tv Newsmakers CSPAN December 21, 2014 6:00pm-7:01pm EST
and how they represented the time in which they lived, and then tom brokaw on his more than 50 years reporting world events. that is this christmas day on the c-span networks. for a complete schedule, go to c-span.org. coming up next on c-span, newsmakers with tom >> c-span, created by cable companies 30 years ago and brought to you by your satellite provider. >> tom price, republican of georgia.
andrew taylor. andrew taylor has the first question. >> we address the budget process on the need to know basis. with the republican senate, you have an opportunity to after thatng a budget resolution does not have any real legislative teeth, then you get to send the president other legislation. it can send send its tentacles to every corner of the government. what are your plans for that? >> the plans are yet to be determined. it is important people know the power of a reconciliation bill. reconciliation was used to bring about the balanced budget act
that was used in the early part of the last decade for the tax reductions in the early part of the obama administration. it was used for a obamacare. it is a powerful tool. we respect that. it is not a silver bullet. it cannot be used for everything. we are talking as a committee, and with the leadership. as i mentioned before these , answers will probably be determined at our retreat later. >> you mentioned it was used in budget andalance the it led to negotiations with president clinton that did bounce the budget for a few years. you past the ryan budget four years in a row but you never really followed up on some of the really difficult things you have done on that, on medicare, on tax reform, on cutting social programs. if you past the budget, why wouldn't you use the reconciliation bill to
implement it. >> we might. the budget is a visionary document. number theyoverall can use on the depression or a side and the nonmandatory automatic side. what it also does is lay out our vision for how we believe we ought to solve the challenges we face. medicare is going broke. social security is going broke. medicaid is no longer providing the services it needs to provide to those in the community from a health care standpoint. as a physician, these things concern me greatly. we believe we ought to work to strengthen these programs, not let them die on the vine, which is apparently what the other side believes. they have not brought about any fundamental reform. i am excited about the opportunities to be able to put forward our vision. to say this is how we believe we , would save and strengthen our
medicaid. this is how we believe we ought to move in the direction from social security so it doesn't get to a point where it is no longer able to provide the benefits to its recipients. >> republicans have control in both chambers of commerce. you guys are in the driver seat heading into 2016. as we all have watched the beenlican party there have some growing pains to power. there have been arguably some unhealthy disagreements. imagine the reconciliation, it is such a powerful tool. how comfortable are you going into that january retreat that you are going to come out with a unified strategy? >> i am very optimistic. look, the american people made a decision in november. what they said was the government was too large, it was too expansive, too prescriptive in all sorts of areas.
they made it so the senate is now 54% republican and the house of representatives has the largest republican majority since 1928. 62% of the governorships in this country. if you drew them out even further at the state legislative level, it's almost 70% of legislatures are controlled by the republicans. that is a message we ought to be listening to as a nation. we hope we can bring our democratic colleagues along and say this is an imperative time for this country to solve the challenges that we face. i think the nation is frustrated that congress hasn't done its job. >> the real question is can you bring ted cruz along, whether it be obamacare or not to include obamacare. you think you can get people like ted cruz on board with you? >> as we move through the process every single member of
the house of representatives -- every single individual will have an opportunity to talk with their colleagues about what they believe ought to be the solution that they bring forward. that kind of open, deliberate, open, ambitious process that will allow individuals to say, i know it can't be everything i wanted it want it to be, but i want it to affect the outcome. >> for the viewers who do not know the process, can you do something and try to repeal it? >> as i mentioned it was passed , through the process of reconciliation. this is a give and take. it's a process that has to work through the house and senate. the rules of the house and senate have to be adhered to. it is possible we can improve
some things with obamacare and in reconciliation. whether or not we can repeal the entire law itself is a point that is under question. >> ok. >> so, your budget is going to call for a fundamental change to medicare. right now medicare -- you pay premiums you pay copayments. ,you get a fixed basket of services. what your party wants to do is for people my age and our age is we would get a fixed subsidy. most of us would go out in the private market and purchase insurance. the criticism of that is that over time i would pay more and more out-of-pocket or eventually
i would get less benefits than i do now. why is it a good idea for the country? >> it is a good idea because the process is going broke. it's not going to be available for folks. this is not something that is my assessment or conclusion. this the conclusion of the medicare trustees. these are the nonpartisan folks with whether or not the program is viable for the long-term. it would be reckless and foolish not to look at this situation. that is what needs to be done. we believe that the way to bring that about is to allow seniors the voluntary option. not the government's choice. whether or not they remain in the medicare system or use their resources and purchase something that may be more responsive to them. if we do that, we think we
