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tv   QA  CSPAN  May 30, 2016 6:00am-7:01am EDT

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u.s. senate historian betty koed. she talks about events in senate history and the work done by her office. brian: betty koed, historian of the united states senate -- if you had to choose a character that you have studied over the years in the senate to write a book about, who would it be? betty: it would probably be a tie between charles sumner and everett dirksen, two very different people and two very different eras. but they are people that the more i learn about them, the more interesting they get. charles sumner just seemed to be a bottomless pool of the interesting facts and passions and contradictions. and as i learn more about everett dirksen, i am finding similar things about him, good and bad. both fascinating characters. brian: when was charles sumner in the senate? betty: he came in the 1850's and stayed until he died in 1874.
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brian: what makes them so interesting? betty: part of the interest for me is that there are parts of sumner's career that are famous and very well known. everybody who has visited the they've heardng, infamous caning. but that is often the only thing they know about him. he left the senate for a few years and came back in 1859. the most interesting part of his career came after that. he came back in 1859 and the most important part was when he becomes a dedicated advocate for civil rights laws. he was contradictory and he was ornery. he was difficult and arrogant and most of his colleagues hated him. he has left a lasting legacy that i think is quite profound. brian: why everett dirksen? brian: he was from a different perspective. senatory in the
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1960's.nd he died in 1969. he was probably the most effective minority leader we've ever had. this is the time of heavy party dominance in the senate. nevertheless, he managed to shape every bill that came through. most particularly the civil rights act of 1964 and the voting rights act of 1965. he was entertaining and clownish. the voters loved him. the press loved him. but behind the clown was this very serious legislator. so like sumner, he just has endless layers that you can keep peeling off. brian: how long have you been the senate historian? betty: i came in june of 1998.
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i've been the senate historian since june 2015. brian: what is your day like? betty: they are very rarely the same. you don't really know what you're going to be working on. you are going into the office thinking, i am going to dig into this or that and then the phone rings and something happens. somebody said something. statement.s made a and then you immediately get pulled into other directions. because people want to know, has that ever happened before? i see ever said that he for? has this type of bill ever been passed before? so you really go from quickly topic to topic all day. i like that and i think it's fun. it is interesting. although i do long for days when i can dig into a big research project and stick with it all day. brian: when did you first get interested in the senate? betty: well, when i was in graduate school getting my phd in political history. particularly the workings of congress.
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so much of the political history is focused on the presidential story so i became interested in how congress had a role to play and that is how i got into the senate. i came into the senate historical office with a background in policy history, political history, and congressional history. not specifically senate history. from the university of california, santa barbara. brian: so as you watch the story andhe presidential campaign historian ofthe say, they hadyou all these promises that everybody was making and they don't have a clue as to what is going to happen once he gets to the senate? betty: i think that is true for the voters and the candidates sometimes. there are so many promises made but when it comes down to the daily nitty-gritty it is a complicated and often contentious process.
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and so, you have to come in with lofty goals because it takes goals to achieve any accomplishments at all. but it is a system built toward incremental change rather than massive change. brian: so, i got onto your website. do you know everything that is on there? betty: [laughter] i wish i did. but i can't of it say i know everything. there is a lot there on history. we have about 10,000 pages of material. back in 1998, it consisted of a few pages. there were about 10 pages of historical material on the site. my colleague dick baker, when he hired me in 1998, he said one of my first jobs would be to populate the website because it was all brand new.
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the senate and quickly began to approve these reports and oral history interviews. everything we could to populate that site and we did a lot of massive downloading the first year or so just to get things on there. but over the last 16-17 years, we really looked at how we could fill the holes in the stories. what kind of information could we give to the public to really help them understand how the senate operates. how its members serve in their positions as senators. and also to look at what we know it and do not have. often when we are looking on a roger it is because we do not know anything about that. so then we will explore it and we will end up some sort of writing posted on the website. brian: what would you say is your best source of information when you need to find out about somebody who has served on the senate or some specific thing that happened? betty: if you are looking for
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basic statistical information, we would go to, that gives you service dates and community chairmanships. it is linked from the history and art pages. it gives you the basic stuff. if you're looking for something beyond that, there is also bibliography our biography for every senator who ever served in the senate as well as a guide to all of research sources, archival sources around the country. that is a tremendous resource for scholars and the public. and then we also have a lot of aids on the site.
