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tv   Bob Woodward on President Lincoln  CSPAN  July 28, 2016 3:02pm-4:05pm EDT

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county, kentucky, had been of irish descent. master zachariah rhiny was described as man of excellent character, deep piety and fair education. he had been reared a catholic, but made no attempt to pros le adverti pros lettize, and -- whether he left a lasting impression on linking or not, lincoln was always interested in eye rick culture. he knew and recited robert emmitt's speech from the dock by memory. especially the closing words. when my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then and not until then, let my epitaph be written -- i have done. his favorite balance lad was helen serena, the poem the
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lament of the irish immigrant, set to music. many of lincoln's quips also resorted to irish analogies. sometimes they were caustic, and perhaps a bit insulting to make a point. his first reported jibe about a poor irishman comes from one of his congressional speeches on the need for sensible improvements which he described an irishman who had a pair of new boots. quoting lincoln -- i shall never get him on, said patrick, until i wear them a day or two and stretch them out a bit, unquote. late in the quarter, an observer recalled that lincoln said -- there was a cabinet meeting in the afternoon, general grant who had just returned gave a very interesting account of the state of the south, and the good
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feeling manifested by the offices of the confederate army. they all said they were ready to lay down their guns and go home. then lincoln said -- some of you just said something about hunting up old jeff davis. well, i for one hope he would be like patty's flea. when they get their fingers on him, he just wouldn't be there. this comments was quite consistent with lincoln's desire to avoid show trials or any kind of punitive commissions. he wanted reconciliation, and lincoln on which used jokes, many times ethnic ones, to soften a message of mercy, or to conceal a willful blindness to pass wrongs. they jests compared to his
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racists were not harsh. chiding him mildly for his poverty and for his traditions, doubtless in that day nearly everyone, most especially poor immigrants, understood the problems of fleaing and ill-fitting footwear. lincoln vastly opposed anything that the no-nothings stood for. he advocated a full protect of the right of all classes of citizens whether native or naturalized both at home or abroad by guaranteed. throughout his life there was no group closer to him than the germans. they supported him from the very, very beginning and actively participated in his campaigns. linking enjoyed the germans and
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he enjoyed their culture when outside a group of german working men came to serenade him. one opener wrote he had put off the melancholy mood that appeared to control him. even lively conferring, lincoln went to his balcony to find nearly 2,000 more of the substantial german citizens who had voted for him. because they believed him to be a -- the years of ages liked abraham linking. en. says they concluded by say if you need us, we stand ready to
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maintain the victory you now seek over slavery. it would soon prove that the germans surely delivered on their promise, as a lawyer practices land law at times and a politician representing a rural district, he had to pay attention to the national debate. to the relationship between town & country, as the presence increased. he knew first hand what it means to be boor and what america represented, as a land of opportunity. so his commitment to the american dreams, as linking
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liked to think of it, existed his entire political life. lincoln possessed an enormous amount of simply for the, quote, many poor. his compassion materialized into a full-blown political idea on the that linking carried into the white house. he believed the civil war would represent as opportunity, but the war drastically reduced the number of immigrants. by the end of 1863, he asked congress for assistance. he spoke of immigrants, as a
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sort of gnarl wealth. tens of thousands. desire to come to america, but they needed assistance to do so. congress responded on july 4th, 1864, with the first, last and only time america passed a law to encourage immigration. it was a signature piece of fae -- where everything was celebrated, went by without a single moment's attention. he knew that immigration played a -- to his dying day he related to an immigrant in a manner that few of his contemporaries would
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or could. my breeches kept shrinking until the tops of my socks. whilst i was growing taller, they were becoming shorter, and so much tighter that they left a blue streak around my legs that could be seen to this day. if you call this aristocracy, i plead guilty to the charge. to lincoln, america was the land
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of opportunity. to lincoln, the son of a poor farmer, barely literal to rise to the presidency mend thatening with a chance, with self-determination and self motivation could rice as he had. he also spoke about the future. the act was chanced. it is lincoln did not live to see the attack on it. by politicians, and by labor union leaders, who had it all but repealed by 1868. first, last and only law in
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american history encouraging immigrants. is oftentimes when he was in the te telegram offices. at the end of the day with the shawl around him when he stood up, he would say, we had, boys, i am down to the raisins, which meant he had completed his task. i think i'm down to the raisins right now. i would like to thank each and every one of you for being a wonderfully attentive audience. it was a great audience to address the lincoln group of d.c. thank you so much.