actually save resources and that's what the congressional budget. at the same time, we believe that provides for a more responsive system so patients actually get a higher level of quality of care. the current system is going broke. that is the current law. that is not something we can live with. >> so why not address the doctor or premiums? and premiums? >> that is part of the discussion. want to goey don't broke. they were destined to go bankrupt. we encourage them to help us out. we would like to solve this
together. >> one of the rallying cries has been to repeal and replace obama care. we've heard a lot about the repeal part, but we have not heard much about the replace. is that going to be vital to the republican message? are you working on anything like that? >> i think so. i have always been a champion positiveter of a alternative, a patient centered health care. they are making medical decisions. they have been working on it for five or six years. it is a bill that would provide the opportunity for every american to have the financial feasibility and wherewithal to purchase the health coverage they want, not what the government forces them to buy. to solve the insurance
challenges come the two biggest things are portability and pre-existing. develop a system that allows we need to individuals and every single americans own their own coverage regardless of who is paying for it. which means the relationship between the patient and the insurance company it's a whole lot different when the patients have that kind of power. then we have a process that allows us to save hundreds of billions of dollars every single year through what we believe is ending the practice of medicine. defense of madison. put people in charge, put patients in charge. all of that without putting washington in charge. >> we have talked about reconciliation. the other thing a budget does is it sets the overall amount of money for the appropriations bill. they fund the day-to-day operations of government as opposed to social security and medicare. they find everything from grants
to schools -- anyway, they fund the lot of them. and you have this fundamental problem, you have a bunch of people in your party saying this is too much money. i'm not going to vote for an appropriations bill. time after time i have to go to democrats to pass them. now that you have a republican senate, the equation changes. do you believe that you can set a level that can get these bills passed? what would those -- roughly speaking how do you think those , bills would look differently now? >> i do believe that. that is what we have done in the past. we have passed these on the republican side. >> you have had difficulty getting all the appropriations bills passed. >> that's true. republicans of stood up in the house and say that we believe it is time to begin rightsizing government. there are things the federal government ought to do and ought not to do.
we believe it is important to continue to bring down that discretionary spending level. that is the level that congress controls without having to touch the mandatory programs. you're right, though. many of those have had a difficult time getting through the house. the senate hasn't done any of that. so, we have been as responsible as we can be working with the democratic senate. i think the dynamic is going to change. i am enthusiastic and excited about the article one portion of the constitution, the legislative branch, being united as a party and working together to solve these challenges. there are a lot of tough decisions that are going to have to be made if we are going to get our economy back on trap -- track. if we are going to get jobs that will allow the next generation to realize their dreams. if are going to turn this economy around in a way that makes sense and makes us competitive in a global economy.
>> one of the problems the ryan budget had is after we had sequestration the caps went down very low. what the ryan budget did -- you wanted a pumped up defense and you took away from domestic bills. you got stock because you could not pass the domestic bills. so you had it a little bit of relief on mandatory spending and giving more to both defense and discretionary accounts. you are still stuck now with the freeze. what are you going to do? are you going to pump up defense and take away from domestic? or are you going to try to cut mandatory and help out these accounts? >> this is a very dangerous world. every single day we seek greater and greater example of the dangers the united states faces and the world faces from a security standpoint. i was over the pentagon this week to talk to leaders in the defense department to pick their brain about what it is that they
actually need. we need to know what the mission is an create a budget that a commerce is the mission. we don't need to fit whatever mission you can and that budget. that is backwards. one of the greatest responsibilities of the federal government, of the congress, is to protect the american people. what we need from the defense department is the defense -- is the definition of what that mission is and we need to fit the budget to that mission. what they would say right now is that the the $500 billion that has already been cut and harmful to their preparation, to their ability to fulfill the readiness that needs to be fulfilled. on the plate right now, on the projection with current law is further reductions in the defense arena that will result they say in an inability for us to accomplish what the mission has been defined us so far.
