tv Charlie Rose PBS February 1, 2017 12:00am-1:01am PST
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with eli broad, as a philanthropist, he's in art, finance and education. >> i've always felt an obligation to give back. the country has been good to me. the son of lithuanian immigrants. two industries, homebuilding, retirement savings. 16 years ago, we sold our last company, and i said i want to spend all my time giving back. so we created the foundation, which is in science, medical research, education, reform and the arts. and we feel great about all that. >> rose: we continue with peter kunhardt whose new documentary on hbo is called "becoming warren buffett."
>> warren knows exactly what's coming across the plate and he makes the analogy he doesn't have to swing, no strikes called, so he can stand there all kay. he waits month after month, year after year and when he's ready he swings so he hits the wall. >> rose: we conclude with john avlon, his new book is called "washington's farewell: the founding father's warning to future generations." >> washington was the author in terms of the ideas. maybe it's the autobiography of his ideas but he assembled the greatest team of ghost writers in history. james madison the first term, alexander hamilton the second term. the words are mostly hamilton's but the ideas are all washington. >> rose: broad, kunhardt and avalon when we continue.
>> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: eli broad is here. he is one of the world's most prominent philanthropists. the "new yorker" magazine called him the domenicci of los angeles. the broad opened in september of 2015 as the downtown show case for his contemporary art collection. the fourth art museum broad conceived and brought to fruition. next month he marks the tenth anniversary of the three stem cell companies. they have invested $600 million in public education. pleased to have him at this table. >> good to be back.
>> rose: here you are with these twin passions, many passions, but twin passions -- science on the one hand and art on the other hand. >> and education in between. >> rose: and education in between. is there a connection between the two for you, or just simply this is where your heart is? >> well, it's where our heart is. there is no direct connection. i think they're very complementary. we feel good about what we've done in scientific and medical institute at broad ibs duties and m.i.t. which is 2500 people on a $450 million annual research budget, they're going great things. >> rose: what are they doing that's great? genomics, lots of things, including finding the cause of a certain schizofriendia, for example. >> rose: finding a genetic connection? >> indeed. >> rose: yeah. and also what they're doing in cancer research and many
other areas. >> rose: cutting edge of science is what it is. >> it is, indeed, and it's been 14 years now. >> rose: and what was the instinct to do it? >> well, i have no background in science or medicine, but one of our sons has crohn's disease, so david baltimore, who's on our board, said, you've got to give a grant to eric lander who is decoding for the government because he's got a gene related to crohn's, so we gave him some money. then one day, like 15 years ago, we're in cambridge, massachusetts, and i said, eric, i want to see your lab. we're blown away with 140,000 square feet of computers and robotics going 24 hours a day with all these young, great people from harvard medical school and m.i.t. so excited they don't want to go home. i said, eric, when are you going
to be done decoding the human genome? he says april 2012. then what do you want to do -- >> rose: 2002. 2002, right. he said i want to take all we've learned and get a clinical application. i said. what do you need? he said, $800 million. i said i hope you get it, well, he didn't. being an entrepreneur i said we'll put up $100 million and harvard and m.i.t. will do likewise. since then, we've made large investments. >> rose: got 300 million and went out and found the other. >> yeah, and since then, we're in there for $700 million and feel very good about it. >> rose: they've done hard research there and they make the research available to -- >> exactly. it's all free. it's all on the internet. they reinvented how you connect science, getting people out of
their labs, creating platforms, whether it's computer scientists, mathematicians, engineers, physicists, chemists, then the four stem cell centers we funded -- or three, i should say, at usc, u.c.l.a. and u.c.l.a. france. >> rose: with stem cells, the focus has been on artificial intelligence and gene editing, but stem cell i assume is going straightforward ahead on how they can use it and how to make it pay off? >> well, for example, there was something called baby bubbles. >> rose: right, exactly. they figured out how to sell that problem -- solve that problem. they're doing a lot of things, stem cells, everythingy geriatric problems to so many things i can't describe. >> rose: let me ask you this,
do you think the government is doing enough for science? >> no, no. in fact, in real dollars, i was with francis collins thursday night, head of n.i.h., their budget has really gone down, about 21% in real dollars in the last five or six years. >> rose: science and education and health in all the research we've done is what's made us strong. >> absolutely. >> rose: it's given us the leadership around the world. >> and we should continue to make those investments. they really paid off in spades. >> rose: so what happened? did it just become part of the budget battles? >> part of budget battles and, hopefully, they won't make any more cuts and hopefully they'll even augment what n.i.h. gets and n.c.i., national cancer institutes, gets. >> rose: you're a businessman who did really well.
