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tv   Q A  CSPAN  February 9, 2015 6:00am-7:01am EST

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we have a ton of political commentary but how to think about internal life, we do not have public figures. we used to have been in the culture, but now we don't have that many. so i am filling a bit of a related by talking about moral issues. brian lamb: one thing that got my attention is your sidney awards that you give out. this interview is going to be about your writing and your thinking but when did that start? david brooks: it is the best articles from that year. the idea is that they come out around the christmas week, between christmas and new year's, and that that is a good week to step out and not read incidental stuff but step back and have the time to read something deeper.
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brian lamb: why are they named after sidney hook? david brooks: because he was a reflective philosopher. i was at stanford at the hoover institution and we had coffee and cookies. and there was one table where the economists sat, milton friedman. and the other was sidney hook. and i got to choose which table to sit at. i remember one time, he explained the problem of evil over about three hours. six or seven or eight of us just listening to him. he is an exemplar of a person who is passionately engaged in politics but also reflective and well educated. if the news is here, sidney hook
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was up here. the idea was to lift us up from the day to day flow of events. and so it seemed to me he was someone with celebrating, so i named it or him. -- named it after him. brian lamb: you talked for three hours but what was his basic point about evil and god? david brooks: people have wrestled with this problem, why does a benevolent god allow children to die? if he solved that one, then he deserves immortality because many people have taken a stab at that one and failed. like i said, he was an atheist and when i was there he had an operation that nearly killed him. he wrote to “the new york times" saying he wished they had let him die.
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this was a man who was full of life. he was quite elderly, but fully engaged. he accepted there was no afterlife and was willing to go. a man of stark intellectual bravery. brian lamb: how well did you know him? david brooks: i would not say i knew him well. again we spent time at hoover , together and there were other conferences i saw him at. i would not say i knew him well. i would recommend to anyone that goes on amazon or a used book site that they read his memoirs which are really good if you want to understand intellectual life in the 20th century. he was a marxist, he wrote about leadership, he migrated into anti-communist without giving up his marxism. all the currents of the 20th century ran through sidney hook. he was involved in all of the big fights, especially throughout the cold war. brian lamb: we have some video that goes back. 1969, march of 1969.
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he was on bill buckley's "firing line." just watch enough, we have a cup clip so you will see what it was like. >> they say that socialism becomes anything for which we can enrich the democratic way of life. >> i am sure you believe in socialism because you believe it can accomplish something good. not bad. >> i believe it is more in harmony with what i defined as the democratic way of life. >> there was of course, as you know, the theorist who wrote around the same time said that one of the functions of the democracy is to keep private property perpetually insecure. it seems to be a lord somebody. >> anyway, he was a bad socialist. [laughter]
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bad thinker. brian lamb: talk about thinking. david brooks: first, about that clip, it is all white men. that would not be how we would do an audience. also, bill buckley was my mentor, he created my career. the level of conversation on that show is amazing. buckley did not bow down to an audience, he had a high level conversation. i saw him with noam chomsky where they went back and forth. i am reasonably well-educated but i could not understand what they were saying. that is to be celebrated. we had an intellectual golden age between 1955 and 1965. higher than journalism but lower than professors, big and ambitious books with a public
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effect. people like rachel carson, james jacobs. it was the golden age. these were big bestsellers. the idea was you would take intellectual risks, you were not confined within an academic discipline with rigour and intellectual language. they were big and ambitious and sidney hook was a part of that. he wrote a book about the leader in history. they attracted big readerships if you look at the bestseller lists in those days. we do not have that as much today.
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i think in part because we are not audacious enough, not willing to take risk, worried about getting it wrong. sidney hook went to -- i do not know if he went to city college or not. brian lamb: he did. david brooks: it is rare to find people that have done that. brian lamb: talk about when you do your thinking. david brooks: one advantage is i went to the university of chicago. the joke is that it is a baptist school where atheist professors
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teach jewish students. reading people that you disagree with, as a columnist i do not think it is my job to tell people what to think, it is to give them a context in which to think. so they can react to my columns, good or bad, as long as they are thinking. and so i do think the process of thinking still requires the background reading. you have to be familiar with the big ideas, you have to see all sides, and you have to take walks. and then just try to think things through and let things bubble up to you. my day, like most writers, is pretty regimented. i write in the morning between seven :00 and 9:30. but then i am burned out. i am done.