as so far. either we say that is not our mission anymore and reduce the budget or we say that is still our mission and provide a budget that will allow us to accomplish that mission. that is what this debate is going to be about. it is an incredibly important debate. >> we have had a busy month since the midterm. the president has this new immigration policy. we have a new cuba policy. and the sony hacking case has scared a lot of americans, unsure about what can happen. is there any space, place, or role in your budget to acknowledge or try to address what the president has done on immigration with cuba, or to account for cyber terrorism? do you need to make changes and acknowledge that, or is that something better left to the committee? >> one of the aspects is the
discretionary spending side, and that is setting a hard number for what they are able to spend in the next fiscal year. another portion of the budget is, as you know is to lay out , our vision. it is also to lay out our vision for how we solve many of the challenges we face. immigration is something we can interest in our budget, the national security issues we talked about. make a statement for what house republicans believe ought to be done as it relates to federal government in these areas. the american people are really concerned about not just where our standing is in the world right now, but the actions of this administration. when i go home, when i go to other districts i hear people , all the time say they are not certain this administration is following the letter of the law. they are not certain this administration is confining itself to the role of the executive branch as we have known in the past. they are very troubled by
believe whothey seems to be making it up on the fly, without congressional consent and authorization. we will look at that. we have 10 new members on the republican side. many of them freshmen. we want their input as well. we will be looking at all of these things. >> one of the few things we looked at was addressing social security. is this something you plan to include in your budget? some proposed reforms to social security? >> we certainly need to talk about it. social security as it's currently constructed is going broke. that is not my assessment, that is the assessment of -- >> in 20 years, there is a long fuse in that program. >> most individuals can remember what they are doing in 1994. 20 years is not a long time.
20 years ago we had much greater latitude on the financial side as a nation. we did not have the kind of deficits and debt we have so we don't have as much flexibility. >> we will see a social security party for the budget? part of your budget? >> i hope so. it is part of the discussion, i am hopeful they will be able -- to address it. nobody thought a republican budget would have laid out a path to strengthening and securing medicare. the american people understand and appreciate it is house republicans who are taking the challenge and saying we want to solve these remarkable difficulties we have as a nation moving forward.
we want to solve them in a way that respects the individuals who receive the services of these programs and make sure that make certain they are there for future generations. >> we have about five minutes left. >> one of the aspects of the current economic recovery is that jobs for people in the lower and middle income portions of the economy, people who have lost her jobs are getting jobs at wages typically lower. meanwhile we have this small segment of wealthy individuals who are disproportionately able to prosper. the big criticism you are going to face on your budget is that it will cut spending to medicaid, which is important to tens of millions of people.
