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tv   Q A  CSPAN  July 14, 2013 11:00pm-12:01am EDT

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questions from the members of of common sense. william haig on the situation in he middle east and north africa. africa. packer, when you look at the cover of your book, what's the purpose of the flag? that's a photograph of the somebody's front yard in rural virginia. a photographer happened to be that g past and noticed the flag painted on this white van was starting to rust and hought it was a striking image and asked the owner if he could
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take a picture. looked -- it's a piece of folk art and the book comes out coming out of d ordinary ence of americans. but g in battered shape it's a flag. i thought it was interesting for the cover. on the did you decide title and why? >> i was visiting the homestead reynolds with dean price, one of the main characters in the book. and we were standing there all of the fallowed farmland in that part of the tobacco hat used to be farms. he was imagining a future in fallow land this the be rejuvenated for purpose of making energy and out of canola and
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sophia: and other crops. he said there could be an go back to ere we 19th ing more like the century with each town and its own energy as it -- as it happened before the industrial age. -- the unwinding which i never heard in that complex stuck with me. price's eloquent voice. me was it said to something more about the teacher. it resonated in my sense about things that used to hold americans together. structures, institutions, social ties have frayed, have begun to come undone. the underlying theme. nuance resonance phrase. it's not a policy book. it does not tell you the ten wrong with america and
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how to fix them. a novel in ke onfiction form and it has some poetry to it. >> do you remember the day or the moment? >> it was in baghdad with my who was in with "the new york times". we were looking at a couple of contractors out of a green zone, eating cheese burgers. he turned to me and said, you now, we're just not that good anymore. and it really struck me, with full force. i knew exactly what he meant. know how or why our
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institutions kept failing there. every domestic institution that we counted on were domestic manufacturers, seemed to be in a state of collapse. a big story of generation-long process of the our institutions, the institutions that used to aspirations of ordinary people like dean price. it no longer works. people feel more and more alone. a big subject. doesn't come all at once. it really began for me when i iraq implode. that?at year was >> 2003 to 2007. probably be as about 2006 when you're getting bottom. the rock >> three main characters -- >> tammy tomlin? yeah. >> how did you select them?
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take dean first. ran across him by accident. figured it out. wasn't looking for him. was writing a piece for a congressman who had a short but interesting career in congress in 2006, in 2010 from southern virginia. introduced me to a guy who had america's first stop, a claim to flame in martinsville, virginia. phone withnds on the the proprietor, dean price, was downh to convince me to go there and not just interview staybut go down repeatedly in his house. get to know his family. right around north carolina which is south of the state line. a completely american
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connected preneurial to the land, but a visionary lot of ideas knocking around in his head. be willing to let me intrude on him to that extent that he was. first price became the person who i thought this is a big enough story -- a man who chain of truck stops that ailed and in a region that's failing, tobacco textiles have him, have gone, not much left. rebirth of theof land in biofuel and biodiesel. that's what he is -- he's done. he's become like a johnny apple the word around north carolina for biofuels so hat struck me as a big enough story that it could keep going. how old is he today? where does he live or how is he
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doing. turning 50 and i know how that feels. on u.s. 220 where all of the truck stops used to be. he's had unbelievable setback, personal bankruptcy, business bankruptcy. really dark times when it seemed like his biodiesel projects is fail. to the partnership dissolved. e keeps coming back in this way.ient never quit school systems around north carolina county by use waste restaurant of that he collects in all the fast food joints and barbecue projects to make biodiesel for the school buses to save money and it's good for
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the environment and it's a win-win-win as he likes to say. that's what he's doing. not quit.but he has there's an inspirational story. >> how did you find tammy thomas is she? >> she's a black woman in youngstown, ohio. lived her whole life in youngstown. the ife has coincided with collapse of youngstown. a big steel making city. '77, five years ith breathtaking speed, the entire steel industry left youngstown leaving, you know, 50,000 jobs taken away from a small community. she grew up a heroin addict and her mother in a way more than her mother was able to care for her. trying me the story of to stay awake as a little girl would smoke in bed so that she could wait for
