tv After Words Bill Press From the Left CSPAN June 18, 2018 12:00am-1:00am EDT
but if you go back to the eclectic way that these things would go where the courts would go on for five or ten pages he was very influential but not in the way that we talk about influential justice. >> next on booktv after words were retraces the transition to the politics in this interview to the syndicated columnist mo mona. >> host: bil bill press, you hae a new book from the left. it is a memoir as well as a testimonial about where you
stand. >> i call it my and more part one. this is the end of the road. >> host: barack obama wrote a memoir in his 30s. thank you for helping me make that point. it was another good run and i want to talk about some of the things that i've been able to do so far can the peopl, people tho far and i want to get a story down. we have five grandchildren. >> are they the ones pictured? >> you are a delaware boy. who is bootsy? >> guest: i do have a cousin named bootsy, i never realized the connection.
a wonderful guy that lived in delaware city on the banks of the delaware river 15 miles south of wilmington. i had a great life growing up there as a kid, fishing, hiking, swimming in the river. to me it was all great. i didn't realize until afterwards iafterwords it was ao grow up with delaware city with a rotating town, so the colored kid as we called them into school outside of my town. >> so you could walk a couple of blocks. >> there were white physicists anblack physicists and white and black churches. i grew up with that and i didn't realize how wrong it was. but my father had a gas station
that he built himself and he was one if not the only business in delaware city who would do business with black customers andn less than i on time at the end of the month my mother would send bills to people and he would even extend that to african-americans. booty was one of his best friends in delaware city and my father always made it a point of including ken as a friend and we would have a christmas party at our house and he would always make sure that they wereinvited. as i recall he's the only one who would come and insist on using the backdoor.
he said i don't want to embarrass you or to your neighbors. and that really struck with me. i've been looking through that experience in the end and looking back there was just no mixing of the races. there are two experiences in the book where you describe having to lie down flat in a vehicle. one was in croatia where you have gone an and had to lie down a boat escaping enemy fire. you can talk about that. the other point i want to get to without talks about how you and your life developed. developed.
i suggested doing commentary on the evening news, 10:00 news, i decided i should do my commentary that night from the church because i knew people would be out of there and also knew the mayor was going to be there and he said that is a great idea. you go down there now and i will send the crew. so i went to the church and people kept coming in and then the tigerthetigers got closer, r gunfire from the back deck of the church bob log called me and said we can't get a crew in there it is just too dangerous they won't let anybody in. so, i was standing with a couple of ministers and one turned to
me and said how are you going to get out of here. i said my cars right here and they said no you're not. i was in west hollywood and people were being dragged out of trucks with things happening. >> he said i've got an idea. he said no, i'm taking you home. come with me. he was probably half a block away. he opened the back door and set it on the floor i'm going to cover you with a blanket and he said whatever you do, don't move. i'm going to have to start,
stop, you don't move. he drove me through lots of noise and got me to hollywood where my wife didn't know what was going on. really frightening for me and the city. i feel so badly that he clearly saved my life and was the good samaritan beyond what you can imagine. and i don't even remember his name. >> we will know who he is when we read the book. [laughter] >> guest: that whole experience, one other quick thing, maybe that same night we went up on the roof of the studio and you could see they
were coming up the avenue going from one side of the street to the other bre windows, torching the building, going to the other side. no cops came. >> abled people told them respble for that and thought it was a dereliction on their part. >> i was also doing talk radio at the time on the air. a police officer came and said there were snipers in the area. but they actually moved the radio stations up for a couple of days to vacate the area. >> host: one of the things you talk about in the book is how you came to be at this church.
you were raised catholic and studied for the priesthood. so back to delaware for a bit. let's talk about your attraction to priesthood. did you feel like you had a vocation or did you think you just wanted to be involved in public service packs >> it wasn't that dramatic like st. paul. i grew up a catholic, i was raised a catholic, went to mass every sunday and went to a catholic high school so for me that was like falling off a
horse there was no big position but when i was in high school thinking about what to do after i graduated, it was public service i was interested in and i was thinking of becoming a lawyer or the priesthood appealed to me and was like the priest i knew at school in wilmington they played a lot of golf. they were considered up on a pedestal. no family, no responsibility or bills to pay. it wasn't a religious thing. it was more a lifestyle that appealed to me.
so i decided to givehat a try. i was in for nine years studying for the priesthood and 810 year on a leave of toe sure. the religious part of the order said we have that investment in youth and you'vyou come u got tt in us. let's give it a year of trial before you cut the cd. >> host: the way that you describe this in the book is when you talk about leaving the path of the priesthood.