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there are senators that have played a unique role in some way and we keep building that collection. someday we hope to have a complete biography on everybody who has served in the senate. brian: here is a video of a senator from 1952 that i that you know something about. [video clip] >> i think it is disgraceful. almost like these political offices are up for sale. the only way i have two protest is to show that a kennedy can do withoutit can be done such means. sacrifice, i have because i can assure you that i would like to see a little tv and newspaper as myself once in a while. but i think there must be a time when we get back to campaigning, person-to-person campaigning and a reasonable amount of television and radio. and newspaper. but it is a disgrace that millions of dollars are being spent all of the country to buy a seat.
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[end video clip] brian: so how would her frustration be doing today? betty: that was margaret j smith, a long time serving republican senator. that was her campaign that she ultimately lost to hathaway. she has taken great pride throughout her service which began in 1949 to not using a lot of money in campaigns. she would campaign for election and reelection for less than $500, $1000. was sort of the old-style, here shaking on the corner style of politician. it worked well for her. she was a very popular figure for many years. she was an extremely important figure in senate history but in 1972, it was changing and she refused to do it. her refusal to spend money on
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combinationn in with her hawkish stance on vietnam really brought about her defeat in 1972. brian: first woman to what? betty: she was the first woman to serve in both houses of congress. she was especially elected by her husband clyde smith. he died in office. she was elected to his seat. times intelected four house.e -- in the that was a big step in those days. when she ran and 1948, it was out of her balance. she won that election handedly with large margins and did very well up to 1972. and she really broke a lot of the barriers for women serving in the senate. and was extremely forceful in many ways. very independent.
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moderate in her politics although she was very strong on national defense and very important in the early days of the space program. and she was just a person of great courage and not afraid to speak out. the first woman to ever serve in the house was janet rankin. 1917, elected in 1916. the first woman to ever serve in the senate came in 1922. a very interesting character or who came into the senate after appointment in 1922 and she was then 87-years-old. there is a story. story? to tell the
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remember that the women got the vote in 1920 and the governor from georgia had a vacancy to fill in the georgia senate delegation. there had been a death in august. he wanted that seat for himself, actually. he decided he needed someone who could serve to hold the seat as a placeholder until the general election said that he could get a chance to be elected to the seed himself. after much thought, he chose a woman named rebecca latimer sultan who was as i mentioned, 87-years-old by that time. she was also sort of the grand old dame of politics in georgia at that time. her husband had been a politician and she had been a prominent figure. she wrote a newspaper column and was a strong suffragist. and so she was very well known across the state. when the governor appointed her 1922, he made history by putting the first woman into the senate, but he was also hoping he was doing something that would help his own election come november. when he appointed her, the senate was not in session.
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it was october, the senate was out of session until november. it was expected that she would never be sworn into office. that she would never really serve as a real senator. it was purely a symbolic move on his part. it was an attempt to get the vote of the women in georgia. they now had the right to vote and most of them were opposed to him because he had been a very strong opponent of women's suffrage. he appointed her to the seat and her service began in october. she did not have a chance to be sworn in, but of the next few weeks, women across the united states began to petition the president to create a special session of congress and they started to call for her to be sworn in so she could really serve as a united states senator and eventually in november, that is what happened. a special session of congress was called. the president said it was to do with military issues but i suspect it had to do with women's voices across the country.
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rebecca felton comes to the senate. the governor of georgia's plan does not work out. he does not win that seat. a man named walter george one and served there for many years. but walter george kindly stepped aside and allowed her to be sworn in on november 22, 1922. she then served for 24 hours and gave one speech on the senate floor. cast one vote. says that the time for women had come, and then she leaves and goes back to private life. so it is a very short term. about six weeks officially but only 24 hours as an officially sworn senator but it is an important turning moment because it is the first time a woman had actually served and been sworn into the senate chamber. brian: how was janet rankin sworn in before the women had
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the right to vote? betty: that is a good question. in the western states, a lot of the western states were allowing women to vote. the right to vote for women came incrementally across the country. there were some states that allow them to vote in school and local elections. and the western states, a lot of them were writing constitutions. untilsn't become national amendment but some of the states had already established that and montana was one of them. so she came in with the full support of the women in 1916. brian: how many women are in the senate right now? betty: are our 20 serving right now. we have been stuck at 24 the last 45 years now. brian: what changed that god
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got women into the senate seats? when i came to town, there was smith.rgaret chase betty: throughout margaret's career she was able to serve for 24 years. for 15 years, she was the only woman in the senate. she was joined from time to time by short termers. one served a short time.
