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tv   After Words Charles Sykes How the Right Lost Its Mind  CSPAN  October 15, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm EDT

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of notes per second. and if you slow music down or speed music up too much or if you slow speech up or speech up too much, it ceases to be speech or music so there's this very critical range or the goldilocks zone. >> coming up on "after words", radio host and msnbc contributor charles sykes looks at the conservative movement in america, interviewed by tammy bruce. fox news contributor and host of the tammy bruce show. >> charlie sykes, how are you? it's a pleas this is especially with the last year, it's an opportunity that perhaps you and i would never have and i'm looking forward to it . this is the book, everyone
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watching has already seen this. but what's interesting for me in being asked to do that is i'm not on the opposite side of you when it comes to president trump but the first sentence in your book, this is not a book about donald trump area the right lots of bits mind is the title. immediately you are taking a stand with the title but what i'd like to do is make sure everybody knows what your background is. >> >> some tweets came back why are you doing that. he's a never trumper. what to do first since everyone watching no doubt would have a different idea of what conservatism is, before we get into the meat of this and i will
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speak to bite on background, explain to everyone who is listening what conservatism means to you. >> guest: that's an interesting question because that's up in the air. it seems to be being redefined on a regular basis. conservatism was all about limited government, fiscal responsibility, individual freedom, respect for the constitution. kind of an inclusive aspirational vision that think was very well captured by ronald reagan when you talk about america being a shining city on the hill. i come from a brand of conservatism that is reform oriented, the ones that deal with problems that exist in the real world. but what i think was defeated in the republican primaries in 2016. >> host: that is a clear part of your book obviously but with a title like this "how the right lost its mind," not how
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conservative is a a longer wor, maybe it's the difference of it fits on the red trump cap, is it really a decision kind of point that's happened a a transitiona point that's been achieved of people abandoning something or is it possible there is just simply were in the midst of a transition if you will that comes to what people want, what they've seen whether they think it's failed, they don't like what's happened up to this point, or they feel the gop hasn't delivered, is a possible that, in fact, people have lost their mind but we're in a position of transition at this stage political? >> guest: we are in a position of transition but there's a clear break. 2015 and 16 was a dramatic moment that i think was a rejection of much of the conservative tradition. i think was a rejection of much of the reagan legacy. many of the things that happen during this campaign, the title of the book has two meanings which is how the right lost its
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mind which was rejection of a lot of its intellectual tradition of mainstream conservatism by donald trump and his supporters in the republican party but it was also just white frankly that kind of the crazy that invaded the party, the explosion of hoaxes, extreme position, the willingness to tolerate bizarre behavior. a lot of that happen. there's a double meaning. in terms of is it done, over? no. this is an ongoing debate and we will have this debate for a generation. >> host: a lot of people and myself being here supporting the president, it was relationship that developed. i first supported scott walker, was not supportive of the president at first, grew into the nature of supporting him. i have not been disappointed. however, i aboard my listeners
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that we will be disappointed at some point like we are with all politicians. a lot of people would argue that this really is about the establishment leadership not delivering, that we do love reagan. we are children of reagan if you will, that all of which he stated in the beginning we also believe in. and yet we've watched government get bigger, 20 trillion-dollar debt, obamacare, and that current by trail we've experienced, spend in general, government being made bigger deliberately by george w. bush. perhaps it's because we are children of reagan and we haven't seen that continue, some would argue what happened last year is, in fact, i reinsertion of incessant and go back to the conservative ideal trait do there maybe people want to go
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back to the conservative idea who felt betrayed by the republican establishment. that donald trump was not the guy. five minutes ago he was a democrat, contributing money to hillary clinton and chuck schumer. when he was first running it was a question didn't support single-payer healthcare. he's a support of abortion rights. donald trump is not and never has been an actual conservative in part because he is a man utterly lacking in principle who has spent less than five in speaking about issues. even many of his supporters understand that with donald trump, maybe he's the vehicle to break the status quo but he doesn't represent an idea. he doesn't represent a well-thought-out philosophy of government. we have to play this out. we don't know what is his relationship with nancy and chuck going to be a month from now, too much from now, a year from now after the midterm election. for people who are saying we are upset with establishment because
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they have not given us conservative values, there were i think 16 candidates that were on that stage and almost every one of them had stronger conservative credentials, actually understood issues, actually understood policy and that principle. the republicans rejected all of those other conservatives for donald trump. >> host: it could be about, and this is where perhaps the gop, part of your book is also about giving advice to the conservatives. we can get to that, but as we establish our positions here and what people like us go as we move forward, the rejection of individuals who are seen as the establishment like when eric cantor was effectively fired, that we saw the trend to this of a wholesale rejection of, and the other men were running, and the woman, carly fiorina, who at