food stamps and other elements of the social safety net. while on the other hand you have a tax reform goal with a two cut the top rate down to 25%. can you respond to that criticism? >> i would not buy your premise that our program cut social safety net. we will continue to put forward the positive solutions for the social safety net. we are adamant to make sure that individuals down on their luck in our country are able to have the kind of resources that they need. in order to move things forward in a positive direction and make it so we do not continue to have these it or budget battles in washington, we have to grow the economy. we can't simply reduce spending and have things balanced. four out of the last six years over $1nnual deficits
trillion in this country. you wouldn't even balance the budget. that is the magnitude of the challenge. we have to grow our way out of this. we have to get this economy rolling again. we would suggest to you and the american people that many of the programs out of this administration are harming economic growth, whether it is is affordable care act or obamacare that is punishing businesses. you have small businesses trying to grow and expand. but if they get more than 50 employees, then they come under different rules from a health care standpoint, so they are tamping down their ability to expand. you have folks moving from full-time to part-time employment because that is what the administration has dictated to them if they don't want to come under the rules and federations of the federal government as a relates to the affordable health care act. what once were 40 hour weeks are now 30 hour weeks. this administration has resulted
in an economy that is not growing as rapidly as it should and not creating the jobs for those individuals to be able to climb out of the economic difficulties they find themselves in. >> jim webb and jeb bush have made a step towards the white house. we are expecting a lot more people to throw their hat in the ring in the next few months. that will coincide with the budget process in the house, where you are going to need a lot of unity and people coming together. maybe making some tough decisions. are you worried presidential politics is going to overwhelm what you guys are trying to pull off in 2015? as more and more republicans try to position themselves to be either to the center or the right? or lead the party into the white house? >> i am excited about the opportunities for those individuals to be able to look at the house republican budget and say, that is what we think should be done.
that is the way we believe we ought to be able to address the remarkable challenges we have. our budget is more than just numbers on a sheet of paper. it is a vision. it's how we would be able to save this nation, the greatest nation in the history of the world, that is the opportunity we have. i am hopeful that as many candidates on that side of the aisle will look to the house budget committee for leadership on those programs. whether it is an energy policy that allows us to get this economy rolling again. whether it is a national security policy that recognizes that national security is the number one responsibility of a federal government. those kinds of policies, visions, goals will be what we lay out in our budget. >> do you think the more the merrier? >> i have more than i can say grace over the house budget committee. i am happy to have those individuals who believe they can
move this nation in the right direction. we look forward to working with the each of them as they formulate their plans. >> congressman, we will finish appear. tell our viewers what happens in january. when do things pick up for the budget committee? what are the first steps? >> it starts right away. the budget is frontloaded in congress. we will have to pass a budget through our committee and through the floor of the house of representatives by march 26. if you backup from that, you have to get going right away. we will organize in the first week or two. we will get the committee together, both republicans and democrats, and formulate the rules under which we operate. we will then move through a process of hearings, listening to what the president will present. listening to those individuals in the defense community. giving us their ideas of what their budget should look like.
we will work through in work sessions and have that wonderful new enthusiasm and vitality of those 10 new folks coming in in our committee. then we will go through a marker, where we finalize the budget in our committee. usually a 14-18 hour day process. that will likely happen in the middle of march. then we will pass a budget by the 26th of march. >> congressman tom price, thank you for being this week's newsmaker. >> thank you so much. >> we are back with our reporters. damien paletta of the wall street journal, and david from the associated press.
replacing a better-known paul ryan. what is going to be tom price's role in the budget? >> he does have a tough act to follow. paul ryan has written a budget for four straight years with this republican majority in the house. it has largely been the same. it adjusts for economic conditions and the opportunity to balance. his budget is going to keep the spending cut or flat, depending on whether it is for agencies or medicare, and he is going to try to balance it in 10 years. his role is to manage that process by educating members of congress and coordinating staff work to get it done. and then dealing with the senate, which is a whole different animal than the house. as we saw he is smart and , articulate, which are two of the qualities he needs. his political judgment is large
untested. so we will see were that goes. >> we have seen the fight rake out in the republican party over the budget. what is it going to be like? what do you hear about these new candidates about getting on board? >> the interparty civil war will be interesting for these first few months. the most important thing was how it became the republican defective platform going into the 2012 election. whoever the nominee would is will be tended to this price budget. democrats use the ryan budget like a weapon in the 2012 elections. they were large and successful. trying to get a lot of senior citizens worked up about the changes to medicare and cuts to domestic programs.
