Skip to main content

tv   American Politics  CSPAN  February 6, 2011 9:30pm-11:00pm EST

9:30 pm
we have managed in the last month to create as many academy schools as the last government did in 12 years. >> 48% of the british people feel that the government has lost control of the economy. given that this government has access to the future jobs find, the question that people are asking is has this prime minister even have a penny for our young people? >> what is clear that there is only one side in this house that has a plan at all. the party opposite has absolutely no plan, apart from to deny the deficit, to say there is not a problem, and to pretend that they handed over a golden inheritance when coming in fact, we have the biggest budget deficit in events
9:31 pm
governments and a big debt to deal with. >> would the prime minister will come the association of pension funds at his work place, the retirement income commission, which is designed to propose proposals so that people can live with dignity and with enough money in retirement? >> we want to see strong private-sector pension provisions. i think that history, over the last 13 years, has been depressing when so much money was taken out of the pension system, not least by the pension tax that happened a year after year, proposed probably by the two people who are running the labor party. we want to see a stronger private pension provision. .>> 200 years ago, when this
9:32 pm
country managed to steal the english, from the english why does he returned to that type of activity by taking away the forests of our people? >> this government is taking a completely different approach to the last government. the last government sold off forestry with no guarantees on access, no guarantees that it was free, no guarantees about habitat. of course, i am listening to all of the arguments that are being put in this case. but i would just say this. is it the case that there are organizations like the will and trust, like the national trust, that can do it better job than the forestry commission? i believe that there are. is there a problem with the forestry commission -- >> order. i apologize for interrupting the prime minister.
9:33 pm
the prime minister must not be shot at. and the author must be heard. >> what i would say to the hon. gentleman is with their be a problem for the forestry commission who is responsible for relating -- four regulated for street, but is also the owner of the forestry. it is worth looking at to see if we can produce a system that is better for access, better for habitat, battered for natural england, and better for the countryside that we love. >> each week, the house of commons is in session, we their prime ministers, on c-span 2 on wednesday and then again on sunday night. at suspend or, you can find the video archive of -- at c-, you can find the video archive of past prime ministers
9:34 pm
questions. >> c-span is a private nonprofit company created in 1979 by the cable television industry as a public service. tonight, a couple of programs commemorating the 100th anniversary of president ronald reagan's birthday. remarks from former alaska gov. sarah palin followed by national historian richard norman smith. >> on television, on radio, and all line. c-span, bringing public affairs to you, created by cable. it is washington your way. >> former alaska gov. sarah palin spoke at a tribute to ronald reagan commemorating the 100th anniversary of his birth. she touched on the former president's 1964 speech called "a time for choosing." she also talked about his political philosophy, the size
9:35 pm
of government, and u.s. energy and economic policy. this event was hosted by the young america's foundation in santa barbara. it is about 30 minutes. >> thank you so much. thank yo thank you so very much. what an honor. thank you. have a seat. i appreciate the opportunity. thank you so much. thank you for allowing me this 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]
9:36 pm
riding horses on trails that ronald reagan had cleared. i have to lead men, we are more coortable writing snow machines that horses. asd bristol how her experience went. it makes you stronger. it was overwhelming. to know the work that rona reagan had put into that ranch as he had loved and cherished that land, there we were, riding horses on the trail that he had cleared. feeling the breeze in my face and feeling that warm, southern air. overhead. i knew instantly, i knew instantlwhy ronald reagan love that ranch. after riding horses, we went a
9:37 pm
bit further up and we got to look over 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 h own hands and chopping wood. clearing the trails. the ranch is unmistakably the home of the western conservative uncelebrated our 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 t spirit of ronald reagan because i know that he understood the small-
9:38 pm
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 world these days. in 1964. remember when he gave his fams speech? it was on behalf ogoldwater's campaign. it came to be known as the speech. it gave birth to the reagan revolution. it was more than a campaign
9:39 pm
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. he saw the nation at a critical turng point. we could choose one direction or the other. collectivism oindividualism. in his words, we could choose to the swamp or the stars. not atypical jovial speech of reagan's that he gave that day.
9:40 pm
we got used to it hearing more of the chipper gipper. we heard more of his jokes and his humor that he was known for, but not that day. the vion that he laid out for us, it was a vision th 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 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 endure but to a arrived , 60, and sore.
9:41 pm
he asked us whether we still believe in our capacity for self-government or if we abandoned the american revolution and confessed that a little intellectual a leak in a far distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can? those were song words. the country was not quite ready to hear them. buhis message did catch on slowly. 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.
9:42 pm
he said, don't touch my auntie. great respect for that. [applause] his message did catch on. the conservative movement heard him. california listen to him. finally, the nation listened to him. in 1984, the whole wor heard him. [applause] by the time he left office, ronald reagan had defeated the ideology of the great society.