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one point also supported, really did represent the standard that this was a wholesale rejection of what was seen as a failure of the standard and is a message to be sent. this is where the divide is, that it's less rejection of conservatism and more a rejection of those who have it moved it properly or who say their conservative but where we've seen the next in line, john mccain, mitt romney, and then we see the world unfold and the ability also to do with the world in its new face with electronics, social media, the internet. is that part of the issue? not just media but how you interact on all of these formats, which trump did very well at, in talking to people directly and being able to communicate with them, which i
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don't think any of the other people standing on that debate stayed were able to do with the exception perhaps of carly fiorina, but even she wasn't able to translate it to the ground. is it about being communicated in a new age where as president reagan didn't even have to deal with talk radio or anything on social media? >> guest: this is an interesting point that during the reagan era you didn't have the kind of conservative media, a coal chamber you and i are both part of. i wonder whether his success might've had to do with all of that. it's one of those interesting puzzles what role they play. but look, donald trump represented something. he represented what the big middle finger from voters to the establishment, but if you really, really wanted to deal with some of these issues you would have gone, you being the
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republican electorate, with gone with a review or scott walker or carly fiorina and they didn't. he's a master of twitter but he was crude, rude, he was a serial liar. he is thin-skinned, erratic, a fraud. >> host: just -- >> guest: this was relatively well-known and conservatives who, not that long ago used to argue that character mattered, that the president was wmata. at some a fun way to rationalize the behavior of someone who insults women, mocks the disabled, mocks pows, has paid a multiband dollars fine for defrauding students who just wanted to get an education, who even now sitting in the oval office uses his power to insult and to call for people to be fired for engaging in free speech. and yet we are supposed to think
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this is a return to conservative values. >> host: i don't know if anybody, that's interesting because i don't know if that election was that argument tragic it was the argument i was making. >> host: no one is saying this is a return to conservative values in a sense that it was, in fact, an effort to put up the dumpster fire that was happening economically and was and still is happening around the world. cbs had a panel of three women come to african american women and a white woman, about our age, asking them about his comments after charleston, if it bothered them. all of them said no, they were voting for, they were not voting for a husband or a boyfriend, that it was about getting things in order. that's the thing that's
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resonated about the role of the president, the nature of this person as an individual and what was required at the moment. clearly people determine that it wasn't going to be a chris christie or marco rubio or jeb bush, that it is a statement at least worthy of them seriously, and in your book, the implication is that the voters or at least the tree and in the republican party, which are not republican, is the xenophobia and racism and misogyny. and for the average voter who wants their jobs back, who wants healthcare dealt with, who want to money back in the pocket and wants to see the future, is that fair to all of those individuals who acknowledged that on occasion were going to be offended but that the something larger at stake? is it fair in that kind of a viewpoint to the voters
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themselves? >> guest: for what? >> host: as in your book, that the movement -- what he represents was xenophobia and misogyny and racism, that by implication is that's what -- >> guest: he traffics in it. no question. his attitude towards women, we don't need to rehash it. we had him on one camera, the was once a time with someone bragged on camera about sexual assaulting women that would be disqualified. certainly conservatives would have thought that. the blaming, his attitude on other things, does that mean the voters are racist or sexist? no. i think that's what a lot of people on the left have made a terrible mistake. they have played the race card so often that it's lost meaning. they spent three years crying wolf. they said john mccain was a racist. they submit romney, ronald
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reagan, every conservative was a racist. when real thinking along in the form of the alt-right, which was clearly empowered and encouraged by the trump campaign, in which he continues to give winks and nods to come when the real thing came along the left was out of ammunition and i think folks in the right had become numb to it. here's the moral test. are they part of our tent? william f william f. buckley juk in the 1960s drew polite and said the john birch society needed to be excommunicated from the conservative movement because they were too extreme, they were crackpots. he successfully did it. not because he was a rhino, not because he was not at the commons but because if you may place for these conspiracy theory whack jobs and said dwight eisenhower was a communist, you would discredit your movement. we don't have gatekeepers like that anymore. we don't have anyone who has the
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ability to say we have to draw the line. what happened was we had a conservative movement that turn a blind eye, and again on the same all conservatives, that's not true but we turn a blind eye. we turned turn a blind eye to e conspiracy there is, the paranoid, to people who traffic in racist stories. we being the conservative. pretty much all of us. i try to push back on some of the stuff. >> host: in media? >> guest: in media, well, donald trump begin his presidential rise by pushing the barack obama birther conspiracy theory. who pushed back against him? a majority of republican voters of what i believe that. the reality is we figured they were the extreme, we couldn't roll our eyes and the center would hold, but it didn't. this was a moral failure on the part of conservatives. i don't think the conservatives are racist, massages, xenophobic.