the republicans have played defense a couple of times in this budget. they know the selling points. this budget is going to be very significant. there are going to be these potential candidates see what works and what might blow up in tom price's face. especially if there is a republican revolt on the house or senate floor. >> what did you hear about that process and trying to avoid their budget being used as a weapon? >> they are going to try to avoid the house and senate floor, by allowing everyone to air their grievances and thoughts initially' so everyone feels like they get a fair shake. it's answer to my question about social security was also interesting. he said he wanted to propose social security but he was noncommittal. that is an issue that democrats would leap on. andany voters are seniors
their bare protective of social security. i think that is the kind of was told to back down on by party leaders. >> the big difference between the ryan budget and the senate republicans budget is the ryan budget was just a house only exercise. it was a document they passed and put on a shelf and never wrote the legislation that was what implement it. for all the stock of support they never actually written a , bill to implement that. now they are going to write a bill to implement cuts which are going to create controversy. and they have this big conundrum on the appropriations process. as we discussed with the incoming chairman they've always , needed democrats to pass those bills. if they do an all republican budget, they will have a tough time passing those bills. that will be a big test. the various factions of the
party are going to be severely tested by this. it will be interesting to see. >> who will be his counterpart in the senate? and yes, they're going to have the majority in the senate -- >> well there was a fight going , on behind the scenes. for some reason mike enzi has superiority. he's going to be the next chairman. he is a wyoming republican, hasn't had a big imprint on policy thus far. other than his work on the health education labor community where he is working in a , bipartisan way. now he is going out into a partisan environment. he is not providing a communicator with the public. we will see were that goes. the thing you need to remember is that they are representing entire states. tom price represents the district that is very strongly republican.
that shapes his worldview. most of his republican colleagues are in the same boat. >> there is a big difference between senator and jeff sessions as chairman of the budget committee. >> right. i looked at this. they are equally conservative. they both opposed the rubio immigration bill in 2013. they both voted against reopening the government. they're both very conservative, but their style is much different. senator sessions is much more out there in terms of poking and prodding. if he opposes something he sings it from the mountain tops. the other is more of a quiet guy. republican leaders see him as predictable and easy to figure out where he is going to go. sessions might have been more
fun for us to cover -- basically what is the first , budget fight or battle? >> i think the first fight is going to be whether they use this reconciliation tool as a way to go after obama care and save themselves from the heartburn of trying to impose their budget or enacted budget or whether they are going to say let's just do it. that would be a much bolder move. and much more challenging. >> all right. andrew taylor. damien paletta of the wall street journal, thank you both. we appreciate it. quick sure. >> sure. problem of ted kennedy? said, --
administrations talk about the books. ci director leon panetta on his book, worthy fights. former defense secretary robert gates talks about his book duty. and timothy geithner talks about his book stress test. that begins at a 30 p.m. eastern on c-span two. >> here's a look at some of the programs you will find christmas .ay on the c-span networks holiday festivities start at 10 on c-span with the lighting of the national christmas tree. that is followed by the white house christmas decorations with first lady michelle obama. lighting of the capitol christmas tree. just after 12:00 p.m., celebrity activist talk about the causes. and it :00, samuel alito and former for the government to push on the bill rights and the founding fathers. on c-span2 at and a clock a.m. eastern, venture into the art of good writing with steven think
of. 1230, see the feminist side of a superhero as we search for the secret history of wonder woman. p.m., authors and others talk about the reading habits. on american history tv on c-span3 at it :00 a.m. eastern, the follow the berlin wall with c-span footage of president george bush and bob dole with speeches from president's kennedy and ronald reagan. theoon, fashion aspects on first lady fashion choices and how they represented this thousand the times in which they lived. and then at 10:00, former nbc news anchor tom brokaw on his more than 50 years of reporting on world events. day onthis christmas c-span networks. for a complete schedule, go to c-span.org. >> next, discussion on what makes a president great. this was the start of a weeklong officers then that began today on washington journal. it is about 50 minutes.
host: we want to welcome back aaron david miller, with his new book, "the end of greatness: why america can't have (and doesn't want) another great president." explain. guest: very simple. several factors have emerged to conspire against presidential greatness in our system. we do not want another great president because presidential greatness is driven by one thing and one thing only, so, if you want another great president, buckle your seatbelt because you will have a crisis that is relentless, inescapable, and very risky. host: we will talk more. i want to read one excerpt as we begin christmas day week.
