tv QA CSPAN May 23, 2016 5:58am-7:01am EDT
about living with parkinson's disease and his new book old ge a beginner's guide. >> i didn't want people to think it's another sad saga of someone suffering. i wanted to write -- i didn't want to write it i didn't want it to be auto buy graphicle especially. and i wanted to tell the story -- i wanted to be able to generalize from it which i think you can. about what it is like to face the fact that not to face having an illness necessarily.
but the fact that you're going to die one way or another. >> when did you first know what year what time did you first know you had parkinson's? >> 1993, i think. what was your reaction? it was the stress. i was very upset for a few days. , i have accommodated to it. it is not the worst thing in the world. brian: whose idea was it to do it's only $18 if you buy it in a bookstore. $9.99 if you buy it at amazon. brian: whose idea was this? michael: i did a piece in the new yorker but as parsley drawn from the book.
people said you out to do a book. as a journalist, you think, i have a story here, i ought to tell it. i resisted for quite a while. ultimately, i gave in. brian: what's the story about the swimming pool and a 90 year old man. michael: i was living in los angeles in an apartment complex that had a swimming pool. i used to swim very early, and swimming this old man at the same time. like 5:00 a.m.. i used to beo me, -- first he said, i'm 90 years old, as if that in itself
was praiseworthy. said, that's wonderful. proud.uld be very then he said, i used to be a judge. and i'm thinking, why is he telling me all of this? i started to get resentful. so what if he's 90 years old? then, his reaction slowly became more and more puzzling. i was convinced that he being a thing.as a wonderful brian: you wrote about it, was
it in the new yorker originally? michael: yes, i thought the whole thing was very touching. it seemed to me that he was losing it, you know. but he didn't think so. -- it struck me as touching. brian: you got in a little bit of trouble. michael: his son wrote in saying, the point is not that he is 90 years old. the point is that he always thought you should be kind to your neighbors, or something like that. brian: he died soon after that. he died two weeks after this incident. , but not all that bad. brian: go over the details, so that folks that have not seen
you for a while know the background. your hometown? michael: detroit, michigan. study inat did you college? michael: economics. then i went to oxford and studied more economics, although not very hard. then i came back to washington, got a job at the new republic. oh i went to law school. -- that's.d the bat at harvard. then i came to work at the new republic. i did that for most 20 years. then i went out to seattle and work for microsoft, creating slate. the firstnline -- what we now call online magazine.
and -- that's an old-fashioned term. it was owned by microsoft or they sold it to washington post. then the washington post sold bezos. tell -- to jeff it didn't sell the new republic. is now on by graham holdings, which is the family ,oldings of the graham family which you sue on the washington post. brian: here you are 1984. your parkinson's came in what year? brian: here is 1984. [video clip] founding, ite its
has been the premier political journal. it was very pro-soviet in the 1930's. in the early 60's it was very much connected with the new frontier and became very antiwar later on the 60's. it is now regarded as left of center, but not far left. brian: does that make you left of center? michael: makes me look a lot older. i consider myself left of center. left, but not extreme left. a lot of people deny that. people accuse me of being a right-winger in disguise. brian: why? michael: i have written a couple
of things, i was skeptical of snowden that edward could have the right to publish on governmentnted secrets. seem to me that the government at some point has to have the last word area that was a very unpopular position. a debt hawks.been the accumulated debt of the hasrnment and private debt to be paid off, and that will be very difficult. not terribly original, but i think it's true. is,official left position where is the inflation you're talking about? also has not contributed
to my popularity. have you thought about death? michael: well i don't obsess over it. i haven't thought about it all that much, except to write a book. brian: when you first got parkinson's, did you start thinking about it at that point and what did you think? michael: i thought this is not good news. which it wasn't. think that i would be on c-span 23 years later. i have been very lucky. i have apparently a slow moving cap best case. ms or some of the
other girl logical diseases, where you have recurrent crises that moves the disease along. our concerns, you can just extrapolate on a straight line and however much were sure getting, you'll keep on getting that much worse. so that's good news. brian: how would you explain the way that you go about your daily lives, like today compared to what was 23 years ago? michael: i don't have a full-time job. although, i do have a job, and i do still write. i write a monthly column for vanity fair. it's a lot easier than writing a weekly column. brian: a monthly column.