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but it do think that we are if we're honest in this moment of the wilderness that we have now, to ask whether or not we ignored it or we were way too tolerant of it. we figured they are on our side, we would not call them out on it. after charlottesville that was a real signal. that was one of those moments. you bring it up. we look to our president presio provide moral leadership, to provide moments of teaching and that was one of those moments where donald trump i think failed but again if you follow what he did during the campaign, this should not have come as a surprise. >> host: in the aftermath of that we've had larger discussion about -- we know this being immediate and we know this also in how media can distort or mislead or even directly by certain about republicans and conservatives. that's generally what they do, is part of this issue perhaps
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that media decide what is going to be elevated, that they're going to decide the narrative, that the elevation or the depiction of the region of the alt-right, is it a mistake pressed to think of the conservative movement or all conservatives versus what cnn or msnbc or the "new york times" or any other element that has an agenda is deciding to elevate and promote, that the difference between, and i tell my audiences all the time is to not let the media determine your reality, to look to her broader base of information. for those of you in the media that is our bubble anyway. is it possible that we are mistaken or you're mistaking the power and influence of that group that we recognize has got some issues as being calm has got some major issues --
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treasure i would not describe neo-nazis and a ku klux klan as having issues. >> host: i'm talking about this is also the difference about what is being conservative and the difference of what is the alt-right., some people there, what might a represents versus a guy in a clan suit. -- milo represents. this is what we conflate things. out of the people listening and we wouldn't have to disagree but do we have a definition of what the alt-right is versus white supremacists? or is this the conflation and is that what we are going to do next we don't even have agreement on that. people look at breitbart for information because they support donald trump. they are regular people, have have bright of opinions. some are repulsive, some are not. you can find that at any network of people, but it depends on what were going to promote. >> guest: breitbart, steve
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bannon went on to become top aide to the president of the united states bragged that it turned breitbart into platform for the alt-right. the alt-right usually a euphemism for white nationalism and anti-semites. >> host: you could be correct but there are people that we disagree with that, and this is where the debate is and at least the discussion is about what it is. most people listening are going to have a different opinion or even themselves be conflicted. we know with the nazis and the klan are. i think most people would say that's not breitbart and that's not fair, but it means it might not be everything that they believe or that you -- >> guest: this is really not hard. this is not hard to denounce these extremists. this is part of what i think would happen to conservative
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with donald trump the something that would've an easy and automatic has now become difficult. people four wide nationals, white supremacists are not part of a movie. that's that who we are. it was 20, 30 years. i've struggled against this stereotype of the left, that you people are this and no, no, no. we are not like this. we did not make excuses and we do not rationalize and then along comes the alt-right and suddenly it's like well, maybe there were many good people. look at the president of the united states looks at these guys marching with tiki torches and said there's lots of good people there. the new looks at nfl players, and a disagree with much they did and he calls in son of a. there's a point at which you have to say the conservative movement needs to pass normal test. you're asking about the media. there is no such thing as the media anymore. it does not exist. the are multiple forms of media. you and i were part of the alternative media where we
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created the site of the story. so the mainstream media cannot set the agenda. there was a time when people say cbs, abc and nbc determine what was in the news. if the ignored something it wasn't news. suddenly came along alternative media, conservative talk radio. this was a wonderful thing because now we could can talk t issues that people cared about, it was other side of the story. something has happened where those repeating the diversity of voices did become for many americans of both the right and the left these alternative reality silos. they have their own narrative, their own fax. we don't communicate, we are in intellectual ghettos. we are in these ethical chambers, bubbles, whatever you want to call them. as a result what happens is our political debate has been dumbed down and you do have fake news, the propaganda, the breitbart of
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the world that can i think distort reality in a way that of course is the mainstream media buys? absolutely no question. but also we are at the point now there's a reason why we use terms like post-truth era, post factual era. where we have a tolerance for, we've lost the ability between propaganda and reality and that's a danger in that something that conservatives should not be part of. we ought to be a reality-based movement. if arguments are better, if artifacts are better than we don't need to stay within her alternative reality silos trauma i identify as conservative. i'm also a feminist. when it comes to like with president trump and what media can do, talking about the good people at charlottesville, we know that there were people from the city, people were going there to be against the nazis
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and the klan. other people were there who were not within because they cared about the historical relevance regarding a statue or they didn't want that to be torn down who also were not the course in late with white supremacists. it was a mix of people who were there. i think that, this is one of the problems when we hear what we want to hear, or choose to promote what we want to be the case, is that trump imagining there were lots of good people there, or good people in general at charlottesville, would be true, that you're either not only associate with, if you're protesting against the statute did need to be associate with the klan of the nazis if you're protesting for the statute to stay. this is why think also in our world at least the talk we are and on c-span a booktv our time that one statement, one