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>> lincoln approached, did he denoun them or did he -- just how did he fin necessary all that? >> he was asked on a number of occasions, what's your strategy. he said i will welcome the no-nothings if they accept in its entirety the republican platform, which does not include exclusion so when they campaigned and set -- he instructed them to tell them there will be no pressure at all, and they're more than welcome to vote for the
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republican ticket, but they should not expect that naturalization laws should be increased. and if if he had his ways, they should expect significant encouragement. he made it abundantly clear, if you vote republican and entered the republican party, you enter a republican party base on the basis of our platform, not yours. >> isn't it true he ball an american newspaper in order to get the german vote? >> superb question. lincoln was a politician in his defense, i don't use that in the
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nasty sense i would describe something today as a politics, but he understood, and there was a german newspaper. one of them was going bankrupt. and linking basically said to him, i'll tell you what, i will buy the press, the machinery you can continue your newspaper in german, as long as you don't violate one aspect of the republican party platform. so consequently the transaction was struck. in fact he would have a diplomat imtpgs. published the newspaper, and basically it was a republican outreach to the german population in and around
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springfield illinois, designed so they could read in their native language that abraham lincoln was the proper candidate and they would get what they needed. the sad part is not one single issue exists. nobody has found a single issue of that newspaper. >> thank you for this wonderful address. >> i was -- did lincoln ever meet any asian people? >> as a matter of fact he did. not many. not many. but he met two young men over the course five or six years
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made that way eastward and complained part of the congressional groups to meet abraham lincoln, but that was the extent of it. so basically his comments asia was really based on very little experience and virtually no firsthand knowledge.
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did she ever speak french? >> it's an excellent question. because he knew a number of the germans, they actually encouraged him to sit in on a class to learn the german language, and so lincoln learned a couple three, four words and a phrase. what he liked to say when he would speak to somebody that he was fluent in german, most of the people -- accounts that i read who were with him said he liked to tell stories more than he liked to listen and learn german, but that's the closest he ever claim to being bilingual. >> did lincoln have any platforms or profound those about native-americans? >> when i first started my book
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about five, six years ago, i was going to start to include them. but then i thought, that really broadens the topic, because native-americans are not immigrants. now you're talking about it depends on who you ask. there are some people who will tell you as any westerner would have been, and participated in the execution of a number of indians in minnesota. on the other hand, if you take the other side, they would say that he reviewed each case individually, reduced the number of those scheduled for execution by two thirds, and consequently saved a number of indians, so
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it's kind of like everything with abraham lincoln. it depends on what side of the fend you're on, but if you're asking have i ever come across anything that he said that native-americans were part of this american dream and should be given jobs? not at all. i think in that regarding lincoln was a westerner, but his short military experience in the black hawk war, where he said on a number of occasions the only blood that was shed was because he was bitten by mosquitos, he saved anlederly indian from being shot by one of the his fellow shouldering, because he could not face the fact that he would be executed because he was an american indian. my personal opinion is link many had a good gyroscope. deep down inside i think he had probably much more compassion
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for his fellow man of all races and ethnicity than virtually anything in his era. one thing i cautioned my opportunities about for years and year, and i think some historians need to be cautioned as well, it's very unfair to evaluate him by 2016 standards if you went up to him and said he was a racist, he would not know that was. if you several from -- if you evaluate a character based on what we know today, you're doing everybody a disservice, including yourself. i feel pretty comfortable standing with the belief that lincoln was as an enlightened human being that came from the west in the middle of the 19th century.