[inaudible] >> guest: there is a bridge there. i come out of the seminary and i was looking for a meaningful religious experiencehi i couldn't find in the catholic church. but when i left the seminary i was in switzerland studying their intended to the united states. i didn't want to go back to the small town in delaware so i was able to get a job teaching in san francisco. so i am in san francisco and i went to a few churches and it just wasn't meaningful at all. i joined the mhodist church, wonderful active church and then when i moved to la it was a
ptt church and i first went there with jerry brown when i was working with him and the music was great. having been born or raised a catholic i don't feel i have to join any other organized religion or be skeptical to tell the truth. i've never gotten a letter from anybody saying you are no longer a catholic. after this program. [laughter] >> postcode you leave switzerland and find yourself in california and bounce it around a little bit with these jobs and
you helped someone get elected to the state legislature. >> the board of supervisors. he could be a wonderful person to be around. >> host: tell the story about how that happened. >> guest: i did teach school and then i got involvedn politics and then got a political job. i liked politics so much i got to pay for the supervisor but then i ran a campaign for the republican state senate. a wonderful environmentalist in california. i became his chief of staff in the sacramento.
so then i moved from his office to need an environmental organization and it was as the head of the pcl that i met jerry brown, secretary of state running for gno in 1974. the. during the campaign he had four things he said. here's what i'm going to do. one of them was i'm going to start an office to deal with state land-use planning. so one time i see him on a plane, sit down next to him and say i just want you to know i'm
never going to say anything publicly that you don't have to create a a new office. it's part of the governor's office. it's part of the office of planning and research. >> host: how much time between this conversation and when he was elected? so then he appointed somebody and i am just going on my way and i get a call from the legal advisor who said he would like to talk to you about the office of planning and research. he remembered that and he knew who he wanted in their in the interim basis.
this was his way of doing business then. this time around, much more organized in great part but at that time it was pretty loose, and i said i would love to do it. they said tno wts to talk with you. i said fine. i ain't here for the next three and a sandbag we ha have a long planned vacation to france for about three weeks or so. the night before we left we were packing as the secretary called i kid you not about 10:00 at night saying the governor wanted to know if i could join him for dinner to talk about this job. we went out for chinese food to talk about a lot of different stuff and he said when you come
back. >> host: we can talk about that in a minute. you tell stories about the presidential campaign and he wasn't even on the bad ballot initiatives like this state and back. >> when i got to sacramento, ronald reagan was governor and the contrast between the governing was night and day. 9:00 in the morning you could see the house from east sacramento. he lives in a bachelor pa livedd
across from the park and maybe around 10:00 he would be there until twor three in the morning. meetings always lasted longer than they were supposed to insult him covered the meeting as it was all about. both of them got things done. jerry surprised us by announcing one day she was going to run for president.
he hadn't done any planning. there were no operations and he entered the maryland primary. he was the most rockstar politician. >> host: didn't you say by then it was too late to get his name on the ballot? >> guest: the secret was nancy pelosi's father was the date of baltimore and it was a machine politics state they were looking for somebody else. there was the none of the above and they won the state of maryland and then recruited me and asked me to join the presidential campaign.
the problem was, we went to oregon, new jersey and other states and we won all ofho primaries as unofficial candidates but if your name isn't on the ballot that doesn't really count so it was impossible to ever get enough delegates. i believe to this day had he been on the ballot he would have been the nominee and then we joke about this sometimes we were all in our early 30s it would almost be like now. it was an exciting time to be
working with the most exciting dynamic and creative politicians and smartest in the country. >> host: it's fair to say that you believe in planning and general. i have an agreement with you about one more thing which is we bail out people on the coast lines that get subsidized insurance from the federal government or stat government and not too smart. >> guest: there are certain places where you know it may not happen this year but it's not face and it could take to build
their. floodplains are identified and also zones you know the fires are going to rip down those canyons and there's no style of building you could come up with that's going to protect them. my father retired to delaware and he had given the little house to the five of us, six of us and hurricanes and he came
along and if you wanted to red eyould put it up on stilts. people were getting flood insurance or flood prone houses in these areas. not that land-use planning is a big thing of mine anymore but it just makes sense. we were able to gethe builders, developers of labor unions and environmentalists together a. let's identify where the new industries should go and try to keep it compact and that seems to be a good way of approaching it.