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word then can be expanded at based on our opinion of i think a person or expectation. that becomes the truth or the judgment someone like myself saying this is what i heard and i don't believe him to be in that fashion, then i am judges being either occluder or also a racist. how do we bridge that gap with two people who generally agree on most issues who were seeing things giveaway because i think of the passion and forming the debate? >> guest: again, we need to have these conversations, but i spent a good deal of time in his book talking about the alt-right, the role they play into the are and what they believe and how to represent a thorough repudiation of american conservative values. i do conservative he believes america should be the shining city on the hill, that we we're based on an idea. they reject the idea. a reject the value of the declaration of independence
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rather explicitly. ratably america is an idea effectively it is a geographically location. people by people of certain ethnic and racial backgrounds. there's a dark side there. the reality is that throughout the campaign, donald trump had more than one opportunity to repudiate them, reject them, speak out against them and he dodged and delayed and winked again and again and again. it's a pattern. it's not, this is not a one-off. this is the problem. this is a cancer at the heart of the conservative movement if we're not willing to say that the left is not right, that we tolerate these people. there are these moral judgment, these key moments in every movement. liberalism had to expel the communists in the late 1940s. conservatism had to expel the birchers in the '60s. way to do with the alt-right. unfortunately, have donald trump been defeated in this election,
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i think that weather been reckoning among conservatives about how this happened but now some of these folks, there shouldn't be any misunderstanding. they do feel empowered. they do feel emboldened i this current political environment. and conservatives who recognize them for what they are really need to be outspoken about this. this is our test right now, our time. >> host: even with the many changes the president has made amber steve bannon being out of the white house, mike pence being his choice for vice president, do you see with this dynamic other individuals out, other people come in as chief of staff, a variety of different kinds of approaches now have taken hold versus his initial choices and decisions. what you think is happening in this process? it's been about nine months. are you hardened by some of the changes have been made? do you think he's on the right path? do you think this is finally
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settling down a little bit about who is where and what conservatism means? >> guest: those are almost two separate issues, but yes, there's been number of appointment that had to be very, very encouraging. clearly the best thing the president has done so far has been the appointment of a supreme court justice. people should confidence in lot of the growing up within the decision but although by the time people watches some of the scotus may be gone considering he manages by humiliation. donald trump presided over a shambolic transition. he was unqualified and unfit to be president and prove that almost from the moment he walked in the door by people who had no idea what you were doing and created a chaos renting. this presidency is not shaped by its staff. it shaped by the character and judgment of donald trump. a 70 year old, he's not going to change. we will see. give it a few minutes.
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obviously general kelly has not been able to control the twitter feed. in terms of conservatism, keep in mind again if we acknowledge that donald trump is not a conservative, he is a man of no fixed principles whatsoever, who was statement of the issues, is made manifest on a regular basis, then it's hard to see you will have a dramatic turning point. what is the future of conservatism? with the big conservative leader will he start and move and begin working with the democrats? easy-going, it makes an allies with chuck and nancy will use to argue this is a great conservative moment that the conservative movement is, in fact, as conservatives rationalist and defend them? >> host: many people never viewed him as a conservative in that fashion, that this was about a reformation. it was about getting someone in who would understand business, who could make decisions, who could get things done.
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transient house that working out? , this is part of the problem when you look at his approval rating has the highest since the inauguration. congress is going between eight and 10%. americans still see an obstructed dynamic and yet parted his job is to get things done in congress. americans are not seeing that he's the problem. that nursing the same thing we've seen for decades about whether things get done in congress, what kinds of things do move forward. is it really about limited government? is it about handling the budget properly ask americans are not seeing that when comes to was getting something done. >> guest: which americans are we talking about? no american president has had lower approval rating in his first year than donald trump these are historically low ratings. >> host: certainly i think we would love to have a president with -- >> guest: 60% or more
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americans do not think it's level had a fit for office. his approval rating has been in the 19th -- the high teens. which americans -- >> host: he's under 50%. but who are giving congress eight and 10%. it's that america who is looking at the spectrum, viewing a more positively at least, but it could be higher. but disastrously for congress. in the political element of this, americans are watching and are assessing in a certain way. it seems i guess for most people who voted for him, that we wanted to be successful because we want the country to be. we've seen the markets go up with got nothing 4 trillion more dollars more in the marketplace and the stock market. people are anticipating the issue with the tax cut. this is another test for congress.