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relating his policies to what seem to be republican platforming today with regard to immigration, is it fair to equate them? >> no. i'm glad you asked me that. i'm glad this is on television, too. so there will be no mistake about what i think about this. i think lincoln would have fits about the rep party. i don't think he would recognize it as his republican party. you know, i tell my students on an ongoing basis, because obviously in south carolina, i come from a red state so whether it's red or blue, rep or democrat, i tell my students with a great deal of sincerity, i hate them all. i have no used for politicians
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in that sense, in which lincoln wasn't, but lincoln would not be able to relate to a giant wall to be built. he would not be able to relate to the deportation or punitive measures taken against any group because of who they are. lincoln had this extraordinary ability to look at people as individuals and not form these incredibly broad generalizations and act on them. now, as a westerner, those broad generalizations may filter into his vocabulary, but take the comments about asians. were lincoln alive in the 1880s i can't even imagine he would have participated in the chinese exclusion law. i can't. that just wasn't him. so for people to latch on to abraham lincoln today, it sort of saddens me a bit that they don't understand abraham lincoln
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and misuse a great deal of what he said and how he said it. there was a very famous "ne "newsweek" editorial. the title was "getting right with lincoln." basically it was how every president -- during nixon and watergate, how every president, including nixon, tried to get right with lincoln. that's what i think people do today. they try to get right with lincoln, but the republican party of today i don't think lincoln would be able to relate to or identify at all. i also think -- and lincoln knew some dirty politics. i mean, you know, they were not angels back then. the lincoln/douglas debates were pretty brutal. lincoln was a politics. but were he alive and witnessen some of what has happened in
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this presidential campaign season, i think he would be appalled. i really do. i don't think he would be able to support anything about exclusion of immigrants just because of who they are. >> thank you, professor. >> oh, wow. thank you so much. thank you so much. >> thank for you visiting with us. >> i'll get out of your way. tonight hillary clinton becomes the first woman to accept a major political party's nomination for president of the
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united states. and with c-span, you have many convenient options for watching the entire speech without any interruptions. watch her historic acceptance speech live on c-span. listen to it on the c-span radio app. watch it live or on demand on your desktop, tablet or smartphone at hillary clinton's historic acceptance speech tonight on c-sp c-span, the c-span radio app and coming up next on the president sis, "the washington post's" journalist bob woodward talk about the legacy and how it affects his successors. this is part of a lincoln lecture series at the university of illinois college of law, which focuses on president lincoln's continuing relevance 150 years after his death.
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this is about an hour. >> i am the dean of the college of law here. on behalf of the law school and the entire university, i am pleased to welcome you here to the beautiful following eer all torium for the first in a series, the new lincoln lectures. during this series, we will over the next few years bring in 10 or 10 idea logically diverse national thought leaders to reflect openly on lincoln's legacy and continues relevance i want to take just a few minutes to say a big more about the lecture series itself. people sometimes ask me why the law school has chosen to focus these lectures on abraham lincoln. that's easy.
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she no perish from this earth. another easy question -- why focus on lincoln now. >> many of the themes of lincoln's life and his life's work. we are literally in the midst of another tall, skinny illinoisan
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president obama twice carried essentially the same states that lincoln did, and as was true, there are big questions nowadays about whether that coalition can endure to transfer power to a key aid of the twice elected president. in the 19th century, ulysses s. grand and today the illinois-born hillary clinton. in a real sense, the university of illinois, located between springfield and chicago is mr. lincoln's university. as we are prepared to -- we must never forget we were among the first group of land grand universities created by the act signed into bayly lincoln five years earlier, and the only one
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founded in lincoln's home state. i drawn on the prospect that the university can become linked with lincoln in the way in a you have university of virginia is linked with thomas jefferson this brings me to a fourth question -- why bob woodward? that might be the easiest one of all. many people consider "new york times" the country's newspaper of record, but bob woodward of the rival "the washington post" is america's reporter of record. he's been it at the post for 45 years and responsible for two of the pulitzer prizes, because of is coverage of watergate and also of 9/11. he is an inciteful and prolific historic of, among other things, america's presidents. in this rather he's co-written 12 best-selling nonfiction
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books. a native of -- where else -- illinois, and a graduate of yale college, who spent five years in the navy. mr. woodward has won virtually every major american journalism award. one of his earlier book "the brethren" figured significantly in my decision and a handful of years earlier in the decision of my older brother, also a law professor, to attend law school. i have reese read it at least half a dozen times it continues to be relevant to mother legal disputes. how did we get mr. woodward to share his thoughts with us this
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evening? the answer turns out to be quite simple -- we asked. i have heard that lot before people knew who he was, mr. woodward would assiduously determined who he wanted or needed to talk to for a project he was working on, approach them forthrightly and say i'm bob woodward from "the washington post," and i need your help. when we reached out and explained to him straightforwardly why we feeded his help on this project, he graciously obliged, for it turns out that above and beyond all his accomplishments and talents, mr. woodward a a generous and kind man, to whom it is now my privilege to turn over the podium. >> thanks. it's great to be here, and i do
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not have a coat and tie on, because i got stranded out of washington for a week because of the snow. and the dean generously offered his best suit, and i decline because my data, who is a freshman in college said, now you look like a real professor. underdressed. it's really a genuine pleasure for me to come to a law school or talk to lawyers which i've had the student to do for many decades. my father was a lawyer here in illinois, wheaten, illinois, outside of chicago. a circuit judge, then became an appellate judge. so i was raised in a household
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where he drummed into me the following. he said -- always carefully pay attention to the lawyers, because they have the most profound and meaningful and lasting things to say unless you listen carefully. great advice for a journalist. one lawyer story that actually connects to lincoln in a way. this was the 1980s. we were doing a lot of stories about the cia, covert operations in the reagan administration was trying to prevent us from publishing these stories. there was a big debate, a lot of hand wrinking.