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other than that, it was most women who came in for short term appointments. not until 1992 do we get more the end to women who served simultaneously in the senate. that was a long time since 1992 to get to that point. there was a few turning points in the story. that was one time when hattie carraway gets to be the first woman elected to the senate. margaret smith has a huge impact. she was a very high profile woman and got a lot of attention, she runs for president for the republican nomination in 1964. that opened a lot of doors for women in politics. you get into the 1980's and 1990's and there is tremendous progress for women all over. it built up to the state. it takes a long time and it takes a long time not only because they have to overcome expectations but also hurdles for campaign finance to build the organizations they need. that is a big task and it takes a lot to build that kind of infrastructure that helps them to win statewide elections. brian: a lot of this is random because i am pulling out small items. you have one page items on your website and you also connected to some of the current affairs
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and all. this is not exactly current. let me read the first couple of sentences and show you some video. this is june 17, 1930. the senate passes this and there is a picture of senator smoot. it starts out this way. a memorable scene from the movie ferris bueller's day off as a high school teacher vainly struggling to get some response from his students. let's look at what that really look like from over 30 years ago. [begin video clip] >> in 1930, the republican-controlled house of representatives in an effort to anyone? anyone? depression.
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in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. does anyone know the effects? it did not work and the united states sank deeper into the great depression. [close video clip] brian: did you write that by the way? betty: don wrote that one, he loved that movie and remembered it very well. we joke a lot in the office. particularly when you get rings like holley smoot. you get all these bills with names attached to them and people often get the names wrong and mixed up. we often hear the name wrong. the real stories behind these pieces of legislation have been lost through history. so people just remember the names but they can never get them quite right. in this case, he was trying to take a very serious issue and try to make it sort of approachable and accessible to a larger audience and that is what don was doing with his story.
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brian: there is another story. the united states constitution establishes three eligibility requirements for service in the senate. age, citizenship, and residents. -- residents. what is the age? betty: 30. and nine years of citizenship and you have to be a resident at the time of the election host:. for nine years? -- brian: why nine years? betty: that goes back to the founding fathers. in the constitutional convention, they were trying to come up with a constitutional system that would be workable. that was before we had our independence and they were looking for ways that they could sort of grandfather people into office. they were also looking for ways to distinguish the house from the senate and so they would have stricter qualifications for
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the senate. seven for the house. 30 years versus 20 years for the house so they were trying to separate the two bodies. the president has to be a citizen. in the early days he had to be a naturalized citizen, now he has to be born in the united states. a child of naturalized citizens that have been born in the united states. brian: and isn't there a certain amount of time he has to live dear? lived here?to have betty: there might be. i am not sure about that. brian: the senate decided to add one more. why was that? betty: because he was from utah and a mormon. by the time utah became a state it had to disavow itself from some of the mormon practices. including polygamy.