you write, -- guest: it is a sense of sober of knowledge meant that the nature of the political system is changing, the nature of the way we appreciate greatness in our own politics has changed. the absence of shared responsibility, shared sacrifice, it makes it very difficult to imagine greatness in a president if we cannot in essence imagine greatness in ourselves. that is not a message people want to hear, but it is a realistic one.
i do not think the country is in danger of collapse. i have a profound belief in the american story, but i think we have to get a grip and stop -- stop expecting presidents to be great, so we can allow them to be good, effective, and moral, and remain within the parameters. host: the great president listened as our first one, our 16th president, and franklin d roosevelt. you write he was the last great president. >>i call these three the indispensable's. that is to say, that is to say, they're separated by different personalities and challenges and challenges in different times, but the reality is they accomplish several things that put the middle-class of their own. they inherited the three worst crises and challenges the nation faced, they extracted transformational change about the way we see ourselves, in ways that endured. finally, they have grown to be appreciated to rise above the narrow partisan debate and recognized figures to be recognized as national treasures. it is very hard to imagine today in our politics, just thinking
about the last decade or so. a genuinely popular and beloved president, however polarizing, who rose above republican and democratic politics to think about and be perceived as a national treasure. that is why it is so hard. the media, the changing the nature of our politics, changing the nature of our crises. they all inspired to make it very hard to imagine another undeniably great president seen by the public. time is the ultimate arbiter here. no one can predict in a matter of days or months. but even with the benefit of time, it is hard to imagine any of the 12 men who held the presidency since fdr the longing
-- belonging in that category. >> two president you qualify as great at being president -- -- bill clinton, ronald reagan. explain. guest: those two and fdr, probably the three greatest politicians in the last 60 years as president. they understood the job. clinton in some profound agree, undermined his own legacy by his own indiscretions. but he is still perceived as genuinely popular. he understood politics and he liked politics. ronald reagan loved politics. barack obama is more to attack, detached and less emotive. in some sense he does not like politics. you have to at least create a real bond with the american public. that is not easy to do. >> another category, failure in
one area, failure for and in vietnam and richard nixon, it was watergate, but great heights in another. these of the high-low presidents. guest: johnson was probably the greatest transformative legislative president since fdr. you had vietnam fundamentally undermining his presidency and kept them out, and would continue to do so. and richard nixon, a man who undermined the constitutional system he pledged to protect, and again, i think one of the most effective foreign-policy president come despite imperfections. host: you study the american presidency, who preceded them, and you writing your book, great presidents were preceded by weaker ones. one term acts never had a chance
to make greatness like accidental presidents like truman and johnson, who would emerge to become quite consequential. >> where you are in the sequence, and who proceeds you and follows you is extremely important. two of these greatest president, lincoln and fdr, were preceded by two of our worst. herbert hoover could not anticipate let alone cope with the impending crises that they faced. harry truman followed one of the great sachsen the presidency, franklin roosevelt one of the , most underestimated men to hold the office. consequential president primarily for his foreign-policy decisions. >> the prescription for greatness all begins with the letter c. crisis, capacity to succeed once
the crisis occurs, and character. >> yes. those of the three c's which drive undeniable greatness. presidents can actually do great things in office. negotiated the egyptian-israeli peace treaty. without him, there probably would have not been a peace treaty. that was a great act. was jimmy carter considered a great president? we never had a one term or who was great. no. crisis, character, and capacity. the three c's have to align to create that kind of greatness. when i say great, i am talking about great. we trivialize the word. i use the word great i bet 15 times a day. "he is a great tennis player." we have emptied the word literally of any significance in
and any meaning. more than that, we have transferred our image of greatness from our political system and our politicians, with whom we've lost great confidence, to our actors. there, perfectly prepared to succeed in wreck nice greatness, and without cynicism. you buy a ticket, they are expensive. you can appreciate a great movie by great actor, great sports event, and that notion of transferring, the notion of heroes, to our entertainment culture, any actors were fallen. nonetheless, we continue to do that, and it is symptomatic, frankly, of the end of an era, where greatness really is a the appreciated in our politics. >> let's go back to the word great, near great. making a list of near great residents, thomas jefferson,
andrew jackson, theodore roosevelt, woodrow wilson, harry truman. why andrew jackson? >> they are the close but no cigar presidents. their failures were larger than the undeniable's. their accomplishments not nearly as great. but they dominated their age. andrew jackson dominated his age. slave owner. truman, even woodrow wilson. i work for the woodrow wilson center for scholars.