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at one point on a saturday morning, i went to see edward bennett williams, the very famous criminal lawyer, and ed was my personal attorney and represented the post. so i went into his office, and i want, you know, i need your advice, i want to talk about these tough decisions about whether to publish national security secrets he said -- just a minute, i need to tell you something. i said, what is that? he said, i represent you, i represent the post, i represent the cia director bill casey also, personally. and i am general counsel to president reagan's foreign intelligence advisory board. i said, ed, now wait a minute.
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you represent me, the post, the cia director, the president. isn't there a conflict somewhere in this? and he smiled and looked at me and said, i'd like to represent the situation. a lawyer's dream. if you look at lincoln and the way he used his power during the civil war in so many ways he as a lawyer and as moment represented the situation. i want to identify some of the characteristics i think lincoln had and then -- well, let me go through the list. first of all, lincoln accepted himself and who he was. he was a pragmatist.
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he had a moral center. he had a sense of strategy, and of course strategy is trying to plan what you want to do in a year or six months and not just crisis manage. he also had a strategic patience. he was not in a hurry even on the most vital matters. he was persistent. he was ruthless as commander in chief in war. he understood deeply the importance of morale for the troops and the generals. he understood the importance of human relations in carrying out his office. he was a big ego, a giant ego. he had a giant ego. he probably had no real friends.
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he was probably the most activist president he almost believed in executive supremacy he waged the civil war without a declaration of war as the constitution literally required. he extended habeas corpus in various region. he said in justifying what he was doing that it made no sense, quote, to lose the nation and yesterday preserve the constitution. in reading a number of books and doing some research about lincoln, there is a book by joshua shenky, which is called "lincoln's melancholyia."
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there's a thesis that he had melancholy. i think if you examine it deeper, maybe it was a habit of introspecs but in his book, he said the following, which i found quite striking -- what mime accounted for his increasing success was not his own growth to a place where he could speak to the country's need, but the country's regression to a place to lincoln where it was needed. an assistant looked through this for me and said, you know, lincoln was in many ways like the batman of christopher nolan's movie trilogy, not the
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hero we deserved, but the hero we need ed i think that's true. lincoln was certainly the most modern of the presidents. now in 2016, i think if you look at the politics of this country, we are at a pivot point in history, and it is vital that the next president, whoever that mike gets some things right, and gets the important things right, or at least comprehend the dimensions impact and means of failure over 40 years of trying to understand presidents, i have asked myself -- what's the job of the president? my answer is that the job of the
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president is to figure out what the next stage of good is for a majority of people in the country. then develop a plan and carry out that plan. it must be the next stage of good for a real majority. not one party or one interest group i did not realize that this notion i had been using for a long time was one of the points that lincoln made in one of his speeching. it is february 18 of 0 as president-elect. he said the following -- i hold that while man exists, it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind and
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therefore without entering upon the details of the question now, i will say that i am for those means which will leave the greatest good for the greatest number. yes, it is true america is the last great hope as lincoln said, but i think lincoln realized that failure was possible. the country was young when he was president, not yet powerful. america was an experiment. in truth now in 2016, the experiment is not over. what i'd like to do is review the eight presidents i've worked on, and extract -- try to distill out, as i said, what they may have learned from lincoln or maybe should have
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learned from lincoln. one of the scholars, jacques barzon said the following about lincoln. quote -- what gave lincoln his enormous strength in relation to others was that head had learned early in life to accept himself. he knew that he was ugly, ungainly, awkward in society untaught exceptably himself and as a congressman for one term unsuccessful. the great point was that he did not resent those deficiencies. he neither tried to cover them up nor referred to them continuously from embarrassment. thirp part of him and he accepted all of himself as
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inevitable, as a fact of nature. that realization freed him from some of the demons that have plagued other presidents i think specifically of richard nixon, which i will get to and dwell on probably too long. lincoln was a pragmatist in an important way. one of the things he said -- our government rests in public opinion. whoever can change public opinion can change the government. this is -- what he did is identified the essential element of democracy. he also said with public sentiment nothing can fail. without it nothing can succeed.