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but there was a lot of religious bigotry against it. and when smoot came into office, there were a lot of people who did not want to accept them into the senate because of his religious belief. he had been part of the religious hierarchy of the mormon church and there were a lot of people that did not accept that. brian: a paragraph i want to read, a bright moment in this otherwise ugly episode came in a floor speech by the committee's ranking majority member, who testified that smoot stood out among his colleagues for having no vices. he does not drink or smoke or chew or swear. and so, because he did not do all that, his religion boggled them at times. betty: there were people who would not accept them because he was a mormon. it is not because they dislike him or they thought he was horrible, they just did not agree with his religious practice. voted toy the senate
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theirim despite prejudices. brian: here is one from 1954. on the first of september, 1954, south carolina democratic senator maybank died unexpectedly. earlier that year, maybank had won his party's primary nomination for a third full senate term. at that point, 51-year-old former governor sam thurmond run.nced his intention to what is the story on that? betty: he started term limiting himself. but with the maybank system, when maybank leaves office and a vacancy opens up, he decides to run for that. but it is too late to get into the normal process so he runs as a write-in vote. to this day he is the only
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senator, up until a few years ago when someone else did. brian: when did you know you were interested in history? betty: as a child i was very interested in archaeology. i wanted to be in archaeologist. i grew up in iowa. mason city, iowa. went to high school in colorado and california for college and graduate school. i had a strong interest in ancient history and archaeology. i did not get much encouragement from school and high school counselors and so want to go into archaeology so i drifted to other things. i studied music. i got my bachelors degree in english. but when i finish college i decided it was history bore the end anything will stop a couple
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things revved that up. about the time i got out of high school, we were celebrating our national bicentennial and i got fascinated by that and started to read american history. when i got out of college, we were going into the time of the constitutional bicentennial and i started to pay attention to that. so when i finished my undergraduate years, having grown up in iowa in living in colorado i had never been to the eastern seaboard. so i came over from the east coast and to the trip from maine to north carolina and went to boston and washington and philadelphia. by the time i finish that, i had a really strong interest and went to graduate school as a history major. brian: you might be a poster job for someone who started in a community college. betty: i did, yes. cityt to santa barbara then i for two years,
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transferred to the university of california for my final two years and i was a working girl all the way through. i worked my way through college and he and i did not have the money to go to a fancy school. at that time you could go to the university of california for a fairly low price. it would be hard to do these days, their fees have gone up a lot. but in those days it was very affordable. brian: i found on linkedin a list of all these things you are supposedly involved in. this is the one i wanted you to explain. the young woman's drumming empowerment project. betty: i am a drummer. i play the west african drum and i have a good friend who is an amazing musician and she has a project that she started in washington, d.c., called the young women's drumming empowerment project and she takes young girls 12-18 years old a off the street and teaches them drumming, how to gain confidence. it is a wonderful organization
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and so it in addition to enjoying the drumming process i help with that. brian: how long have you been a drummer? betty: four or five years now. and there is a related project. poverty.up from from ghana and he goes back where they make the djembe drums and he teaches the boys in the home village how to make the drums. he brings crafts from ghana to the united states and they have a store where they sell them and the funding goes back to those villages in ghana to help bring those boys out of poverty. brian: back to the senate. this is a moment back in 2015. i don't want to ask you the politics of this but mostly how and what the rules are. here is senator cruz on the floor of the senate. [begin video clip]
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>> i cannot believe he would tell a flat out lie. i voted based on those assurances that he made to each and every one of us. what we saw today was an thatute demonstration what he told every republican senator but when he told the press over and over and over again what was a simple lie. [end video clip] brian: people talk about how he is disliked. he is calling his own leader, mitch mcconnell, a liar. can you do that in the senate? you're not supposed to. betty: you are not supposed to. the senate takes great pride in its decorum and respect in the chamber. starting in 1789 on, there was a set of rules and procedures and one of them is that you do not
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speak ill of another person on the floor. we have had some famous confrontations in the senate chamber through the years. this was mild compared to many of them that have come along. through this process, they have built a set of rules, expectationsnd having respectful debate in the chamber. brian: who would rule on something like that? betty: whoever is sitting in the presiding officer's chair would preside over it. in that particular case, they came back into session a few days later, and the president pro tem, read out the rule which governs the way it is managed on the senate floor. that was sort of a statement to say we do have rules, we do have expectations. brian: here is an item from your website. anyone watching can get on and
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read these things. this is 1906. daniel webster had trouble with his personal finances. he maintainedr, practice. betty: famous daniel webster. throughout his career, he often argued court cases in front of the supreme court. he was not adverse to taking monetary bribes, we would call them today, to favor one piece of legislation over another. there were no senate ethic rules at the time. senate ethics rules are modern invention. and so there was nothing that was considered sort of an abuse of power the way we would today
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to use your senate seat for long for your own financial gains. brian: when did they change it? betty: they really didn't start it change it until the 1960's. there are moments where they start to add other rules in the the 1920's. but not until the 1960's do we get an ethics committee to set forth rules to govern that type of stuff. brian: here is another one. this one is from 1912. in 1873, this was a guy, as i said named senator pomeroy.