over the years, how many years did you do a crossfire? michael: six or seven. brian: what did you think of that? michael: i had had enough. i'm glad i did it, but 6.5 years was enough. brian: why? michael: the people who accuse crossfire of originally -- originating talk radio and television, i think are being ridiculous. i don't think that's true. was an crossfire education for people. i don't think we needed to be apologetic, but, after six years, it got tiresome. ,rian: a couple of years ago
someone you know pretty well was .air -- here i want to run this and have you explain how this fits into your life. [video clip] the high point of being married to michael kinsley. morning the conversations we have, going through the papers is a great delight. he helps me to be wiser and smarter every day. brian: who is that woman? michael: i have breakfast with her every morning. that is my wife, patty. she was on the committee that hired me at microsoft. over 20 years ago. what's the best thing about being married to her? michael: gosh. where to start.
i think i better not answer that. everything about being married to patty is wonderful. brian: what role has she played as this parkinson's has progressed? michael: she is very good at making sure i behave myself, that i take my pills, and do my exercise and all that sort of stuff. it is just very nice to have nice to complain to when things are getting bad and so on. brian: if you've had a bad day, what happens? only there may be something you can't do. although, there are very few of
those. i stopped driving at patty's insistence. , the hardesty thing to accommodate. brian: you talk about that as it relates to other people. what is the impact you have found? men morepecially for than women, although i think -- it's not just an inconvenience. there is a sense of freedom about having a car and being able to get up and go where ever you want to go, that is hard to give up. brian: you talk about in your book, about losing your edge. you are worried more about that than almost anything. what does that mean question mean --? what a numerologist told
me after i was diagnosed, i suddenly maybe two or three weeks afterward it occurred to me, i wonder is this -- if this will affect my brain? now parkinson is a brain disease. meant, obviously, was thinking. is it going to affect my thinking. that's how i earn a living. that became pretty important. neurologist, what's going to happen? and he said, he was trying to tell me it wasn't such a big deal. edge,d, you may leisure -- lose your edge, as if that was nothing. i said my ad is how i earn a i said, losing my edge is how i learned -- earn an
living. edge and yous your you still have it? other people have to judge whether i have an edge. i think i have lost very little of it. but, people do, most people lose a little something, and about half of people with parkinson's lose a lot of something. i don't know, i can't tell. i think i have as sharp an edge as always. were: back in 2007, you sitting with another person that .as well-known you quote a woman in the book
that has ms. said, we all prayed for someone famous to get our disease. why did use that quote? michael: i thought it was very think our crazy system of approving drugs and other medical procedures. i thought that illustrated the , it is a competition between different drugs to get fda approval, to get invented in the first place. let's watch and see if you recognize yourself and her friend. [video clip] onif excess shaking going out here, it might be parkinson's, and it might be the fact that the capital motel has no hot water this morning.
