tv Face the Nation CBS November 27, 2017 2:00am-2:31am PST
>> dickerson: welcome back the "face the nation" we continue our conversation with authors whose new books explore leadership. robert dallek the author of "franklin delano roosevelt: a political life." ron cher now is author of "grant." and mark updegrove is the author of "the last republicans." mark i'll start with you on this question of what is your -- you call your book snoot last republicans" no. the bush family, why that title? >> because it was clear that the bush -- bushes represent a lost -- establishment republican party. right now we see a party at war with itself. still have establishment members of that party but there are insurgents who have taken over. the partynt stand for anything spiffs i can, there's no binding
platform or principles it's really what standard bear, very capricious, unpredictable donald trump decides it wants to be. so in some manner the bushes, represent the end to a type of republicanism. >> dickerson: ron, why grant and was it the grant when you went into the book the same one as when you were finally done? >> you know, i have contearian, whenever i feel that the stereotype of a particular historical figure is hardened into a caricature i'm attacked to it. grant i was interested in retiring three chief smith, one that he was a crude and brutal general, in fact he was a dazzling strategist. i wanted to retire the idea that he somehow stumbled through the entire civil war in an alcoholic haze, he did have a drinking problem but never drank during much less before a battle. i also, most importantly wanted
to change the image of his presidency. one that was completely dominated by corruption and cronyism to one that in fact had many elements of courage in terms of his effort to protect the four million former slaves now full-fledged american citizens. grant, i was crusading for attorney general uses newly created justice department, really questions the ku klux klan which had taken over the south. >> dickerson: as we talk about presidential characteristics one strikes 'about fdr, the sense ever guile and lack of transparency. we talk about must be constantly truthful, he was rightly good at that time not hauls being truthful with everybody, was that a key skill of his? it. >> was indeed. in fact, the kinds of things that he would say in private. for example, after he won 1944, he disliked tom dewey, privately called him a son of a bitch but
never say that in public. because he was someone who was very willing -- he would be half a step ahead of public opinion e opinion. it gave him a sense of the country a sense of leadership. he was extraordinary character, after all he was a man who couldn't walk. he only made one reference to his disability. his entire presidency of 12 years. when he came back, he said, i know you will excuse me for sitting down for carrying ten pounds of steel around each of my lower limbs. only time he made reference to the fact -- what a story. here is a man who is immobilized, couldn't walk, he wrote a letter to another -- to congressman saying when you get frustrated, you can get up and walk around. he said, i'm stuckish this chair and but private see he was always much more candid than he
was publicly. >> dickerson: start by picture the last one of him where he looks like man who had to carry around lot of weight in his entire life. mark, let me ask you about the bush code. we were just talking about a letter that fdr wrote, i was struck by letter that george her ward walker bush wrote to sis sons during watergate. tell us about that letter, also the father was also taking whatever moment was happening using it as a lesson for his songs it felt like about this bush code. it. >> was a primer of sorts. george h.w. bush while he is the chairman of the republican party in the -- at the height of watergate, two weeks before richard nixon resigns, writes let tore his boys he calls him his lags, talking about that moment of why it's important, how you stick by a friend in need, you don't go with the crowd, you don't join the mob, if you don't have to. you stick by your principles and you reserve your judgment.
he says in that, understand that power accompanied by arrogance is very dangerous. it is particularly dangerous when men with no experience have it for they can abuse a great institution. it's amazing, first part that have is clearly about richard nixon. the arrogance and power. the last part that have is a hypothetical. somebody with no experience. nixon clearly had experience. had been congressman, senator, vice president. hypothetical so it wasn't hard to infer what the bush family felt about donald trump as he emerged as the clear man to beat in 2016. >> dickerson: nancy in your book you talk about something called the gathering, which i want you to explain. but also have -- when you talk about leadership, people are grabbing it. in other words, they are not -- there's some question always of greatness is it thrust upon you or do you seize it. what is your take on that and explain what you mean by gathering. >> i any that the -- i think the
leader makes the moment as well as the moment making a leader. grant is transformed as a general over the course of the civil war. fdr, right, is changed and developed through the course of his four terms. i'm sure this is true of both 41 and 4. so, greatness is not thrust upon us in some kind of divine strike of lightning. like, great suns something that i think proceeds very significantly from one person's willingness to say, i want to get better. and to fdr i'm going to show up in service to my mission with dignity and humanity. and compassion and a sense of the larger national interest. but that develop, ability of fdr to do that, the ability of grant to do such important things toward ensuring that the transformation of american of 13th, 14th, 15th amendment actually happens that wasn't something that they did. they had to work at it.