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her mother to fall asleep and cigarette out of her hand and put it out. he was really raised by her great grandmother who took her to work where the great cleaned houses of rich white people in youngstown, the steel barons. and tammy developed this sort of wanting and a sense of to prove people wrong who doubted her. pregnant at 15. nd her granny cried and said you've broken my heart and tammy determined this would not be her education. graduated from high school, raised three kids by herself, the last wn one of good blue collar jobs in gm ngstown working at a autoparts factory. for 20 years, she was on the ssembly line doing the same thing day after day. and then just when she was getting close to retirement, the declared bankruptcy and
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took almost all of its american jobs to mexico. that was the end of one part of tammy's life. >> how old is she today and what is she doing today? now 47.think she is all of the characters in the book are of a roughly ten-year cohort, from the late -- bosh in the late 50s to the late 60s. the unwinding covers this past generation from the present. to the so i wanted characters whose dult lives coincided with that period. she's in youngstown. she's a community organizer. remade herself into that losing her asemily line job trying to power the young the city has e been in a death spiral to get things like vacant houses torn the city. to get better grocery stores city, basic things of
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life. >> how did you find her? price, i was n looking for someone like her. woman in the a rust belt. someone from the rust belt ecause the industrialization biggest and of the most painful occurrences of this past generation. so asking people who knew ohio, who knew the industrial midwest, know, came upon his name tammy thomas and she was not quite so quick to take me up as dean price was. over a long period of visits to youngs town, i got to know her and she would drive me east side where she grew up and said that used to be my elementary school. mother's house. orchard. a peach
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conton? > as soon as i heard the rough outlines of his biography, i in my wanted to have him book. you can't write about what happened to america in the last without taking washington into account. when he was an undergraduate of alabama, he ty of heard a young senator named joe speech which was a dazzling speech and he attached his ambitions to joe biden and biden, i'm going to -- if you run for president, i'll be you. with he thought he would ride that horse to the white house. '88 s involved in biden's campaign which ended badly in a .ertain scandal and over the years, he continued for biden but was increasingly disillusioned. say the least,to a nurturing boss.
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t turned into a transactional washington relationship, what he was up to, what was in it for me. conton left government service and became a lobbyist. that's part of why i was because the him revolving door is basically what it means to be in washington. he made a lot of money with a prominent lobbying firm here in during the boom of years g of the last 15 and lost the lobby in the and thel crisis in 2008 reconciliation of all of the characters in the book. government in the as the chief of staff to the senator who replaced biden. two years, kauffman and conton made it their mission to impose wall street m on coming out of the financial crisis. reinstate something close to glass eagle and to break up the banks if they got beyond a certain size and none that came to pass. but there's a lot of integrity
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in the fight. end, conoton who's just ofr 50 decided he had enough washington and he proceeded to burn every bridge he had to this by telling his story in his own memoir and to me. now he lives in savannah, georgia. book, istructure of this counted ten side characters. not characters, mostly well known people. pagesve about five or six to them. colinwinfrey, sam walton, powell. jay-z. elizabeth warren. why? be?t's that supposed to the structure of the book was difficult. it was crucial i get it right. story in a panoramic
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way but also intimately. main characters but i needed to show what was happening to the top of society, the vip celebrities influencing parts of our cultures. politics, there's newt more than any other toxic figure, created the atmosphere of the politics we're america. ow in >> found this moment, not this specific moment, but the idea in commentk and get you to on this. >> i help to pay in donations or conservation that the national zoo asks for. they're on permanent loan. and they'll grow to be much, bigger, ten feet long. the second thing was a local corporation, came to washington
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and i went out the fly down with the two dragons, i thought this of the g to be one highlights of my career. were in the kind of bags you carry sneakers in. they were -- they were much than this. and what they had done is taken the dragon, 18 inches long at them in a and put cheese cloth bag, tied the bag breathe hey could through the cheese cloth. they thought it was asleep. one each in into -- these two bags, zipped them up, nike or reebok bags and i the guy said, here, you carry yours. and i'm sitting there carrying a doe monitor or a komodo dragon. i got down here and they took they're very, very strong. >> 1994, december, right before speaker at the atlanta zoo. why did -- what's relevant to thing with newt gingrich. >> i mean, that reminds me of 8 newt gingrich when he was or 9 years old.
