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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  March 28, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT

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>> rose: welcome to the prom, tonight robert costa saying-- president trump called friday afternoon saying he was withdrawing the obama replacement. >> he dn come out of the regular ang movement like so many others that think of themselves in viseral returns as tax cutters as people who want small government. use that grover norquist phrase, put government in a bathtub and let it drown. a real hatred of the government. trump doesn't have that but he embraced the ideology of ryan because ryan and mcconel and the senate, majority leader seem to understand how government works. and trump is such a rookie at this in many ways. he is on the scene. he's gone along with them. the question i have as a reporter, i'm sure many people do out in the country is what now. >> rose: also this evening robert draper has a fascinating article in the "new york times"
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magazine called trump versus congress, now what. >> the president will turn the page, go on to tax reform. he is eager most of all, charlie to put up as he calls it, a win. the problem all along has been what institutes-- constitutes a win. he didn't have much of a vision for obamacare and we'll see, his vision is already shifting some what on tax reform. >> rose: we conclude with a conversation about the glass menagerie now on broadway with madison ferris, joe mantello, fin wittrock and sally field. >> we slowly move to the play without them knowing we're quite in it, without us even knowing we're quite in it until slowly the lights are lowering and all of a sudden we are kind of in a costume we weren't in before. and then, then it's in. we don't have an intermission, we don't have scene breaks, all the scenes are woven together like a memory. so you can't tell when one scene is over and the next is beginning. >> rose: trump and congress, tennessee williams and the tblas
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menagerie when we continue. funding for charlie rose is provided by the >> 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: we begin this evening with politics. president trump is vying to bounce back from recent setbacks punk wait the last week by the failure of his party's effort to repeal and replace the affordable care act. doubts are rising about the president's ability to achieve progress on other aspects of an
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ambitious agenda as the white house begins turning its attenda to rob tax reform. on friday he received a phone call from the president breaking news a vote on the gop health-care bill would not proceed. i'm pleased to have robert costa back on this program. welcome. >> thank you, charlie. >> rose: i once asked donald trump when he was at cbs this morning who he thought understood him. and he mentioned your name. how did this happen so that you are the reporter he wants to call to say we're pulling the bill? >> well, as you know, we discussed on this program before, i've been covering him for quite some time. i've gotten to know him as a can the da, as a businessman, now as president of the united states. have i been working on this story with my colleagues as trump as a deal maker. could he cut his first deal, his first legislative test, health care, trying to wade into congress, a realm he didn't really know, didn't understand all the factions and the players. i have been working on this for
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about a week. as usual, put in an interview request but didn't expect anything. hadn't interviewed the president since before the inauguration. but i got this call out of the blue on friday afternoon and he was pretty even temp erred, mawted in tone and said the bill has been pulled. started piling it on to the democrats and trying to turn his attention to other issues. >> rose: we'll talk more about that. but now he has turned his attention to the republicans, less the democrats in turns of what he said subsequently. what do you make of that. >> one of the most revealing moments in my conversation with the president was about when he said i just didn't understand, bob. he said all this anger. i said what do you mean by that. he said all the anger in the republican party, in the congress. and what he meant was the freedom caucus, the hard-liners on the right and their contentious relationship with speaker paul ryan, how the moderate tuesday group in the house had their own uneasy relationship with the leadership. and he thought the party would be in lock step or at least willing to help him with a major
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legislative process-- project like this early on in his presidency. but he said he in a way walked into a storm with all these simmering factional politics that have been playing out long before donald trump ever came on the political scene. remember we've been talking for years about speaker boehner and then speaker ryan and all the upsets over government funding. and he is now face to face with that long simmering drama. >> rose: yet at the end of the thing, you said to him to reflect on a lessons he learned, he said what? >> he is not a reflective sort. i tried to pull him out, charlie, in charlie rose style, please, reflect. this is a major moment, such a big crisis for you and your party. and he said flatley, just another day in paradise. >> rose: how do you think he views the experience that he has had the first 50 plus days. >> the way he talked about it was in a way he knows is he a nonidea logical rep-- republican. he disn come out of the regan