rather than fighting over every single plan for project. >> host: one thing that jumped out at me when you are reading this you said there are two issues that are theiggest threat one is climate change and populationontrol. i thought that went out with the 1970s you still think that is a problem for the world? >> guest: i'm not saying one child per family or anything like that but there are limited resources and an ever expanding population.
when i fly across the country i see a lot of this land. >> host: you see they keep falling which suggests a t prices would be going up. those prices have come down so that doesn't look like we are facing a world of scarcity and the population has come down. maybe not the pressing problem you think. >> guest: i didn't see it as a pressing problem that we thought it was. certainly climate change is one.
what disappoin about climate change is i don't think that this is an iue that should be a partisan issue. do about climate change but towe deny the continued effects on our lifestyle and crops and where we can live and all that in the economy particularly is just stick your head in the sa sand. >> host: part of the reason we have such a poisonous debate on the subject you are right, there are some people who would say that they hope this. it's not true, it's been made up by china there is some of them t is also on t left if you don't
agree with every proposal that we make on hohe made on how to s issue than you are a deny and they chose that on purpose. the fact is we can have reasonable differences of opinion there's a lot of uncertainty and debate about how severe it will be and what the best course is. we have to take mitigation efforts and so forth. honestly don't you think both need to back off of the extremist talks in order to even begin a constructive -- >> guest: it has to recognize
>> host: even if we were to stop burning all carbon tomorrow it will continue to warm for some period of time because of the amount in the atmosphere. >> guest: we're past the point of no return. >> host: it is only an issue of -- >> guest: you are right and we will not and it but no more, by the way, then we will bring back coal is a major industry for a lot of reasons. not just environmental but the economic reason. they push coal out of the way. >> host: okay, no, no, sorry we can't but now we will get to some of the things we really disagree abo. here i will go to and this is from page 131 and this is your sojourn in central america and you say regarding nicaragua and by the way, i will warn you that i worked on the correct issues when he worked in the reagan white house i remember this very well for my own personal
experience. he said quote, there is no reason except the stale, meaningless peer of communism left over from the cold war that the united states not to recognize that [inaudible] must support the [inaudible]. ". meaningless fear of communism? let's talk about the [inaudible] themselves but you don't talk at all about the human rights abuses they committed or the fact that they made an outright attack that they had cuban advisors on every block basically teaching them how to spy on their own people and they had tens of thousands of political prisoners that they made war on the indians and of this comes up. i am wondering just leave aside the longer history of coming as him but what about -- >> guest: also talk about pretty sure in my memory may be failing
me here but -- >> host: you talk about somoza or maybe you mentioned. >> guest: i also talk about the human rights rights abuses of somoza and theac that we invad nicaragua twice in our history but -- >> host: why does that -- >> guest: i think we have a too many extent a simple history in latin america with nicarag and what we did in chile and overthrowing an elected government but in fact i nicaragua i want to talk about it and say the human rights abuse but the sandinistas were elected partly because nicaraguan people do not want to live under this dictator anymore and it was a revolution in the
they got elected and they were the elected government and we decided -- by the way , too support rebels in the civil war against the elected government of nicaragua. >> host: the elected government of nicaragua was a proxy of cuba and therefore the ussr and it was they were originally elected in a broad coalition who were democrats and they immediately saw what they were doi in cuba and turning the nicaragua into a communist totalitarian state burning down newspapers and locking up opponents and doing secret tribes and all of those -- whatever you might
think about he was a dictator but he was not an agent of our chief enemy and he was not an agent of cuba another chief enemy that wanted the ussr to hit us with nuclear missiles if you call -- wire you so eager to make excuses for a resume like that on the ground that we have so much to be ashamed of? >> guest: i haveeen to nicaragua about five times and they were a lot happier under the sandinistas. >> host: as soon as the got the opportunity they overthrew them. >> guest: no, they did and much
people were happier and i'm not calling the sandinistas as the perfect role model for american democracy but think they were better for the nicaraguan people and we had no business trying to overthrow it. it is not our job. i also don't buy the threat that cuba was such that the cuban missile crisis, yes, kennedy handled that we got out of that but other than that this idea that for decades we had to consider cuba as a mortal enemy that will invade florida and i thought it was ridiculous. >> host: they were sending mercenaries throughout latin america to undercut and undermine democratically elected governments and that's -- to my point is so did we. >> host: hold on one second. bill buckley, my old mentor, used to say that this argument you made it that was so did we, suddenly it was interbeing for completely different purposes. let me get the let me get it