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this is all about governing absolutely, and also bringing on at first reince priebus and mike pence to get things done with congress finding way to do that. but it's also about governing. you are correct. this is a test for both congress and the president. the obamacare dynamic i think is key as it, a microcosm of what people were rejecting. six years of campaigning on repeal and replace, and then when it came right down to it, they wouldn't do it. how do you explain that in the spectrum of why people rejected the system? is that part of -- >> guest: it's very much and an indication of the current republican majority and presidents lack of coherent governing philosophy, for six, seven years every republican said we're going to get rid of obamacare. this is again one of the stories i tell is the creation of the perpetual outrage machine out there. the quick conservatives who are
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making promises they could not fulfill, making promises that were unrealistic and then when they were not realized, then convincing that base that they were being betrayed, , had been stabbed in the back. you people are getting screwed and we need to rise up. what happened was we created this dynamic of overpromising, under delivering, and then stoking the outrage machine. now suddenly the republicans are the dog that catches the carpet they have congress and a president and say what he going to do with obamacare? they didn't have any good answers, they had a president who could not be bothered either to learn the details of the policy or to sell a policy. we ended up with, you and i remember when we complained about obamacare being ramped through, how they rushed it through, okay, that's -- compared to what the republicans wanted to do without a single
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hearing, without a debate. the president did not hold a single town hall meeting. there were no speeches, though selling. and yet somehow we are surprised that failed. look, i understand, i think the worse things happen to conservatives in the last eight months is that, is this desire constantly to enable the dysfunction, to rationalize the fact that you're the president who will not lead, and then to define a a scapegoat. for many trump supported trump cannot feel. you can only be betrayed, only stabbed in the back. there's this constant search where someone else to ship the plaintiff. >> host: when it comes to a president he will not lead to come is anything he could do that would soften your rhetoric about, , you called it many, may things, and you have condemned him effectively. >> guest: i have described him. >> host: well, is there anything he can do?
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and again you are operating, have you met the president? >> guest: i have spoken to the president. >> host: so your conclusions are based on what you've seen and you make judgments, what is what our job is to do, is to come to judgment. but is it anything he could do that would in its efforts to lead in accomplishments he that so far, is anything you can praise, whether it is the response to the hurricanes, the stock market, the efforts, and at least the vision and his goals he signed up of the people help in implementing, anything at all that -- >> guest: i describe myself as s a contrarian conservatism. what does that mean? it does not mean mindless opposition. does that mean i'm against everything he does. in fact, we want to push him when he does something you agree with, you apply them, like, for example, the judicial appointment which have been outstanding. some of the other executive orders have included pushing the
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country in the right direction. and wishing to do more of the right things but also you know what, i'm not in the personality. i don't feel that donald trump's personal success needs to be defended at every particular case. i'm not going to rationalize or pretend when he is behaving in a buffoonish, clownish way. when he is reckless and dangerous i think he needs to be called reckless and dangerous. when he is betraying fund a i think the conservatives need to say is betraying conservative values. that's a point of independence and i would hope the conservatives understand, i mean, this may be the ultimate and i know you understand this, victory for republicans. you win the battle but at such a cost you lose the war. and unless we stand up, we will be stained by all of this. are we really, are consumed it's
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going to rationalize and in and support everything this president does? article to begin certain things are not happening. >> host: is it worth working so in fact, there's at least even for people hearing this program, giving a certain impression that all is lost? when we described his certain successes. it is the person you describe, it's fascinating that some successes, happen, certain judgment is there. the praise he is received in houston, certainly in florida. he's been in puerto rico now and working -- well, i think they'll again politics everywhere. we know the difference between mayors for democrats who are working to make sure that what some people say is a narrative, which is to denigrate him enough to where nothing can get done. people are concerned that's what's happening. >> guest: donald trump is not the victim. donald trump is not a victim.
