Skip to main content

tv   QA with David Garrow Part 2  CSPAN  July 24, 2017 6:00am-7:01am EDT

6:00 am
>> ryan mccrimmon covers appropriations. the website of his organization has a busy week, tackling these issues. ryan, thank you. >> coming up next, q&a with david thank you for your time. biographer and gero.sor darrell -- david that's followed by washington journal with your phone calls and a look at today's headlines. >> this week on q&a part two of our interview with poland served davidinning by a for gero. a professor of law and history talks about his book rising star
6:01 am
in the making of barack obama priorit covers his life to winning the presidency. you can watch us on our website c-span.org. david gero other of rising star, what was the hardest part of this book to you? aspectmost challenging of doing this book was dealing with the women before michelle obama. i am an academic historian. i am very different in how i deal with people than many journalists are. even when one is talking with intimate, personal hesitant,ips, i am
6:02 am
deferential. i don't oppose intrusive questions. ,ut it is very important crucially important, that what alex mcneil and with genevieve cook, there are lengthy letters that barack wrote to them that they have hung onto. i think that it gives a history of barack's life a great depth and richness to have all of those letters in his own words detailing those relationships. previousked in the hour about this, almost 1500 pages including the notes and index and all of that. did you have to cut this book down? >> very little. that we made the decision to go with harper
6:03 am
collins as opposed to three other publishers because of harper collins willingness to go forward with a one-volume book of this remarkable size. i am deeply indebted to harpercollins. the quality of the physical production of this volume is something i am immensely pleased with. mentioned the women in his life. i want to put on the screen the three women that you were the most about besides michelle obama and his mother and grandmother. cook.cnear, genevieve what did she tell you that was important. alex and barack were classmates at occidental college. left occidental after his
6:04 am
sophomore year, wanting a bigger university to attend. he and alex begin a relationship , and episodic relationship, only after barack has left occidental. interesting -- interested in literary theory at that time. barack's letters to her are often times very very literary in their own qualities, where he is both reacting to what alex has been writing him, and he is also seeking to demonstrate his own compositional abilities to her. genevieve cook, whom a rock meets in new york after he graduates columbia, they became involved quickly with each other. outvieve was just starting
6:05 am
teaching public school. , barackppy as a teacher himself at that time, without question the most difficult. in his life. right out of college, he takes a job and stays in it for precisely 365 days at a financial publishing firm called business international corporation. everyone else who worked at bi, as they called it was quite happy there. they are a nifty set of people. it is now owned by the economist magazine. but barack was a fish out of 1984 and 1985. he describes it in a letter to his mother as working for the enemy.
6:06 am
1985rivate politics in anti-capitalism in some fashion. 1984 when he hits the thread and 65 day mark, he and is trying to find something else to do in new york. publics for new york interest group, a rolf nader type of group up at city college in west harlem. i happened to be teaching at city college that exact same year. that he came to me and asked to speak in one of my classes, but he clearly was going to some of my colleagues to ask to speak in their classes. we might well have briefly inercepted -- intersected 1985 and it was not memorable.
6:07 am
organizeund trying to undergraduates at a commuter school unfulfilling. as of may oft 1985, and is living in a hovel of the situation and hells kitchen. at --add for a beginning community organizer in chicago did that is what begins progression.- sure that the job littleared in a called community jobs. it is not the sort of thing that gets bound into volumes.
6:08 am
catalog at the online for the library of congress, and it showed that 11 or 12 scattered u.s. institutions once upon a time reported having catalog in jobs. i am living in britain. and sometimesng calling these u.s. college libraries that say they have it. first five or six, we don't have it any. -- any more. then i call the reference desk at indiana university at transylvania. -- pennsylvania. the lady that answered the phone said she would go take a look at email me. lo and behold, they have not thrown out, community jobs, june 1985. there is the ad.