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movement like ryan and so many other republicans who think of themselves at their core as tax rueter -- cutters, that want small government, like a real hatred of the government. trump doesn't have that but he has embraced the ideology of ryan because ryan and mcconel in the senate, the majority leader seem to understand how government works. and trump is such a rookie at this in many ways on the scene. so he's gone along with them. the question i have as a reporter, i'm sure many people do out in the country, is what now. it hasn't really worked to go along with speaker ryan on health care. will he continue to go along with the speaker and mcconel when it comes to taxes and infrastructure or maybe will eliseen more to steve bannon his chief strategist and take a more populist direction, work with democrats. but of course the democrats aren't exactly jumping at the chance to work with the president. >> rose: so where does that leave him? >> it leaves him in a very difficult position, a new president, without does not
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fully understand yet all the different power dynamics within his own party. a democratic party that's digging in in the same way republicans did in the obama area, still testing many democrats i speak to in the obama area and how republicans acted. trump has this challenge, 60 votes needed for most major pieces of legislation in the senate. in the house will you always have this group of 20 to 40 members of the freedom caucus without really don't want to legislate at all unless it truly takes an axe to the federal government. what does trump do. how does he navigate it. this is something that most presidents confront a little longer into their presidency. he has to deal with it now. >> one of the things that comes out of this and is certainly in terms of the freedom caucus, it is said at the don't fear him. >> they don't. because he has political capital. he's one and done well in many of their districts. but they are much more of the ted cruz widg of the republican party, the texas senator and the
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freedom caucus were part of the government shutdown in 2013. they see the government is out of control. and see themselves as movement activists. and in trump they like that he is anti-establishment but when it comes to policy they see an opening that he does not really have a policy blue print. he's trying to enact. and so trump i think was befud eled when i talked to him about this in the sense that he thought he could win over the freedom caucus that everyone in that group could be transactional am but in the real estate world you can have transactional deals. but when you are dealing with idea logs it is something very foreign to our. he hasn't dealt with idea logical purists and people without don't really want to have a transactional deal. >> rose: he's been familiar with people who it was once said, everybody has their price. >> exactly. >> rose: when you look at his relationship with paul ryan, i mean he said very nice things to you about paul ryan. clearly they worked hard on this. clearly he was supposed to be the closer. and couldn't make the deal. because of all the reasons you
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just said. do you think he has any doubts about two things, first, his ability to close. or does he simply blame the circumstances that he found himself in? >> he is not animated against ryan in a personal way. i asked him repeatedly about ryan trying to draw him out and see if there was anything. there he said i don't blame paul. he kept repeating the phrase. but trump and speaker ryan are kind of like a couple, you know, that everyone says it's fine. and you talk to them, they say it's fine. but all their friends are buzzing about the relationship and in not the best way. i talked to allies of speaker ryan, allies of president trump over the weekend. and they're concerned. it is a complicated relationship. both the president and the speaker spoke over the weekend, talked through tax reform. but there's still not a lot of trust there according to the allies i've spoken to. because they know ryan turned against trump in some respect during the campaign. and trump is disappointed about health care. but he knows who else is there to work with. he can work with mcconel on
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some things. the democrats aren't making overtures so ryan is what he has got. so he hasn't had a full scale revolt gebs ryan but it was telling, charlie, remember, he told everyone to watch judge jeannine's show. >> rose: who asked for ryan's resignation. >> who at the top of her show on fox news for ryan's resignation. and then the white house officials and ryan spokes people said nothing to see here. it was, he was just trying to promote a friend's show. that is the line, charlie. but i will tell you, reporters around town, people at the white house behind the scenes, people are saying the president kind of knew what he was doing when he told people to watch her show. >> rose: he knew that she was going to say thatment and therefore he wanted them to consider that that question. >> if not explicitly knowing it, i have been told from some top sources that he at least knew the direction she was likely going to head. that she was frustrated on trump's behalf whether she would take a knife to ryan politically or not. maybe he didn't know that. she didn't know what was in the
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scripted. the president is not tweeting about every television show out. there but he did tweet about the one show that went after the speaker. >> rose: breitbart news was very much opposed to paul ryan, correct? >> they are. and they used to be run by steve bannon. >> rose: of course. but where was bannon? is bannon saying that to trump and simply was overruled? or was he in this case saying something else? >> well, i call him the bannonistas the people at breitbart who are bannon's friends. they are certainly against the speaker and they are running a campaign against him on breitbart almost daily. but inside the white house bannon say little more intriguing because he's got to be careful and he has been careful. he hasn't mounted any campaign i'm told inside the white house against ryan. and he told ryan, they did have some tensions over strategy. bannon went to the house on thursday night and said look, i want a list of who was with trump, and who was against trump. but health care, the leadership said we don't want a list like that that makes us a little uncomfortable. and that's where they had a break.