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this is the thing that fascinates me about them. his supporters believe that he's a leader, he's strong. actually, he is thin-skinned and whiny and he plays the victim card. he's a a man who can't take the punch. >> host: when you were you areg we want him to succeed or at least, and you can't do that by just simply being in groupthink or supporting him. how does that conversation and those accusations or descriptions, how does that help us actually encourage someone to be a leader and to engage? a lot of people think that it doesn't, that this is not forward thinking at all when it comes to the president and the government of the country at this point with everything that's happening. >> guest: my focus, and i tried it is because donald trump is donald trump and he's going to be who's going to be. he's living his life. he's a billionaire, a president,
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he's married to a supermodel. bottom want to shift the focus to what is he doing to us? what is he doing to conservatives? what is he doing to the republican party? what is he doing to the culture? what is he doing to the love of our discourse? after donald trump leaves office, whatever his political confidant or, some positive, some negative, i think the damage that he is doing to cause as i believe then i care about is going to be long-lasting. i also think the damage to the country is going to be long-lasting. because first of all, look, the crew does, the dishonesty -- >> host: we know you don't like his style try to get described in these terms is one before you decide to support him. >> host: that's an interesting point. >> guest: at one point you said others don't need to sacrifice the dignity of the principles?
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>> host: i think though this is part of the important conversation of recognizing and as going to a very passionate political framework, seeing on the service immediately what we're going to respond to as individuals for me as a feminist, as a woman, as a gay woman, and believing that there could be certain alternatives, we remember reagan, and but remaining engaged, seeing what the alternatives are, what these conversations have been, what is being misrepresented and what is not. and then coming to the conclusion as many women did that, in fact, he isn't necessarily the man we are going to be marrying. went out looking for a boyfriend. but the nation was at such a point and remains at a point where in fact, yes, we're looking for leadership, looking for someone who is going to change the trajectory. and those are things when were making political decisions and voting common the difference
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between what we think of again the nature of what our job has been and what the job we expected him to be, and so this is where this happens. but if we're talking about the country and damage, and with your concerns about the president, and we talk about what congress has become and its dysfunction and what you write about the people you admire, paul ryan, the history of the conservatives which people must want people to know that there's a section in it which is very helpful in the sense the nature of what the conservative intellectual world has been, what it is now, and what matters to you and where this foundation is. so what do you say when bill kristol is all tweeting his anger on a regular basis on twitter? paul ryan, and mitch
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mcconnell, that you've got basis separate from trump of damage, , of change, of being unable to then present something or when or present an alternative, all of the men and women whose up on the stage unable to defeat him. doesn't that speak about the party itself or the lack of leadership? >> guest: this is an interesting question because one of the questions i had asked was does donald trump represent continuity and discontinuity in the conservative movement and the republican party? was as hostile takeover of an otherwise healthy party? was it a black swan event? the dysfunction in the republican party was a pre-existing condition. obviously, donald trump is a symptom of things that were in the republican party rather than simply an effect. he is an effect as well and i think you're saying some all those divisions, that incoherence point out a national
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stage but it is look where we're at right now. republicans control the presidency, the house and the senator theoretically majority of the supreme court and yet what is getting done? what is can accomplish? i think this this is a multistk until you know what, republican party is got very good at being and understand what was against come uniting, hate barack obama. we want to beat hillary clinton, we want to make liberals cry. where liberal tear article to create the media but what are our policy edges and can unite around us answers? the answer turns out to be at least what we're sitting here a bit question mark was not we make it to the end of your without a single major legislative accomplishment. that is an indictment of the entire republican party starting from the president down to congress trend there's a view though that that is delivered, the congressional leadership group also been very critical of the president are not interested
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in helping him succeed. do you agree or not? >> guest: well, first of all, almost all the problems that donald trump has expense in his first eight months have been self-inflicted. he likes to play the victim card, but they gaffs, the common scope the decision to fire the fbi director, a variety of these things have been done to himself. to the extent that donald trump is not succeeding, the buck stops there. remember when harry truman had the buck stops here? can you imagine if that sat on donald trump's desk? who can i blame? who can i tweet storm? public, i am very critical of paul ryan who i consider a friend because in fact, i think he's made a faustian bargain with donald trump, that he is working so hard to get some of this legislation through like taxi from those willing to
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overlook a lot of things that the president has done and a lot of the things that he has said. keep in mind the house of representatives did pass and obamacare repeal. the house of representatives is likely to pass some type of tax of four. alternately at what point does the buck stop with donald trump? i mean, i understand people who feel the need to defend donald trump, but at some point are those not enabling him, get out from behind your twitter account and go talk to the american people about taxes. go explain why you can boost -- while you're doing that why don't you really should own tax return, you know, until the other swamp creatures you brought to washington stop milking the taxpayers unholy slight but start talking about these issues. where was the leadership on healthcare? when was the leadership on taxes? >> host: many people see when asked do something, as we
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discussed that u.p. is in control of the entire government, the senate is not on another planet. they know what's happening. they know each other. their leadership together, the leadership of the party. people have grown passey idea that there is this genuine fight or at least there's a recognition that republicans in the house can say we did pass of this, and the senate just can't figure out what to do. it seems to be then the convenient and within nothing does get done so yet the motion of we did this. first it is we can't do anything about obamacare or tax until we get the house. then we can do it until we get the senate. we gave the senate. he can do until we get the white house. gave in the white house, really someone reticulated during the campaign exactly what his focus is going to be. obamacare, taxes, jobs, economy. and yet it's as though there is this convenient stoppage in the
