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tv   American Politics  CSPAN  February 6, 2011 6:30pm-8:00pm EST

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we have not had a massive security episode that will see how much better organized is homeland security today. >> since you both cover homeland security, have you found less of the stovepiped issue that we have talked about in the past? 22 departments now under one. she talked about the jurisdiction being so huge. what has been your experience? >> there is a lot of lip service given to the amount of information that is going on. for example, the tsa role of the new security measures at the airports, that went relatively smoothly, -- the tsa rollout. when there was a new threat, as we saw, they were able to adjust
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the airport security procedures without horrible airport delays. so there message could have been better on that. tyh -- their message could have been better on that. the department more mature. it used to be stories every few weeks of embarrassing incidents regarding contract and wasted money and mismanagement. you do not read about that, and you do not write about that as much, and i think the agencies are working together better now. i am sure there are probably some questions about the role of homeland security in the intelligence community, the director of national intelligence and the cia. should it be more robust. i think there are still some areas where it needs to grow. >> were you satisfied with the answers that you need on the
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virtual fence on the border? >> we will see what they do. there have been now three secretaries and have talked about this, delivering a secure border with technology. each one has wasted hundreds of millions of dollars. until they successfully improved the technology out there, it is unknown whether or not they can do it. large going about any initiative out there, using technology and the border, and one of the key things is that they try to use technology for new uses that have never been used for, and it did not pass the test. one thing that came out event is that some of these things are actually useful in helping, but they are not going to eliminate the need for border patrol or have a huge impact, but they do help with the border control
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does down there. >> brian bennett writes for "the and eric lipton, who writes for "the new york times," thanks to both of you for joining us on "newsmakers." [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> the whole environment had come apart. it had become violent. >> "q&a" tonight on hubert h. humphrey. the art of the possible. " everyone just remembers you become free as someone who was looking lyndon johnson's boots of the time -- licking them. >> "q&a" tonight at 8:00 here on c-span. >> former alaska governor and 2008 republican vice-
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presidential nominee sarah palin spoke friday evening at a banquet in california honoring former president ronald reagan. this was one of several events being hosted this weekend by the young america's foundation to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the former president's birth. this 35-minute event took place at the reagan ranch in santa barbara. >> ladies and gentlemen, oh, thank you, marc. you are lovely. thank you. ladies and gentlemen, please take your seat. now, before i get started, i just want to make a little announcement. there is a lot of excitement, and i know with our keynote speaker, we would all like to jump up and give her a high five and give her good luck and tell her that we love her, but we cannot do that, because we need to get her to the podium, and
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she has been gracious enough to agree to do a photograph line, so please stay after. that is what i would ask you to do. i know you'll be lovely and gracious, and in the spirit of ronald reagan, you will do that. says thank you very much. it is now my great pleasure and honor to introduce to you our keynote speaker for tonight. no, no, no, no. please, sit down. i am going to do better than that. you'll have to suffer through. if i could have ever been is attention, please? thank you. -- everybody's attention please? but you remember what it was like to be a conservative few short years ago. it was very tough. probably what it felt like to be
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a conservative around 1976. not so good. but we emerged from our despondency when a conservative did not win the white house, but he was a champion of our founding principles. he emerged as a champion of expanded liberty, limited government, one who had the uncanny ability to connect with and inspire the american people. he spoke with convictions, not from a teleprompter. [applause] that champion was ronald wilson reagan. he did not win an election that year, but he inspired a movement to return to its founding principles home and champion of our founding principles of limited government with unabashed enthusiasm.
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his ideas were mocked and belittled by the establishment on both the left and the right. he was personally derided and taunted. was inspired. he was strengthened and he only fought harder. we had strayed so far from the vision of ronald reagan, the media and many on the left, they even declared the end of conservatism. then seemingly from out of nowhere, another leader emerged. a woman of humble origins. an entrepreneur married to her high-school sweetheart. she to on the establishment time and time again and won. she had become the mayor and governor not for the glory, but
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because she sought jobs that needed to be done and she knew how to do them. she sacrificed this easier way because she loved her stayed in her freedom more than she loved her coort. because of her courage and her sense of right and wrong, she stood for freedom even when she was told to sit down. time and time again, she ignored the establishment on both the left and right. she did what she believed was right for her family and her country. without intending to, she led the largest spontaneous grass- roots movement of our nation has ever seen. she brought other taxpaying got loving americans that had never even considered being civic activists to their feet saying enough is enough. and in large measure because of her courage and the fire she sparked, our nation sent a
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message that transcends party lines to its leaders. what has she gone for it? the feminists that claim they want to see more women in leadership positions have led the charge in the most stunning assault on the character of a good and honorable person that we have seen in the public sphere. for her outspoken courage and the beliefs that reagan ampion, she has faced scorn and derision. it has just made her stronger. [applause] in his book, president reagan who talked about a speech he delivered soon after his triumphant 1981 inauguration he was speaking to a large group