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when he was to the by dinosaurs and animals. he came out wondering why no zoo in harrisonburg. went to the parks department on think there aid i should be a zoo. that made the front page of the local paper. you can see the boyish in that clip. other sides to gingrich that are darker. ofre's a line in my portrait him. there's ten celebrity port rateses, each based on their own writings, their own work and -- their own language.
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he was so grown up at 9, the boy would grow up to seem 9 at 9. seemed 50 years old at the famous "new york daily news" of newt front page gingrich, something out of control about him. he said whatever he came to mind. he was volatile. was hugely ambitious. e came to congress in '78 not to build it up but to tear it down. o rebuild the republican party from the rubble. he did that. e succeeded beyond any expectation. he used c-span brilliantly. the yearme to congress gingrich came to congress. he performed for the cameras and eveloped a following and used the cameras to start the -- to the -- to tip o'neill and the democrats.
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and eventually became speaker. an he became speaker of institution that had been so his ized by tactics like that it ended up -- it ended up pierre g him like rose in the french revolution. that's why gingrich is in the ook as kind of a signature representative of the world of politics. >> video of a man named robert ruben. watch. >> i don't know if you have it two ways, pulling the levers or asleep at the switch. i think this is about as we try calamity, from this sure the responsibility. you are not a garden variety member. you're a chairman executive committee. you can characterize it. most, the chairman executive
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committee member on the board, $13 million a year guarantees leadership and responsibility. r. ruben assumed responsibility. said it was the honorable thing. prince,mr. ruben -- mr. when he resigned said it was the honorable thing to do. think my point is that leadership and responsibility matters. >> i agree with that. the executive committee is in that comment. t was a formal administrative apparatus in the institution nothing to do with ones role in the function of the institution. i did feel in '07 because of all of the problems -- it was problems all of the developed. i felt in '07 i should not get a the reasons you're alluding to. crisis s the financial inquiry committee. that's the leader there. ruben is the democrat.
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of e comes from the world finance as well as government. i see him as a talented and much ways d and in many worldsful figure in both the idn't understand that was his career is becoming more and more corrupt institution in the last at city the difference in wall street and the country that he thought ould be harmonized, especially in the clinton white house and treasury department, were pulling in opposite directions. opposed to each other. he didn't see that. and in that clip, what he senses is a man who cannot grapple with the xtent to with which world that made him and where he succeeded wildly is no longer, you know, a or an ethical or
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an -- you know, a part of that added value to americans. it had taken value away from face ans and he couldn't that. so certain pride in him that i disguised a little bit humility is always self-e facing. but beneath that there's a real pride that would not say i was responsible. and even alan greenspan said i was responsible. > we'll go back to the clip again. this is the $15 million he made every year after he was in government? >> yes. >> what job at that point? chairman of the executive committee of citigroup. he's trying to claim it's a insignificant position that had no day-to-day responsibilities. have been. the voice, the judgment, was so sandy weill that he
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as willing to pay an enormous sum to have ruben on hand. maybe ruben wasn't paying much attention while citigroup was billions of dollars in collateralized debt obligations going to blow up and ome people couldn't see it blowing up. hand's on the lever or asleep at the switch, neither is a good to have been. 50 go back to where robert ruben came to fore he government as secretary of the treasury. goldman sachs until clinton made him head of the and secretary l of the treasury. goldman sachs, he rose from being newly hired co-chairmen. of two he presided over the huge growth
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power of lth and goldman in its role in fixed ives, trading, ncome, and other areas that areas and uge growth they were but also have the bombs ticking away inside them as evident at 't the time. he was a democrat. he's part of what brought the in wall street closer together in the '80s. of the book isry how manufacturing disappeared from places like youngstown. replaced by financial services. valley were the engines of wealth. they did not create broad wealth. enriched a few a lot and some somewhat and left most out of the door. for ruben, wall street and
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ashington should work together and he brought the democratic party closer to wall street. end, it led in the to many americans saying what's the difference between the two they both are so dependent on the wall street or orporations which is the world of jeff connoton came of age in and had his career in. >> another man you write about is sam walton. before we look at that clip, who was he? >> a little bit like dean price, a small town from heartland and had a dream ownerng a store owner, an of chain stores and built walmart into the world's biggest empire. he's in the book as a representative of the world of business. kind of ticular business. more what re and america has become as