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this was a guy, as i said named senator pomeroy. what impact did that have on the senate? betty: that was one thing that ultimately led to the establishment of the direct election senators. in the late 19th century, there were a lot of cases of bribery of state legislatures at the time. senators were elected by state legislators, not directly by the people. there had been a reform movement underway to write a constitutional amendment that would change that system of election, but the senate always balked at that. the house thought that would not pass. it took a long time for that through.vement to come in the 1890's and early 20th century there were several cases of people who were alleged or convicted of taking bribes or
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offering bribes to state legislatures to get senate seat, and pomeroy fell into that category. finally in 1912, the senate passed what became the 17th amendment to establish direct election. brian: here is a video. one of the reasons way i want to show this, this is all about the impeachment process over the years. how many times has the senate convicted after impeachment by the house a judge or president or supreme court justice? betty: we have had 20 impeachment trials so far and about half have resulted in conviction. brian: the supreme court justice samuel chase? was he convicted? betty: he was acquitted. impeachmenthird trial ever. the first impeachment ever was a senator from tennessee. the time he got to the trial he had already been expelled by the senate so they expelled the case for lack of jurisdiction. the first to be convicted was in new hampshire judge name john pickering. he was removed from office. samuel chase was a very politicized case.
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thomas jefferson really had a lot to do with that as president. it was an effort by the jeffersonian republicans to remove federalists from the bench. chase was an outspoken federalist. he was not removed from office. brian: what happened to andrew johnson? what happened to him? betty: he was impeached by the house in 1868, but he was saved from conviction by one single vote. was one short of the conviction.y for brian: and then the second president was bill clinton. betty: william clinton. here is some video from senate mitch mcconnell in 1986. [begin video clip] >> you were guilty of defrauding the government on your tax return, and you are now serving a prison term for that. i want you to state for me, judge clyburn, the best possible justification this senator could state to overturn that criminal
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conviction. and allow you to continue to serve as a federal district judge. why you cannot perform the duties. >> if you honestly feel in your heart that i got a raw deal and i should not have been convicted, and that i in good faith disclosed all of my income to buy tax preparer and they made brutal errors in my returns for which i was not responsible, therein as i see, the choice you have to make. [end video clip] they thought he was guilty. he went on to practice law.
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betty: that was harry claiborne. we had three impeachments in the 1980's which is interesting because there had not been a single one since the 1930's. by the time we got to the 1980's, they had no personal knowledge of impeachment trials. they had to kind of start with the process from scratch. there are several things they can do with impeachment. the main purpose of impeachment is to remove someone from office, but in the senate can vote to also disqualify that person from serving in any future office, and they often do hold those votes separately so they can convict someone but not disqualify them from future service, and that is what the case with hastings, for instance -- he served in the house after being convicted. brian: judge clyburn committed suicide before was all over, years later. the audience did not see the hastings clip. the congressmen now from florida, here is jeff hastings talking about it. [begin video clip] >> i am being tried for the exact same thing that i was
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tried for before, and i don't know how to call it other than double jeopardy. so when congress says that the standard, that the standard for impeachment is not the same standard as in a criminal trial, well, i kept waiting to see what the standard of impeachment is. there never said, because is no standard. the standard is in the feelings of the particular senators sitting at the time. [end video clip] brian: is he right? betty: he is. he is making an interesting point. impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors have never been well-defined through the years. so with each new impeachment trial, the senate is faced with new impeachment hurdles to determine if that particular set of crimes committed by this individual reached the point of impeachment standard, and they somehow qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors.
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that is the only guidance they have from the constitution, so they have to redefine, redefine these impeachment crimes over and over, which is what they have been doing for 200 years. brian: overall, no supreme court justices have been convicted, no president has been convicted, and most judges have been district court judges? betty: we had two presidents, one cabinet official, one supreme court justice, and the rest have been judicial. brian: you were in the senate as an assistant historian when bill clinton was impeached? betty: i had just arrived. 1998 as a new of minted senate historian. my colleague john richardson said to me it will be quiet, we have an election coming.