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of conservatives, many of whom are in this room right now. and of the conservative allies, president reagan said, "these were my people, the people that fought for individual liberty and freedom. they were the people that persevered and i can't tell you how much i admire them for their tenacity and their hope. he said i also can't tell you how embattl we felt over the years. th treat us as if we were me kind of neanderthal. we developed barely enough to come in and out of the rain. we were ridiculed and usually this mess. such trement only strengthen our ideals and our results. join me in welcoming a great leaderor the cause of liberty
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and freedom, governor sarah palin. [applause] >> thank you so much. thank you. thank you so very much. what an honor. thank you. have a seat. i appreciate the opportunity. thanyou so much. thank you for allowing me this
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honor to share with you have the celebration of ronald reagan's centennial. i can tell you how humbling it is to get to be here. it was simply overwhelming and inspiring. to get to be there riding horses. [applause] riding horses on trails that ronald reagan had cleared. i have to ad men, we are more comfortable writing snow machines that horses. asked bristol how her experience went. it makes you stronger. it was overwhelming. to know the work that ronald reagan had put into that ranch as he had loved and cherished that land, there we were, riding
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horses on the trail that he had cleared. feeling the breeze in my face and feeling that warm, souern air. overhead. i knew instantly, i knew instantly why ronald reagan love that ranch. after riding horses, we went a bit further up and we got to look or the pacific ocean. i knew why it was he felt so inspired in that place. he loved that place and not just in visiting, and he loved it in caring for it. building defenses with his own hands and chopping wood. clearing the trails. the ranch is unmistakably the home of the western conservative uncelebrated our
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pioneer spirit. they seem to be able to see clearly in the wide-open spaces of america's frontier. i consider myself the western conservative in the spirit of ronald reagan because i know that he understood the small- town spirit and values of hard work and rugged individualism. those are the values that he grew up with. those are the values that ronald reagan in body. today, there are hundreds of places in his name, but the ranch is one of the few have you been distinctly feel his spirits. this is his home, of course. it still points to a turning world. and what a turbulent and turning
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world these days. in 1964. remember when he gave his famous speech? it was on behalf of goldwater's campaign. it came to bknown as the speech. it gave birth to the reagan revolution. it was more than a campaign address, it was a call to action against the fundamental threat of freedom. a former democrat was a former union leader who left his party because his party had left him. reagan saw the dangers in the great society. he refused to sit and be silent. there was an out of control, centralized government. there was an utter disregard for constitutional limits.
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he saw the nation at a critical turning point. we could choose one direction or the other. collectivism or individualism. in his words, we could choosto the swamp or the stars. not atypical jovial speech of reagan's that he gave that day. we got used to it hearing more of the chipper gipper. we hea more of his jokes and his humor that he was known for, but not that day. the vision tha he laid out for us, it was a vision that was quite stark. it was more somber than normal. that vision was big on the fact that unlike others, reagan was able to look over the horizon and see what unsound policies
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of big government expansionism and foreignolicy of soviet appeasement would ultimately and, and that was in the speech. he wanted to know if americans still had the courage and the will to dure but to a arrived , 60, and sore. he asked us whether we still believe in our capacity for self-government or if we abandoned the american revolution and confessed tt a little intellectual a leak in a far distant capital can plan our lives for us beer than we can? those were strong words. the country was not quite ready to hear them. but his msage did catch on slowly.
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he was mocked and ridiculed and criticized. he was able to handle the criticism. i talked to some of his former colleagues about how he handled that criticism. they said that he let it roll off of his back like a duck with water off its back. but not when it came to nancy. said, don't touch my auntie. great respect for that. [applause] his message did catch on. the cservative movement heard him. california listen to him. finally, the nation listened to him. in 1984, the whole world heard him.
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[applause] by the time he left office, ronald reagan had defeated the ideology of the great society. those ideas were never gone for good. we have seen big government slowly encroached on us again. it was a subtle at first. encroached with language of progress. the financial crisis erupted in 2008 and no subtlety there. they declared itself the solution to the problems. determined, of course, the left is, to never let a crisis go to
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waste. a devastating 14 trillion dollars national debt. a $1.50 trillion deficit. a 17% real unemployment rate. and a heartbreaking 2.9 million home foreclosures. americans learned to appreciate like never before. he said the nine mt frightening words in english language are, i am from the government and i am here to help. [applause] big government tell is destructive.
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that is no more evident than here in california where the fertile farmland and the livelihood of thousands of rmers are destroyed because of some faceless government bureaucrat took away their lifeline. they claimed it was in order to protect a bunch of fish. where i come from, we call that bait. [applause] there is no need to destroy people's lives over that period if president reagan were alive to see what is happening to his beloved golden state, the central valley would be filled with outrage.
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that outrage, that moment of rage came with the passage of ha obama care -- of obamacare. they stop at nothing to get it passed, not even the constitution. and they sowed the seeds of their defeat last november when the american people rose up and rejected a big government. we don't want it, we can't affo it, so we fired the people that forced upon us. enough is enough. in the state of the union address, the message was sent at the ballot box and it was an historic election. we were just told that the era of big government is here to stay. and you will pay for it whether you want it or not.
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but they can't sell it to us. so this new version isn't just the state of the great society, it is much worse. it is couched in the language of national greatness. that is their version of american exceptional as them. it is an exceptionally big government. [applause] it declares we shall be great and innovative. but not by individual initiatives. it is the same tax-and-spend policies, but it is borrow, spend, tax.