out. there may be -- i may give you an element of that but it was not the primary reason. the fact is most of the time the united states when it did intervene was doing so to stop an even worse regime from taking power. even worse and we don't always get to pick an ideal beautiful democratic regime but here is the great mind from bill buckley he said one man touches a little old lady into the path of the bus and another man sees a bus coming in just the little old lady out of the pass of the bus and they are both condemned for pushing old ladies around. it really matters why you are doing something. >> guest: i would agree. by the way, bill buckley i love and he's a friend of mine going to be debated on crossfire and we had good times together. i admire him a lot but i did not agree with him on everything. it is a simplistic approach to foreign policy which is that
overall it is still not that good today and i never saw in the the idea that danielle was a friend of gor fidel and that fil was better than somoza. >> host: any to send you an article about the economic prosperity under baptista rather than fidel. >> guest: then we get into the pool hundred thing but then we should let the nicaragua people if they want to throw them out then fine and that was their choice but as long as the government as long as government for its reelection and thawa what the nicaraguans. >> host: luckily it turned out differently and partially arguably because they were forced out of the election.
so, you have a great quote and i have to mention itow but bill buckley did not was gore fidel and most of the time he was happy with the interlocutors and, as you know, a gracious person and always but gore fidel would try to attend anyone. he did say this anything that you quote and which is that the only person could never escape a board is the man needs his vote. i love that. that is from his great novel and the best novel about washington called washington dc. >> host: i think i read that a million years ago. you iran for state senate --
insurance commissioner -- >> guest: i was going to run for u.s. senate and i dabbled in that and dropped out and i did run for insurance. >> guest: ire which means i did not win. [laughter] by the weight my other favorite vote and is never give up an opportunity to have sex or beyond television. classic gore. you know, i had and i still have the political and you have to scratch it the political edge and so i was always thinking about maybe i could run for state assembly or maybe state senate and i kept setting my sights higher. i decided to go for broke and run for u.s. senate and my job on k abc tv in la and i took a
poll first and raised a little bit of money my job and started this exploratory committee but pete wilson was the us senator at the time, former governor and there s a docrat who spoke to the assembly was strong and had the establishment candidate and i realized that there was no way i could defeat him in the primaries so i dropped out and endorsed him and later this position of state became elected position for the first time and to me that should've been a consumer protection bureau helping people with health insurance and car insurance was a big issue at the time and so i felt that would be a good job in the river that lost in the primary to john garamendi who is now investment from california
and that was my experience. >> host: you said you did not get it out of her system. >> guest: wall, running for office but -- >> host: i will quote you back about yourself you said i guess i ran for office for the same reason every other candidate does, a desire to do good and improve lives and it's also the burning need to be recognized, admired, approved and fond over as my old boss used to say politics is the only fatal disease those who love it want to die from it. it is so refreshing that people don'usually admit the part of what motivates them is what it is nice to be admired and fond over -- >> guest: that is what motivates these people they don't want to give it up, too. >> guest: you can take the same line and apply it to study for the priesthood.
as i mentioned i love the idea that these people were fond over and admired and on the pedestal and looked up to and i think people going to politics going to religion for the same reason or vice versa which is why, by the way if you go around the state capitals and this capital you will find a lot a former police, nuns, preachers, ministers, holding office or working in their agencies. >> host: people sometimes ask why would someone who has been in this congress f nbe of years why would they not want to go make money and the answer is it is so eco- gratifying. >> guest: and also, there's a feeling that you are doing good and that you can make a difference and improve people's lives so there is a public service and motivation but you can't ignore or deny the
gratification. >> host: celebrate when you contemplated when you are running you mortgage your house and you said you learned your lesson which is always send other people's money, oh p.m. is that a basic rule of politics and most people know? >> guest: is a basic rule of lics which to many people break. we did too and we do not have a lot of money at the time and that is one thing carol will rightfully always hold against me that i talked into her taking a hundred thousand dollar mortgage and we never got back. >> host: live and learn. >> guest: there are it is exciting today so many people particularly under people and women running for office and all over the country, state legislator, city council, god bless you but my advice is other people's money. remember that.