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>> rose: that's where what? >> where ryan and bannon had a break with strategy. ryan didn't want to put his members on the floor to vote for a bill that would fail. because that only leaves people-- and you know congress, charlie. when a vote, everyone knows a vote is going to il fa, you have votes fall even further on the floor so you could have only had maybe 150 votes for the health-care bill. >> rose: so who talked the president into having made a statement that he wanted to put it out there and have people vote it down if they did, so they would have obamacare still exist, what convinced him not to do that? >> it was high drama. thursday night bannon goes to the house, says the president wants the vote, you better vote for it. this is it. ultimatum. by friday the speaker goes to the white house. when the speaker is going to the white house, everybody knew it was bad news for the bill but news hadn't brocken. and he says to the president, he saidsch 24 is what the president said we don't have the votes, you have a decision to make with me. what are we going to do it, ryan talked with his members, he didn't want to have the vote. in a way they talked it through
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over the course of several minutes and decided to pull the bill and that's when i got the call. >> rose: where do they expect to go now? le to get some democratic be to votes? do they want to refashion a bill that show can find common ground between moderates and the freedom caucus. do they want to just simply tack a breathe and try to get tax reform. >> i think it's a little bit more of the latter, put it on a shelf for months, see where they can be in six months to a year, see if the democrats are willing to work on any piece meal legislation. it's hard for republicans to give this up. they have been fighting against obamacare for years and today, monday, the speaker went on a conference call with his biggest donors and said we are going to keep moving forward on health care this year in different ways. don't worry,s fight is not over. will you see probably legislation come up on different fronts. but this kind of wholesale overhall of the health system, it is just not a consensus within the republican party in congress. >> rose: and will tax reform be compromised by what happened
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on obamacare repeal and replace. >> sure, i think. so i was talking to some congressmen today and they said look, tax reform is a big ambition. how is that going to happen? how are you going to get the votes for tack reform in terms of a lot of different things involved with cutting different deductions, getting rid of different subsidies and different rates for people. what is really more realistic i'm told from members of the house is some kind of tax rebate, minor tax cut plan that comes through the house, just so the president has some kind of tax plan, some tax cut he can tout. >> rose: corporate tax reform probably has a chance, doesn't it? >> it does, certainly. and they're not worried too much about all these tax cuts being paid for. trump is not a deficit hawk. the speaker is. but over the weekend mark meadows the chairman of the free donl-- freedom caucus said in so many words he would be willing to do tax reform without having it paid for with different kinds of deficit reduction offsets. so that means tax reform will
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likely move forward slowly. the question is what is the number. will there be a bolder adjustment tax, will trump have a populist flash in the tax plan. >> rose: a border tax, border tax, ryan's for it. the president. >> he is for it. >> well, the president has said he wants tariffs. he would love to tax people at 30% coming in from mexico and other countries. and so a border adjustment tax was included in the house republican tax plan as a means of nodding towards the president's pop lism in his policies. but he got a lot of pressure from retailers like wal-mart on senator coton of arkansas, and those kind of situations where you have a small states, poor states with major retailers. they don't want a border adjustment tax. if they don't include the border adjustment tax or start tweaking it, tax reform loses some of its lustre, some of the money it has of revenue to offset the cuts it is a very complicated process. at the moment, again just like with health care, there is no