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manufacturing declined. that's partly because walmart prices down to a point where american manufacturers its demands and walmart, you know, turned to products in american manufacturers outsource their work. is, you know, is an economy in which wages and low.s are it's a consumer economy. it's sort of a cheap economy. and it's more and more the towns around ll the country like the ones that dean price and sam walton grew up in. to make a go of it as an entrepreneur owning within direct competition with walmart and ound he couldn't compete and he big box stores weree essentially laying waste to main streets where dean price grew up. > explain this from your book -- and i'll say it and you an correct it if it's not right -- that since walton today
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the american of people. >> the bottom 30%. they waltons, did participate in building the walmart company? > they had the great good luck of being his heirs but he built the company. nd it's interesting in his tory, until his death in 1992, walmart was mainly seen as a great american success story. started out in bentonville, alaska and became man in america. >> hillary clinton was on his board, you say? >> she feels. governors, and business titans would go to little bentonville to pay homage walton. he was kind of a king but a a $5 king who still had hair cut. and didn't tip the barber. that was kind of the story until he n success
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died. hen the media coverage of walmart shifted as if without hero as its public face, people began to see that killing offactually the character of all of the mall towns putting drugstore owners and shoe store owners on main street out of business. and as dean price once said to those weren't just the store ownerns, they were the pillars of the community. hey were the little league coaches and the rotary club presidents, city councilmen. business, the town lost something essential in its foundation. walmart, without sam walton, began to look more like a inister turn in the american economy where we had fewer and and decent factory jobs greasers.more store there's a family toward the end of the book in tampa which is one of the main locations of the book whose whole world is walmart. by they're very poor. they buy their pharmaceuticals,
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clothing, everything atwal mart. the father is trying to support four as a produce $8.50 an hour for 20 hours a week because there's no fulltime work. walmart is like the company that owns them and they can't out from it even though they resent it. dark sidemething of a in that. >> how did you pick the ten -- sam walton, colin alice walters, mark jay-z, and arthur warren? >> i wanted a representative look at american life. needed politics, business, finance, ent, food, article art. in the pattern that you see with jay-z and sam
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begin and oprah -- people in humble places and are not unlike the main characters, tammy. but who sort of reinvents new.selves as something and find a new language and a riveting to is americans. and through that, they build an empire. stop it.t it's almost like an imperative with the corporation. as aave to keep going even person, a brand, you have to keep growing. essentially a decadence where the language becomes a they f parody itself and no longer seem to be producing something good, they are just -- produce --ontinue to gingrich just keeps writing book after book. of every n the cover single issue of her magazine. o they become the celebrities that we are now familiar with ho are dominated in the imaginations in the way to
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replace the institutions that period of ed in this time. so i chose them for that reason. but also for a couple of elebrities who i chose because that you can ow still do good work without being aught up in the mania of celebrity. the short story writer, the the least field literature, he had a huge influence on riders and on culture and on readers because resilient cticed the truthful stories about america in his time. he die in 1988. he had a thank you put wows and life.ult alcoholic. wrote about that quite a bit. he last years of his life he managed to get sober and be very productive. stories u turn to his and you open them, start the ng -- the fairness of language, quite haunting.
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seems very ordinary. there's something strange about it. is that in es to me his period that he was sort of writing in the '60s, '70s, '80s, loneliness, an isolation to his character. they're not connected. institutions. politics doesn't exist, foreign countries don't exist. there's just the safe way to the beetle hall. that's what they got. is very loneliness apropos i think of the way a lot of americans live today. most of the characters live alone. >> this is a small item. i read here that we get a couple advance before the book comes out. on missing is the chapter andrew -- i wanted to know why it was missing from here? >> i ran out of gas.
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deadlineing to make my in december. sick. i had two small kids. i found it extremely difficult. in there had to be because if i'm writing about the undoing of our institutions, essential. nd brightbart to me is a perfect story of how with old media losing faith in itself and losing its revenue kind of just people you old on had this charl tan charmer who new how to use the internet to get attention with a polarizing approach. but he knew how to get attention to spook the old media and get inside its head.