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they didn't call led government spending, they call that stimulus. it did not stimulate anything but a tea party. [applause] the now, you have asked yourself, if government overspending is investing, there should be a sign of economic strength. it just isn't so. they have all sorts of half baked ideas of what to spend or invest o hard-earned money on. their idea of national greatness -- as we struggle to merely prove it, the only thing these investments will get us is
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a bullet train to bankruptcy. [applause] to m it is so odd that the answer to our problems is green energy. it plays a big part in these investments. the energy idea i am fine with. all of the above includes conventional sources of energy that we actually use today. oil, for one. [applause] and natural gas, coal, nuclear. they have done everything to
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stymie domestic drilli. that means hundreds of thounds of jobs will not be created. it means americans will pay more at the pump. we are continuing to transfer hundreds of billions to foreign regimes to purase energy from them. this is dangerous. this is insane. [applause] we are told green jobs are the future and they will save us. they can't sustain any more because they are investing in green jobs. it has brought nothing but massive debt and more unemployment. for every green jobsreated, to
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traditional jobs are lost. this is not an economic picy or an energy policy, this is social engineering. my fellow americans, this is not the way to national greatness. it is the road ruined. big government, big business collaboration, thecan afford to hire the lobbyists in their favor for these investments. in the interest of certain special interests, the government invest our money in technogy, but venture capitalists tell us those are nonstarters. in the interests of big government, they don't cut
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spending so they will freeze it. freeze it at historically high levels it stifles our economy and the free market with overreach and overtaxation. it makes it impossible for anyone to get ahead. our economy is so complicated that only government can plan it for us. the govement created the problem, and it tells us is the solution. they tried to let that little intellectual elite win i for us. president reagan says he can't move from big government for the little guy.
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big business, big labour, they have seats at the table. the little guy doesn't. this is not the way it is supposed to be or the way that it must be. american exceptional was and is not exctionally big government. reagan reminded us that yes, america is a great nation with great purpose in the world. but our greatness is not in government bureaucracy. history has proven again and again that when government picks winners and losers, we are stuck with the losers. and the taxpayers subsidize the failure. and the taxpayers subsidize the failure, and at a crisis point,
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we do not have the option anymore of subsidizing any more failures. this is a time for choosing again. it is just as dark as it was in 1964. we must look at the horizon. we must see that the policies will ultimately end. weace the same crisis nows we did then appear in homely now, we are in worse shape. we are not the power house we once were. we are no longer a creditor nation. the federal government is spending too much, growing and controlling too much. and it bres the back of our economy. reagan would say that there are
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no easy answers, but there are simple ones if we have the courage to confront our problems. we have to stop spending and cut government back down to size. we must reform entitlement programs to honor our current commitment while we keep faith with future generations. and we desperately need jobs. it comes from the free market and the work ethic of ordinary people. we need a vibrant economy. [applause] we need a vibrant economy that actually produces and grows things again. a strong, vibrant america that is not grounded just in the
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service sector, but in a manufacturing and agricultural base. not just providing families with jobs, but with livelihoods'. they are the key to starting the economic engine. americans say that manufacturing is not caud by high labor costs. it is caused by overregulation. and some of the highest corporate taxes in the world. if you enter a marathon with a 20 pound weights, you are going to lose. [applause] we are shackled. we are shackled with those tax rates. there is no reason that we cannot win. it is clear now as they were in
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1964. these of the principles the country was founded on. do we surrender to big government and a corporatism agenda. or do we need government to take care of us and plan for us. do we still have the courage and the will to not only in door, but to succeed. will it be america's glory or our shame? these are not easy questions. there is fear in the air. the individual american equipment and afraid in the face of challenges.
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remember, got this not give us that spirit of fear. we can have the courage and confidence to make sound choices. [applause] friends, we are not helpless. our success and our greatness lies in the courage and the hard work of individual americans. we are to affirm those values of freedom and hard work. [applause] it was those values that inspired ronald reagan to build defenses on the beloved ranch. he buildthem out of strong would so of our pioneering
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spirit in yours. those will lead us back to prosperity. we must reconnect with them. we must get motivated and optimistic like our parents and our grandparents were. many of them started off with nothing but were able to build a fulfilled life. we have to get back to what they believe in, putting their faith in god and not government. [applause] they did not demand bailouts. they did not need a stimulus. th d not expect anything from anyone. they fought for the freedoms and opportunities to work hard. they just wanted to prosper.
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if at first they didn't succeed, they dusted themselves off and they got right back up. they did not retreat. they tried again until they succeeded. the great recovery and renewal will happen again. but when we have the moral courage of our grandparents's generation. [applause] by the way, if you need to be reminded of some of those virtues, these are the virtues that are left. the americans you will find in uniform, our sons, daughters, and loved ones that pay the price for our freedom. the military is a great example of the moral courage. [applause]
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recovery and renewal starts with all of us. president reagan understood this. there are a lot of people looking at are misinformed. but he was one of the kind. you will not find this kind again. and the gipper would not want us to spend our time on that in anyway. he said, i am not a great man, i just believe in great ideas. [applause] and he understood that the transmission of these great ideas to the next generation would insure the survival and success of liberty. that is why he instructed us to indicate what it means to be an american.