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consensus. >> rose: speak to the question of those people who were very upset when they saw some of this bill who had been strong trump supporters. and they believe they wanted a repeal and replacement of obamacare yet when they saw this, they were in a sense, they could feel the cutting edge of how it affected them, and they were very upset about that. >> that's what i wrote about a lot last week. and you look at the states trump won, the rust belt, states that have real deficits with opoid addiction, states that had a high medicaid population like ohio and pennsylvania. you saw a real reservation about this republican plan in the way it phased out the medicaid expansion under the affordable care act. and people in trump's face, some of trump's closest friends like christopher rudy said is to me trump is making a real mistake. he is going in the ryan direction. the reason trump won the electoral college is because he won new states, states that had working class population, some of them who really rely on
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medication-- medicaid. and for his first act to be to phase out medicaid, make major cuts to some aspects to health care, they thought that was cutting at trump's political base, throwing them a punch unnecessarily. >> trump now regrets going with obamacare, going with repeal and replace. >> well, that's the whisper around the white house. when i asked the president directly about that, he said no, i don't have any regrets. the president often publicly does not have any regrets as we know. some of the top allies say they wish in a way they could have done infrastructure first. pulled in democrats on something that it could mix with tax cuts and some spending. because trump is also decanessian when he thinks about government and economics and maybe cohave brought more in early. doing it in march and airport after gorsuch and. >> the president has insisted that obamacare, the affordable care act will explode of its own nature. do people in washington and people that you know who are independent of political opinions on this believe that is
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going to happen? >> well, there is some concerns that premium increases could lead to some kind of collapse and certain insurance exchanges and insurance markets. but democrats tell me look, that's going to be fine because there will be trump care then. the president stepped away from health care. i think obama care when you look out across the country, there are states doing better than others. but you got to-- both parties know there has got to be changes made to it but no one is really willing to have a bipartisan coming together on this rlz and even democrats who supported it and including some of the people i assume in the obama white house, who fashioned it, know that some of the things they said were going to happen, didn't happen. >> and if there is any president who can maybe wade into this and say i can work with democrats it's trump because he is a former democrat. he dnt think like a republican when it comes to to health care policy. he railed against obamacare as a political issue. when i said to him i thought it was a very revealing moment,
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when i said you're maybe more natural nshtding with the democrats down the line after all this explodes in your view, he said well some people may say that and he laughed. and so i think, he knows, deep down, maybe it is a political disaster for him the way this all unfolded but he could negotiate with the democrats at 1078 point in the future. about if you are you chuck schumer, the minority leader and you are looking ahead to 2018 or you are senator warren or someone else who maybe thinking about running again in 2020 would you really want to work with president trump on president obama's signature law? that is a political hurdle democrats are going to have to confront. >> rose: we will leave it with that question. robert costa thank you so much. >> thank you. >> rose: back in a moment, stay with us. president trump suffered his first major legislateddive defeat on friday. his signature campaign promise to repeal and replace obamacare unraveled when speaker paul ryan withdrew the gop health-care bill after failing to secure
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enough votes. despite a majority in the house, the president and his team proved unable to fix deep divisions within the party. robert draper joins me, his article is trump versus congress, now what. i'm pleased to have robert draiper back on this program. welcome. >> thank you, charlie. >> how did this piece come about? >> well, at the beginning of january i had been talking of course to trump along the campaign trail, getting a sense of what he would like to do. he had toll me that the two things he wanted to do most of all were creating jobs and negotiating with foreign leaders. he made a series of promises along the campaign trail. and i thought give thean this is a man who is new to washington. given as well that he has got a lot of unorthodox notions, he and his senior advisor, steve bannon that kind of cut across party ideologies, given finally the fact that the republicans hadn't been in charge for awhile and frankly you know when they controlled one part of the