9:43 pm
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 dlared itself the solution to the problems. determined, of course, the left is, to never let a crisis go to waste. a devastating 14 trillion dollars national debt. a $1.50 trillion deficit. a 17% real unemployment rate.
9:44 pm
and a heartbreaking 2.9 million home foreclosures. americans learned to appreciate like ner before. heaid the nine most frightening words in english language are, i am from the government and i am here to help. [applause] big government tell is destructive. that is no more evident than here in california where the fertile farmland and the livelihood of thousands of farmers are destroyed because of some faceless government bureaucrat took away their lifeline. they claimed it was in order to
9:45 pm
protect a bunch of fish. wher 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 outge. 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
9:46 pm
their defeat last november when the american people rose up and rejected a big government. we don't want it, we can't afford 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. 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
9:47 pm
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. 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
9:48 pm
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 our 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 a bullet train to bankruptcy. [applause] to me, it is so odd that the answer to our problems is green energy. it plays a big part in these investments.
9:49 pm
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 stymie domestic drilling. that means hundreds of thousands 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 purchase energy fro them. this is dangerous.
9:50 pm
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 jobs created, to traditional jobs are lost. this is not an economic policy or an energy policy, this is social engineering. my fellow americans, this is not the way to national greatness. it is the road ruined.
9:51 pm
big government, big business collaboration, they can afford to hire the lobbyists in their favor for these investments. in the interest of certain special interests, the government invest our money in technology, but venture capitalists tell us those are nonstarters. in the interests of big government, they don't cut spending so they will freeze it. freeze it at historically high levels. it stifles our economy and the free market with overreach and overtaxation.
9:52 pm
it makes it impossible for anyone to get ahead. our economy is so complicated that only vernment can plan it for us. the government created the problem, and it tells us is the solution. they tried to let that little intellectual elite win it for us. president reagan says he can't move from big government for the little guy. 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 exceptionally big government.
9:53 pm
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, we do not have the option anymore of subsidizing any more failures. th 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.
9:54 pm
we face the same crisis now as we did then appear in homely now, we are in worse shape. we are not the power house we once wer we are no longer a creditor nation. the federal government is spending too much, growing and controlling too much. and it breaks the back of our economy. reagan would say that there are 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 progra to honor our current commitment while we keep faith
9:55 pm
with future generations. and weesperately need jobs. comes from the free market and the work ethic of ordinary pele. we need a vibrant economy. [applae] we need a vibrant economy that actually produces and grows things again. a strong, vibrant america that is not grounded just in the 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 caused by high labor costs. it is caused by overregulation.
9:56 pm
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 1964. these of the principles the country was founded on. do we surrender to big government and a corporatism agenda.
9:57 pm
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. remember, got this not gives that spirit of fear. we can have the courage and confidence to make snd choices. [applause] friends, we are not helpless.
9:58 pm
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 builds them out of strong would so of our pioneering 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.
9:59 pm
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. they did not expect anything from anyone. they fought for the fedoms and opportunities to work hard. they just wanted to prosper. 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]
10:00 pm
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] recovery and renewal srts 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
10:01 pm
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. their mission is to train in a speech to the next generation of common sense conservatives. [applause] and today, it is burning bright.
10:02 pm
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 patrioticeople out there, wanting to stand up and speak out. theyre not afraid to tell liath, don't tread on me. [applause] here is our time for choosing. but as courageously and coidently meet the challenges before us.
10:03 pm
knowing that america is that shining city on a hill, her knowing god has shed his grace on me. and that truth and justice include the issue that every innocent life deserves protection. and to preserve for our children this america that is our hope for a man on earth. [applause] know that we can have peace 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]
10:04 pm
know that we shall keep our rendezvous with destiny. i thi you so much for being part of the solution. god bless you and god bless america. thank you. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> now more on the 100th anniversary of ronald reagan's birth and what it means for the future of the republican party with historian richard norton smith. this is almost an hour. historian, author, presidential archivist, richard
10:05 pm
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. his boyhood hero f.d.r. ironically he reversed in many ways the new deal represented. you can say the political process has yet -- the will to address. weather it is the future of 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 reagan presidency within his much wider
10:06 pm
arguably historic and enduring shift where in many ways ronald reagan moved the center of political gravity to the right. >> let me -- you write, quote, by his own acknowledgement reagan arrived in washington with a script. in deed, by running in 19 0 -- 1980 on on a clearly articulated platform of less government, lower taxes, and entrepreneurship, 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 by a specific policy agenda. but remember, in 1980 the american people had been through a series of failed or tragically shortened presidencies.