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my brain can only work for about three hours of writing and then it is just fried and everything else that produces will be mediocre. i often call my friends at 9:30. you look at the work patterns of great writers and thinkers and composers. i have a friend who is a writer, i do not think he would mind me saying it, he is a prominent writer at harvard, i am told that he takes long showers because that is a great time to think. and so those kinds of activities, you have to give yourself space. maybe there is somebody out there that can sit at a desk and say i will think of this problem, i am not one of those people, the feet have to be moving.
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brian lamb: to the sidney awards, you give anything away? david brooks: it is all for honor. brian lamb: did you think about other people to name it after? david brooks: the first years i called them the hookies but that did not work so i changed it to the sydneys. it is partly because of my admiration for the public intellectuals of that era. brian lamb: let's watch a little more of him, this was later on back in 1987. >> we thought that socialism meant that the ideals of democracy would be extended to all areas of human life. and even today, when someone asks me, do you still regard yourself as a socialist?
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i say, if you permit me to define socialism, i would define it in deweyian terms as the belief in democracy as a way of life. brian lamb: deweyian terms, john dewey. he says he is a pragmatist. what does that mean? david brooks: i have tried to read dewey many times, he is the worst writer imaginable. he was an early 20th century philosopher and writer on education. i am not the best person to talk because i have tried to read him many times and failed. the thing about him calling himself a socialist, people deeply committed to ideas, they grew out of that movement.
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they might have turned right or stayed left but they never grew out of that because socialism was an ideal that would change the world. it was like a secular religion. he went to city college and at city college, the professors were ok, there was one great professor. the education was ok. these students were awesome. in the cafeteria, there were two alcoves. alcove one and alcove two. in alcove one, the stalinists sat. they thought they marcus spur going to conquer the -- they thought the marxists were going to conquer the world. in alcove two, the trotskyites sat. they argued back and forth and the trotskyites were smarter than the stalinists and the stalinists were forbidden from talking to the trotskyites because they would lose the arguments. if you look at the people that were trotskyites in the alcove some of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. sidney hook, irving kristol,
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daniel bell, a whole series of others who i am now forgetting. brian lamb: was podhoretz there? david brooks: he came later. it is about the intensity of ideas. they really thought they were confident that the world was going to be right and giving that up was like christians giving up christianity. there was an intensity of belief they had. brian lamb: magazines. why do you give these awards to magazine writers? david brooks: i believe in magazines. i believe magazines change history. "the new republic," it really did change history, it created progressivism and a voice for
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modern liberalism. conservatism hardly existed until "the national review" gave it a voice. now we are so individualized everybody has a twitter handle. but back then there was a community and every community had a point of view. "commentary" had one point of view, "dissent" had another point of view. the happiest professional period of my life was working at magazines. secondly, longer is better. when i read for the sydneys, i read to get my 10 awards probably 600 or 700 magazine articles a week. i always think, why don't i do more of this? with newspapers i always forget but magazines linger in the brain. books are better than magazines and magazines are better than
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newspaper articles which are better than blogs which are better than tweets. but the mind runs downhill to tweets because it is so easy. you have to push yourself uphill.
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brian lamb: i have heard you say you cannot write 800, you need 3000. david brooks: my natural length is 3000 to 5000. my exact word count is 806. that is the space on the page. you are going down one length of column, so that is what you do you hit 806. you write longer and then you cut. brian lamb: i read in one of your sydney columns that you advise people to go to three places if they want more of what you are talking about and i will put it on the screen. "arts and letters daily," "the browser," and "book forum." what are those? david brooks: those are aggregator site. they link to longform pieces out there in the world. my favorite right now, "the browser" has become my favorite. they will link to three or four pieces in the english-speaking world.
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brian lamb: do you know who owns it? david brooks: i forget but he is british. brian lamb: do you pay? david brooks: you pay a small amount and you get full access. brian lamb: put the list back on the screen, "arts and letters daily," what is that?