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know, of coming out of nowhere in l.a. and ecoming this sort of major figure in new media seemed like it had to be in the books. died of a heart attack at 43? >> yeah, he was quite young, ago. few years >> he was adopted. >> yes. >> by a jewish father and mother. n >> i don't know if the mother was christian? i think they were both jewish. i'm not certain. iologically ancestry he was scottish. he talked about the rise and all of the golden age of the whole media. born and adopted, walter ronkite is in one out of every five house holds. as a toddler, woodward and bernstein are beginning to dig watergate scandal.
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of age, cable news rises up. cable news, on shouting heads on cable news, the internet, blogging, twitter, this transforms the landscape. and he is sort of perfectly to stride in to this landscape, all of the old "time" magazine, cbs news and say, i am here. to me. er listen >> what does it mean he was a iberal turned conservative, worked for drug and arianna huffing ton a conservative liberal? >> i think what it shows is that the loudest voices and the ones sort of gained the most attention are polarizing -- he and he could have could have gone either way. he could have ended up as a lefty. what mattered was look at me, me.ten to he knew how to get attention.
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flair from digging up scandal and blowing it out of and proportionip and get media to pay attention to pay g your refusal attention to me proves your bias against my point of view and the say, would get spooked and yes, withe will cover you. >> how long have you worked for new yorker? >> ten years. >> how many books have you written? >> written two novels and five books of nonfiction, and one play. how many copies of "assassin's gate" sold? it's about 100,000. i'm not sure. avoid knowing too much about my sales because it's so discouraging it might prevent me writing another book "the on nding" is selling well the best seller's list.
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but we that is unusual. > we were talking about jeff connoton earlier, worked for joe biden. him on the p of morning and this is around the impeachment issue. would he have been work ing? >> he had gone to the clinton council's , the office. and then just before impeachment began, he left and became a lobbyist. >> here he is at that time. to impeach a oing president, you have to have a consensus among the public and members themselves, a bipartisan consensus that there is a strong case for his impeachment. i think it's been clear for weeks now that there is no such consensus. certainly isn't that onsensus around constitutional scholars, 400 constitutional scholars have written the even if the ing president made false statements
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nder oath about a sexual relationship, that does not rise of an impeachable offense. >> how much time did you spend with him? >> we had a long correspondence. i had to convince him to let me write his story. story in ting his own a book called "the payoff." i went down and stayed with him for most of the week and spent many hours hearing the story of his life. including that period when he was out of government but really admired clinton. thought clinton was in it for a all of the right reasons and americans.rdinary so he stuck his neck out on cable news and on c-span on clinton. >> in the end, what does he joe biden?
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as if he hadn't joined the charmed inner circle that made a biden loyalist that he was going to lift a finger for you. connoton that in ashington there really is something cruelly transactional about relationships. >> one of the things he told language he uses off camera is rather strong. he could be -- he could be his aides, even humiliati
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humiliating. this is all 25 years ago. ago. is 25 years something about biden that is interesting in his story is that he's -- something incorruptible about him. money.s raising he hates doing favors. him eople who have helped raise money. -- he won't play k street game to the extent that his colleagues in the do.ate were happy to he got on the train and went .ack to wilmington because he was a fundraiser for -- n, it was like co flrks connoton was punished for that had to raise money for his election.
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>> our cameras caught this in 1997. this is not very long and put it in context. --the other question is >> who cares. >> could you quickly -- >> i think i should have a much do, i iq than you suspect. i went to law school on a full academic scholarship, the only class to have a full academic scholarship. the first year in law school, i want to be in t law school and ended up in the thirds of my class. then i went back to law school, of my ck to the top half class. i won the international competition. in the tanding student end of the science department. degrees.ed with three i would be delighted to sit down if compare my iq to yours you'd like. >> that was in claremont, new hampshire. near the end of the for president campaign when reporters were starting to
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uncover accusations of plagiarism in his campaign in law and coursework school, the misrepresentations about his grades, etc. you you can see biden, know, full of bluster with the cameras rolling. c-span was there. it was the first time the entire event was filmed. 89 rding to connoton, for minutes, biden was brilliant. this is his story. brilliant politician. but the last minute, the person kitchen or new hampshire, your d tnt you inflate grades? then biden attacked him in way a bully him look like and blow hard. there's a mix in biden and there's the inability to control of him. >> you quote -- not a quote.