it was very cold. haven't -- it brings it to a new level. michael: that obviously was michael j fox. he has had parkinson's, he was he just turned 30. i was in my 40's. he really had a bad luck there. he has been a hero of parkinson's. he founded the michael j fox foundation, which just last week -the main parkinson's before -- from before he was died -- diagnose. i just read it in a press release. the introduction was
written by michael lewis, who said he got his first job from you. he also says you have a great sense of humor. i must say, it is funny. how hard is that? how much of a risk is it for you to merge humor with people who are suffering out there with parkinson's that might be offended by it? michael: in my experience, people will be offended by anything. way, although many people have our concerns much more feel iy than me, i still got the license to make a joke i might not otherwise make, disease i'm got the making fun of. brian: you have always had a
sense of humor. has it ever got to new in trouble? michael: oh, yes. this isn't an example of your sense of humor, the word half --gaff. michael: that is when a politician tells the truth. that was the year gary hart was running for president, 1984. brian: anybody offended by that? michael: not that they have ever said. gary hart wasn't too pleased if you ever saw it. brian: does it still hold today? michael: someone wrote an article last week saying, it's isonger true that a gaff when a politician tells the
truth. maybe 20 years ago i could have followed it. brian: as long as you mentioned the huffington post, you have a habit in your columns of quoting arianne huffington, is that something you developed on purpose? something was writing -- one of my first columns for vanity fair couple of years ago. quote fromis fake her for the heck of it. great and carter, the editor of he saidair loved it and i want one in there every month. so every month i somehow or from stick a phony quote arianne huffington. brian: calling somebody darling. did she react to you? michael: i have not spoken to her. i haven't seen her for the past
couple of years. i hope she knows that it is all in fun. i am a great admirer of hers. i think the huffington post thatd several problems online content is facing. you have to hand it to her. you need to hand her at $305 million brian:. she sold it for that at -- to aol. ali --: us when you decided to do this and what was it? michael: it's a washington story. friends jerry rap sheet
they werehune, close to hamilton jordan. they were officials in the carter administration. mery kept trying to force on this memo from hamilton jordan about this operation, which his , very was doing experimental at that point. i didn't pay any attention. finally, he persuaded me to read it. i came to know hamilton jordan that way. hadn't been very nice to him when he was in office. brian: he was chief of staff to president carter. michael: it is an operation essentially the
pacemaker, a a heart pacemaker, they call them brain pacemakers. they send little shocks of electricity into whatever part of the brain they think will help. the operation lasted nine hours, but they put in two of these brain pacemakers. brian: where do they put them michael:? i could show you but i think i won't. they start there, that's where the electricity comes from. neck, they endr up in your brain. they curb the effects of
parkinson's, not cure. they have seen various numbers, but supposedly they push the disease back about five years. which is a good number. let's watch her doctor explain some of this. were his he located? michael: he was at the cleveland clinic here at last i heard, he was at ohio state medical school. brian: here he is in 2010. [video clip] >> this is a tiny where they get implanted into the brain. send theseacts that calling electrical signals that shocks inelectrical the brain. this has a microchip and a sends the signals
up to your head to these wires and thereby improves the electrical chaos in the brain. brian: you have this done in what year? michael: 2000. something like that. what happened to you once that nine-hour operation was over? michael: quite amazing. when you come out of the operation, all the symptoms, the parkinson's are gone. it's as if you don't have it. that's peculiar, because they hadn't turned it on yet. so, it's like you never had it. the symptoms go away. that's because the process of installing the pacemaker sort of your brain and has
the same effect as if they turn on the electricity. weeks, thext few symptoms returned to where they were before. but then you go back and they flip the switch, and immediately you startew seconds to see the benefit. over the years sent you have this done, how often do they have to change the batteries? michael: i've had them change twice. brian: do they have to open you up. michael: no, that's a very simple operation, which takes 45 minutes i think they said. brainetting it into the that is the top part, putting is veryrs in your chest
easy, apparently. mark is one of our leading history producer here and has produced a lot of documentaries on the capitol and the white house. worked for- father nbc for 25 years had prior consent, had the deep brain surgery. mark and his brother danny and one of our folks here bob riley had cameras in there during the operation. they made a documentary out of it. farkas is his name. he did not die of parkinson's, he died of cancer about two years after he had this operation. let's watch this. you may remember the scene. [video clip]
testing and more testing. i am anxious to get on with it. so we can see right here, these are the the very tips of the elect roads, entering through two very small holes. >> easy for you to say. >> these only be temporary. i looked in your eyes and i am filled with confidence. >> this will be on for the rest of the day, right? >> right. try to be stylish about it, please. brian: he had quite a sense of humor. what's it like? odd, theit's very worst thing is they screw your board, the operating
table. you can't really move it. requires a lot of self calming. , recognize those little test but tiny little circular thing and put it in a little different circular thing. brian: how much testing have you had over the years? there's no reason to test two, really, except for the fact that i was going to write this piece. i decided that i would use myself as a guinea pig. i took a cognitive test. was a test fore the physical effects of parkinson's. the tests i took were all for the coveted effect. brian: what kind of a tested
they give you? i don't think you liked it, it was five hours? michael: one time i took it. side ofthe physical parkinson's, they have a very have atandard, and they they have a rating system. , what levelry clear you're at in terms of the symptoms, the physical symptoms. the cognitive systems -- symptoms, every test is different. they take -- they use the same -- i have done it for her
five times and they are different each time. brian: we have a little more video from that particular operation with ray at the georgetown hospital. see if you remember this part of it. [video clip] part where you will hear a lot of love noise ok? it's not going to hurt you but it will make your teeth chatter little bit. but it won't hurt a bit. at sound source and it is. >> ok. -- this is as high as it will get.