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senate that van we talk about self-inflicted wounds or not. separate from the president other choices on the agenda and legislatively that buck stops at cars commerce at this point that getting things into the white house onto his desk. >> guest: let me suggest that maybe it turned out in retrospect when making a reality tv star president of the united states was no political experience whatsoever, and was known to have serial problems with the truth and no ability to politically in this particularly, maybe that was a good idea. >> host: the people handling legislation in getting it through have been in there for decades. the president is a new person. and to suggest that with all of the experience that the republicans have and mcconnell certainly speaker ryan, and john mccain, decades of knowing what the process is, to blame it
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on the president exclusively, this is, this is not making so much sense. where can mcconnell go? what should he be doing? is the senate obstructing? is a time for new leadership? this is the other question. is it time for the gop to actually have new leadership that's interested in legislation and moving things forward? >> guest: yes, but are you talking about the president or -- >> host: i've been talking about congressional leadership. >> guest: i understand that. 1981 -- >> host: will you not answer that? >> guest: 1981 nasa tax cuts were passed. what are the known as lex the reagan tax cuts, right? ronald reagan was a president. ronald reagan did make excuses. democrats controlled congress. >> host: double relationships, absolutely. >> guest: because the president didn't spend time on
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twitter and attacking people by name destroying them. >> host: you send mcconnell is not helping or obstructing the case not seen enough a trump transit i'm not defending, what i'm saying isabel that is this what conservatism has become, rationalization and carrying water for donald trump? as opposed to look, we conservatives stand, let's talk about our ideas, talk about small government. let's talk about deficits. we can about the national debt. had we make peoples lives better with free markets? [talking over each other] >> host: then we can have -- >> guest: donald trump, look, the conversation you are and are having is exactly the conversation i had with the left of the left says donald trump is conservatism. the use of the conservative movement. he represents everything you conservatives have ever stood for. >> host: they feel that they
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have already spent years denigrating and controlling the nervous about what conservatism is. it's easier to put in that box. i've been discussing and discuss, so nobody suspecting him to be conservative which is, in fact, maybe what the point was, was that we need a businessman of action. so i'm not arguing at all this is about the conservative movement. this is about triage. this is about how you find in emergency room when you are brought in and whoever, if that's emergency room doctor, let's get this done so that we can move from triage into getting back into our -- >> guest: if i was, that's a good analogy. you have a medical crisis, and its triage in the emergency room. i bring in an experience of doctor ricardo bring in the reality tv star i don't bring in the guy who founded trump university. i don't bring in somebody who
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has never been in a hospital in his life who doesn't know what he's doing and is known for making promises he can't keep. that's the problem. >> host: americans though ditzy and in that way and that made that determination trying to some americans find that way. >> host: that's where he is the triage guide. and so if we take that and that faith in that decision for a moment, and then you do have the doctors and people a bit in their experience in congress, the house and the senate, who seem to not be able to move in the area, you always bring it back to present i understand -- >> guest: let's talk why obamacare repeal failed. >> host: are more even though because this book, and you also, i need to get to the social because your background is interesting. we both come from a little background. here we are, this is what
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excites me a great deal about politics in the country. he we are talking about the concert boo-boo. i'm talking about triage. you're a republican. identify -- >> guest: not anymore. >> host: i identify as a conservative. you do as well. we are very different, that is a breach also that hasn't even really been that when it comes to if we both can be. people say can't be a a conservative because i like a woman. those conversations, the issues of faith, what it means to each of us as individuals. but this is a book about, this is personal, this book. and the politics of the flash of an personal. it's what you stand for, what i stand for, what we are worried about. we have interestingly the same worry with different individuals that we think need to be dealt with. and i do see anything people felt comfortable voting for
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president trump because of the idea of the individuals who were in congress, of the balance of what would occur. no one expected congress to be stalled. and that's what now, that's what's harming things even more because of the passion in which people feel about trump being against him versus what can we do then as conservatives let's legislatively, to the conversation, to get things done and to move past the vitriol of what the american people did in the election, is it possible? >> guest: i don't know. we haven't done that yet. i think it's also a matter of what are the priorities, what is the number one thing? if you ask ten different republicans i think you get ten different answers about what the first thing to do would be. this is, what we're seeing exposed are some real problem in
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the conservative movement. there is a phrase i don't know if i use it in the book but i use a lot, which is the fact they internet about things i believe in may been representative of zombie conservative. in other words, we had been saying the same thing for many, many, many years, as if the same solutions that were applicable in the 1980s or the 1970s are still need to be applied right now. we as conservatives have not adapted. we haven't really changed our approach to issue sufficiently. some people would argue isn't that what donald trump did? i do think exploited some legitimate grievances in some unfortunate way, but let's face it. this should be the moment of maximum success for the republican party. as you pointed out that people are saying you need to win all these things, and yet here we are, and so it's more than just donald trump, and that's why i tried in the book to talk about
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the whole conservative movement and how it has been tearing itself apart over decades and over years. >> host: that is valuable in that not only your personal story and how americans change politically, young democrats, you go to become a journalist which is a perfect pairing of course but then just like as your father, a liberal, did like what he saw with the vietnam war, adapted and changed to events that were happening in their life. americans are given a going through the very same thing right now. the value of your view of the conservative movement, the intellectual element of the definition of the nature of ideas, but also its fluid. conservatism much more fluid because they are open to ideas. we have a few moments here, and at the end of your book you discussed, you have some advice.