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their mission is to train in a speech to the next generation of common sense conservatives. [applause] and today, it is burning bright. president reagan would be proud of the conservative movement today. we have never been more willing to do what it takes. there are many that believe in the ideas. there is a whole army of patriotic people out there, wanting to stand up and speak out. they are not afraid to tell goliath, don't tread on me.
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[applause] here is our time for choosing. but as courageously and confidently meet the challenges before us. knowing that america is that shining city on a hill, her knowing god has shed his gce on me. and that truth and justice include the issue that every innocent life deserves protection. and to preserve foour children this america that is our hope for a man on earth. [applause] know that we can have peace
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through strength, even as our allies, they looked to our union 4 cents and for strength. and another we are a source for them. there is nothing to apologize for. [applause] know that we shall keep our rendezvous with destiny. i think you so much for being part of the solution. god bless you and god bless america. thank you. [applause]
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>> i will not make age an issue of this campaign. i am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience. >> on the 100th anniversary of his birth, look at the life and presidency of ronald reagan online at the c-span video library. >> now a discussion on the legacy of president ronald reagan. from today's "washington journal" this is 55 minutes. archivist, richard dornan is here. at 100, why does he still matter? guest: i think you heard some of that this morning he still inspires pro and con but he matters i think bazz he was more of an agent of change.
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his boyhood hero f.d.r. ironically he reversed inany ways the new deal represented. you can say the political process has yet -- the will to address. weather it is the futuref social security, immigration reform, which is obviously a hot button issue. tax reform, which people are beginning to talk about in both parties. the fact is all three were addressed during the reaga presidency within his much wider arguably historic and enduring shift where inany ways ronald reagan moved the center of political gravity to the right. >>et me -- you write, quote, by his own acknowledgement reagan arrived in washington with script. in deed, by running in 19 0 --
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1980 on on a clearly articulated platform of less government, lower taxes, and entrepreneship, he could begin what he called his new beginning." why was that different than any other president or candidate? >> think back, whatever their politics may be individually, think back to a campaign that was really defined b a specific policy agenda. but remember, in 1980 the american people had been through a series of failed or tragically shortened presidencies. we had been through the assassinations of the 1960's, vietnam, watergate, the energy crisis. a perception that america's economic power was no longer pre-eminent. some doubts about her mility standing. and there was a fear on the part
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of many people that the presidency itself had become too large an office for any one man to master. alof those things came together, and reagan didn't just tap into popular discontent with the stas quo. clearly there is an elemt of that, but he actually tried to offer a specific economic plan. that's what 1980 was all about. >> you go on in your piece with these words that political scientists speak of transformational vs. transactional leaders. agent of change vs. defender of the status quo. jefferson, jackson, lincoln, t.r., and f.d.r. boldly changing their time and leaving in their wake a grip on power for several decades. with f.d.r., the roosevelt
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consensus about the role of government, the social safety net that f.d.r. created in the midst of the great depression. that was the governing consensus. ronald reagan had to take that into account in 1980. george wl the conservative columnist famously said that the american conservative wants to conserve the new deal. social security had been an issue for republicans, and reagan was no exception of that. the fact is that after ronald reagan -- the best evidence is when bill clinton said "the year big government is over." in many ways that was bill clinton who was famously an activist in his own approach to government acknowledging the new preveiling wisdom, the anti-washington move, if you will, that had been bee queethed -- bequeathed to him. the fact he was reading reagan's
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bog if i tells you about where his reading is after the center of gravity 20 years after he left office. >> you are presidential director of five libraries? >> yes host: this morning the washington times looking at the newly renovated library. what's different? what's changed? guest: i'm not sure, because i have not been involved. i can tell you what was in the old, but i'm not in a position to tell you what's in the new. except to tell you this -- it does demonstrate that there is no such thing as a permanent exhibit in a presidential library. particularly in a president who was the artist of polarizing controversial history-making president. the johnson library is looking at re-doing their permanent exhibit. that will be the fourth time since the johnson library opened that the, quote, permanent exhibit will be redone.
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history is an incredibly dynamic discipline. with each generation shall -- the same events tend to be viewed through a changing lens. host: what makes a successful library, whether it is a current president or as you found without with the lincoln library in springfield, illinois? guest:irst of all, we are talking about the library function, a collarly function, and then a museum. which is more popular, if you will. the two should be completely entwined, it seems to me. the museums should reflect the latest in scholarship. it should reflect the highest intellectual standard, but it should be engaging to masses of people. obviously, the presidential library is no different from any other institution. there are arkifal standards that -- archival standards that
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should be met. one of them, and i'm a little old-fashione ought to be openness. i actually think, if too much paper is stamped top secret to begin with, and i think the archives should find ways to open more of it sooner. >> one of the things you know is that nancy reagan saved everything. guest: and thank god she d. she had a keen sense of history. i will never forget sitting in some meanings during the planning process of the reagan library and it was fascinating to watch the president tell stories about these events that we were trying to turn into exhibits. and mrs. reagan was a very keen visual intelligence. she could take atory board and interpret it instantly in the ways that i'm not sure a lot of people even know what a story board is. this h to do with having been in the movies. but it is a very interesting
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approach. they could both see things in ways that other people didn' host: go back to yourtime" magazine piece. reagan excelled at the politics of multiapplication. too many of his professed admirers appear toreefer division." guest: people thought -- they didn't like the direction that history was going. and it often tended to have a sour count nens. ronald reagan changed all that. one of the things he did was to put a smi on the face o conservativism. he was as optimistic about the future as he was, indeed, futuristic. those were not qualities
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associated with the conservatives of, say, herbert hoofer. reagan made conservativism an instrument of reform, and that, too, as opposed to simply an instrument of resistance. host: charlie peters was here last week and wrote a book on lyndon johnson. like him or not like him, he accomplished a lot in terms of getting things passed. he died in 1973. his centennial would have been 2008. there was no centennial for l.b.j. we have one for ronald reagan. what's the difference between these two presidents? guest: oh, gosh that would take a while. there was a centennial, but it was modest. johnson was thought of in some ways as a predent guilty of over-reaching, of doing everything on aexas-size scale actually had a centennial that was quite modest.