>> i feel fine, i never felt a thing. i recommend it to everybody. >> yet. everybody ought to have two holes in their head. michael: first of all, i don't remember it fairly -- very clearly. he's right, they are dime sized hole. -- i thought they said they are tiny holes. i was expecting something like this. a dime is big. it doesn't really matter. he recommended that -- that's part of his humor. would you do that again? michael: the operation?
absolutely. at that time, when i had it, they discouraged you from taking it. they said it was a last resort. i insisted that i wanted it anyway, and they gave it to me. , they do it much sooner in the course of the disease, that they figure why shouldn't you have some more good years? brian: how long did it take you to recover, get up and walk around? michael: i was walking around the next day. to completely recover, it took close to a year, because you have to go in and they have to adjust the electrodes. they have different effects.
juice, give you too much you are all over the place again. if they don't give you enough, you're not getting the effect. i went back i think every three year, and they adjusted it. brian: you said in this book that this was not a book about parkinson's. i want to get to some of the other things that you talk about . who should read this? michael: everybody. brian: is who is this really for? at -- i am is aimed delighted if anyone reads it. it is and that boomers, who are just reaching the point where they are going to be getting parkinson's and other things in
large numbers. and most's disease people who get it are old, in their 70's or 80's or later. brian: how would you characterize a boomer? boomer, it is someone who is born between 1946, which is when all the soldiers came home from world war ii and could get to work building a family was1964, which i guess chosen somewhat arbitrarily. it is someone who is born in that framework. you michael:uld characterize the attitude of the boomer? michael:in the book i try to make the case that boomers are known for and want to be known for maybe excessive
competitiveness. brian: is that true? bookel: i put it in the brian:. have you felt competitive all your life? i am not competitive stuffncy sports cars and like that, which boomers are associated with. i am competitive. in thethe longest word -ook, i think, is brian: you're talking about larry ellison. at withe you getting larry ellison, where he spent $400 million on trying to stay younger? i don't remember this
word, but larry ellison and a few others are trying -- want to stay alive forever, and i say it would be much more efficient if all they want to do is extend onetime, for them to get in what bill gates spends his money on, curing malaria and things like that. because you are going to save more person-years that way than by trying to extend the life of someone like larry ellison. brian: when you say in your book about what is important in life? michael: i go through the list. this is -- is that this is not -- you don't have to be a saint, you just have to be a reasonable person. you start off with watching
consumer goods, the fancy car, the nice house. then you start to think about that and you think, what's that going to get you, really? what really counts is cognition. you have to retain your marbles if you're going to enjoy this stuff. well, whatu think, really counts is reputation, because you're going to be dead longer than you were alive. reputation is going to be more important in cognition.n than i have some video of the guy that you talk about, a man ined joseph kraft, who died
1986. he was a columnist based at the washington post. why did you use joseph kraft as an example for someone? michael: because joseph kraft, when i came to washington in the late 1970's, he was in the midst 1970's, -- mid-1970's, he was a big deal. he was the guy you aspired to be. fallows, he wrote a piece about him, about how he ofresented the monarchy washington journalists. you could go out to the washington post newsroom today and asked people who is joseph kraft, and they would have no idea. brian: let's look at what joseph kraft look like.