6:09 am
i want to tell that story, ,ecause historians like myself we rely upon librarians and archivists. there are central to producing vacuum -- factual history. >> are there no photos in this book? book.s is a very long good value for money as we would say in britain, but it is a pricey oak. -- pricey book. they expect us to do for the photo research and pay for that. there are very few good photos of barack obama that folks have thealready seen, and photographers who own the rights to those would like a very
6:10 am
pretty any for them. i am not someone who is wealthy $30,000 uput up front for photo rights. >> we have not talked about all the women. this is not a book about his presidency. and maybe i should ask you first why not. throughrack's life up 2004 when he is elected to the u.s. senate, i believe this look is comprehensive and authoritative, and will remain the primary book of record about his pre-presidential life for some decades to come. not in a similar way
6:11 am
come anywhere close to addressing the presidency itself this close in time. about --e talking anybody who wants to watch the first hour of the interview it is honor archive site. you talked about the difference between an academic historian and a commercial historian. andalked about a reporter you say or not. what is the difference? bank iink the number one thing i would say is the extent to which i prioritize and seek out and rely upon contemporaneous documents. in the first chapter of this portrays the world of
6:12 am
the far south side of chicago 1985, thek arrives in best resource for seeing what the south side was like then is --ong a funk newspaper defunct newspaper called the daily calumet. it covered the collapse of the steel industry with great journalism. but it is on microfilm and only on film. there are a lot of library work that you have to do as a historian. we touched in the earlier hour how barack's most important foundiend was someone i thanks to student directories and the university of chicago library. additionally, he had an essay in his high school yearbook in
6:13 am
hawaii about his basketball team . no one had found that. it is a very nice essay, a charming piece about the meaning of teamwork written by a high school senior. in the home why use state library. ,specially in present day journalists believe that everything you need is either on the web or available by telephone. to me that is not the case. there is an awful lot of old print material that you have to go do it out. >> i have to ask you about the way you did this. ask, howd a student did you do this?
6:14 am
i made physically, what did you write and how did you keep your notes, how did you keep track of notes?ul -- source --as my wife would testify starting in 2008, i began one word file, obama notes. chronologicalrely order. it begins with early items about his father and grandparents before were roxboro road. birth.re barack's over the years that file became a word document with something like 3500 pages. eventually i would print it out the relevant portions for each chat your that i was writing.
6:15 am
when i began writing chapter one, which is chicago for he arrives there, i would have on my desk at my home in pittsburgh, everything printed out from this huge notes file o 1985.to 1980 t those are marked up with colored magic markers. for instance, frank lumpkin, chris roux's communist party usa ,- communist party usa everything with frank is marked up so that it is there at my left hand side when i am writing that segment. organizede to be well to be able to master and manage this amount of notes material.
6:16 am
i very much describe myself as a , i think, not a writer what i bring to this history is my ability as a researcher, as a historian, i have no pretensions about being a stylus. >> how did you read the chapter? did you wait until all the research was done? >> yes. i waited until 98% of the research was complete. septemberwriting in of 2014, and i basically did not leave the house other than perhaps once a week to go to the grocery store, 418 months, and i did it -- for 18 months. i did it every day for every
6:17 am
day. >> imo morning -- what time of day? >> my body wakes me up at 6:30 end the morning. i would go from early in the , i would eat breakfast at my desk. i would go each day until 6:00 the evening.0 in i would have a late burst of energy before the 6:00 range and --. it requires discipline. joy of doing a book like this, the joy of doing my , the joy isdr. king in the strength you draw from meeting the people.
6:18 am
i am so close with some of the surviving people from king world, though many of them have passed on. the great joy of doing this book is not in the right tank, -- in not writing, the joy is in fisher,people like rob which we talked about in the earlier hour, barack's closest friend until the mid-90's. barack's three years in law school at harvey dep -- harvard. getting to talk to 20 or more 60 were on wall review with barack. these are all really bright people. talking to ridley bright people is -- bright people is fun. one or two very conservative
6:19 am
phyllis shapley's son andrew was a class meet -- classmate of barack's. , my first on interview for this book, greg told me i should go and see the woman who was the attorney, who incorporated their community groups. who did the paperwork. tax attorneys save their fires. mary and wilson, on day three she pulls out a manila file folder with all these documents whichup from rock himself included lists of everyone who was in this community project. chicago i haveo
6:20 am
45 or 50 names of evil, ministers, church ladies, only perhaps three or four have been discovered by journalists. i tried to locate these people. it is easier to find harvard law graduates than it is to find people whose surname is smith and who lived in a public housing project in 1986. 95% of all theod people with whom barack were -- worked. have you been at the university of pittsburgh? >> six years. >> you say you are a sanders voter. >> yes. >> is that far left of center?