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the rean centennial, much of which is clearly from the grassroots, is much grander than l.b.j.'s, make of that what you will. you could make the case that the last 40 years of american political history is,n many ways, a response to l.b.j. and the great society. when you think of what johnson -- that we te for granted headstart, medicare, medicaid, the voting rights act, the national endowment forhe arts, pbs, clean air and water legislation, also environmental legislation, and on and on and on, more legislation than f.d.r. passed, and most of it is still in the books. and it is a very interesting thing. one of the really fascinating tests that lies ahead is to what degree modern-day nservatives want to undo elements of the
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great society. because so far i haven't heard a lot of people calling for the repeal of headstart, for example. host: we have a lot of reagan moments available at our library of this is august 1976 as ronald reagan defeated jerry ford for the republican nomination after losing the early nominations. he had this to say in 1976 about the state of the country and the state of the party. >> if i could just take a moment, i had an assignment the other day. someone asked me to write a letter for a time capsule that is going to be opened in los angeles 100 years from now on our tricentenniel. it sounded like an easy assignment. they said i should write down the troubles of the day, as i
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did in a convertible car looking out at the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other, and i wondered if it would be as beautiful 300 years from now. then i started to write, let your own minds turn to that task. you are going to write for people 100 years from now that know all about us. we know nothing about them. we don't know what kind of a world they will be living in. >> august, 1976, former governor, former presidential candidate ronald reagan. host: anyone watching that clip could be forgiven for thinking ronald reagan had just won. a lot of people look at that as the first speech of the 1980 campaign. i'm just finishing up a 2.5 year orled history project on the president and mrs. ford, ande talked to a lot of people at the 1976 convention.
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there were those people around ronald reagan, and president ford knew then that he wanted to bring governor reagan down onto the platform. there were tho around governor rean who ion't think were wild about the idea. ut ronald reagan understood, first of all, this is what you do. i mean,arty unity. but beyond that, i think he saw the opportunity and took it. edwin moore refers t this as one of reagan's two most impressive public speeches, and in many ways, the speech that laid the groundwork for his successful run four years later. host: his chief of staff at the time was dick cheney, gerald ford's chief of staff. this is an event we covered last night at the reagan ranch in santa barbara, california. >> outside a movie screen my
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first trip to los angeles was a 1974 trip to los angeles with president ford. i was in the room when the two of them met before going downstairs, this was at the century plaza, and this was before goi downstairs to attend a republican fund raiser. i believe they were sizing each other up in a prelude to the battle for the 1976 nomination. i remember being a little distracked because i was making last-minute travel reservations for the president, but busy as i was i saw enoh of governor reagan that night to know that we in the white house would have plenty to worry about if we got into the race. host: dick cheney worked for ronald reagan and gerald ford? guest: yes, ronald reagan is associated with the 11th commandment, thou shalt not
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speak ill of a fellow republican . then he ran against ford. whatever t circumstances of the end of the nixon era, it was the end of his term. i don't think he had difficulty convincing himself that he was, at least in some ways, entitled to run. host: can i ask you one of the great what if's? guest:: sure. host: what if jerry ford had selected ronald reagan as his running mate? guest: it is my understanding from multiple sources that the condition of a ford-reagan meeting following t nomination, the condition was, that ford not offer the vice
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presidentsy -- presidency. only if the ford camp was guaranteed that, could the meeting go forward. there are those who heard from ronald reagan's own lips subsequently, that reagan was such a soft touch that if ford had asked him, he probably would have said yes. they probably would have won. you have to remember, the -- ohio, mississippi, mississippi was 11,000 ves, ohio was no more than that. and hawaii turned out to be nip-and-tuck. and it is hard to believe if reagan had been on the ticket, particularly in places like southern ohio and mississippi that they would not have picked up the additional votes when needed. host: our guest is historian and author richard norton smith. a look back on the legy of the
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100th birthday for ronald reagan. i want to share another moment from former president reagan. he spoke in oxford after bill clinton was just arrested. george herbert walker, his running mate was just defeated. he spoke about the state of the country. a speech that you helped to write. >> in my country those -- in some countries those who hold fashionable ideas are sent off the stage. what a perversion of the great chaoti yet essential marketace of ideas that we call decracy. but then i have always believed at home and abroad that the only cure for what ales democracy is more democracy.