our audience can ask themselves, do you remember joseph kraft? [video clip] >> i would like to ask you as sacrificesead, what are you going to call on the american people to make? what price are you going to ask them to pay to realize your objectives? carter, if governor you felt it was appropriate to answer that question and your comments as to what price would be appropriate for the american people to pay, i think that would be proper. he was only 62 when he died of heart failure. why was he such a big deal? michael: beats me. he was very good at articulating mean, buthat sounds
-- there are a few of us at any given time who have the reputation. he was one of them back then. he was like tom friedman or dowd, dowd -- marie someone of that ilk. so, because there are met -- reputation after spread around. brian: in your book you're talking about that you still have your marbles and when it's all over, you say the rules of competitive cognition are simple. the winners are whoever dies with more of their marbles. "he was a hundred and two years old when he was accidentally
shot by a neighbor. except for his habit of breaking in nearby -- breaking into nearby homes and stealing booze "e was still sharp as a tack. that's a couple of little things you have to explain a way to do that. brian: you say death before dementia is a rallying cry. boomers,he 79 million 28 million are expected to develop alzheimer's or some other form of dementia. michael: i got that i think from the alzheimer's association, or some reputable source. it's true as far as i can tell. unless a cure comes along. or something like a cure. brian: the people who have parkinson's, do they get alzheimer's also? michael: no.
they are two different diseases. parkinson's have a much higher chance of getting parkinson's dementia. brian: robert mcnamara, your story. former secretary of defense. michael: he is in the book only because iran into him on an and he was the secretary of defense under jfk and lbj. view and the view of many responsible for the vietnam war. i found myself sitting next to him on an airplane. i asked him where he was going and he was going to denver to meet his girlfriend. he must have been in his 80's.
they were going to go cross-country skiing. obviously has led quite a wonderful life, after he did this damage, in my view. , whon the view of many know a lot more than me. brian: he lived to be 93. michael: that's even better. brian: did you talk to him on the plane? michael: yes, but i didn't talk to him about anything important. i guess i was a little afraid. led this really nice life. 93,veryone could live until and they cross-country skiing with their girlfriend at that age, or boyfriend, that would be
pretty nice. so i use him as an example of what most boomers will not get. chapter kind of surprised me. it's the only place in your book that it is political. is name of the last chapter the least we can do." why did you decide to do it and what is said about? it's a pet peeve of mine that whenever people start to think in general terms about generations, and what they mean, you always are bumping up against the greatest generation, tom roe caused term for the world war ii generation. -- tom brokaw's term.
what can boomers do that will equal that? the answer many people come up with is a national service -- they where you don't don't need you in the army, but you can be put to work teaching, or something. i think that is a horrible idea. but most people think it is a great idea. it was about boomers, so i just put the chapter in here. brian: how do you think we get out of this $19 trillion of debt? and how can boomers impact it at this stage? michael: i think boomers can put up with a tax increase. but --t very romantic, we can afford to make a of paying our taxes,
wiping out our debt, and then spending the money that needs to be spent on the infrastructure, on schools. what is happening in schools is terrible. most people agree. most people are not prepared to say i personally will fork out x billions of dollars. more, toared to pay pay until it hurts. to solve some of these problems. is a very unpopular idea and it is going nowhere. use of thesay any word infrastructure classify you as a bore. michael: i've done it. brian: you consider yourself a bore? michael: infrastructure is
pretty boring. york, you go to new get out at grand central and penn station, and it is shocking how cd it is. it is and foreigners coming. tothe country , that might be the first thing you see. i think best herbal. that's terrible. brian: anything that can go on, won't. and bad times,l like now, personally good times, like most of the past couple of decades cannot go on. michael: i think that's true. brian: do you find anybody that thinks like you that believes it can't go on or can go on? michael: most people on the left think it can't go on. -- that it can go on.