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david brooks: "the browser" is political and "arts and letters daily" is academic. they will link to criticism but a lot of overlap, think pieces about writers and art. that was founded by a guy that died five years ago, five or 10 years ago. it has continued and is very strong. brian lamb: i read that he patterned it after "the drudge report" but for smarter people. [laughter] david brooks: they will have summaries of each thing but it is links to larger pieces. brian lamb: the third one? david brooks: it is more book oriented. i follow people on twitter and online by the quality of their links. this economist from george mason university, he has a voracious mind. he will link to all kinds of things aside from the high-quality content of his own. it is like having friends say, do you see this, do you see that? brian lamb: we asked when you started out have you changed in
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the time you have written for the "new york times." how has column reading changed? david brooks: i feel we have more readers than ever before. we have a revenue problem but people are gravitating towards big and authoritative sources so we are getting the benefit of a lot of reading. so i do think columnists are important in starting conversations. i don't think we -- it is not like walter lippman, a mid-20th-century and he was the oracle, the great voice telling you what to think.
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we are down in the playpen a little more. we are not people of great stature. but i do think conversations get started and when you hit the column at the right time you hear about it for a week. brian lamb: some people might have heard about how you became a conservative. i want to run that and have you follow up. david brooks: i am a native new yorker, i grew up here. my family was somewhat left-wing. they were hippies in the 60's and they sent me to central park to a place called the be in where hippies would go to be. one of the things that hippies did they took out their wallets , and set them on fire to demonstrate how little they cared about materialism. i was five years old and i saw the money burning and so i reached into the fire and grabbed a five dollar bill and ran away and that was my first step to the right. [laughter] brian lamb: how much did your
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parents care about money? david brooks: they did not care particularly about money. i should say that was the redeemer church. a church in new york that has a faith in works conference. at first they violently object when i say they were hippies. to be fair, they are right. brian lamb: are they still alive? david brooks: yes. very healthy and very alive. i think it is more accurate to say the event was a hippie event but they were in some sense 1950's intellectuals, culturally conservative, politically kind of liberal but centrist realistic cold war democrats. they objected to the vietnam war and worked for ed koch. i overdraw how left-wing they were in that vignette.
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brian lamb: they cared about money, and in that story, you care about money more than they do. david brooks: that is a good question. my father was a professor and my mother was a professor and then worked with pharmaceutical companies and i do not think anyone would say they were materialistic. we had a ton of books at home. there is a saying, it takes three generations to make a career. my grandfather on my mother's side was a lawyer but a great writer. my parents were professors of reading. that helped nurture me in writing.
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i think that is true if you are a plumber or a policeman or whatever. i was fortunate to know what i wanted to do at age seven, at age seven i decided i wanted to be a writer, and it is good fortune to know what your calling is. brian lamb: is writing hard? david brooks: oh, yes. it does not get easier. brian lamb: this person, they came on the network over this reason, it was an article called "the case for reparations." why did you pick this for a sidney awards? >> when we talk about reparations, this is what i am talking about. policies that everyone is proud of, and everyone is proud of social security and the g.i. bill, the flipside is to come to terms with the fact that some portion of our population was cut out of all of that and ask ourselves, what is the result? it does not end with slavery african-americans were emancipated and the countryside, welcome into the country. one of the big things we talk \one of the big things we talk about is how policy and redlining specifically -- and redlining was not outlawed until 1968. african-americans that are alive lived with this. brian lamb: we are linking on the website to your columns where you write about this if people want to catch up with the awards.
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why did you pick this particular article in "the atlantic?" david brooks: that was the easiest call imaginable. it had this huge effect, it became one of the most read articles in "the atlantic" history and it has been around 100 years. it has propulsive force, it is hard to stop reading the piece. it is online, there are a lot of tools to it. i think the strength of the article is what he talked about which is the redlining, the discrimination that existed after the civil rights act after slavery, that still existed and affect lives, some of it just stealing stuff from african-americans. the redlining, certain neighborhoods in chicago are all black and property values are
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dropping, all white and property values are increasing. the generational wealth effect it has. it hits you over the head with the continuous momentum. he makes the case -- and this part of the article is weaker
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because the case is weaker. reparations -- he talks about it as a big apology and facing up to history. financial reparations, you run into problems. how do you separate african-americans who had ancestors and slavery and those who came over in the last 50 years. the second problem is that politically, it would be very hard if you took, take x or y, very successful african-american business person. it would be hard to ask middle-class taxpayers to subsidize, to give money to an affluent african-american. politically it is a tough thing to do, i do not know if barack obama will ask a middle-class family in kansas to pay more taxes so barack obama can have more money. we can think of policies aggressive policies that will heal the inequalities that are there.