>> host: well, since -- >> guest: the whole point that we could talk about by giving money out of politics is at least regulating it or controlling it is a very big issue. the way the system is today you have to raise money in order to compete just don't spend your own money. >> guest: if you can't raise money to compete then you're probably not a good candidate. one argument on behalf of the supreme court's ruling in citizens united is that it makes it easier for somebody who is not independently wealthy to run because they can raise the money that way you don't always have to have ross perot being -- >> guest: my counter is you can raise moneyor big corporations who did not used to be able to give to politics and therefore you are emboldened to the corporations. >> host: big unions, the safe. they have huge, huge pockets and
yes they do. now, let's talk about let's talk about you jumping to you are also we should say the chairman, was it, of the democratic party in california? >> guest: yes, for three years. >> host: so that was unpaid and had to work anywhere on tv and radio and it sounds like you are working rea hard. >> guest: i was a volunteer state chair and i did tv and radio is my real job. >> host: but it sounds like that was -- [laughter] then you jumped across the continent to come here and be on crossfire from the left. >> guest: and that is when we met in those days.
that was a great experience but doing radio tv in la which is the second largest market in the country and not a bad place to be but i was always intrigued by the national media and particularly struck me at the time was that when you watched the sunday shows particularly all you saw with the same people from the same area and they were all boston, washington and that i read in the la times that i was with the abc affiliate there and i'll try and i would call the show and say maybe i could come on once and they were not returned my phone calls. i read in the la times that cnn is looking for to hire someone to replace michael kinsley was leaving crossfire listed the people they were interviewed and they were all the same old gan gang -- i made a call and said hello, there is some wisdom west of the potomac and maybe at a
different voice and rick said, yeah, but you in the mix. >> host: of tryouts. >> guest: yes, a child's. >> host: to remember that the show where you are trying out? where you are auditioning basically. >> guest: yeah, i do. i was on with bob novak and our guest, i believe there was only one guest which is unusual and usually there were two guest but i know the guest that i was up against was then senator don nichols from oklahoma and the issue was tax policy and tax cuts. not my suit but i boned up. and by the way, this was novak's gravy and seriously -- >> host: lived and died tax cuts. >> guest: remember and at the end of the show we had use to
call it the yepep -- >> host: we should probably explain. >> guest: at the end of the show if the guesswork on it was a minute and a half real quick the two posts would go back and forth with one last little shot. then we would say good night from the left and from the right. i remember novak to to be and said, so, what i want tonow is what do you think, do american people pay too much in taxes were not enough in texas? >> guest: as i had a person's mind i said some people pay too much and some people don't pay enough and everyone should pay their fair share. i didn't know where to go. >> host: you never back down so that was one of your strengths in the show, i think. looking back you were there for
six years so was the most -- or doesn't have to be the most but one of the most persuasive guests that you can recall. >> guest: john mccain. >> host: on that subject? >> guest: on just about anything. he was a maverick and i respect him. i consider myself somewhat of a maverick. he was also brutally honest and willing to take on his own party. i will book critical about barack obama called buyers remorse which i got a lot of crap for my fellow democrats but i thought there were some things i believed he let the progressive side down in somethings. john mccain about his party was not living up to what he believed about the party should be and he was willing to say so. he did have a great relationship with the media and he liked teasing and being around the media and you had to meyer what he suffered for this country and
the way he stayed in prison when he could've gotten out based on who his father was but said no. you know how it is, you get up close to people in power and some of them you come away with more respect for and some with less and with john mccain i always had the most respect for. >> host: during the course of your time and crossfire we had the monica lewinsky thing. >> guest: you're going there. >> host: one of the stories you tell is that night after night you're doing the same and each new little wrinkle of the story you are analyzing and you say one night you said pep begin in you can't do it again and enough is enough let's do something else and you suggest what about nato expansion which was an incredibly important issue arguably we're still living with the conferences so you d nato
expansion and what happens? >> guest: ratings went [inaudible]. you know by the next morning what your ratings were the night before and it's different in radio but withnel and pat and i begged, please, please don't make us do monica whiskey again tonight. it was a particularly issued to pat but i wantedet away from monica and it is or still we are living with the consequent is of that right now. look at ukraine and bottom up and and all of that. we did it and no one cared. basically rick davis and the others were in charge said we told you so. >> host: what does that tell you about the state of the media and politics and how much of that entertainment value determined
our national debate? >> guest: it does not say a lot good things about the state of the media today what's go back for just a second because the first night the rick davis to me that something big was going to hit he wanted me to know and they had been told something big wasoing to hit about bill clinton it would not be good and i was going to be on the line. but i found out what it was that first night when john was the guest host i took a position that what he did was wrong, i did not defend it but it was not and impeachable defense. i stay there and i'm glad i did but it was solid ground all the way through. back to you said about the media we are there has to be a certain amount of entertainment, i think, so people will watch.