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>> in couries like egypt and tunisia, what are your thoughts? guest: i think ronald reagan's words are prescient. they bowl center -- bolster the case for those whose values will endure long after he is not around. republican leader, left, right, great leaders, they don't only speak to us, they speak for us. they give voice to essentially american values. i think many ronald reagan did that better than anyone of his time. host: one other point from your "time" magazine piece, "ronald reagan like president jackson was anything but. but this refusal to be bound by the status quo is the hal mark of a transformational leadership."
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guest: his buying fer said rather than call him pragmatic, he -- call him practical. he was a practical person. he didn't stop there. for reagan politics was also the art of the impossible. a more conventional leader than reagan would have been content, for example, with the arms race. you measure progress by slowing the rate of increase of nuclear weapons. reagan believed, radically, that you could get rid of every nuclear weapon on earth. i mean, he thought that parallel universe. that alternate way of seeing reality to issue after issue. and i think it is one way to
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explain why he is so difficult to pidgeon hole, to label, to put into a box. because i think he -- the first thing you need to know about ronald reagan is that he's the moht unconventional political figure of his time. host: we'll get your phone calls in just a moment. join the conversation online at or send us an e-mail as well. when was the first time you met ronald reagan and when was the last? guest: the first time i met ronald rean was in 1976. the harvard republican club gave him a man-of-the-year award at the ritz carlton hotel. even though i graduated a year before, i was inviletted -- invited. that was the fst time i met him. the last time, i will never forget, was 20 years later. it was in january of 1996. so it was a year after the alzheimer's letter, after his letter that he wrote announcing
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his diagnosis of alzheimer's disease. and he used to come up to the library fairly frequently. he came up one day and gave a thrill to everyone there and subsequently we went to lunch. they said, you know, ride with the president. we're in the back seat of the car being driffyn a mile to the restaurant. i don't know what it was, but i was curious. i said, you know, mr. president, i would really be interested to know how does it feel to be shot? and he started describing it. i realized he was talking about the movies. and one of the ways that you saw -- that i saw the aging process was, we all know ronald reagan was a great storyteller, and the repertoire of stories overtime gradually diminished. but as a rule, h didn't tell white house stories. he told hollywood stories and he told dixon, illinois stories.
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and i'm told right to the end, as long as he was telling stories, in the end, was his lifeguarding expernce in dixon experience, saving 77 lives over seven years. that's what stayed with him as long as he had conscious memory. host: and at the reagan library he said to the doctors, fm "i haven't gotten this much attention i since i was in hollywood." guest: the reagan legend began march 30, 10 weeks later. for someone who came to washington with a script, it was the ultimate unscripted moment that showed us sides of this man and his character and his grace under pressure, that i think we hadn't seen before that no campaign alone brought out. and i think there was an
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emotional bond that was created when millions of people, including many who never voted for reagan. i think aftethat day, they saw reagan in a different light. >> john joining us from -- from newark, new jersey, with richard norton smith. caller: mr. smith, nancy reagan had a thing for the children where she would say "just say no " to drugs. i want to hear your view point on iran contra with the drug problem inompton, california, during the reagan administration.
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guest: i'm not se of the two issues. iran contra is a great illustration. scholars will be dividing iran contra for years to come. i think it was a combination of neglect and wishful thinking. i think there was a human desire on the part of ronald reagan's part to try to rescue americans that were not only being held hostage but were brutalized by their cap torse in the middle east. that said, the nir ower debate over -- the narrower debate over the leg at of iran contra and more specifically whether the president was aware of the illegal galt is something that will go on for a long time. i saw a piece that quotes catherine weinberger's diaries, in which the president seems t acknowledgthe fact that people
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can accept the illegality of this, what they couldn't accept is the president not doing everything he could not to rescue his countrymen. host: the piece in "time" magazine available online. ronald reagan and why he still atters. part of a series of he is as looking back at our 48th president. >> i thank you for taking my call. i want to say i read numerous articles that said reagan was not an intellectual. i strongly believe as we see today, as our president now it does not take an intellectual to be president of the united states. ronald reagan really captured my attention in 1976 when he gave that great smeach, losing
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narrowly to ford, and that really won him the election. and it really showed what this country was going to see, and a lot of people thought he was not in the right mind. he proved them wrong, and he's one of our greatest presidents. thank you for taking my call. host: thank you, keith. leme show you a picture from the washington times. it is president reagan in 1983 at a bill-signing ceremony on social security. standing behind him, tip o'neil, the speaker of the house at the time, also bob dole, leader of the senate, bob michaels, and donl patrick moynihan, senator from new york, a democrat. the reagan bipartisan legacy. was it really bipartisan? >> compared to today, yes.