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consequently he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts laws or pronounces decisions, a clear dig at the congress and the supreme court. part of what he did and just how he handled the press during the civil war and harold holeser's book on lincoln and the press, he makes a number of important points. what lincoln did, he did not initiate press suppression. he remained am bivalent about his execution, but he seldom intervened to prevent it. he let it go. he said and made it very clear that the secretary of war has my
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authority to exercise the executive discretion on this matter. it was his way of saying he represented the situation, and he was going to delegate it to somebody else, because it was a task that was difficult. the most important part about lincoln is that he had a moral center, that sense of strategy, strategic patience, as i mentioned. the great achievement, the iman pace proclamation. if you look at the histories of this, what he did is reeled it out over a long period of time. he just didn't declare it. he had meetings with reporters
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and editors there were coordinated leaks -- imagine that -- to the press to freed blacks or to religious leaders. this went on from july to september of 1862. he knew he needed a military victory or success, and he waited until he got it. what he did then, he announced he was going to free the slaves on january 1st if the rebellion did not end. it, of course, did not end. the military order, which is what the emancipation was really was an invitation to slaves to leave their masters.
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this practicing ma tempgmatism which is a way to measure candidates now, but it went far and deep for lincoln. harry williams, the historic said, quote, lincoln would not have been able to comprehend the attempts of modern writers to classify his ideas into an ideology. instead, he would have not known what an ideology was. john hay quotes linking saying my policy is to have no policy. very important to the way he connected not just the war, but everything else. how he conducted the war is very instructive and i think important as we get -- as we start looking at some of the eight last presidents.
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he supported lincoln, the great humanitarian, supported the scorched earth economic strategy carried out by grant and general sherman. and agreed that brutal aggression was the only way to subdue the rebellion. very -- lincoln didn't like war, thought it was terrible, but the larger purpose and the strategy as to save the union was key to this. he also understood the importance of morale for everyone in the country and the military. on july 14th, 1863, he wrote union general mead a letter after mead had failed to pursue
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after victories in vicksburg and gettysburg -- my dear general, i do not believe he was within your easy grasp and to have closed upon him in connection with our other late successes would have ended the war. as it was, the war will be prolonged indefinitely. i am distressed immeasurably because of it. what lincoln did, didn't send the letter. he realized that it would be too graphic an attack on the general. and i sometimes have thought, if we could ever get the unsent letters or e-mails of presidents
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or presidential candidates, we would learn a great deal about them, and we would also learn that it is important sometimes to write these things out and not linger on them. the other important part. and this is a poor aspect of lincoln, how he understood the importance of human relations. i remember it was sometime in '90s, 1990s, kathryn graham, owner and publisher of "the washington post" for years, was working on her autobiography. i ran into her and she said, "oh. the weirdest thing happened last night. i was at a reception, and jimmy carter, the former president, was there.
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"and carter came up to her and put out his hand and said, oh, mrs. graham, i admire you so much. i like you so much. and mrs. graham said to me, "you know what i thought? what the fuck?" [ laughter ] sorry, we're in an academic environment where we can quote people accurately. [ laughter ] and she said, now think of this. we fought with carter and his administration for years. the whole time he was there. we couldn't find out what was going on. there was no real relationship. and then she made the larger point which is critical. she said, "you know, it's hard not to like someone who says they like you." true.
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if you're in disagreement with somebody, or you're negotiating with them, they say, you know, i like you. not all the barriers come down, but some of them. lincoln realized this in so many ways. when he was a private lawyer in the 1850s, he was involved in a lawsuit where edwin stanton, the country's foremost lawyer, was involved in this case in ohio. and stanton and lincoln learned stanton would speak very negatively about lincoln and call him privately a back-woods bumpkin. stanton was a democrat, and he later practiced law in washington, and there was still this bad-mouthing of lincoln the whole time. and what did lincoln do?