6:21 am
>> i am very critical of the intelligence community, having , ied in written -- britain am a proponent of socialized medicine. >> but you voted for barack obama. and for hillary clinton. you spend eight hours with him, where was that? >> at the white house. our first meeting was in the people have seen pictures of that. the white house photographer was there that day. >> anybody else in the room with you? >> no. when i went back for my second afternoon visits with
6:22 am
iraq -- barack those were in the private dining room, which is a little bitg room, a west of the oval office. way, aown a little hall private hallway. >> we have not talked about this, but one of the things you spend time with the women involved, this it includes sex, drugs, both cocaine and marijuana. when the president saw all of this, you have a lot more of it. was he surprised and did he kick. >> let's take cocaine. genevieve cook's journal for
6:23 am
with1985, which she shared me almost in its entirety. journal documents in detail just how much cocaine barack was using with his best friends in new york, they are providing it. throughout the spring and into the early summer of 1985, that is when it ceases. there is no drug use after that. anyone object or disagree to that presentation when they read this manuscript? no. how about the concentration on sex. there is more than one paragraph
6:24 am
where you say they spent the whole day in bed and why do you think that was important in the book? >> the passage you are eluding to comes from two good friends from barack and sheila e. acres who remember an argument between barack and sheila. they are recounting this day long argument between barack and sheila, where sheila is pushing barack'sefully against articulation of his groin racial identity -- growing racial identity. barack's a story of romance with sheila. one of the wonderful women in his community group, a white woman down there and a largely black south side, kathy was a
6:25 am
single mother who had two biracial daughters. kathy very much wanted her children to identify as half and half. with cap theargue and say, you have to choose. daughters,e kathy's during that time chose to identify as african-american. he and cathy, who was simply a haver of his group, they the same argument about racial identity as barack and sheila did. sex is a part of his life as a young man. but it's not all there is by any means. this several weeks need to ask you
6:26 am
about this. i wonder what impact it has. you spent nine years on this will, when was it finished? >> i finished most of the writing in the spring of 2016, the epilogue was last year. this was entirely completed before the presidential election . i could have main changes of through this january but i did not. >> after you have done all this pages, you wake up on may 1 and you read in the new everybody -- at lot of people can't wait to get a positive review, here's what she said. star, the voluminous
6:27 am
--00 page broader fe tedious ill considered book that is in desperate need of editing and way more exhausting than access to. what was your reaction? first, anyone who is interested in the story should look at number one carlos lozano's washington post review. >> my question is, why this was written and the other the opposite? >> new york times sunday book review there is an entirely different review in the times,
6:28 am
sunday book review by brent staples. i believe it is an easily , she has been a great fan of barack obama. was hosted by him this past january and wrote an adoring piece.- peace- book challenges very forcefully much of the self portrayal that barack present of his early life. carlos in the post calls that persuasive. maybe in a more professional world, she would have written cues to herself from reviewing a
6:29 am
book. >> i know people who don't recover from a review like that. did it take you up when you read it? >> my wife was very surprised. , was not hugely surprised given that i was on top of what she had written previously about president obama, and especially about the memoir. the bookas the rest of is written in dry, largely uninflected prose the epilogue -- which almost reads like a republican attack ad devolves into a condescending diatribe unworthy of a serious historian. false andve that's a inaccurate characterization of
6:30 am
the epilogue. the epilogue is a survey of what happened during the 2007-2008 presidential campaign. bill ayres, number one, reverend jeremiah wright number two. now in the age of donald trump, but throughout iraq's presidency -- barack's , were often times very unhappy with his performance as president, with the policies he pursues or did not pursue as president. summarye my quick
6:31 am