10:07 pm
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 military standing. and there was a fear on the part of many people that the presidency itself had become too large an office for any one man to master. all of those things came together, and reagan didn't just tap into popular discontent with the status quo. clearly there is an element 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
10:08 pm
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 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 will 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
10:09 pm
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 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
10:10 pm
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. 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: first 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
10:11 pm
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 should be met. one of them, and i'm a little old-fashioned, 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 did. 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
10:12 pm
exhibits. and mrs. reagan was a very keen visual intelligence. she could take a story 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 had to do with having been in the movies. but it is a very interesting approach. they could both see things in ways that other people didn't. host: go back to your "time" magazine piece. reagan excelled at the politics of multiapplication. too many of his professed admirers appear to preefer division." guest: people thought -- they didn't like the direction that history was going. and it often tended to have a sour count nens.
10:13 pm
ronald reagan changed all that. one of the things he did was to put a smile on the face of conservativism. he was as optimistic about the future as he was, indeed, futuristic. those were not qualities 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
10:14 pm
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 president guilty of over-reaching, of doing everything on a texas-size scale actually had a centennial that was quite modest. the reagan 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, in many ways, a response to l.b.j. and the great society. when you think of what johnson -- that we take for granted headstart, medicare, medicaid, the voting rights act, the national endowment for the arts, pbs, clean air and water legislation, also environmental
10:15 pm
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 conservatives want to undo elements of the 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
10:16 pm
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 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
10:17 pm
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, and we talked to a lot of people at the 1976 convention. 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 those around governor reagan who i don't think were wild about the idea. but ronald reagan understood, first of all, this is what you do. i mean, party unity. but beyond that, i think he saw the opportunity and took it. edwin moore refers to 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.
10:18 pm
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 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 going 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 enough of governor reagan that night to know that we in the white house would have
10:19 pm
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 speak ill of a fellow republican . then he ran against ford. whatever the 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.
10:20 pm
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 the nomination, the condition was, that ford not offer the vice 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 votes, ohio was no more than that. and hawaii turned out to be
10:21 pm
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 legacy of the 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 unfashionable ideas are sent off the stage. what a perversion of the great chaotic yet essential
10:22 pm
marketplace of ideas that we call democracy. but then i have always believed at home and abroad that the only cure for what ales democracy is more democracy. >> in countries 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.
10:23 pm
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." he was also an old union negotiator. he was a practical person who wrote that it thinking that 80% of what he wanted, he thought it a victory. he did not stop there. one sense that politics was also the art of the impossible. a more conventional leader than reagan would have been content in the arms race where he measured success by slowing the
10:24 pm
rate of increase. reagan believed if you get rid of every nuclear ever -- what an honor. he brought that parallel universe, that way of seeing really -- reality to issue after issue. it is one way to explain why he is so difficult to pigeonhole, to label, to put into a box, because the first thing you need to know about ronald reagan is that he is the most unconventional political figure of this time. 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 reagan 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
10:25 pm
before, i was inviletted -- invited. that was the first 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 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
10:26 pm
was, we all know ronald reagan was a great storyteller, and the repertoire of stories overtime gradually diminished. but as a rule, he didn't tell white house stories. he told hollywood stories and he told dixon, illinois stories. and i'm told right to the end, as long as he was telling stories, in the end, was his lifeguarding experience 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.
10:27 pm
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 emotional bond that was created when millions of people, including many who never voted for reagan. i think after that 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
10:28 pm
" to drugs. i want to hear your view point on iran contra with the drug problem in compton, california, during the reagan administration. guest: i'm not sure 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
10:29 pm
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 to acknowledge the fact that people 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 matters. 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.
10:30 pm
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 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. let me 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
10:31 pm
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. 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
10:32 pm
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, and after 6:00 we're friends. i'm not friend 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
10:33 pm
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 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 within and outside the republican party saw that as a defining moment for the ford presidency. they took umbrage at it.
10:34 pm
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. 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 the 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
10:35 pm
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 social worker while my husband went to his keem treatment. -- chemo treatment. when i walked in the 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
10:36 pm
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 -- 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 hard you work, you don't really deserve anything. host: we'll leave it at that point. do you want to respond in anyway? 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.
10:37 pm
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 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
10:38 pm
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 holiday we are celebrating. host: we had that moment from january 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 americans 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.
10:39 pm
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 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, then 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
10:40 pm
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 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
10:41 pm
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] federal employees number 2.5 million. federal, state, and local 1-6 employed by government. 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 sell his 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: that speech was to
10:42 pm
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 money, 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 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 reagan. 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 the government who is guns the government. it is ironic that he 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
10:43 pm
reagan is the night 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 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
10:44 pm
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 forgetful. guest: i'm not a clinitian and i 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 morris 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.