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you have lots of time to read and settle into your new job. within a few weeks, the house to impeach bill clinton and we got very busy very quickly. we had to do a good deal of research on impeachment trials. we had not had a presidential impeachment since 1868. the senate leaders at that time really wanted to follow historical precedent as much as they could. we did a good deal of research into all of the impeachment trials, particularly the johnson impeachment trial, to see how the chamber was set up, with the prosecutor said, who were the house managers, where the defense lawyers sat. we even went to the point of looking at how the tickets were printed for the johnson impeachment trial and did similar gallery tickets for the clinton trial. history was a very strong guide throughout the clinton impeachment process. brian: how free are you in the historian's office to say whatever you want to say? betty: we try to be cautious we are dealing with current members.
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we have never been censured or censored, so to speak. we are pretty free to speak about former members in senate history. we do have a policy in the office that we do not comment on current members or current issues. we wait for them to become history before we do that. but the secretary of the senate, our chief boss, has been very supportive of our office for 40 years and has been very helpful in letting us to get information out to reporters and the public when we need to. we are cautious but we are not restricted in a very strong way. brian: do you have to call the secretary of the senate to get permission to say something? betty: not necessarily, no. depends on the study. if i'm going to do an on camera interview like this for instance, i will make sure they are ok with that. they have never turned me down.
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we speak to reporters, and the public all the time, and we don't need permission to do that. brian: senator robert byrd, deceased for a couple of years, here is something he used to do all the time. put this into context. [begin video clip] >> spring has arrived. haha, how sweet it is, how sweet it is. spring has arrived. after a long gray winter, made darker by the spectre of war, and with that confidently upon us, it is heartening to be reminded of the great rhythm of the seasons, and the renewal of the earth and the life upon it. now, nature hangs her mantle green on every blooming tree, and spreads her seeds of daisies white out o'er the grasses lire.
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so wrote the poet robert burns. [end video clip] [laughter] brian: put him into context. betty: senator byrd was the model of the senatorial decorum in so many ways. he was a great student of history, a great master of senate procedures, and was very tuned into the constitutional role of the senate and the important role it plays in our federal government. when he went to the floor he usually went to the floor well armed with information, but also attempted to put the debate into a broader context. a broader historical context. he often did that by doing history lessons on the floor. he often quoted poetry like you see there. he also would bring an element
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of camaraderie, an element of friendliness to the debate. i will give you one example of that. back in 1964 when the senate was in the midst of a filibuster against the 1964 civil rights act. it was the very last night of that final speech, part of that filibuster came from senator byrd who did a 14 hour speech opposing the civil rights act of 1964. as that speech wore on during the night, senator humphrey, who was the democratic floor leader, came to the floor and asked senator byrd if he knew when he would finish his speech because they had scheduled the all-important culture vote for 10:00 the next morning. senator byrd said, i have enough material to go on for another 14, 15 hours, but i promised the senator from minnesota that i will finish by 10:00 in the morning. and then he went on to quote poetry, and he talked about red
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roses on his neighbors' vines. and in the end, hubert endingy thanked him for and the next morning at 9:55, senator byrd did finish his speech just in time for the closure vote, and hubert humphrey's showed up and he and the red rose to his lapel. so there you have a case of two people on opposite sides of the issue, one part of the filibuster against the civil rights bill and one going for the civil rights bill coming together in this way that allows them to have a personal connection despite their political differences. brian: if you are going to recommend one book about the united states senate to people listening or watching now, what, who would it be? betty: one book would be my
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colleague dick baker's book which came at a couple of years ago. it is the most comprehensive history that you will find in one volume. i often say to people when they ask me back, which era of senate history are you interested in? because if you want to capture the senate of the 1940's to 1950's, i might recommend one book in the senate has evolved a great deal through the years and so, even from the 1960's until today, it is a very different institution. so i would ask them that question first. but if you are really looking for a one volume comprehensive history, i would go to richard baker's "the american senate." brian: give us another one. betty: if you want to capture something from the mid-20th century, look at william white's "the citadel." it was written about the senate in the 1950's and really sort of looks at how the senate this did clubisted in a very atmosphere way.