they had to -- all had -- all of these people have mired in failure which i maintain is important part of the making of resilient, courageous leaders. >> dickerson: pick up exactly on that feeling with grant and failure, i can think of so many instances where there was failure not only does he say, but also if he hadn't had failure out west he maybe never would have come back east been position to be hero. >> i think that happens. he feels that one business after another before the civil war, by the time the civil war breaks out, he's almost 40, he's been reduced to working as a clerk in his father's leather good store where he's a junior to his two younger brothers, the war breaks out. he's a brigadier general, ten months later a major general. then four years later he has million soldiers under his command. i think that experience of failure was extremely important because he learned how to weather adversity. it gave him a toughness and
perseverance that would be extremely important in a war that was very bloody and protracted also gave him audacity, he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. you see there the child again and again takes colossal risks that no other union general would have dared to take. >> dickerson: robert, we obviously with fdr there was the polio. i was struck you point out about him becoming an actor as a result of that. a key skill for a president. >> yes. he said to other sen wells, one time, you and i are two greatest actors in america. he had a kind of self confidence and i think developed as they go through the presidency and struggle with these crises, but his idea was fdr in the white house. he was the man to do the job. of course he had the example of his distant cousin theodore.
>> talk about confidence. >> and came from distinguished family they were spa trish answer, served him brilliantly. very clear that great leadership grows from deeply held values. >> exactly. >> that's still obvious in the case of both grant and fdr. >> something that is important to emphasize is honesty. grant is president with such a stickler for honesty that one day a visitor came to his office, you could just walk into the white house at that point. and grant and his office he heard someone telling someone that the president is out of the office. when the stranger leaves, grant pops out says, you should have said that i was otherwise engaged. he said, i don't lie for myself and i don't like people lying for me. >> want to hear the same sense of the very high bar, wonderful
line that he says to one of the quarter masters, you -- when they are providing -- you can't give me and my family the best choice of cuts of meat when my soldiers, right, don't have socks and enough muskets. the sense that the leader sets a standard of honesty of comportment of dignity that people, the understanding on fdr's part on grant's part on both bush president's part that people take their cues from leaders cannot just kids, all kinds of people. look to leaders for examples of courage under pressure for sense of direction. so i think another element of leaving in turbulent times, john, is the element of how leaders show up and end response. >> and expression of that was in the fact that franklin roosevelt never stepped forward to support african americans. he never wrote to support an
anti--lynching law. but the irony is that at the end of his administration after 12 years, black voters had moved from the republican party to democratic party and have remained there ever since. and roosevelt, because of the new deal programs, alphabet agencies, they went down to the levels so to speak of the economy and black voters felt that he was on their side. that wonderful anecdote about industrial work, franklin roosevelt was the only man in the white house would ever would have understood that my boss is a son of a bitch. [ laughter ] >> mark, you mentioned earlier that the iraq war was the in instance where the son talked to the father. incredibly close yet he didn't turn to him that much. talk a little bit about that, the tightness of their bond, what that was founded on but the fact that they kind of -- he
wasn't calling his father all the time for advice. >> nor was his father imposing his point of view on his son. that goes back to the inherent humility of george h.w. bush, he didn't want to be an added bud tone his son. hey, junior, here is how you can do things. he would also concede as would george w. bush say that the world had changed since his father was president. i think he harbored some reservations about his son's policy in iraq, but he didn't want to do anything to jeopardize. if i could make one point, john, nancy talked about comfortment. you can't under emphasize the important of civility in times of great division. george w. bush says in his address-01 when we were consider very divided after that election of 2000 was contested. he said, civility is not a tactic, it is a determined choice of trust over cynicism, community over chaos. we can live by that adage today.