>> thank you. >> rose: and what was the incentive to give back? where did it come from? >> well, i've always felt an obligation to give back. the country's been very good to me. i'm a son of lithuanian immigrants. did well in two industries, homebuilding and retirement savings, and 16 years ago we sold our last company, and i said i want to spend all my time giving back. so we created the foundation, which is in science, medical research, education reform and the arts, and we feel great about all that. >> rose: it's like bill gates. bill gates did an amazing thing, he founded microsoft and sort of set the modern computer revolution along the intel on its way. he had the software and they had the hardware. the process that made it possible. but you don't even think about him anymore because of that
remarkable microsoft thing he did. you think about him in terms of global health and education. same true for you, they think about you not only in homebuilding and retirement savings, you think about art museums, scientific centers and someone trying to rally people to try to figure out how to make america's educational process and system work. >> you know, i have a great admiration for bill gates and the gates foundation, what they're doing in world health. we work together on education reform and other things. >> rose: one of the things you've always had, i think maybe your book was -- was your book entitled this "be unreasonable"? >> "the art of being unreasonable." >> rose: what did you mean by that. >> it was a quote by george bernard shaw that said the reasonable man or woman adopts himself to the world. the unreasonable person doesn't. therefore, all progress comes from unreasonable people. >> rose: who doesn't adapt to the way things are and figures out a way to go where things
aren't. >> yes. >> rose: you defined being reasonable, being unconventional. it's one thing to do it in business, another thing in philanthropy and science and art. how have you been able to do that in these different venues? >> we brought in stem cells centers and things that didn't exist. we have three rules, if it's going to happen anyway, we don't get involved. we say is it going to make a difference 20 years from now. thirdly, are there people that can make it happen. our foundation is different from others. 95% of things we do are things we thought about doing, rather than waiting for people to come up with grant requests. >> rose: 95%. exactly. and we feel good about doing the arts. especially the new museum which has had over a million visitors
since opening 2015. >> rose: i want to come to art and l.a. in manet. let me talk about education for a minute. charter schools, how are they doing? >> charter schools are doing great, some better than others. >others. it's a battle. we love what's happening with success academy in new york city and a if you remember of others, we're big supporters of quality charter schools. >> rose: there are good and not-so-good charter schools. >> that's correct. we give money to organizations to make sure they close the bad charter schools. like the california charter school association, national association of charter schools, we say you have to get rid of the bad charter schools. >> rose: what's wrong with american education? >> what's wrong is it's resistant to change.
>> rose: a vested interest in the dr. . >> i've yet to meet a scientist that wants to maintain the status quo, but that's all they want to do in education, whether it's a bureaucracy or, frankly, a teachers union. they don't want to change anything. they're fearful of change. >> rose: because change means loss of their job or -- >> yeah, it means loss of security, whether seniority, tenure and the like. >> rose: everybody knows it is not easy to fix education. here is bill gates and warren buffett at this table on friday night. what could make us not stay strong? >> there is a lot of strength that we've built up over decades, the way we do research, our universities, the way that people take risks, an that's why our technology companies are still so strong, our biotech companies are still so strong.