but even wilson, a great transformer and legislative resident, the architect of american entry for all -- and yet falls low over idealism and tried to negotiate a peace with a league of nations. so accomplishment significant, presided over a time politically, and yet the asterix associated with the president's is too large, put them in the undeniably great category. host: all this week, we are focusing on the leading authors and publications out this year. we are kicking off this week with aaron david miller and his book on the end of greatness. our phone lines are we will get your calls in just a minute. the three undeniably great presidents straddled the american story. washington, the proverbial father of his country, lincoln, who kept it whole, and roosevelt, who won his greatest war. guest: the conclusion is
annoyingly negative and somewhat depressing, but my contention is undeniable graces is driven by crisis. without crisis, the nation encumbering character that is, artfully and willfully addressed by the great president. we have plenty of crises. the question is some of them affect the future of the country. the question is whether these crises unite us as the three great crises we face have done, which allow these presidents -- or whether the crises divide us and polarize the public pier and political elites. we have plenty of crises, but they are not functional. they lead to dysfunction, polarization, partisanship, and the inability to take on the great issues. host: our guest has advised more than half a dozen secretaries of state on mideast policies. previouslymiller
with strategic and international studies, and the former president of seeds of peace. let's get to your phone calls. john in tampa, florida, good morning. caller: yes, i totally agree with the author, but i would like to go beyond that. the presidents we have had over the last 20 years has actually been destructive. they have hurt the american people. clinton signed off on nasa and he signed off on china as the most-favored-nation status, those three things in themselves are responsible for the permanent, low-wage economy we have now. then george w. bush picked up the ball and ran with allowing all the illegal aliens in the country to lower the wages for u.s. citizens that are middle-class, and he also signed cafta. calf
and now hillary clinton talks about income inequality while at the same time going behind the scenes to big multinational corporations, and she will be a nightmare. the only hope for the country is someone like elizabeth warren. she is truly sincere about helping the middle-class and the economy. guest: he raises an interesting points. there is no republican or democratic president that lack these imperfections. even the greats. washington was a slave owner. lincoln's views on slavery was white pragmatic. he was prepared to tolerate slavery where it existed. and fdr, his decision, japanese-americans in california, his own infidelities. these were very imperfect individuals, not just in their personal lives, to some degree, but also in the policies they
pursued. john you will not get a perfect , president and you will not get a president that will not stumble. it is, i am afraid, focus on the individual and rather than the system the individual operates and the constraints of the presidency itself that leads us to personalize the presidential argument far more than we should. look, the founders basically created a system in which they did not want a single individual concentrate power. so they created a system, to quote one of the great liberal scientists, an open invitation to struggle. we paid much too much attention to the personality pieces. even though character is very important, and much less for the circumstances in which presidents operate and the nature of presidency itself. you can find faults and flaws with every single american president. the question is, can we find a
president that is good in the sense they are effective, good in the sense they are moral, and good in the sense they are not driven and haunted by demons. the reality is, far too often, among our last 12 presidents we have concentrated on individuals and failed to appreciate the circumstances in which they operate. host: california, don is on the phone independent line. ,good morning. caller: good morning. thank you for c-span. mr. miller, i did see your recent presentation on c-span. very thoughtful. i would recommend the book to anyone. just looking back to the 1960's, and the assassinations of presidents and potential presidents, i would say greatness can be dangerous to your health.