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with the goal of wanting the country to succeed, i have a goal of wanting the president to succeed which is a part of that. what would you say to people as we're trying to define ourselves come in triage, saving the nation with a very unique man at the helm, what can conservatives do, what can congress do to bring us to this, to remain that shining city on a hill? >> guest: i think we need to go back to first principles. i think we need to go back to the concept of william f. buckley and barry goldwater taught, what is conservatism? it is the house of competing values that they confusing to order and liberty. i also think we need to go back to first principles like, for example, let's make sure we do no harm. remember why the constitution was written the way it was. it was not written so that one party could get everything it wanted to. process matters. the rule of law matters. respect for the rule of law
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matters. it would be great if we could get back to a moment when we hold each other to the same standards as opposed to this world we live in now will be a complete moral relativism, where everybody switches the standards depending on whose ox is being gored. i wish we could go back to that. i frankly think if there's a diagram between liberals and conservatives, the overlapping, the points of agreement of a small but very, very important. things like truth, the rule of law, the importance of the balance of power, all of those things, to keep our democracy intact. also to realize that we don't actually need to keep up this cycle of hyper partisan, hyper polarization. my real concern is our politics is not about ideas or principles or accomplishments anymore, it's become about tribal loyalty. it's making us more divided and
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mean and i'm in a lot of ways. i would hope intelligent voice of both sides would find a way to keep the conversation going. >> host: for the average person, for the voter who was not involved in politics so much, not even partisan, the democrats that voted for the president, their goal, their agenda, what they want for the future, they see yes, the sniping, the difficulties, the hyper partisanship, the tribalism also as a problem, right? doesn't this then speak to this idea that this constant argument about what the president is or is not as part of the problem? he's pretty transparent. we know he's unique. but isn't this what america kind of delivers, is that we rise above it together? the president has risen above the expectations themselves way comes to how he's been handling some crises.
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isn't that what the goal should be as been facilitated by a working, functioning government to do things that help the average person? isn't that what the republican party and conservatism stands for? >> guest: future start with the rally on the ground as opposed to any sort of ideological overlay. we are making peoples life better or making it easy for kids to get into schools within on things? are our city safe? with economic opportunity and growth, all of those things? to have ethical primakov government? the american people are good and great, decent and resilient and hopefully they can get through this. >> host: i think we will. it's a very exciting time. this is a great book, "how the right lost its mind." maybe maybe not. you can disagree with that. lots of great stuff in here. your background, the intellectual history of the movement and what we can and should be doing. great stuff. charlie, , thanks for being her. >> guest: thank you. >> host: great conversation.
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>> you have been watching "after words," booktv's interview program. charles sykes was interviewed by rita talkshow host tammy bruce. she appeared on booktv's in-depth program back in 2006 and you can watch that anytime simply type tammy bruce in the search bar. >> [inaudible conversations] >> welcome back to nashville. it's day number two a booktv's live coverage of the southern festival of books. today's authors include jared yates sexton on the 2016 presidential election. liza mundy, and national book award finalist patricia bell scott. for a complete schedule a visit or follow along on our social media sites. we are on facebook, twitter and
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instagram @booktv is our handle. we're kicking off today with an author discussion on eleanor roosevelt with emily wilson and national book award finalist patricia bell scott. this is booktv on c-span2. it's live coverage of the southern festival of books. [inaudible conversations] .. since this session is being taped live, if you please use the microphone if we have time


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