so the education system is one that, you know, we need to go back and look at, you know, and that is one huge source of inequity because you get a great education, actually, the outcomes are pretty good. >> rose: your experience has told you it's much harder than even you imagined? >> improving the u.s. education system, yes. the dropout rate has gone down a bit, so that's great, but the overall reading scores, math scores and the inequality hasn't budged much in the last ten years, and one of the goals of our foundation is working with partners to change that and, so far, it's proven to be one of the tougher ones, and we still believe it's super important and they are promising if we look at
individual schools we see great things, so we still believe it's achievable. >> rose: you're the renaissance man in art in los angeles. y was it hard?id you find andou >> well, i've always been innovative. i've always had a thirst for knowledge, and i love what we're doing in all three areas. >> rose: yeah, but that doesn't get you there. you've got to do a lot more. you've got to be willing to fight the fight. >> fight the fight. >> rose: find good people. we have the best people. i feel great about our people we have whether the director of our museum we have been with 20-some-odd years. eric lander, the head of broad institute and many others. >> rose: jeff kountze is your favorite artist. >> we are fortunate to have been able to collect jeff kountze for years, cindy sherman and others we met in the early '80s,
whose work we can't afford today. >> rose: yes, you could afford it. ( laughter ) so what's the status? has it become the foremost center of art innovation? >> i think this is the center of contemporary art. we have great art schools, whether u.c.l.a., cal arts, u.s.c., arts inner college, and we've got great artists in los angeles. there was a time you couldn't make it unless you were arts new york. that's all changed now. >> rose: michael govan who you no well profiled in the "new york times" and he said l.a. can be a tough place to rally civic and finl philanthropic support. >> that's true we do not have the tradition of philanthropy as
older cities, so it's tough. >> rose: but you have fantastic collectors out there. >> our grand avenue, for example. mayor dick reardon raised $200 million to get walt disney concert hall built. a lot of good things happening. on grand avenue, we now have an arts high school which we didn't have ten, 15 years ago. we've got a great new cathedral by ralph moneo. we've got the museum of contemporary arts which i was chairman of in 1979. >> rose: all on the same avenue. >> all on same grand street avenue. >> rose: so you've really put l.a. on the map, with the help of people like others, the great collectors. >> i've made a contribution. especially on grand avenue. i've always believed los angeles needed a vibrant center for 50 million people and grand avenue has become the cultural
and civic district of the region. >> rose: you finance this yourself. >> yes. >> rose: you finance the broad. >> and endowed the broad. >> rose: so what happens to other people who don't have a financier like you? >> they can make biewtions in others -- they can make contributions in other ways. they can support existing institutions and spend time and energy helping these institutions succeed. >> rose: i assume what you have been able to do is apply business sense to the running of museums in the same way that bill gates did that for the running of the foundation. >> our museum has a very different culture than you will find in other museums. what we're proud of is the average age of our attendees, 12 years younger than the average attendee at most museums. also it's a diverse audience. we're surprised they came once.
they keep coming back, so we feel great about that. instead of security guards, we have business service associates which get 50 hours of training. talking about the art, architecture, museums, whatever people want to talk about and are very friendly. >> rose: thank you for coming. good to see you. good to be here again. thank you. >> rose: science, art, education, that's a rather significant and important agenda to have. eli broad. back in a moment. stay with us. becoming warren buffett is a newdog documentary from emmy award winning director peter kunhardt. the film gives an inside look at one of the richths men and biggest philanthropists in the world. featuring home videos e personal photographs and interviews with warren's family and friends. here's the trailer for "becoming warren buffett." >> i want a sausage muffin with
egg and cheese. 3.17 sz is a bacon egg and cheese biscuit. i think i'll pass that up and go for the 2.55. >> warren buffett is the only person who from scratch built a company in the top ten of the fortune 500. >> i was always playing around with numbers. i find it enjoyable. two turningpoints in my life, once when i came out of the womb, once when i met susie. >> warren is smart and lonely and isolated. >> i was a lopsided person. she put me together. i would pile money, she would unpile it running a foundation and society would benefit from 99% of what i made. investment problems are easy. the human problems are difficult. >> rose: joining me is peter kunhardt. director of the film. pleased to have him at this table. welcome. >> thank you, charlie.