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brian lamb: if you had to pick a magazine that is consistent when it comes to in-depth articles, what would you pick? david brooks: i have a great liking for “the atlantic.” i like david bradley. there are a lot of great magazines, "the new yorker" is a phenomenal magazine. they are more narratives, or writerly. "the atlantic" is more thesis driven. i think i am biased towards that but when i dole out the sidney awards, barely a year has gone by, no year has gone by without
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something from both of these magazines. "granta" is up there. they have more literary pieces less journalistic and more personal essays. there are other things barely heard of. "the hedgehog review." "american interest" is a fine magazine. out of washington there is another magazine, "national affairs." i think i picked from there this year a piece by a woman on the gettysburg address. i learned a lot from her, i thought i knew about the gettysburg address. i forgot the exact number but i think she said there were 120 separate words. brian lamb: 272 overall. david brooks: she goes through each of these phrases and says where they came from and how they evolved and different uses over the years. "conceived in liberty," what did lincoln mean when he was 20, when he was 40? it is a deep dive into that speech which i found illuminating. brian lamb: there is another --
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one of the things that you say is that hardly a year goes by that you cannot give an award to michael lewis. david brooks: i try to not give him an award because he has gotten a few but superstars are superstars. brian lamb: let's look at him for a while. for those who do not know him, he has gotten a lot of attention. >> so a guy that i met experimented in high-frequency trading strategies but never put into practice, a professorial type, collided with an old trader. let's try it. let's go trade with the thing you dreamed up. i have never done it before but let's do it. they are hooked up to doing trades and they hit the button and they are losing money. the ceo says, turn it off.
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he yanks the plug out of the wall to shut the machine down. it is the wall street man, overconfidence, male overconfidence responsible for so much trouble in the financial system. when it collides with technology it is toxic. david brooks: men drown at twice the rate of women because they have confidence in their ability to swim after they have been drinking. it is a gender linked trait. i do not know if it is cultural or genetic. brian lamb: the article you picked was out of "vanity fair." david brooks: he is an interesting case.
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he started his career on wall street and became a journalist for "the new republic." i first ran into him when he was covering the primaries but he could not care about the establishment candidates so he wrote about the weird candidates. he became close to mccain. if anyone wants to be a journalist, everyone has their own style, both writerly and interview. michael is distinct and instructive on both. his writerly style is at ease of storytelling, doing something hard and making it look easy so that people underappreciate how good he is.
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he just tells a complex issue in story form. there is just an ease. some people do an interview as a confrontation. some people do it as a seduction. some people do it as an exchange of information. i have not heard this from woodward but it is said that it is a trade. michael is the most charming human being it is possible to imagine and they will say anything to get him to hang around. he is from new orleans and he has new orleans charm so he is a pleasure to be around and it is his winning personality.
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brian lamb: talk about your public performance. you still do pbs on fridays? david brooks: yes. brian lamb: how long is the segment? david brooks: 12 or 14 minutes which is a lifetime. brian lamb: npr? david brooks: "all things considered," also on friday. i have done that since the late 1990's. every friday afternoon i have a routine, i drive to npr and to pbs and i commune with catholic liberals from massachusetts. brian lamb: two columns a week. when do you read them in hard copy and online? david brooks: tuesdays and fridays. used to be monday and thursday night but now tuesday and friday. brian lamb: how often do you speak? david brooks: i would say on average once every 10 days. brian lamb: for money? david brooks: sometimes for money.