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but i'll read it. money sub captains raised, the more access to biden their captain received. connoton kept track of it. a pin or a ho got dinner with biden. if one had to seed biden, he had to donate $1,000. connoton would tell the big-time donors, for $50,000, dinner with the senator at his house. $25,000, i could get you a dinner with the senator but not his house. the uch of this is new to unwinding here? connoton who jeff has the courage to tell in the l what goes on between politicians and the people who raise money for them and the people who give them money. an incredibly detailed picture of washington and on the in the media, seems to
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be tremendous polarization right but t and really they're joined by money and the need to raise money and to shape er of money legislation which is true for the democrats and republicans. connoton has honored himself by talking about the way it works. there's always been money in politics. read robert carroll and l.b.j. how that corrupted him when he was in the house and the senate. the late at began in '70s and has gotten bigger and the period , that's of the book, is how systematic it is. everything.des how it there's no escape from it. harken said a senator has to spend 50% of his free time aising money, just as an astonishing, you know, kind of week in, week out job alongside the job of being a senator.
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which is corrupting. for you work your ass off years for him, biden, he ignored humiliated you, took no interest in your advancement and never learned your name. that was his experience and according to him, it was the experience of others. not everyone's experience. there were those who bled biden blue. loyalists, brought into the inner circle and remained loyal. the white e now in house because of that service and that type relationship. get into that inner circle and a lot of people idn't and left biden after a few years. he didn't create what ted kennedy created, which was a core of biden guys who remained tight with him but went do other things because biden -- because ken dip
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realized having someone in the and someone in treasury and someone, you know, in the nonprofit world and was good forsiness his ideas. there wasn't that sense of creating a new generation. did you grow up? >> silicon valley, california. just santait wasn't, clara family. >> to what kind of a family? >> academic. parents were professors at stanford. mom, 88, a fiction writer. stories.s short my father died when i was 12. he was a law professor. this bookish in and political house hold while stanford university along with campuses were sort of blowing up in the late '60s. aware of bigger events and
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issues from a young age. in the any children family? >> i have a sister who's a novelist. a year and half older than me. >> your wife works for the new yorker? my wife is a freelance journalist. she's writing a tremendous book i think about iran that's going of the reform and democracy movement in iran that an interesting resurgence of the election of the president in that country. new yorker or the from time to time from iran. >> where did you go school? palont to public school in alto. 13 -- fore proposition the tax bill passed in '78. in the book gs happened around '78. i got out of the california school just in time before they became starved for funds. i went to yale. formal the end of my education. but the rest of my education
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continues to this day. years have you worked on this book? you talked about it, trying to get the idea for 2006? >> i really didn't begin reporting until 2010 when i met dean price. way into first -- the the book. and then two years of return visits to north carolina, return visits to youngstown, many visits to tampa, which is the of sort of the madness of the housing economy which turned housing nightmare a few years ago, visits to silicon about thatre's a lot big success story set off gainst some of these unhappier stories. that took two years and continued into 2012, but i had writing and i wrote it very quick lip. it took nine months in 2012. it just about killed me. >> how do you go about gathering your information when you
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interview and sit with others? >> you know, to write about people in deep intimate ways about their past, families, i had, to spend a lot of time just hanging out with them, driving driving in dean's old beatup honda as he went from county.o as ing in tammy's pontiac she took me around her childhood on the east side of youngstown. to dinner together. stayed at dean's house. so it wasn't a series of formal it was ws so much as talking and letting the tape gradually ll and filling out a picture of their life, not systematically take me your life from birth to the present. it had to be much more ad hoc nd over a long period of time and it took a lot of trust on
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both sides that this would not work out that it would for both of us. >> when you're out there researching, who pays for that? >> i paid for most of it because new yorker a project. this was a book. i paid for my plane tickets to familiar and greensboro. trips were part of stories like the first time i met dean price i was working on a new yorker was out of st of it my pocket. >> do you ever have a sense that you ear spending more money than it's worth. > yeah, and more time and effort. what is this going to add up to? am i going get what i need? back from ohiong once and telling laura, my wife, getting her not story. it's just not going to work. i went back and kept talking to tammy. then i began to look at my
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transcripts once i had finished the reporting and realized, i actually have a lot. creative comes a process of shaping its. multiple stories, three or four main characters, tampa, silicon valley, the ten elebrity profiles, how do i organize them? i'll begin with dean price. he's the beginning of the book. then break away from him and connoton, tammy thomas. ow long can i stay away from dean price before we start to forget about him and then i need to bring him back in. all these structural problems like solving a puzzle. it was fun to do. me to really challenged the limit to figure out a forum. there was no template other than