>> rose: how did this come about? you've done brilliant documentaries on very sad subjects. >> and many are people who are no longer alive so it was a great pleasure to have a subject that was not only alive but very alive. peter buffett who was a friend of mine, i asked him if it was a good final for warren in his life, and he thought he was in aer are reflective mood these days, so recommended i write him a letter, put it on his desk and i got a letter a week later saying let's do it. very exciting to get. >> rose: tell me who it is you have profiled here. >> in warren buffett? >> rose: yes. i'm not a financial person, so i went into this to try figure out who the little boy was who became the man and a mega billionaire. most of the films begin in
childhood to try to find clues that tell you how they became who they became, and my feeling is that warren is famous for keeping emotion out of everything, but he's a hugely emotional guy, and he's emotional just beneath the surface, and you've experienced that. i've watched you ask him questions that were hard for him to answer, and we've experienced the same kind of pushback from him. but he was willing to open up to a large degree, and he was willing to have his children and his sisters open up even more. so he very much wanted us to get the other side of the story from family and friends. >> rose: you mean warren the human. >> that's right. there were certain areas warren wanted the story to get out.ak he couldn't be the one to say it. >> rose: speaking of doris, writing a letter to stockholders. >> exactly. >> rose: which makes it human and personal and like you're
having a conversation with him. >> right and when he's looking after his stockholders' money, it's as if it's his family. he's thinking of doris and the first group of investors he represented. >> rose: what's his genius? i think his genius is a mind that can work so fast and retain so much and mix it with a logic and a common sense that just doesn't usually get mixed together. so, you know, his son howie says he's a computer and the hard drive never fills up, but he's more than that. he's a very sensitive man who then interprets that data in a way that most people can't. >> good morning. thank you for choosing mcdonald's. order when you're ready. >> i'll have a sausage muffin with egg and cheese. >> anything else? that's it. thank you. and i tell my wife, as i shave in the morning, i say either
$2.61, $2.95, or $3.17. he puts that amount in a little cup by me here and that determines which of three breakfasts i get. okay. $2.95. how are you doing? >> hey, great! you're on candid camera. i see! hello, everybody! >> when i'm not fee ya? >> good. $3.17 is a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. but the market is down this morning, so i think i'll pass up the $3.17 and go for the $2.55. >> rose: and who e's had influence on him? >> you know, i think the two people -- many people -- you know, he's influenced by all his family and friends and he has a close, close network of friends, but i think the two people who
most influenced him were first his father and then his first wife susie. his father -- he hangs his father's picture and portrait in his office, he sits at his father's desk. the lessons about principles and morals and ethics his father taught him as a boy, they're as if his father is still around. he lives with his father in mind. it's not like his father is in his past, he's very much part of his present. >> rose: his father was a congressman. >> yes, brought the family to washington against warren's will. warren has memories of difficult years ago in washington as a teenager, ran away, didn't do well in school and was very awkward around his peers. he was an awkward little boy. he describes it as being lop-sided socially. so the second person who came into his life, susie, his wife, was someone who is just the opposite of warren.
she wasn't cerebral, she had a giant heart, and her heart opened up warren in a way that no one else had, and she taught him to be a well-rounded human being who could identify and talk and be comfortable around people. he says at the end of the film that he would never have been as successful as he was if it hadn't been for susie, that susie was part of his success. >> rose: he told me his life was a mess till he met her. >> exactly. >> rose: take a look at these clips that have never been seen before. >> when i got out of the university of nebraska, i applied to harvard business school. they told me i was to get interviewed in a place near chicago. i got there, and he interviewed me for about ten minutes, and he said, forget it, you're not going to harvard. so now i'm thinking what do i tell my dad? this is terrible. it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.
later that summer, i was looking for a catalog, and in the catalog it had these names of people that were teaching, and one was graham and another was doc. i had read this book by the two of them. so i wrote them a letter in mid august and i said dear professor dodd, i said, i thought you guys were dead, but now that i found out you're alive and teaching i would really like to come, and he admitted me. ( laughter ) it just shows you never can tell. >> rose: i think harvard regrets that? >> i think to this day. ( laughter ) but it was the perfect place for him, and he learned value investing from ben graham, and it took him a long, long way, and really shaped berkshire hathaway, i think until charlie munger came into the picture and kind of reversed his thinking so
that instead of buying good companies at great prices, he switched to great companies at good prices athand that turned everything around. >> rose: it did have a significant effect. ben graham is a third person that had a huge influence on him in terms of the basic principles he still applies from the modifications you suggested from munger and others. >> in a funny way, he was another father figure to him. he used to come to his house and take home movies and hang out with him. >> rose: this is warren's chirp talking about him as a father. here it is. ♪ >> well, i describe my childhood as normal, but who knows what normal is. people often think, you know, well, warren buffett was this famous rich guy. he wasn't famous or rich when we were growing up. >> what i saw first and foremost, day in and day out, was consistency. every day, we hear the garage
door close in the house, and then, like clockwork with, my dad would come in the door, i'm home, and we would all eat dinner together, which i think surprises a lot of people. >> my dad used to rock me to sleep at night and sing "over the rainbow" so i had this family sentimental attachment to that song. i've always had a really close relationship with him. >> rose: now, he's also a very interesting man because of how funny he is. his sense of humor is probably not known as well by people who haven't been in contact with him. saw a little of that at the business school with the business students. >> that's right. his humor is so quick and so well-timed. i think his timing is immaculate. and if people don't pick up the jokes, he'll just move on and you will realize what you missed later on.