but the entertainment value has taken over particularly in cable news today. how much time have we spent talking, not just you and i, but talking about stormy daniels. it covers up everything else because it's so salacious and people get into it in the media, i must of it, do help been the flames. there is a story there for the media helps in the flame. they see that they think that will get eyeballs and that will get ratings and that is what we go with. i think there is good investigative journalism be done today and i would rather see more of that in hard-hitting stories that no matter what they hit the just the easy go for glitz and glamour kind of stuff. >> host: the show you were on, was concise a lot of the time
for being snarling and yelling and when you compare it that we have now it looks like the lincoln douglas debate because at least there was a half an hour devoted to one subject so you could dive in and what do you think? >> guest: totally. i have a certain bias here but t political tomato ever and classier than -- >> host: don't forget fire line with bill buckley. >> guest: no, i ceded to that because i admir him a lot. nobody had the wit that he did but compared to what we have today it was very focused and half hour on what topics with two expert guests into hosts enough to ask good questions to keep the cup conversation going.
at the end of it people knew a lot more about the topic and could decide where they wanted to come down on but compare that to what i see with today is the screaming and the development of an issue and you have two mites or something to make a point and they move on to something else. it's cheap and it and sometimes i think cable-television has destroyed american politics but everyone plays -- that is what happened to crossfire which i think was all my place for cu i was onlyhere six years but tom braden and michael kinsley and a lot of that credit but then cnn decided and i talked about in the book that they wanted a different kind of show so pat is gone, i'm gone and the total format of the show was changed and they moved to george washington university in front of a studio audience and it became literally a
neurological. >> host: before we get to the close to the end of the times i want to get one final thing and that is looking back over the last four years of arguing ere aig issue on which you change your view? >> guest: that is a very good question. you know, there are issues that i talk about when i was raised a catholic and i was taught that homosexuality is totally forbidden and wrong, morally wrong and it was taught that abortion was under no circumstances condoned or permitted and i don't believe that anymore. those was a long timgo >> host: since youe became a progressive is there any progressive view that y no nger think is right? >>uest: i must say no and
popped into my head. groucho marx says these are my principles and if you don't like them, i have others. >> host: that is a great line. >> guest: it's a great question and i wish i had more aspects. >> host: so, there's more desperate. >> guest: i don't want people to think i'm stuck in the mud and i am sure there are but they're not right to talk about right now split medical marijuana pet nice to debate that and now that the cannon is with me so maybe i brought them around. >> host: what are the things you criticized obama for not being sufficiently progressive? >> guest: let's start with obamacare. i think obamacare was a cello. in my point of view, it left the insurance company is in charge and left the pharmaceutical companies in charge and he had an opportunity to do which i
think the best plan was medicare for all and we could debate that but what is troubling about obama is he took that off the table and would not even let it the part of the discussion and to my mind if you start by taking the strongest position of the table then you will not get much. i think we ended up with a plan that did not cover everybody and didn't cover as many people as should and didn't do anything about prescription drugs or too many people having insurance. >> host: bill press, thank you very much. great to talk to you. >> guest: i will get back to you on that. thank you.
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