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legislative branch, didn't govern so well, it was going to be interesting to see exactly how their legislative agenda rolled through. so i began kind of on a leisurely basis to interview people, it began to pick up speed in march and as obamacare began to implode i interviewed a number of people in the white house and the president himself. then when the story or when the replacement actually did implode on friday, we finished up the story and put it on the web 48 hours later. >> rose: that is what is you will cad good timing i think. >> i think so better to be lucky than good. >> rose: so where do you think the president sees himself going now? >> well, i think that he has convinced himself that it was never his idea to begin with, to reheel---- repeal and replace obamacare as his opening gambit and i think that is by the way right. i do think that a number of people had convinced him that this was going to be a chip shot. something he could do in his first couple of weeks in office
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and move right on to things that were of greater interest to him. so i think that he is a bit disappointed that people lead him astray. paul ryan he is not throwing to the wolves just yet. but it's clear that speaker ryan is on probation. i think frankly the chief of staff reince priebus is as well. and for that matter health and human services secretary tom price, this is supposed to be his baby. and it's not all together clear what he did constructively to advance the ball. so the president is going to turn the page, go on to tax reform. he's eager most of all charlie to put up as he puts it a win. and the problem all along has been what constitutes a win. he didn't have much of a vision for obamacare ani we'll see, his vision is already shifting some what on tax reform. >> he also has a new realization about the nature of republicans inning could. he may have thought that he had the ability to convince them of something that they idea
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logically weren't prepared to accept. >> that's right. i think that he came in figuring if he woos these guys, his 435 members of the house, or 327-- 237 who are republican, invite them to the oval office, let them sit in mike pence's chair, that they will be so impressed by the experience that they will do whatever he wants. for some press that was sufficient. but whatever else one will say about the freedom caucus, they may have trouble saying yes but they don't have trouble saying no. >> and that's precisely what they did to the president on obamacare. >> even when the president said look how much better i did in your district than you did. >> that is an interesting point. a lot of us thought well, you know, when and steve bannon had said this to me as well, kevin mccarthy, the house majority leader too, that trump was a mentally popular in their distrirkts and these people are not so much conservatives. they are trump voters. they are working class voters. and they will basically sign on to whatever the president
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endorses. that turned out not to be the case. ive's been hearing from at least a couple of members from the freedom caucus without votedded, who said they were going to vote no on this, that they have been treated just fine back home. that essentially the constituents right now are willing to blame speaker ryan but they certainly don't blame the freedom caucus for having refused to budge. >> rose: and don't blame the president. >> they don't blame the president yet. actually i think they will in the end blame their own house members, they're dually elected officials before they blame president trump. his base remains strong. obviously his approval ratings are down, i think down now to 37%, 35 in one poll. but his base remains pretty much in tact. >> tell me about the workings inside the white house. because i read one-story after another. how did you find that faction looking to you? >> well, there have been times when steve bannon and reince priebus found themselves to be allies, and bannon have as well.