susie who mentioned he sung over the rainbow to her, i called her and said, did he ever record that song? and she said once he went to a karaoke studio and recorded it. she dug through all her things and found the original cassette and sent it to us. so the closing credits to the film was warren and susie singing over the rain ebow. so famous and touching at the same time. >> rose: he bought positions in major companies and watched them grow whether "the washington post" or coca-cola larks specifically, a remarkable track record. >> it's incredible. i think the lesson for all of us out of that is patience. not many of us can pick like warren picked because he has a mind that doesn't -- he takes the risk out of it because he knows exactly what he's going after. but we all can learn from the fact that he's patient, and you
don't have to trade things all the time. you can sit on something for a long time. you don't have to make many decisions in life to make a lot of money. that was a big lesson i took from it. >> there is also the sense of his judgment. >> yeah. a remarkable sense of being able to -- and to know what he knows and what he doesn't know. >> yeah. for a long time, didn't invest in technology companies because he said i don't really understand it. >> he calls it his circle of competence, and he shows a graphic of himself standing at the baseball plate and as ted williams had a box where if the pitch came through a specific spot on that box, he would know whether he would hit a home run or a pop. warren knows exactly what's coming across the plate and makes the analogy he does haven't to swing. no strikes called, so he can
stand and wait. he waits month after month, year after year and when h he swings, he hits the ball. >> rose: he's got on the place where it has to be a huge asset for him to buy. >> many fewer opportunities now than there used to be. i think a little bit of that part of the fun of it has gone out. it's not quite as fun as it used to be for him because there aren't the opportunities for him to -- >> rose: it's also for me, a perfect example of someone whose integrity, whose brand name, whose sense of doing business attracts people to him. you know, a number of these people that he's invested in bought their company. they initiated the call. >> yeah, i know that. and they wrote him letters. and he -- i've seen letters that came to him from prospective
companies to buy, and he judges the character of the person proposing it to him. he judges the character of the managers, and he gives managers of these companies a lot of room to move and do what they need to do, but he trusts them, and the less you violate that trust, you've got -- warren's got your back. >> rose: i once asked, what is it you do? he said i allocate capital. they send the money to omaha, and i invest it. >> he's exactly right. >> rose: he recruited these young people and many more who are out there. how he picks the people around him, his sense of talent. >> he claims that it took him a long time to learn human behavior because he was awkward as a young boy and he understood numbers but not people.
his understanding of people and what they can and can't do is beyond what anybody else can do. he said he's the best judge of people i know. that's a long way from not even being able to communicate with people early on. >> rose: it was perfect for him to meet bill gates because bill being who he is tells the story of how they met. >> bill's mother very much wanted him to meet warren, and bill was at microsoft, very busy, didn't want to spend time away from microsoft and had no interest in investing and thought it was like, as bill says, there's no value added here. but they helicoptered out and met one another and hit it off so big that they have become best friends, and he's on the board now, and he's almost -- i asked bill gates if warren was like father figure to him and he
said, yes, in a way, he's both a father figure and a friend. and at the end of the interview, we didn't use it in film, but attend of the interview, his wife turned to me and said that's the first time i heard him say that. >> rose: i never heard him say it, and i asked him about the relationship at all. bill would say, i have a father, and he does. so to say he's like father figure -- >> well, he quickly coupled it with and a best friend. >> rose: it seems it's a unique relationship. he made the assessment that what he loved doing and what he was best at was making money, finding companies, building companies, making investments, allocating capital, and what bill had become very good at was giving it away. >> a perfect friendship, partnership. in that first meeting, bill's father asked him to play a game and say what word comes to mind that makes you both as