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brian lamb: when you go out and have public performances, what is your approach? you look at michael lewis and his public approach, what do you do to get attention? david brooks: a couple of things. first, never waste a sentence. my speeches, if i am giving a speech to a college, they will be 40 or 50 minutes. every sentence i utter has a note attached. if you have filler, it gets boring. you have to learn to trust the audience, let them hold you up show what you have and they will hold you up. be vulnerable, tell jokes. covering politics, i see a lot of speakers. i remember seeing mitt romney give a speech and ann romney his wife, give a speech. mitt romney never threw himself into the audience. ann romney naturally threw herself and you could see the difference. mitt romney is a perfectly fine
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speaker but it does not connect as much. you have to trust them, talk to them in a way that is heartfelt to you and they will carry you up. there are other tricks to public speaking. one is that people do not keep attention on one subject for more than eight minutes. people will accept radical changes of subject, see the state of the union speech. there is a normal rhythm to a speech which typically starts out with humor and then serious stuff but you have to spike it
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with humor in between and then a crescendo. brian lamb: how do you deal with criticism? hold on to that, i will show you a clip from msnbc. >> brooks has this argument that if you smoke weed, it will make you dumber. his article made me dumber. i know from personal experience you can smoke and it will open you up to new perspectives and this is why people have been smoking marijuana for centuries. the idea that it is the ruination of society is baseless. the idea that you are all in or all out, there are smart people that are lawyers. david brooks: my claim was, and he is wrong about this.
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if you are an adult and you smoke weed, it does not have an effect on your brain. if you're a teenager, it definitely does. brian lamb: how old are your kids? david brooks: it is something to be taken seriously. as for the effects on creativity, people have studied this and found that you have the illusion that you are more creative when you are smoking but not much evidence that you actually are. as for disagreement, what he was talking about, that is what i am trying to do. i have a point of view and he has a point of view, i am not the last word, i am throwing out a volley.
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the word "essay" comes from the french word to try. in the process, people make up their minds. that sort of criticism, i am honored by, and we are all honored when people pay attention.
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brian lamb: had you ever seen that? david brooks: no. brian lamb: did you know it happened? david brooks: no. i am always moving to the next column, i do not have time to cover. i am amazingly oblivious. brian lamb: let me ask you, as i was doing research i kept running into the story, is david brooks divorced or not? gawker did a piece. david brooks: i am divorced. i do not want to legally talk about it but i am divorced. brian lamb: you had written you were against divorce. david brooks: i have written pro-marriage and i do believe in marriage and mine did not work out and i desperately want to get married again to somebody. i totally believe in marriage. one thing i read in general about marriage is that it is the most important decision in your life. i finished a book yesterday, i hit the send button yesterday. the name of the book is "the road to character." 10 people that have led impressive inner moral lives. people ranging from george c. marshall to dorothy day to samuel johnson. they all had a great sense of their own weakness. when we think of the outside world, success is a struggle against the world, but inner character is a confrontation with yourself, you have to figure out your weaknesses and take the parts that are weakest and make them strongest. brian lamb: how did you pick them?
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david brooks: they exemplify the strain of what i call moral realism. brian lamb: how long did it take? david brooks: it slowly accumulates. i believe you should only write a book if the process will be worth it. published in april from random house. brian lamb: back to the sidney awards, there is a third one. you have done this since 2004, 10 a year. ted talk, a piece called “the end of men.”