i took a lot of heat about a year ago for arguing in a couple of pieces that it cannot. we have not had to pay the cost. so far i am wrong. , and think in the long run i take no joy in saying so, i am right. pluck --buckrakin g? it is journalist taking money for giving speeches, in essence. brian: you decided to do some of this after you got parkinson's? michael: yes. i had always refused to do it. not because i think it is so terrible, i think it's fine, there's a tradition of it.
tradition. mark twain did it. it's one of the ways journalists and writers can support themselves. little icky, so i didn't want to get involved. and i didn't need the money. but then i got parkinson's and i thought, maybe i do need the money. , i did it.year or so brian: still do it? michael: no. anymore,et asked because people know i have parkinson's and they think i'm sitting in a wheelchair somewhere. few offers that i get. brian: you walked in here normally. michael: i just have this going to thing going on.
brian: is that new? michael: three or four years. brian: is there anyway way to deal with that? michael: probably. i didn't realize having a chronic disease would be so time-consuming. that is one of the big surprises. you have to get all your pills and take them at certain times. you see -- you should really see the specialists, and it is time-consuming. brian: where did you get the idea of doing the boxing? michael: i have only been doing at about a month. i got the idea from watching 60 minutes and leslie stall is married to a guy, very good novelist who has parkinson's. shuffling along, , quiteu see him boxing
thought, wow. the next day i was walking down the street and i see someone ring up a banner that says, , grand opening. i thought that must be assigned. how is it working for you? michael: my wife thinks it's working very well. that's all i need. i will keep it up. brian: how long do you box? ,ichael: you don't really box because that would be terrifying. brian: you just hit the bag? michael: the way they work it at this place, there's a guy there who wears these myths that are designed just to be hit.
he's good enough that he will not be injured. i wear regular minutes, and and pretend is, know what i'm doing. sayael: you brian: -- you talk about the fact that you were offered the editor of the new yorker magazine. when the owner found out you had parkinson's, explain that story. yes, tina brown had quit and they were looking for a new editor. and andp to new york the magazine offered me the job. brian: what year was this? 1996 or 1997, i think. i said i have to check back with microsoft, because i promised them that i would. brian: you were at microsoft at
the time. michael: yes. then we had dinner, very warm family. back i said i'll talk to you in the morning. by the time i got back to my hotel, he called and said, i don't think this is going to work. over the years, i thought about this a lot, and i don't think -- and i believe him. parkinson's,had and he said it didn't matter. i believe him. but i also believe that he would not have offered it to me if he had known from the very beginning. brian: why did he withdraw, do you know that? michael: i think it's because he , hely wanted david remnick
has done a very good job with it. i put on a pretty good show for him, for the moment he was swayed. but then he decided he wanted to stick with his first love brian: . you are how old today? michael: i'm 65. brian: based on what you write in this book, how much -- how long do expect to live? affect myt doesn't life span. they say in the obituaries that -- after a long of the side effects of parkinson's or something. i expect to live -- well i hope in normal lifespan. according to statistics, i think
would be about 15 more years. brian: one last question. oft do you notice the most people's reactions to the difficulty that you have with this disease? michael: it's their sympathy. iam grateful for, although could live without it a lot of the time. people are basically very nice. brian: the book is called "old age: a beginner's guide". forward by michael lewis, our guest has been michael kinsley ninehis is only about something on amazon and is 160 pages. it is about facing the end of life. thank you for being with us. michael: thank you, brian.
>> for free transcripts or to give us comments about this problem, -- program, visit us. if you enjoyed this week q&a interview with michael cantley, here are some of the programs. red bear on his book, special heart, a journey of faith, hope, courage and love. cardiac surgery at virgin america center talks about his life in medicine. and wrote treatise and president of john hopkins hospital on the state of medical research and medicines role in public oc.
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