successful as you are and they both said the word focus. they're so focused. warren is focused on making money and bill is focused on giving it away, so it really is a fortunate and -- it just works. >> rose: he's even got bill to play bridge. so what do you want people to come away with, having watched this hbo documentary? >> i hope that what i came away, having now spent a great deal of time in omaha, what i came away with was feeling refreshed that someone like warren, a billionaire with all the power he wanted at his fingertips, with all the money he could ever make, is a decent human being, and i think he's a lesson in decency and humanity and democracy. he believes that every life has equal value. it's not the money. it's the money is secondary to what the man represents, and i
think that goes back to his father's early teaching, and susie's kind of democratic, more liberal, more compassionate tendencies warren picked up on. >> rose: i would only answer that integrity, he has a great sense of integrity, that you don't play near the sidelines, you try to play near the center of the field. >> in the film we do the solomon story. everyone was surprised when he bought into solomon. he did buy in and when solomon got into trouble he took over as chairman and testified before the senate committee and he said, if you lose a shred of reputation, you're finished. as long as you make mistakes, that's no problem, but if you lose a shred of reputation, it's all about integrity. >> rose: you can spend a lifetime building a reputation and lose it in one second. congratulations. >> thank you very much. >> rose: peter kunhardt. the film called "becoming warren
buffett," a remarkable human being. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: george washington used his farewell address to the nation as a warning to his fellow citizens and future generations, he cautioned against many threats that linger today including hyperpartisanship, excessive debt and foreign wars. his speech was the most famous in american history for 150 years and more widely presented than the declaration of independence. yet today it is largely forgotten. john avlon is the editor and chief of "the daily beast." his new book, "washington's farewell," offers an complainings of this farewell address and considers its relevance today. pleased to have him at this table. welcome. >> thank you, charlie. good to be here. >> rose: why is this speech is this. >> it is the most strikingly relevant artifact from the founding era. it's a memo from the first founding father to future generations and has direct applicability to what we're dealing with today. >> rose: who wrote it?
washington was the author in terms of the ideas. he assembled the greatest team in ghost writers in history. james madison wrote the first draft in the first term and hamilton in the second term. words are mostly hamilton but the ideas are washington's. >> rose: relationship between hamilton and washington. >> it's rooted in the revolutionary war when hamilton is a young officer who becomes his aide ade decamp. they form a mind meld about the floss any of the new republican they wish to enact and influenced by the fact the continental congress was to weak and ineffectual and short of money that it reinforced a key ideas that carried forward to a young republican, the need for a strong centralized, energetic government and the need for fiscal responsibility. the face cal affairs, if they weren't in an order could kill
an army in war and a country in peace. >> rose: you quote thomas jefferson and george washington, the moderation and virtue of a single character probably prevented this revolution from being closed as most others have been by subversion of the liberty it was intended to establish. >> that's in many ways the key quote. moderation and virtue. two qualities we perhaps underappreciate today in our elected leaders, but also a reminder that every great revolution up to that point built on the promise of a great democratic republic had been subverted by its leaders, whether oliver cromwell in the english civil war, but on and on we see idealistic of the republican toppled usually by a new army toppling tyranny. the french revolution attempted to echo what we had done.
jefferson and madison were enthralled even after it revealed to be tyranny because lopping off heads at the rate of every five minutes. >> rose: every president since washington offered a farewell snardz. >> almost every one. let's take out the assassinations off the top, but very often they were simply letters to congress. what washington did was unique on two levels. first of all, he never gave the speech out loud. it was published in the "american daily advertiser," a newspaper, because he wanted to offer an open letter to the people rather than retreating to the monarchal model, the king addressing the pennsylvani parl. and he dipped do it as a victory lap of things he accomplished. he wrote it as warning of history he understood at that point and hissons in his life about how democratic republics die so he focusedo on key warnings, hyperpartisanship, excessive debt and foreign wars. they resonate today.