treatment of his presidency in the epilogue is entirely fair but critical. people ask me what do i think the obama legacy will be, and i quickly would say to things. i am afraid that most of that overseas and foreign policy. syria number one, north korea, iran. when we look at president obama's domestic legacy, i think there are two things that are very important that will have long-lasting, good consequences for the united states, that can be summarize. -- soniato my are sotomayor. justices who have done better than some professional critics expected when he nominated them. it is a critical epilogue, but
6:32 am
it is not costing. about thiso ask you man, this is verily long -- fairly long. this is a man you read a lot about, the reverend jeremiah wright, conservative talkshow for talk about this man eight years. here he is from 2001. >> i heard ambassador packed on an interview yesterday. did anybody else see or hear him ? he was on fox news. and he washite and upsetting the fox news commentators to know end. ambassadorout and what malcolm x said when he was silent by was true, americans chickens. home to roost. we took this country by terror
6:33 am
patchyom the suit, yup -- the apache and the navajo, terrorism. we took africans from their country to build our way of ease and kept them in slaved and living in fear. hiroshima, and we never batted an eye. playgroundg in the mothers picking up children after school, civilians, not soldiers. we has supported state terrorism against the -- >> how many years did barack and michelle sit in the pews of trinity church? trinity church of christ in early 1992, in order
6:34 am
to get married there that october. he had first come to know reverend wright five years earlier when he was working as a community organizer. his church was a little outside the geographical boundaries of barack's neighborhood where he was organizing. reverend wright began to have a big impact, a paternal impact on barack. even in -- on i love jeremiah wright and i am proud to say it here but that comes from the part of me that is grounded and martin luther king jr. black liberation theology, which reverend wright represents is a radical doctrine. one of my oldest, closest academic trends, jim cohen, a theologian at union cemetery --
6:35 am
seminary. what jeremiah's church came to represent was the sort of living blackment of what theologians like jim cohen and cornell west have championed. preaching,ight's barack were not there that day and were not there for another of reverend wright's most notorious sermons. i don't think his preaching is in any way reflective of barack obama's release -- beliefs. trinity church was a great church to be a member of if you were an aspiring, young african-american politician in chicago. as many good things as can be
6:36 am
said about reverend wright, i would say that no one should be judged by history for the three stupidest names they have ever said. there is a much worse clip from the national press club appearance here some years later. >> is this the one where he dammed america? , it is the immense amount of good that jeremiah wright has done in his life vastly outshines how any of us might feel about a sermon like that. -- the is another person conservatives brought up for , iht years almost every day got named frank marshall davis. here he is in 1987. having problems with the fbi?
6:37 am
had an fbi agent who -- i think it was around -- whyly 60's told me did you leave your party? and i said, wait a minute. had would indicate that i -- and i never told anybody that. >> frank marshall davis, and that time that barack was a young child in hawaii, is living in honolulu. earlier in his life had been a iny prominent black poet
6:38 am
chicago. he married a wealthy white woman in the late 1940's, and they decided to move to hawaii, because they were going to experience the whole lot less racial discrimination as a couple in honolulu been in chicago. mid-1960's, one of frank marshall davis is best friends in honolulu is barack's grandfather, stanley dunham. madeleine, his wife barack's maternal grandparents pretty much raised barack in a very modest come small apartment in an apartment building in downtown honolulu. stanley was an amateur poet himself, a man who enjoyed dirty limericks. he and frank davis would hang out together.
6:39 am
stanley was very conscious of having a grandson who was half black, and stanley went out of his way to introduce his , barry, at the time to frank davis. frank davis was really the first adult african-american male who he knew. again, someone the age of a grandfather, they never became as close as barack did to jeremiah wright 20 years later, but barack as a young man when he is in high school and college is writing poetry or trying to write poetry. there is no question that frank -- have somef formative impact on barack.