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again, let's not indulge in misplaced nostalgia. the 1908's were not exactly the era of great feelings. this ronald reagan was a polarizing figure. that said, social security is a classic bill where you had people like bob dole and pat moynihan in particular who -- al -- an greenspan. that bee deviled republicans and attributed to the loss of 28 house seats, and reagan rather shrewdly out-sourced it to this presidential commission. the difference being, of course, most presidential commission reports gather dust. this one was actually implemented. reagan famously said to tip o'neil, you know, we're toll two old irishmen. we can go at each other cats and dogs until 6:00, andfter 6:00
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we're friends. i'm not frien all was friendly after 6:00, but it was vastly less brutal in its partisanship than the current. host: his books "patriarch, the life and legend of robert r. mccormick," and working on a book of nelson rockefeller. who in 1968 had a very unofficial and very curious alliance of sorts with the reagan people in an effort to prevent richard nixon from being nominated on the first ballot. guest: the strategy was if they could stop nixon, then katie bar
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the door, and both rockefeller and nixon believed over time the convention would turn to them. host: nelson rockefeller, was his selection for vice president an impetus for reagan to run? guest: that's an interesting question. i don't think it was directly, but i clearly, whether gerald ford reached out to this man who, talk about polarizing, was a lightning rod for many conservative republicans, for lots of reasons, there is no doubt that a growing conservative movement thin and outside the republican party saw that as a defining moment for the ford presidency. they took umbrage at it. and the fact that ford, in effect, dumped rockefeller at the end of 1975, was not enough to assuage their feelings. host: bonnie joining us from greenville, north carolina. good morning. caller: good morning.
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thank you so much. i'm just listening to you spin about reagan. yes he did some wonderful things for the country, but i think he damaged -- i don't know if it is t weak mind of the conservative. let me point out one experience. last year i went with my husband to a hospital. i was asked to find an inexpensive way that my husband could get 2.5 months of his treatment for cancer. let me tell you, he is a veteran he fought in vietnam. he dumped agent orange and super orange for two years for reagan, for the conservatives, and for his country. and yes, he volunteers. when we went to duke, i scheduled an appointment with a
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social worker whiley husband went to his keem treatment. -- chemo treatment. when i walked in e door, i had a suspicion that we were not going to be -- i can't say helped but guided along to what we needed. host: this relationship between your experience and ronald reagan is what? caller: right. this gentleman, who i'm sure idolizes reagan, asked me if i thought the government would take care of my husband and i. now he's a veteran. then he shoved the phone in my face, tells me to call my president and tell my president what --
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host: bonnie, i'm sorry, you are going on and we need a short question. caller: why do conservatives have this mentality no matter how rd you work, you don't really deserve anything. host: we'll leave it at that point. do you want to respond in anay? guest: ronald reagan famously said in his inaugural address government is not the answer to the question, government is the problem. that's a sweeping assertion. a lot of people, including some fairly traditional conservatives might take some exception. i think the caller speaks for many who believe that conserve tism -- conservativism in the modern era is almost neoism. that it is unwilling to
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acknowledge a moral obligation on the part of society to address the needs of people who through no fault of their own are victims. that's part of the debate that is as old as this country. and reagan is very much a part of it. there is no doubt -- i mean, there are elements of the reagan program, if you will -- remember at one point famously in an effort to cut the budget there were bureaucrats, there are conservative bureaucrats, as well as liberal bureaucrats who announced ketchup had been declared a vegetable for purposes of meeting government nutritional needs. that's comic cal. there are millions of people out there in the audience who do not look upon today as a -- as the
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holiday we are celebrating. host: we had that moment from nuary 20, part of the reagan inaugural address. here is the answering in and the remarks of our 40th president. >> the economic woes have come upon us over several decades. they will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. they will go away because we as amicans have the capacity now as we have had in the past to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom. in this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems. government is the problem. [applause] from time to time we have been femented to believe that society
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is too complex to be managed by self rule. that government by an elite group is superior. that government for, and by, and of the people. well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, en who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? all of us together, in and out of government must bear the burden. the solutions we seek musting equityable with no one group singled out to pay a higher price. host: you have written a speech or two. how would you compare his inaugural address? guest: on the face of it, it does represent a reversal of the f.d.r. new deal. on the other hand, the mood of the speech is not all that different than f.d.r.'s or other
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president's in times of economic stress have called upon themselves to do. it is a speech that says things are bad, but they will get better because as americans we will make them get better. it is an appeal to the future, as an appeal to a complective optimism, and it's not one of reagan's classic speeches, but it didn't have to be. host: one of those that might be referred to as a classic speech is october 27, 1964, a speech on behalf of the republican nominee at that time, barry goldwater. here's ronald reagan two years before elected governor of california. >> no government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. so government's programs once launched never dispeer. actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to ecertainly life we'll ever see on this earth. [applause]
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federal employees number 2.5 million. federal, state, and local 1-6 employed by govement. these have cost us many of our constitutional safeguards. how many realize that today federal agents can invade a man's property without a warrant? they can impose a fine without a trial by jury, and they can seize and sellis property at auction to enforce the payment of that fine? host: this is a transitional moment in his own career as he left g.e. and began his race for president of the country. guest: tt speech was to promote barry goldwater but it turned out to be the launching pad for ronald reagan's political career. it brought in a vast amount of moy, and in many ways it was a transition. reagan had been given variations of that speech for years through his work with general electric. but really it is the curtain