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>> it used to be that you were a guy that went to high school that did not have a college degree but had a specific set of skills and with the help of a union you could make a middle-class life but that is not true anymore. the new economy is indifferent to size and strength which has helped man all of these years. what the economy requires is a different set of skills, intelligence and an ability to sit still and focus, communicate openly, listen to people and operate in a workplace that is more fluid. and those are things that women do extremely well. brian lamb: a couple of things. what have you found about people and listening? david brooks: i have a friend,
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he is here in town. we will talk about a subject sometimes a personal subject, he is a close friend, sometimes a subject of the world. what strikes me about pete is there is a normal rhythm. he lingers. in my mind, the timing it he has asked me three questions and i will move on and he will ask another four or five questions. he has great facility to linger and when your attention wanders, he stays with it. that is a phenomenal capacity. brian lamb: how would you grade most people? david brooks: most people, including myself, are bad. we think about what we are going to say, we are not present, or
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the mind is wandering. we do not hear the nuance and we forget so much. there are a couple of people that are almost professional listeners and i would put you in that category, that is what you do. the other person in a similar role with me was jim lehrer who interviewed me many years on “the news hour with jim lehrer.” what is interesting is that in the job you have, people do not appreciate how much the questioner sets the frame of the conversation. it is so important. people in 12 or 14 minute segments, some people have questions written down and they will ask you questions no matter what you say. some people, the questions go in a circle. lehrer, he could listen and take out the words that were the most
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important and give them to mark. i would say, that is utterly ridiculous and give a bunch of reasons and he would turn to mark and say, utterly ridiculous? that is a rare skill. brian lamb: what about her other point -- she made many but sit still and focus? david brooks: that is a problem for a lot of us. that is why i say we have lost the ability to have patience. we are in a world -- there is so much talk about technology and what it is doing to us and i
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think most of it is wrong. but i do think it is shortening attention spans. we have been in the studio for 30 minutes and i guarantee this is the longest period of this day i will stop without checking my phone. somebody said if you want to drive a mouse crazy, give it an irregular pattern of rewards. you become addicted. the phone is like that. whether it is a phone call from a friend or a text message, i am constantly checking. i am writing and every few minutes i will check. it becomes a weird addiction.
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brian lamb: do you relate to your children by the phone? david brooks: we text each other a lot. brian lamb: what do you see in your three kids about the change in long form or thinking or reading that you can comment on? david brooks: i would not separate them from myself, we all spend way too much time looking at vines, these little videos. brian lamb: six seconds. david brooks: or cat videos. i have a friend who loves dancing children and if there is a video, she is in an uproar. i saw a kid that was meditating with his dad and trying to fall asleep, he is jerking around. i spent way too much time watching that. young people these days are on reddit and 4chan, user generated sites where people are sharing things that are interesting or vulgar. it is a waste of time. i would not want to limit it but it is a waste of time. brian lamb: since you were 15 years old, you have followed this person. >> can you feel it? [cheers]
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can you feel the spirit now? [cheer] can you feel it? [cheer] can you feel the spirit now? brian lamb: bruce springsteen over in europe and you went to europe for a year to follow him around? david brooks: i went to two concerts with my friend jeff goldberg, also a writer. we went over there to madrid and southern france and saw two concerts. in part because i have listened to his voice more than any other voice outside of a family member since i have been 15. i listened to him constantly. brian lamb: why? david brooks: his music moves me, his worldview -- he is way to the left of me. there is a romantic quality to his writing, a love of the underdog.
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he emotionally opens you up and i love him for that. the madrid show was the best. he is probably 61 now and the madrid show was 3 hours and 50 minutes of energy. i am off to the side and he is singing "born in the usa." there are 65,000 spaniards singing along with him, "i was born in the usa. i was born in the usa." and i wanted to say, no you weren't born in the usa. it is a testimony to the power. --of particularity. springsteen, he had two first albums that were not successful, third album, "born to run," was very successful. the trajectory for him would have been to go big, to do frankly what taylor swift has done, to become ubiquitous and to move out of his roots and
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become a popstar, that would be a normal trajectory. he got into a legal difficulty but he took an artistic turn so he went back to his roots, more new jersey small town, a darker vision, "darkness on the edge of town" was the album. it was a return to what he knew well.
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what struck me was that the decision was brave but also artistic genius. because people will react, they will enter the world with you. they enter the harry potter world. they enter tolstoy's world. i was with the spaniards and the things from new jersey route nine, asbury park -- they knew all of that. it is really a lesson for people doing creative life, to stay rooted in that spot. and he puts on the best rock performance show ever. brian lamb: we have done music and magazine writing and column writing and talked about books. what is the most influential movie you have seen in the last couple of years? david brooks: i used to be a movie critic and that numbed me on movies. i hardly see them anymore. i began to see them through the eyes of producers and see financial decisions. i was in love with movies or the first 30 years of my life and not anymore. the movies i love, certain movies, my favorite movie is a john ford western called "the searchers," starring john wayne. it is about a character who is savage and shut out of the mess --domestic society and
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sacrifices himself for the social order. john ford movies are fun to watch but deep about america. brian lamb: this is another clip about sidney hook. >> today people say, that is not enough. when you must leave, not merely
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discrimination, you must be in favor of reverse discrimination. you must judge people on the basis that membership in groups. and i say, oh no, we always opposed that. roy wilkins, secretary of the national association for the advancement of colored people, seized on a phrase that justice holland in a dissenting decision on plessy versus ferguson said "justice should be colorblind." that is the liberal position. to my astonishment, today, the current chairman of the national association for the advancement of colored people has said that to believe justice should be colorblind is stupidity.