6:40 am
he no more news that davis had been a commonest -- communists in the 1940's than he knew that bill ayres, a good friend in chicago had been involved in planting bombs. barack in neither instance is a ,eflection upon who barack is what people had done years earlier. >> do you remember if frank marshall took photographs of barack's mother? >> that's an allegation that is out there. i believe it is without foundation. >> there are pictures on the internet. those photos are 500% fake photo shops. life lived a very colorful
6:41 am
. he published a sexual autobiography under a pseudonym. life has no frank's bearing on barack's interaction with him. >> another person you write --, iis a man named ricky state senator is -- in illinois. >> barack and i served in the senate together. he made a bad vote, i was trying to take a child what percent are in my district and barack was doing the disco conservative thing and the only african-american to vote against me. i asked him why did you vote against me and he gave me some about why he voted with the
6:42 am
republican spirit i went back to my seat kind of perplexed. they five minutes later were closing a similar facility in his district. even i was going to vote to keep his facility open i did point out that it would have been great to have his support five minutes ago when it was the west side instead of the south side. me -- iover and told invited him to let's get it on. we had a battle -- a little scuffle. he was wrong and i was right and the rest is history. for theis your writing, first and only time in his entire life, barack obama complete lost it. why did you write that. question theout
6:43 am
only time in his life that he attempted to initiate a fistfight with another human being. colorfulendon is a character. his nickname in illinois is hollywood hendon. the senator teased the be jesus fourf barack obama for years before that confrontation took place. his description of that is 100% accurate. another 18 people who were resident that day and witnessed it, two or three of them. between them to try to break it up. they describe barack as the aggressor. senator hendon is in good physical shape but a good bit
6:44 am
shorter than barack obama. it his a unique story that senator had to was so able to agitate barack obama that barack obama wanted to have a fistfight . in all the time that you've reviewed his life, did he ever do anything illegal? besides coke. >> illegal, no. stories thatyou to i think are indicative of chicago politics. phrase pay to play, if someone wants to receive business or grants from state
6:45 am
government you better be a campaign contributor. in histhe things in his political record that he is most embarrassed about is $10,000 and contributions he received from a cell site active or -- activist named jesse -- who was sent republican nominee challenging him in 1998. after that, friends of mr. $10,000 toributed barack's next campaign. earmarks, as we call them here in washington, number initiatives in illinois, legislators are able to designate funds for particular recipients. group receives a 75,000 dollar earmark member initiative thanks to senator obama. that is paid to play.
6:46 am
it is not easy got that it is not illegal. without question it is something that barack is embarrassed to be reminded of. >> is tony brisco out of prison? >> he is out of prison, i was never able to get a response from him. he was a very important political proponent contributor to barack obama, starting in the mid-1990's. prior to 2002, most people in chicago and illinois politics thought that he was a good guy. bad onlyght he went when he got into a very close robtionship with blagojevich.
6:47 am
i believe that barack share that , that the man they knew throughout the 1990's, syrian immigrant, worked his way up from modest circumstances, learn english, brought a lot of his family to the u.s.. bundler.a major hisbarack's campaigns, for 2004 u.s. senate campaign. 1995s all the years from -2003, tony was the most important financial supporter of barack obama. that doesn't necessarily reflect badly on her. emoe have not talked about
6:48 am
jones. he is a longtime chicago 1997, whenwho by barack enters the senate is the democratic leader of the then minority caucus. 2002, democrats take control of the illinois senate come and now senator jones, very traditional the three is one of most powerful people in chicago, has control of the illinois senate. it has a conflictual relationship with the speaker of the house. when barack is first talking about running for the u.s. , hete, in the 2004 cycle
6:49 am
goes to senator jones who is majority leader, to ask for his support. this is really a defining moment becauseolitical rise senator jones's decision to support him, one of iraq's competitors is supported by jones ride -- rival, jones's decision to put all of his political eight and influence barack is thening democratic nominee for the u.s. senate, that is what makes barack obama a serious state-wide contender in illinois. book,r the end of the there is this quote.