hyperpartisanship, when founding farts warn about narrow party, it opens the doors to a demagogue. >> rose: interesting, assassinationings prevent opportunities for presidents to give farewell addresses, so do dpieg in office. f.d.r. never gave us a farewell address. >> no, but the ones who did largely take the lesson from washington at the warning. that becomes the ne new traditi. the other famous is by eisenhower, the military industrial complex, inspired by washington's farewell address, memos passed by his speech writer acing this is the model we ought to look at. that key warning is a parting warning from a friend, addressed to fellow friends and citizens and a powerful thing that president obama tried to
continue. >> rose: president obama's farewell address, he references george washington's farewell address. here it is. in his own farewell address, george washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity and liberty. but from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth. so we have to preserve this truth with jealous anxiety that we should reject the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties that make us one. ( cheers and applause )
america, we weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character aren't even willing to enter into public service, so course with rancor, the americans with whom we disagree with seen not just as misguided by as malevolent. we weaken those ties when we define some of us as more american than others. when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and when we sit back and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them. ( cheers and applause ) it falls to each of us to be
those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy, to embrace the joyous task we have been given, to continually try to improve this great nation of ours because, for all our outward differences, we, in fact, all share the same proud title, the most important office in a democracy, citizens. >> rose: sum up for me what you think his farewell address was saying in terms of what he said about democracy and the threats to democracy because, in conversations with me and certainly others, you know, i've said to him, you so strongly believe that the country has the strongest military, economy, science, technology, universities, what could go wrong? he always says, our politics. he means by that gridlock and a
whole range of things. he has now incorporated into those things he thinks threaten our politics which has to do with hacking and lots of things and fake news and those kinds of things. >> sure. well, you know, the fact that obama's warning was threats to democracy underscores one of the commonalities, this conversation between the generationings that occur with presidents that are best, is that democracy is not a given, success is not pre-ordained and this is an idealestic pushback about centuries of cynicism and people's capacity to self-govern. what washington and obama share are two things in particular then we deal into the specifics. one, they both recognize in their addresses that the ultimate backstop in democracy is vigorous citizenship. there is no substitute for that. and a passionate attachment to the ideal and idea of national unit. all differences aside, washington kept emphasizin emphe
national character which hasn't been created yet, he was consciously creating, he warned against regional political parties. those could be dangerous because he saw the beginnings of a civil war. and, so, he said, let's focus on what unites us not divides us. what president obama and george washington both said is our independence as a nation is inseparate from our interdepends as a people. that's a profound message. >> rose: meaning we're all in this together? >> we're all in this together. what barack obama was warning about in that excerpt from washington's farewell is there will be conniving divide horse come and tie to divide fellow americans against each other, sometimes pretending to represent real interest. washington called those folks pretend patriots. washington's farewell address has been mischaracterized for a
long time as being an argument for isolationism. not the case. he was making the case for foreign policy of independence. he didn't want america to become a satellite of another nation, britain or france, in this case. he wanted us to have enough time to grow in strength, economic and military. but what he really was concerned about, because h he saw it with the french in his own administration trying to undermine his own government, he saw it in the case of ancient republican licks, greece and rome and his own republics, is foreign nation would try to influence domestic poll six to undermine sovereignty. when i was writing the book, that seemed like a somewhat distant concern, but dealing with the reality of russian hacking and influencing our outcome, that's centuries old. that's one of the clarion calls of why we study history to provide perspective on our own problems but there are larger
arts and we've got to learn them. >> rose: if you don't know history you're bound to repeat it. >> civilizations did not inevitably tend upward, that was our spoons snoobility what was the situation with jefferson. >> contentious. >> rose: both men of virginia. and washington was in physical and psychic pain at the time he wrote his farewell address. washington is our first and only independent president. the constitution doesn't mention political parties. it does mention journalists. to watch his two most surrogate sons of the cabinet at war with each other, hamilton and jefferson, while scheming to create separate political parties and jefferson who had been his closest aide, when he
realized that jefferson and madison were scheming to undermine his administration, that his own secretary of state and his chief legislative leader had traveled to get a new newspr editor to come to philadelphia, to form a partisan newspaper to attack the administration in very personal terms against washington while on the state department payroll, that's a degree of due publicity that's mind boggling today and jefferson denied it at first. that really resulted in a deep falling out between washington and jefferson, whereas his relationship with hamilton remained strong. hamilton remained loyal. their politics were close because of the foundation of the revolution and the experience in the administration together. >> rose: most of the attention of reinvestigation of jefferson speak of sally heming. >> sure. >> rose: where does he stand as a president today and sit because of what he wrote late on