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david brooks: i maybe gave “the case for reparations” the sidney awards ironically. brian lamb: he changed his mind on some things in his life when you read about him. and you have too. what are your biggest changes? david brooks: i started out on the left in college and then went to the right, working at "the national review." a lot of that was trying on different things. i now have two guiding stars in what i believe although i do not fit into a normal pattern. one is edmund burke, an irish philosopher and british politician. his key phrase is epistemological modesty. the world is complicated and we should not get arrogant about reason. that is a conservative belief in caution and a great belief in the wisdom of tradition in general and that reform and change should be constant, steady, and slow.
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my other leading figure in my life intellectually as alexander hamilton. hamilton was a great believer in mobility, social mobility. his mother died when he was young and he rose to become a war hero and then a successful lawyer and treasury secretary. his life is one of tremendous ascent. he wanted to create an american economy that would make it
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possible for poor boys and girls to rise and succeed while jefferson wanted to keep an oligarchic society. that led to the whig party and the early republican party. modesty and social mobility -- those are the lodestars and they make me a left-wing republican a moderate conservative. that category barely exists in america today. brian lamb: when gail collins of "the new york times" hired you what did they expect you to represent? david brooks: they did not have any category, there was no assignment. i was a certain sort of conservative, a conservative that "the new york times" readers can stand. i come from new york culturally, but i am to the right. they give us great freedom, we have copy editors but we do not have reviews, we are not told
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what to write about. we are free agents. brian lamb: i want to remind audiences that on our "q&a" site, you can read your columns. last question, we are about out of time. what book would you recommend that you have read in the last -- i do not care when. to get into this world of thinking. david brooks: i would read an essay called "the hedgehog and the fox." it is about tolstoy and different ways of thinking about things. "a bright abyss" by christian wyman, a book about what christian faith looks like. and then i would read george orwell, his essays, not the novels.
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the collections of essays, one \the collections of essays, one called "shooting the elephant." they are personal essays but they are about political issues and he was one of the greatest political essayists of all-time. brian lamb: david brooks has been our guest. you can read his book. david brooks: available for preorder on amazon even now. brian lamb: and in "the new york times" twice a week. thank you for talking about the sidney awards. david brooks: it is always a pleasure. ♪ >> for free transcripts or to give us comments about this program, visit us at q& programs are also available as c-span podcasts. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute,
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which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] on 10 years of q&a interviews are available online. laura ingram, political commentator and radio talkshow host. the crystal, founder of the standard. and former speechwriter for george h w bush. you can watch them all at >> up next, your calls and comments live on washington journal. live at 2:00, an update on prospects with the nuclear detail -- deal with iran. >> tonight on "the communicators" special counselor on tom wheeler special counsel for net neutrality.
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exit the chairman has said we are not going to write regulate, and hate. i do not know who the fcc chairman's. the next fcc chairman may try to do something that is more free market or less regulatory. i do not the next chairman argument against the rules are only as good as the guy with a gal on the eighth floor and present them. we have got to do our best to set up an infrastructure that will protect and preserve an internet the greatest driver of economic free speech and innovation the world has ever seen. next tonight at in :00 on the innovators on c-span2. exit this morning, jonathan allen looks at the big issues before congress in the coming weeks. : baumann from the american enterprise institute has details on how americans view police and
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have been chest and he says changed. later, a talk about federal funding for roads, bridges, and mass transit. as host: good morning, everyone. this monday, february 9, flags remain at half staff in memory of representative alan nunnelee, who passed away last week. lawmakers are returning to washington with no signs of a final deal on how to handle the budget for the homeland security department. also on the agenda is giving the president new authority to fight isis. another debate in washington is what to do about the situation in ukraine. german chancellor angela merkel will meet with president obama at the white house today and hopes to


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