10:45 pm
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. 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
10:46 pm
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? thank you 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
10:47 pm
no doubt that reagan would wormly endorse that. i think ronald reagan's conservativism was inclusive, broad-based, upbeat. you know, he signed an 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 visionaries who reshaped the republic,
10:48 pm
thomas jefferson, jackson, lincoln, roosevelt. ronald reagan. guest: sure. there are presidents who changed the country. who set it on -- in 2008 there was talk about reagan changing the trajectory of america in a way that he said, for example, richard nixon or bill clinton had not. 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 change the course of america. host: and you have a remarkable tour coming up?
10:49 pm
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. 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
10:50 pm
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 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
10:51 pm
unintentionally -- remember, particularly presidents that make big changes, are bound to have unintended 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. he wanted to balance the budget. he found quickly that he couldn't have all three. he made 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 conservatives, 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
10:52 pm
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 are still grappling with how to come to terms with all of that. that is one of the unintended consequences of the reagan revolution. host: our conversation is richard norton smith, the founder and director of the presidential historian library, also the herbert hoover library among others. caller. caller: i would like to know what you think about, since you know reagan so much, i want to know what you think about the mayor of new york, mayor bloomberg to change the law to run for a third time, and changing the law after so the people cannot decide it was supposed to be that way.
10:53 pm
host: term limits. guest: reagan said as he was going out of office that one of the things he was looking forward to doing was campaigning nora appeal of the constitutional amendment. remember, republicans were responsible for amending the constitution after franklin roosevelt won four elections and republicans regained congress briefly, one of the first things they did was to amend the constitution so there would never be another frarving lynn roosevelt. it backfired because eisenhower who could probably have won a third term had he chosen to, ronald reagan could probably have won a third term in 1988, had he chosen to, in any event he said he looked forward to repealing the amendment. we know at least in principle he believed it was a mistake to preclude the possibility that if the people wanted to elect the president a third time. we had to believe, we have been through so many one-term presidents this would be a
10:54 pm
burning issue. host: did ronald reagan restore popular confidence or did he unintentionally foster an american exceptionalism bordering on hubris, affording license to spend and borrow without thought of the consequences?" guest: it is one way of defining the debate from here on in, in terms of his continuing impact. we know there is an impact. we see it in politics today. not just in those ceremonial tributes on the floor of congress. is it an impact that, perhaps, no one including ronald reagan himself would have predicted or necessarily desired? host: one irony we brought up last week in conversation with former president bush is that
10:55 pm
his memoir is still number 10 on "the new york times." he sold well over a million books. ronald reagan's memoirs were not a best seller. guest: the timing is really important. first of all, president bush, 43, had said nothing really for a year and a half. he had almost taken the male. and i think there -- taken the mail. i think there was a real curiosity of what he might say. also he talked about things that were almost counterintuitive. i think he talked about things in an unexpected way. i think that element of surprise was not in the reagan memoir. and the timing. timing was everything. reagan had taken a good deal of heat for going to japan not long after leaving office and being paid i think $2 million for a couple speeches.
10:56 pm
the book came out at that time, and frankly, there was a bit of a reaction against it. it is likely the reissue of the reagan auto biography will sell more copies than it did when originally issued. host: belle we'll go to greg in danbury, connecticut. caller: i understand he was a lifeguard at one time and he saved so many people. is that true? caller: it is true. it was one of the things he was most proud of in his life. he talked about it frequently. in dixon illinois, for seven consecutive summers he worked as a lifeguard. this has been documented. this isn't a fish story, or whatever the lifeguard equivalent is of a fish story. he saved 77 people. ronald reagan was more observeant than many people thought. going back to that skit you showed from "start night live."
10:57 pm
it was interesting to hear reagan give a psychological portrait of the differences between men and women about to be rescued. men invariably pretended that they didn't have to be rescued and were stingy with saying thank you. women on the other hand were only too grateful to be rescued and notice how many of them were eager to get to know their rescuer better. host: winston -- ronald reagan had margaret thatcher. guest: and pope john paul ii. you start to think of the figures. helmut kohl in germany. meteran in france. these people did not agree with him philosophically, but they did meet more than their
10:58 pm
contemporaries do today. gorbachev is a historically looming figure. it was a remarkable time in terms of the cast of players that reagan had to work with. no doubt margaret thatcher that was elected two years ahead of reagan as prime minister of england and represented a sea change in the direction of that country was almost in many ways a dress rehearsal for what reagan wanted to do here. it is understandable they formed a special relationship. host: if reagan were alive today, what would he think of this centennial? guest: i think he would be a little embarrassed. he was a modest man. i think he would be flattered. anyone would. i think he would be proudest of the fact that his ideas or what he saw as his program atic policies contributions are still
10:59 pm
as relevant and as entrenched as they are, and it wasn't just a question of eight years in the white house. that in was something that endured long after he left. host: the web site again? guest: >> tomorrow on "washington journal" a look at democrats goals on spending and infrastructure. after that, grace marie turner with the galen institute dealing


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on