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he appointed stanton secretary of war. and it turned out that stanton was one of the best war chiefs the united states ever had. after lincoln was assassinated, it was stanton who said, as it is remembered, "now he belongs to the ages." and so lincoln was able to bring people, even enemies, close to him and use them for his purpose. this sense of human relations, much is talked about in the histories about lincoln's second inaugural famous address. and then if you look at it in the context of pragmatism and in the context of human relations,
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and read what that second inaugural said, with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as god gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have born and carried the battle, and for his widow and his orphan. to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. that isn't just pragmatism. that is human understanding. now, the eight presidents i've tried to understand and write
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about, nixon, august 8th, 1968, accepting the republican nomination for president. nixon said the following, the next president will face challenges which in some ways will be greater than those of washington or lincoln. astonishing thing to say for a -- somebody who's been nominated to run in one party. and nixon's argument was, well, we're at war abroad and at home. and then he said, the long dark night for america is about to end. let me read that again. nixon, august 8th, 1968, the long dark night for america is about to end. it was six years to the day on
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august 8th, 1974, that nixon and -- announced his resignation. and it was gerald ford who responded to the nixon resignation and watergate by saying, "our long national nightmare is over." [laughter] april 29, 1974, before nixon was -- he was three months away from resigning. the house impeachment inquiry had subpoenaed more secret tapes. so what nixon did is invoke lincoln in defending his argument to not comply with the subpoena. lincoln at an equivalent time in his presidency was being
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subjected to unmerciful attack. a book i did in the fall called "the last of the president's men" about alexander butterfield, who revealed nixon's taping system and spirited away thousands of documents from the white house, the nixon white house, that he gave to me. now you sit and dream as a reporter about somebody spiriting thousands of documents out of the white house. and among the documents that butterfield took was -- and butterfield's account of what happened -- i think it was christmas eve 1969, nixon was president and went for a tour of the executive staff offices in the office building next to the white house.
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and he discovered that there were about a dozen support staff who had pictures of john f. kennedy in their offices. nixon went bananas. he called butterfield in who was deputy chief of staff at the time. and said this is an infestation of kennedy pictures. i want them out. i want them replaced with -- you guessed it -- nixon pictures. butterfield launched an investigation of this, was able to persuade people that it was not proper, that it was suggestively disloyal if you had pictures of other presidents in your office. and succeeded. i was kind of skeptical of the story. and then there's the document that butterfield wrote directly to the president.
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and the subject was sanitization of the executive office building. sanitization, as if there was some disease because staff people had pictures of another president. and think about it. what do you think lincoln's response would have been if he discovered that there were staff people in the white house or the government who had portraits of george washington or thomas jefferson? i think it is unthinkable and this inability -- and if you trace the nixon story, you see that he's not accommodated to the idea of who he is, the opposite of lincoln.
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when gerald ford became president, the next year, one of the things he said, again, contradicting nixon, he said "none of our problems today are as severe as those facing lincoln." he quoted one of the things lincoln said in one of ford's kind of natural spontaneous statements of humility. he said, oh, lincoln -- ford's in dispute with congress. he said, well, lincoln said the following. we of the congress in this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. ford also said of lincoln that
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his compassion, lincoln's compassion for others came from an understanding of himself. i think the kind of merging somewhat of the pragmatism and the strategic sense of what the country needs, excellent example of this is gerald ford. i remember it was september 1974. ford had been president about one month. and he went on television. some of you may remember this. and gave -- said he was giving nixon a full pardon for watergate. and any other crimes he may have committed. now, ford, of course, went on television early on a sunday morning, hoping no one noticed.
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but it was widely noticed, but not by me. i was asleep and my colleague, carl bernstein, called me up and said, have you heard? and i said i haven't heard a thing. i was asleep. and carl, who then and still has the ability to say what occurred with the most drama in the fewest words said, "the son of a bitch pardoned the son of a bitch." [ laughter ] and i was even able to figure out what had occurred. at the time, i thought, perfect. nixon goes free. the only one to get a watergate pardon. it is the ultimate corruption. you look at the polling at the time and the suspicions about the pardon, that was a widely
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held view. and you can argue and i think the historians of the '76 election, when ford lost to jimmy carter, that the pardon had an aroma that there was a deal, that something really untoward had occurred. and i believe this. i have real strong convictions that this was, in a sense, the perfect corruption of watergate. and then 25 years later, i undertook one of my projects, which became a book called "shadow" about the legacy of watergate in the presidencies of ford through clinton. and i called gerald ford up. i had never met him. i had never interviewed him. i asked to talk to him about the pardon. and he said sure, come on up.


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