>> dickerson: ron, let me ask you about these were solitary figures, but also had deep connections with other people. in the case of grant, was it sherman, basically struck by their relationship, but then he also had -- was it rollins, talk about that interplay with other people. these weren't just totally solitary people. >> there always has to be fearless truth teller on the staff. what happens when grant becomes brigadier general he invites a gentleman on to his staff, he is ajutant on one condition that grant not drop a touch of liquor, he, rollins would call him on it. he fell off the wagon many times, and rollins privately called him on it but not publicly. he felt that the state of the union rested on the shoulders of ulysses s. grant. i think we owe tremendous dealt to john rollins who became
secretary of war for always having the courage to tell grant what he needed to know. >> dickerson: of course there's eleanor roosevelt. >> yeah. >> he owed a great debt to eleanor and harold who was a voice for liberal side of his administration. he was very careful politician when it came to the holocaust, for example. he saw the anti-semitism in the country, the anti-immigrant sentiments but eleanor was so angry when secretary of state would let any jewish refugees from portugal into the country she went to franklin said, this guy is a fascist. franklin said, you must not say that, eleanor. she said, but franklin, it's true. she was tough. and direct. >> dickerson: rachel carson is different than all these others. explain why she had to do kind
of two jobs. >> rachel carson is the only woman in my book, the environmentalists whose environmental builder who did more than any one person to found the modern environmental movement by publishing "silent spring" in is the 62. fascinatings thing about her story in the context of other four very interesting driven men. is that she is the primary caretaker for her birth family all her life. for her parents, for her sisters and brothers -- sister and brother then for sister's kids then for sister's kids' kids. doing all that, government job, trying to write a book. in the late 1950s she's battling breast cancer while she's adopted her grand nephew at the age of 15. not sure she can beat the clock to finish a book that she knows is both dangerous and potentially really will rock the world. so her story, particularly female story, is a story of that very, very powerful kind of
courage and grace in pursuit of something really important and decent. >> dickerson: these are all wonderful books. of course we'll have to end our conversation from well be right back with another author and another book, walter isaacson. a tiny sword? bread...breadstick? a matchstick! a lamppost! coin slot! no? uhhh... 10 seconds. a stick! a walking stick! eiffel tower, mount kilimanjaro! (ding) time! sorry, it's a tandem bicycle. what? what?! as long as sloths are slow, you can count on geico saving folks money. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. you're more than just a bathroom disease.. you're a life of unpredictable symptoms. crohn's, you've tried to own us. but now it's our turn to take control with stelara® stelara® works differently for adults with moderately to severely active crohn's disease. studies showed relief and remission, with dosing every 8 weeks. stelara® may lower the ability of your immune system
to fight infections and may increase your risk of infections and cancer. some serious infections require hospitalization. before treatment, get tested for tuberculosis. before or during treatment, always tell your doctor if you think you have an infection or have flu-like symptoms or sores, have had cancer, or develop any new skin growths, or if anyone in your house needs or recently had a vaccine. alert your doctor of new or worsening problems, including headaches, seizures, confusion, and vision problems. these may be signs of a rare, potentially fatal brain condition. some serious allergic reactions can occur. do not take stelara® if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. we're fed up with your unpredictability. remission can start with stelara®. talk to your doctor today. janssen wants to help you explore cost support options for stelara®. >> dickerson: joined by walter isaacson, which explores the life and work of the original renaissance man. walter, you were my boss, you always said stories at the heart of these things. what story starts with leonardo?