thank you. host: thank you for the call. guest: it is interesting. the founders feared great men. rushed one of the , signers, but they were alive. benjamin franklin believed in addition to warren, great man were the greatest threats to humanity. i think in our system, there is a danger with the over concentration of power. we have a volunteer military united states, -- which most politicians and serious war planners would probably not want to change. the volunteer military affords an asset to the president to be used in some respects much more at his or her own discretion, because the country basically is separated.
we follow up the two longest wars in american history, iraq and afghanistan. you could argue that the country was never at work, but the military was. one of the problems with the concentration of power is that residents must remain to the degree that they are responsible within the law. the personal pronoun i is only ,se once in the constitution and it is an intriguing question, why would the personal pronoun i be used in the constitution, it goes the document. the authorities here is not the president, it's the constitution and the sovereign. the sovereign is us. >> less than great presidents, ulysses s. grant, dwight d. eisenhower -- both army generals.
>> they were great before they became president. and i think both are in the process of making a recovery. ike's status has risen in large part because of his discretion and avoiding vietnam, opening archives, historian fred greenstein would say he was a more decisive leader. probably the highest public approval rating of any president. grants, one of the most popular men of america when he died caught up in scandal, but again, , a president that acted boldly, with respect to civil rights in the south. i think more appreciated. i try to draw the distinction between presidents who were great, made their reputations before they even became
president, and i think it's a useful distinction to make. >> didn't grant write the most extensive memoire of the presidency? >> yes, and one of the most easy to read and one of the most entertaining and instructive. host: as he was battling throat cancer. aaron david miller the book "the , end of greatness" on the american presidency. john? caller: yes, i appreciate the discussion. i think the book raises main -- many issues. my comment is that the reason why we will not get great presidents is that we have basically an uninformed and unenengaged electorate. host: do you agree or disagree? guest: i try not to take unnecessary shots at the american people. i am not entirely persuaded,
john, that things are fundamentally changed over the course of the last century or two in terms of how integrated people really are in understanding the complexities of politics. i mean, given the tools at our disposal with the internet and the access to information, you could argue -- you could make a compelling case in many respects, people are more engaged. certainly the bases are engaged. i think the point is less the degree to which the nation is informed about the details and the absence of a shared sense of sacrifice of national obligation and shared commitment. i think that really is the problem. you know, i had a conversation with my daughter. she is now 34. when she was in her early 20s and she said your parents -- meaning mine -- had the great depression of world war ii. your yenration, meaning my
generation had vietnam, civil rights, watergate. she turned to me and saidplatively and said, what does my generation have? where are the overarching, nation-cumbering things that make me wants to engage? i think that problem, the sense that we are alienated from an overall, overriding narrative and a sense freed from a sense of collective responsibility, i think that is perhaps even a much greater challenge than the one that would argue that we are simply not as well informed as we should be. host: from the massachusetts, independent like, mark, good morning. caller: good morning. hello. hello. in regards to what -- the comment you made, i am about the same as as her as well.
9-11 was definitely the defining moment. maybe it hadn't asked happened when you asked her. as far as i am concerned, that was a pivot points in my life. i had graduated from college and definitely sent the president for better or worse. we have had ups and downs, but i think in regards to your opening statement with the three greats, the three, i think it's undeniable. i think lincoln, washington and f.d.r., you know, were the best of the best, but, you know, kennedy was cut down short, and i think that historically, obama will be viewed as maybe not one of the greats, but definitely in the top 10 percentile. host: thank you for the call. you mentioned 9/11. where do you put george w. bush? guest: 9/11 was one of the rare moments that we did come together.
paradoxically, maybe no president could have used 9/11 to infuse the country with a sense of national purpose. it created wars fought by .5% of the country, by three million people. when my father went to war in 1941, there were 130 million in the united states. 16 million put on a uniform. i this is why i think we have to be very wary of wishing for crises in order to create great presidents. 9/11 quickly evaporated as a national consciousness-raising exercise. there was not an effort on the part of the previous administration to create a sense of national service of some kind, energy independence.