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raiser. two years later he ran for governor of california. the interesting thing about that speech, that's almost an angry reagan. that's a prosecute torle -- prosecutorial rean. very different from the benign almost grandfatherly reagan we associate with most of the presidency. host: caller. caller: here's a man late in the government supposedly representing theovernment who is guns the government. it is ironic that h wanted to be president of the united states. i don't have disdain for ronald reagan. i think he did what he thought he had to do. what i remember about ronald reagan is the nht he visited philadelphia when he became president of the united states people were living on the streets. they released all the people from the mental institutions because they were trying to save money or cut the amount of money people will to pay on their taxes so they put all these people in the streets. they were sleeping on the grates
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over the -- on the streets to try to keep warm in the winter time. i remember the iran contra deal where these people, oliver north, and others, took advantage of a compromised president, a compromised man and they were running the government, not ronald reagan. guest: well homelessness came to the foreas an issue in the 198's. that's part of the legacy, that's part of the record that will be divided for a long time to come. host: ronald reagan's book "my father, a memoir" is it coming to light. he pointed out as early as 1984 he had concerns with that moment in that first presidential debate with walter mondale that his dad, ronald reagan, was becoming fgetful. guest: i'm not a clinitian and i
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don't -- clinician and i don't pretend to have been around the president that much, but i think the best evidence that refutes it, it may have been ed mcmorris who as we know is not an uncritical observer of reagan -- host: he has a piece this morning in the "new york times." " guest: but edwin mors had an opportunity to work at the reagan diaries which were kept with great self-discipline every day during reagan's presidency, and this was long after his bad night with walter mondale and during and after iran contra. and morris saw no evidence to suggest impairment of the president's intellectual faculties. part of this is a gray area called "getting old." he had real hearing impairment. that was an issue.
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host: in being shot at the movies. guest: exactly, from having a gun go off near his ear. host:: our next caller from -- for richard norton smith. caller: i am an admirer of ronald reagan and i wish his attitude and outlook was reflected today. i have a statement and a couple questions. i have one question. my question is, what do you think he would think of the tea party? that's number one. the gentleman earlier that called about comenton, there were reports in california from the "san jose mercury news" that the c.i.a. was importing cocaine to abuse black people in comenton, which is totally ludicrous. i am wondering what you think about the tea party today?
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thank y for your time. guest: you may not like my answer. historians have difficulty enough making sense out of the past. you shouldn't ask us to speculate about the future or what might have been. i think there are elements of the tea party program as i understand it that i think ronald reagan would be delighted to support. to the extent it is about shrinking government, that it is an intellectual step for government at all levels, i have no doubt that reagan would wormly endorse that. i think ronald reagan's conservativism was inlusive, broad-based, upbeat. you know, he signed an
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immigration reform bill that in effect ran amnesty and three million illegal aliens were then in the country. i'm almost tempted to turn the question around and ask how some in the tea party, perhaps on the fringes of the tea party would react to this man who was a principled pragmatist in many ways. host: you wrote the transformers, the sionaries who reshaped the republic, thomas jefferson, jackson, lincoln, roosevelt. ronald reagan. guest: sure. there are presidents who changed the country. who set it on -- in 2008 there was talkbout reagan changing the trajectory of america in a way that he said, for example,
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richard nixon or bill clinton hadot. not that they were not historiccally significant presidents. it is a very, very rare president that gets the opportunity and has the kills to in effect profoundly chae the course of america. host: and you have a remarkabl tour coming up? guest: starting in ash vill, north carolina, and then through tennessee and arkansas, texas, a day in the hill country, johnson's hill country. a visit with jackson's hermitage, the site of dr.
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king's assassination, even a night at the grand old opre. we're doing this trip. we have a few places left on the bus, and if anyone is interested, there will two ways. they can call. there is a phone number. 202-621-7250-, and there is online www. host: seven presidents, two kings, and the american century in 10 unforgettable days. guest: people that go with us on these strip trips are people who have been with us before, so that's pretty good advertisement. host: denise is joining us from
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the independent line as we reflect on the president's legacy on the anniversary of his 100th birth. guest: i have to say when i was in high school reagan was elected and at that moment i knew i would have no future. i became a hair salon worker instead of a lawyer because the grants and loans were cut. i believe reagan is the beginning of the despairity between our classes at this moment. guest: it is an interesting perspective. i saw that from a different direction. i think that ronald reagan unintentionally -- remember, particularly presidents that make big changes, are bound to havenintended consequences to some of those changes. reagan wanted three things in office. he wanted to dramatically cut taxes. he wanted to dramatically increase military spending.
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he wanted to balance the budget. he found quickly that he couldn't have all three. he me the decision to take two out of the complee. -- three. one consequence of that was to decouple the religion of balanced budgets from mainstream conservativism. you stop and think, for as long as you can remember, two things that bonded conservativ, opposition to the soviet union and the communist threat abroad, and a fervent belief in limited government that lived within its means, including balancing its budgets. the soviet union disappeared a generation ago, and at about the same time, so did the, as i say, sort of the civic religion about budgets. conservatives a generation later e still grappling with how to come to terms with all of that. that is one of the unintended consequences of the reagan revolution.
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host: our conversation is richard norton smith, the founder and director of the presidential historian library, >> next,


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