than what he did earl leon? the louisiana purchase stands strong. >> i think so. obviously, he's among the most romantic of our founding fathers because of the declaration and that stands tall on its own. what's particularly ironic, is the phrase people most associate with washington's farewell address is entangling alliances. that doesn't appear in the farewell address, it appears in jefferson's inaugural. jefferson after fighting tooth and nail with washington over politics and policy over a decade. when he takes the oath of office after debating john adams, he becomes a born-again washingtonian. he encapsulates and rearticulates all the phrases washington tried to lay out, those principles, and it's a reminder that very often where you sit is a matter of where you stand. the office has historically changed the man more than the man changed the office. it's a fascinating arc. >> rose: this is a book about
speeches. what's fascinating to me is john kennedy talked about winston churchill mobilizing the english language. >> and sending it to battle. >> rose: what's interesting is how single speeches can make such a difference in your political rise. in britain, david cameron made one great speech and got elected prime minister. barack obama had won his position in chicago as a state legislator on the iraqi war but had one great speech that cat pulled him. bill clinton didn't have that happen because it wasn't a successful speech. he came through the process of being governor and entering the primaries. but speeches can make a difference. do we treasure them today? >> not enough. there is a drift towards 140 characters and pithy quotes, but i think great speeches to the example of david cameron and barack obama can still matter. they're about having inspiration
that has durable wisdom behind it. >> rose: and michelle obama, i think, you know, in terms of the speech she made at the democratic convention, could have been politically changing for her if she wanted to be a political candidate. >> wisdom is something we perhaps don't value enough. we don't value the strength of moderation as a foundational governing principle which washington rooted in classical wisdom. >> rose: moderation as a foundation -- >> for effective governance in a democracy. we've denigrated that. we've denigrated a lot of sources of wisdom, but they're intended to be renewable sources which is why we can rediscover them when they're newly applicable. when i was writing the back halfway through the play "hamilton" came out and a great song halfway through and it's suddenly on people's ipads and car radios and that's how we make old stories new again. great speeches can do that. they draw on deeper themes and hold us to a higher standard to
twi wise and honest can repair. so we need to venerate them and seek them out because they remind us of our best selves and we need that in democracy. >> rose: it's interesting in donald trump and this campaign, if there was one thing that reflected his campaign, it was rallies. >> sure. >> rose: it was one thing that gave him inspiration and strength of that, gave him energy and inspiration, and it was something that i think he fed on. >> sure. >> rose: but they weren't really speeches. i mean, it was simply a conversation. it was a conversation with that audience of people. same conversation every time, and he's continuing that. >> very, very much so. his inaugural address was not a conversation between generations, it was an extension of a campaign speech. but he once described it as a performance. and i think that's one of the lines that we need to be wary of in our politics is when our politicians start performing, when they start appealing to the
lowest common denominator and not our better angels, one of the twisted scenes out of this book is in 1939 there was a nazi rally in madison square garden, and they had a 30-foot banner of george washington surrounded by swastikas, and a keynote speech was an attempt to reappropriate the farewell address, misappropriated. that's an example of misusing the iconography of american politics. >politics. >> rose: it was a conversation. >> it was not a speech. he does not do a speech in that way. i think people will give donald trump credit for using social media. but there's a lot that's lost and this is a deeper conversation and deeper responsibility.
the responsibility of self-governance is nothing we can begin to take for granted and that's one of the core messages the founders clearly tried to set. that's an old story we need to make new again. >> rose: thank you for coming. the book is called "washington's farewell: the founding father's warning to future generations." but it's much more than that. john avlon. thank you for joining us. see you next time. for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
kim boland: here you can run into people that are just very like-minded. it's a conservative area. i have conservative values. maria hinojosa: northern idaho: a haven for white conservatives. norm gissel: they come up here because they're exhausted with multicultural issues. john alden: we've had problems for 50 years now with any prayer in schools. hinojosa: still haunted by a history of extreme racism. joshua hoston: we'll see swastikas, we'll see various verses that are offensive. and he went like this. don't come change idaho. come and fit into idaho, and we'd love to have you. this is the new america-- black, brown, asian, lgbt, immigrants. the country is going through a major demographic shift, and the numbers show it. the face of the u.s. has changed. christina ibanez: we're american. we care about the same things. but yet we also want to preserve our culture. i just see it destroying what we had planned to happen here. hinojosa: by 2043, we will be a majority non-white nation.