>> when you turns that unnerving milestone of becoming 30 years old and he's been -- you and i remember that a bit. he's been a painter, moderately successful in florence but has trouble finishing his painting. it's kind of worse because his father is a notary and his notarized some of the contracts of those paintings. leonardo decides it's time to seek new horizons, he's part of delegation this goes from florence to milan a cultural delegation because that's how florence had its influence. it didn't have great military, they would send it to architects and artists, other cities, florence became what we'd call soft power. he goes there and he goes as musician because he's invented a lot 6 musical instruments. when he gets the milan he doesn't want to go home. he writes the coolest job application letter in history. the 11 paragraphs, the first ten are all about what he did in
engineer and anatomy and art and science and controlling the flows of waters and building castles. only in the 11th paragraph he says you can also paint as well as anyone. you see leonardo loving everything in nature just wanting to be jack of all trades. >> dickerson: is that his key quality, that he had this hunger for everything? >> his key quality, what makes him creative genius, i think, is that he was kiir just about everything. sometimes it was cure cross tee that could be useful like he would dissect and figure how do i do st. jerome in the wilderness. then he kept dissecting the heart and the liver and do layered anatomical drawings. it was a curiosity that was passionate, that was playful and end up being curious for its own sake which is what makes him feel the patterns of nature. >> dickerson: something nancy calls the gathering, you just
gather everything up then expresses itself in various different -- >> some people who have written about him in the mast century they approach him as art critic was. it's such a shame that he squandered so much time doing anatomy and flight of birds. otherwise he could have finished one of those paintings. that's true. but he wouldn't have been leonardo and wouldn't have had the monaly virginia it was that gathering. that's what we hoof to understand being curious tea about everything not only makes you more creative it enriches your life. >> dickerson: and makes you better dinner table conversationist. >> great at this table. dickerson: you mentioned st. jerome, he went back to it later, right is that the one he keeps working and -- >> people say he abandoned his paintings. one of the things i discover asked like with st. jerome, young painter in florence, st. jerome in the wilderness, very skeletal because he's in the wilderness.
gets the neck muscles wrong early on puts the painting aside. but he comes back 25 years later, after he's done more 'natural tee drawings and he redoes the neck muscles. i've discovered wasn't so much that he abandoned paintings he thought sometimes a perfect is the enemy of the good, false a brush stroke i can make better. reminded me of steve jobs who holds up shipping the original macintosh, i wrote a book about him earlier, lot of similarities. because steve wanted the circuit board inside the mac to look beautiful. so they hold up shipping it so that notion of sometimes you hold on to something until you can make it perfect. it's not a good recipe for business. but it is a good recipe to do every now and then in life. >> dickerson: the mona lisa, explain why, i think -- why is this such a great painting? >> you know, i think people do it you see huge crowds you
wonder, okay. when you look at the mona lisa it's the culmination of somebody who spent a life looking at that time science, anatomy, geology, but also philosophy and spirituality. and so like even his early paintings but culminating with mona lisa you have the river that curves and ancient mountains and curves into the roads and then curves into the human body as our veins d. he always made an analogy between the earth and tweenies. that's his fundamental philosophy. just giving one example of the science doing it. he dissected the human eye knew that the center of the retina is where you see black and white details the edges you see shadows and color. and so over 16 years he keeps painting the lip, he had do dissected the human face done every muscle and nerve, but 16 years he's painting it but does tiniest black and white details at the edge of the lips drawing
straight or turning down but the shadows and colors turning up. it becomes an interactive painting. every time you see her she seems to have a different emotion. you have a different emotion in your eyes change a bit the smile flickers back on. this is magical. it's showing inner emotion reflected on a face. >> dickerson: last question, 30 seconds. you mention what he would be like at a dinner party. what kind of person was he? >> he was very collegial, very friendly. he had everybody at the time, the mathematician, all refer to him as his best friend. and what he kind of does is, he makes everybody feel that the way to be more creative is not to specialize, not to silo yourself as we sometimes do to our kids built to be curious about everything for curiosity sake. >> dickerson: walter isaacson, thank you so much. we'll be right back. you could save energy by
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>> dickerson: that is it for us today. be sure to tune in to cbs this morning with norah o'donnell and gayle king have some of our cbs affiliate wcco-tv reporter and anchor interview with al frank franken. interviewed him more than a hundred times. this will be one we don't want to miss. until next week for "face the nation" i'm john dickerson. s captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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