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it goes through the types of people who become senators and how they relate to each other. it is kind of a time capsule of the senate of the mid-20th century. if you want to look at the senate of the 1950's with lbj, go to robert carol's "a master of the senate." it does a good job of capturing leadership of lyndon johnson. if you are looking at the 19th century, there has been some books recently on the 1850 compromise that does a wonderful job of exploring that pre-civil war senate where debate and legislative compromises were the rule of the day. brian: here is robert carol when his book came out, "master of the senate", sitting in the taj mahal room where lyndon johnson used to sit. is,ess the question to you is there anyone like that today? [begin video clip]
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>> the lyndon johnson had so much space that they used to call this wing johnson ranch east. on the floor above us, he had the entire western end of the building, six floors for his various offices. and down here he had this room and in office over there where his secretary sat. he had various hideaways in the basement. but this was his favorite office. what you realize is that what was going on in this room, we see exercise of power. this is where he would talk to people about their committee assignments, about important bills that they had to get past or the constituents would not forgive them, and they would not be able to get passed unless lyndon johnson would get it on the calendar and then off the calendar for a vote. brian: anybody like him have that much space today? betty: the leaders have a lot of not that much, the leadership suites have expanded and back in the 1980's, they created sent leadership suites for both republican and democratic leader. they do not come in and take
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space the way johnson did. he did take over a lot of space in the senate wing. he was also a much larger than in personality as well as space and was very dominant, domineering, had the senate under a strong heavy hand of control in a lot of ways. it is hard to compare him with people today. that is partly because the leadership has changed. it works in different ways, but the senate has changed a lot since the 1950's, and so a lot of the things that johnson did, the means of making progress that johnson used would not necessarily be accepted today. brian: i know that you have been working on the old senate chamber, and we have some video that when we did our special on the capitol show, the old senate chamber.
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why are you interested in changing routine in this particular place, because a lot of tourists see this place. betty: a lot of tourists see this place, and a lot of staff take tours of the space with constituents that visit. i'm interested in taking a new look at this room. for 40 years, my colleagues and i have been giving talks and tours in this room. talking to the vips and guests. really for many decades, the stories have not changed. people get the story of the great triumvirate of clay, webster, and calhoun. they hear about the caning of sumner. our knowledge of the senate of the 1840's to 1850's has grown a lot. we have some much larger historiography than we once had,
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and we know more about the individuals, not just the famous trio, but many others that served in that space. part of my mission as senate historian is to bring fresh eyes and fresh perspective to how we look at these spaces in the capital. with the old senate chamber, i have started giving talks to people that focus not so much on the great triumvirate and the compromise of 1850 but the debates that led up to the moment, and the diversity in the chamber. even though women did not serve as elected members or senators until 1922, in the 19th century, women were a very visible presence in the old chamber. they were in the gallery, there are diaries and letters and articles about that. and so i started to make the story more inclusive of a much broader array of audiences, and partly to make it accessible to modern audiences, but also to show that the senate, even though it was a white male membership, wasn't necessarily a wealthy all-male environment.
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and we now have some of the information we need to start to tell some of those stories. brian: i cannot resist this. you talk about the books. i want to show what impact shows like "house of cards" -- here is kevin spacey. it is the house of representatives and not the senate, but i am sure you have an opinion on this. [begin video clip] >> 22 years in congress, i can smell the way the wind is blowing. jim matthews, former governor of pennsylvania, did his duty delivering the keystones date. bless his heart. but now it is time to put him out to pasture. for some, it is simply the size of the chairs. linda vasquez, walker's chief of staff. i got her hired. she is a woman, check, latina, jack, and more important than that, she is as tough as a two dollars stake. check, check, check. when he did a key in your back
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pocket, you take what you can. as for me, i am just a lonely house majority whip, i keep things moving in a congress. my job is to keep the pipes moving and the sludge going. but i won't have to do that much longer. i have done my time. welcome to washington. [end video clip] brian: what impact has that had? do you get questions about it? betty: we do. i was speaking to a large group of foreign scholars a few weeks ago, and one of them raised his hand and said, i know absolutely nothing about the u.s. congress or the senate. the only thing i know about what i see on "house of cards." and i said, well, that is not in accurate for trail. people have to recognize it is fiction, not real. but what i love about "house of cards" is it these personalities. congress, the senate and the house, are made up of personalities and some of them you like. some of them you do not like. some of them are completely