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80trilogy of novels published years ago by john doe's pasos usa, one of the favorite works of american literature to gave an idea of how reate a kaleidoscopic picture of america by weaving together the story. write the you preface. >> right at the end. >> no one can say when the when the coil , that held americans together in its secure and sometimes first gave way. like any great change, the in countless n times and in countless ways and point, the same country crossed the line of history and irretrievably different. what are the differences in your own life that you regret? words, what did you like in your early years that is now? >> i wrote that after finishing
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prologue isause the short. more like the overture because it introduces the character of images of the book without telling the images of the book without telling too much of what think. grew up in a very different california and a different america. it was in many ways less fair, less inclusive. if you were a black american, disenfranchised to a large extent. if you were a woman, you were thwarted. were gay, you were nonexistent. this deal that if you worked hard and if you educated your children, then there would be place for you in society. -- where i grew up, public schools were good. kids in the private schools were the ones that
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schools andn public were being corrected in private school. ilicon valley hadn't created -- superclass of sbrer entrepreneurs. of.lessness was unheard eagletarian place, more security. even if you were a nobody, you holding down a job, there's some recognition you were doing something valuable. disposable. not to be discarded if you haven't heard of you or we don't lot of money. the america we live in is much more unequal and stratified it's hard if you're born in the wrong place to move up. harder than it was then. we think of ourselves as a fluid society. we're more stratified, more of a class society. because that mobility is what justified our
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free wheeling capitalism. wheeling e free capitalism but people are stuck in place to a large extent. passing of a lot of those things. year 1978 t with the in your book and you list nine different years where you put headlines in there to describe the years. n your opinion, what are the major happenings changing in the last 30, 40 years. the e industrialization, loss of blue collar jobs that lay waste to a lot of cities and country. ss the >> brought along because of what? > global competition, technological change, outsourcing and offshoring. and the willingness of companies to do it. because germany has had the live in the same age of globalization without losing its manufacturing base, of undermining the
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standard of living of its middle class. some policy made decisions to hold on to some of those jobs and we have allowed happen in a much more sort which means some people got very wealthy especially through financial services. >> what impact did they have on it? had on it. >> the same, the same. you supported it. >> yeah. >> do you still do? >> i spent enough time there, saw enough of it, know enough to hink that war was a disaster for us and maybe for the iraqis. right now things look grim. iraq is returning to civil war because of the spill overperiod. point to anynts to gains beyond the ridding of the world from the world of saddam almost impossible to
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there's a gain. >> in your book, of all of the things that you write about and about, acters you write which one had the biggest impact on you? >> dean and tammy. both from, you know, tougher had.grounds than i both face greater obstacles than i do. both have far from quitting coming back inpt new ways and found new ways to when it eir lives just seemed as if everything was turning dark. tammy's fiance was shot and killed. she lost most of her pensions before retirement. of economic kinds adversity, dean's father ommitted suicide after being a
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ort of a failed fire and brimstone preacher. dean went bankrupt, as i said. and yet they both still remain invest in the american dream. whether or not it remains invested in them. hat's the question -- is there still a place in america for people like that. >> would you use the word "exceptional" in a description of the united states? >> i might have once. think we need to come to a appraisal. we're looking at a trimming of our sail, a slimming down of our in the d influence world. we need to create a better society here. we expended all of this wealth abroad in iraq and hollowing outhile here at home.
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our institutions were getting declining. a lot of places i've been, people say there is no middle class. just rich and poor. that's not the america i want to live in. george packer's book has been called the unwinding. n inner history of the new america. thank you very much. >> thank you.
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coming up next, british prime minister david cameron taking questions from members of the house of commons. then british foreign secretary william hague on the situation in the middle east. highlights from the australian parliaments june session. coming up on the next "washington journal," the consumer financial protection bureau representative discusses the duckling of student loan interest rates and the latest on a tentative deal in the senate. then the american petroleum and subdued president jack gerard talks about u.s. energy policy with a look at the obama administration's policies and a debate over the keystone xl pipeline. then special inspector general for


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