6:50 am
is that somebody we would know? >> it is in the end notes. i may not put a name in the text, but if people go to the end notes they see everyone. answer you that accurately off the top of my head. i don't have every quote memorized. i think the point to emphasize is that over the course of
6:51 am
iraq's presidency, there were scores and scores of people in illinois who had known him, who were deeply disappointed with the trajectory of the obama presidency, in two ways. number one, disappointed that barack forgot the people -- many of the people who were essential to his political rise. >> namely? burns, with reverend wright it is complicated because of sermons like what you showed earlier. of people felt that they had been left behind. >> what about the cel-sci community in chicago? -- south side community in chicago? final months of
6:52 am
the presidency there was a retro gift effort to invite people to the white house to make up something that i think would have changed the feelings of someone like that, had that ever been made in 2009-2010. the world in which barack grew up politically in chicago during the 1990's was a progressive world. a lot of the people who knew him well back then, who were disappointed with him as president, they have policy disagreements. they are not upset that they did not get invited to the christmas party, they are upset that someone who was an outspoken critic of the patriotic -- patriot act is a champion of the cia and justice department prosecution of journalists. >> how much of the sheila e. acre reveal to -- sheila jager
6:53 am
--? zero.hink we have had one or two reviewers of this book characterize sheila as angry or bitter. feministthe world best , new list to say. i think people who would call sheila bitter or angry for being politically critical of barack, i think if the gender roles were reversed, if we were quoting an old boyfriend of hillary clinton's, if you follow me, i've no think viewers would be character arising as bitter or angry in the way they treat a woman. obama call her during his presidency, was it after he learned that he knew
6:54 am
this stuff? >> barack and sheila last spoke and 1991 until 2012. they exchanged some letters in 2001, in the wake of 9/11. of 2012, wheny alex mcnear and genevieve cook from vanity fair, sheila as she recounted to me, ask up the phone and barack is calling her, and he is seeking reassurance that she hasn't been discovered. experience because sheila then tells of barack that she had been talking to dave garo for two years. barack and sheila remained in 2012degree of contact from
6:55 am
for another two years or so at least. him? you like would you like to be around him? >> i liked him much more before he was president. very frankly. stressing as worth cousin this is something i have come to believe very strongly, that barack obama is someone who great, verya very strict compartmentalization between someone's public life and someone's private life. i find this striking that someone could be president of the united states for eight that, and one who insists there should be a complete divide between the on the record story, and the reality of the someone's life.
6:56 am
perhaps that stems from having been a -- someone who wrote an account of his own early life, that i conclude is prominently a work of historical fiction. my professional judgment as a historian of what dreams of my father is. but barack is very deeply committed to presenting his story. i think that is different from history. >> one of the points is made that he and it up wanting to marry a black women instead of the three black women -- three white women he dated. barack'sk that political aspirations and sense of destiny lead him to push sheila e. acre -- sheila jager aside. and that time there was a
6:57 am
well-known political figure in chicago, hugely respected man, senator did newhouse, who never gobelieved could higher because he was married to a white woman. it is in the political tradition of black chicago in the late 1980's, in the early 1990's, that for a black man to aspire , itepresent black chicago is necessary to have a black spouse. where are you going to put all the material you have? very much a question in my mind. i still have all my interview materials going back to my martin luther book, and once i have this next month or so out of the way, i am very consciously focused on wanting to find in archival repository that will take good care, not
6:58 am
just of the documents and they paper records, but all of these thousand plus recorded interviews. >> there is another hour and it is available on our archives. do you have another book you are writing? >> no sir. i doubt it very much. ur professor at the university of pittsburgh. we thank you very much. >> thank you. >> for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program the get -- visit us at q&a.org.
6:59 am
programs are also available at c-span podcasts. >> you have been watching the second half of our two are interview with biographer dear garrow.eath -- david to see part one of the interview go to c-span.org. here in c-span washington journal is next. at noon the house couples than for general speeches. house freedom caucus chairman speaks at the national press club about the republican general -- republican agenda. one of the items includes a bill that would add funding to the veterans choice program, allowing eligible veterans to receive health care benefits outside of the v.a. system. >> coming up today on washington
7:00 am
journal, a look at the week andd with rachel bade, catherine lucy. clark neely with the cato institute talks about ♪ good morning. it is one day -- it is monday, july 24. the house gavels in at noon today. 5:30 two todayat on capitol hill, jared kushner expected to testify behind closed doors for the senate intelligence panel. .e'll get to that this morning we begin with the president's complaint via twitter that republicans do very little to protect him in the wake of that tweet. we will begin by opening our phones to republicans only. you

17 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on