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honest. some of them are not. in that has been the case since 1789. i do love that variety you get. but that is not a very accurate depiction of politics. largely the public views of what it is like to be a u.s. senator is not very well informed. that show does not really help. brian: so, i am a student somewhere, it could be college, high school, could be having a phd and i want to get the absolute best information i can about the senate. and i can't. but when i get if i came to your office or came to the senate that i could not get on the internet? betty: a lot of senate history is not on the internet, believe it or not. even though we have a lot of pages on, a lot of what you get on the internet is not necessarily factual so you have to be careful what you get there. if you come to our office, you will get, in addition to the thousands of research files we have in the office that are available to researchers, you
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will get a staff that is very well informed and well trained at and well schooled in senate anybodywill stop so speak to in the office would be able to help guide you to the sources you need. archival sources and secondary sources and would help to find photographs you want to or document you are looking for. we help the public all the time with those kind of requests. of credentialsd you have jeff to get into see this kind of stuff? they: anybody can come into off is an open office. if you want to use our resources to get into the national archives and that can stuff, you have to be a serious research files top you need to be someone who was a scholar or somebody working on a phd dissertation or even if you are working on an honors project for high school project or something like that, we help many people. brian: how many oral histories do you have on file? betty: we have done hundreds
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histories through the years. we have about 50 of the transcripts online but in addition to those we have another 60 or 70 volumes that are not online for a variety of reasons. some are just not open to research yet. oralof them keep your histories closed for a while. in the last year, we have done about 70 interviews. so it is an ongoing process. brian: she is the associate? betty: she is the associate historian. brian: so, what part of this job didn't you expect? you were sitting over there for as 16 years not the historian. now that you are, what changed? betty: the demands on your time are tremendous when you're in a historian's position because when you are the assistant or the associate, you are dealing with the day-to-day operations of the office, but you don't necessarily get all the calls from senators of the senate office. that usually goes to the historian, and i have a newfound
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respect for both did baker and don ritchie for how they handled all of those calls. i get a lot of requests from senators to the special projects, special tours, to come talk to their staff, to do research for a speech they might be writing, to help better to speech they are writing, and in it and have to deal with that so much when i was an associate historian. so there is a lot of demand on time, but fortunately i have a wonderful staff and it has all been working very well. brian: and where can you go? betty: go to and go to history and click on our page. brian: thank you very much for joining us. oed, the historian for the united states senate. betty: thank you, brian. ♪ [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.
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visit] announcer: for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q& q&a programs are also available as c-span podcasts. announcer: if you enjoyed this week's q&a program, here are others you may like. 82-part interview with senate historian emeritus donald richie and ray smock with the history of the house and senate including leaders, legislatures, and scandals. senate historian richard baker talks about recorded phone calls between president johnson and senate republican leader jerks -- senate republican leader
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dirksen as they negotiate civil rights and voting rights bills. and the two-part interview with author robert karam on his biography of former president johnson, "the later -- years of lyndon johnson." you can search the entire video library at announcer: next, live, your calls and comments on washington journal. marklive at 11:00 a.m. to memorial day, president obama lays a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier. >> tonight on the communicators, we broadcast from a conference in boston known as the communications expo. we will feature a panel discussion with four fca commissioners. the group will discuss competition and the cable industry, the consolidation of
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media companies, cyber security, deployment and getting broadband into lower income homes. with respect to broadband deployment, so much of the agency work it should be doing, but we have spent staff hours onset top walks procedures, special attention and special evens market will stop though they took the risk to deploy some of those investments. activities distract us from the core mission which we have under the law, to make sure this industry andable to competl playing field to deliver digital opportunity for all americans. >> farce the communicators tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span two. >> this morning, washington journal is opening up our phones for the next re-hours talk about the legacy of the vietnam war. we will also be showing
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interviews with visitors to the vietnam memorial on the national mall. we will take your calls and you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. washington journal is next. ♪ host: good morning. memorial day in america. this year, this reads in part, those who served under the stars and tribes embody the highest form of citizenship and on memorial day, we pay solemn tribute to those americans who laid down their lives to defend our region. spend ourng, we entire three-hour program focusing a one conflict that took over 58,000 american lives and continues to loom large in this country's national consciousness, the vietnam war.


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