was no wore than franklin roosevelt spent roosevelt pulled it off. the job that roosevelt had to do his -- all the agency with the three letters that he knew might not work and then work, and then prepare the american people to battle the totalitarian governments in world war ii, took great cunning, great expediency, great powers of analysis, great powers of leadership, a little bit of demagoguery. so -- >> but those don't add up to amolter or immorality. >> i i'm not sure a -- i'm not sure. there's probably a whole plato or somebody lick that argued this point or -- i'm not sure
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that total amorality is not an asset of a political leader. sometimes the morality has to come from the people and the leader has to pay attention to that but that -- i think that vision and effectiveness are -- >> host: where does nixon fall. >> he was pretty -- it's hard to find mix much this nixon really truly believed in or wouldn't do, and in that regard he had the capacity to have been a great president. to pull off things like the opening to china. but that same lack of morality that got him in trouble. >> also in your work this idea that he was not ideological. >> no. >> and that was actually something i was thinking about when you talk about trump. someone who is elected that
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doesn't have the ideologies of the time, and nixon was somewhat like that and gives him wonderful opportunities but also incredible dangers. >> he didn't have a firm rudder. pat buchanan wrote an angry memo saying we're neither fish nor fowl, we're somewhere in the middle and you are walking along the idealal buffet taking a little bit of dismiss that and the conservatives are getting upset. and right now nixon is one of our presidents who is a man without a party. democrats and republicans never fully honored him because of long memories and reagan came in and the conservative took over the republican party and nixon is seening a squish, somebody who created the epa and so he is sort of -- he lingers in the. >> hope was to create a new movement bus -- but because of
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water watt what never able to -- later called the nixon democrats and about the majority. >> what do you think about what donald trump thinks of richmond -- richard nixon. >> i've heard in the wall in the oval office his has a all right from richard nixon. nixon met hem hundred he was still the donald and running around new york and being on the fraternity page of the tabloid canada wrote him a notice saying, don, you're going to go to long way. think he has kept that and they show it and talk about it a lot. he could do worse, but -- he is doing worse. >> is he practicing -- okay.
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well, we'll take one more question. i'm sorry. >> just curious, did you interview nixon's daughters, or have a perspective on how being a father affected his outlook. >> he was very clumsy human beings when it came to interactions with fellow human beings, even his family. they other would communicate with notes slipped under doors at night or left on pillows. i asked julie and trisha if they would sit down. a great tragedy is they have never sought down for a long oral history of their dad and the insights they could give, with the examination of julie's biography of her mother, are going to be lost if they dent do it. julie would if -- if i was in crisis point and there was a question i had that only she
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could answer, we would have an exchange of e-mails and she would send me a picture -- a wonderful picture of nixon playing the piano for his grandchildren, and i could use the book. so, it wasn't totally forced out but still an awfullet of bitterness and -- awful lot of bitterness and roo sentiment the way day were treated by the press and by agographers and the intelligentsia, and so it was a lost opportunity. i went in think can that would be my special brand of blarney i would be able to have this happened and didn't happen. >> his middle nape name is -- >> in my opinion one thereof great gifts of boying aography particular is take allege subject we think we know well and making hmm or more more complex, perhaps creating empathy or understanding and it's the work you did in this
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book and we look forward digging into the book. so thank youso so much and thank you to the panellests to join the conversation. if you're interested in the become, i invite you to step out into the lobby where there's a sales table waiting for you. thank you all for being here tonight and thank you for this provocative work. >> booktv on twitter and facebook and we want to hear from you.
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>> with live in an era of rapid change. high levels of immigration, all of these are kind of dislocating forces, they're very positive in terms of generating growth, diversity has a lot of benefit, but it -- people feel dislocated as result and i think what they're saying is we want a level of government control over us. we realize government can't stop the world, make us get off but they can control the pace of change. that's commonality between what is going on here what is going on in europe. >> at what point does slowing the pace of change become protectionism or basically move -- it's almost like a specter between being open and closed, dealing with immigration issues. how do you -- how does one get
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the goldilocks -- pit a king knut challenge. >> in the goldilocks position is politics. ed if you look the trade stuff, you go back to the vote on the tokyo round world trade dreamt, 1979. the house vote was 395 in favor and four against. overwhelmingly the american people and their representatives are in favor of liberalizing trade. by the team you get to nafta the vote in the house is 234 to 200 and the majority of bill clinton's democratted vote against him. the people are saying we're not quite so sure about this anymore. by the time you get to central american free trade agreement and the fast track authority needed the republicans have to hold the vote open for an hour, dennis hastert and -- go around intimidating their republican members to get on board.
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i talked to one of them afterward, mark foley from florida, said it was the worsters and conditions of live, to get the single vote to get the fast track. someone is paying attention to politics would say, look, we do not have broad societal support for full speed pedal to the metal liberalization. >> author and radio talk show hot, hugh hewitt, his most recent book is call "the fourth way: the conservative playback for a lasting g.o.p. majority," mr. hewitt, how is donald trump doing. >> guest: he is doing great thank you for having me back. this is the 0th time you have put up with me after all these years, and i think he is doing fine. this 100 tase come us up next week, i have piece in the "washington post"


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