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and gary cone and steve bannon see eye-to-eye on certain things, on economic issues less so. i do think it's right there is a more left of centre contention in the white house who heal from the east coast, you just named them. that there are people like stephen miller, the senior policy advisor who occupies a hard right. he comes from jeff sessions' world. and steve bannon largely occupies that as well. bannon is a clever operator. and i think that he understands when it's time to give up the fight 6789 i also think by the way that like president trump, bannon was not married to-- you know, obamacare repeal and replace is not about economic nationalism. this was about campaign mopup work it was about fulfilling a campaign pledge and moving on to a populist agenda. so i don't think his heart was in it. and i also think that you know, he's, for whatever other collateral damage will take place, i think bannon is going to be fine with the president
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for now. >> look what bannon said about reince's tax reform plan. i would actually say that this tax reform comes as close to a first step of economic nationalisming a there is. when you think of the word neck economic nationalsism the next thing you think of is steve bannon. >> sure, that is what bannon had told me, that i had said to to paul ryan when those guys met before inauguration to hash out tax reform, up to that point, charlie, bannon pretty much loathed ryan. he believed that paul ryan stood for everything that was rep ri hencable about the republican party. they were completely out of touch, these sort of austere fiscal conservatives that did not understand what the working class was feeling. on tax reform they achieved a kind of bromance. but largely over the particular angle of the border adjustment tax. and to me, i asked president trump, are you in on this. i have heard frankly mixed
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messages from the white house about whether or not this is your thing. he said are you kidding, i'm the king of that. though he said he was the king of it, he went on to explain to me that every other country has an import tax except for the u.s. he said we're the only fools without don't have it. that is factually inaccurate. what other countries have is a value added tax but that is not a corporate tax grafted on to an import tax such as the kind he is proposing. >> how does steve bannon and donald trump come together? >> they came together, they met back in 2011 or 2012. they were introduced by dave boss i haddie who later became the deputy campaign manager but worked for the kosh brothers but really the evolution of bannon coming into trump's world began as i reported in "the new york times" magazine story with a dinner that bannon had with senator jeff sessions and senators top aide stephen miller at the so called breitbart
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embassy in january 2013. during that time, you'll remember romney had just gotten clob erred and the belief amongst republicans was we've got to do something about the latino voter because romney lost by 44 points in the hispanic demographic. and imanon sessions and miller were of a different mind they believed there should be a more hard line view of immigration and on trade and that very evening bannon tried to convince sessions to run for president. sessioned looked down into his soul to about an 1/8 of a second but said no, i'm not that kind of guy, i'm content in the senate. so bannon went looking for another candidate and a couple of months after that dinner he happened to see trump speak at cp ac. he met trump before but never heard such fiery rhetoric. he told me this. trump brought the house down. so he, bannon had been interested in palin before, tried to get her to run for president. he saw in trump someone who was at least as charismatic if not more so than her but was
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connecting with the public more so, through a sizer of events after that he insinuated his way into trump world. >> rose: for people who read and heard everything about steve bannon, how would you define him. >> he's a really really smart guy, an auto die dact. he reads a lot of books but one of those guys who doesn't complete a book. will read certain points, certain passage of a book and put it down and do another. he works very late hours. he is a self-styled loarner, kind of likes being a rebel. likes the fact that he las an unusual portfolio, having worked at goldman sachs, having been in the navy, having gotten rich off seinfeld reruns and ultimately becoming the c.e.o. of breitbart and working his way into right wing politics. and believing that he saw something about the american electorate that all of these self-styled and very wealthy political consultants did not. he is very proud of the fact that he could see in wisconsin,
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for example, a discontent among the working class electorate that locals like reince priebus and paul ryan failed to see. and it was for that reason that trump sort of honed his message of economic nationalism, of pop lism to those kinds of voters and prevailed in states likewise wisconsin. >> rose: your species titled trump versus congress, now what. now what tax reform and perhaps infrastructure spending. >> perhaps, charlie, it seems and this is what the trump white house and for that matter the speakers office had been saying. while tax reform is going to be a win for us because it is natural territory for republicans. we love to cut taxes. all of that is true. but the border adjustment tax is very controversy. people hate 2, big businesses hate it. and my suspicion is they will drop it they like it mainly because it scores in 1.2 trillion dollars or something like that. so it is worth pointing outhat we have been talking about these
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deficits thus far that trump has had with congress. but bo does that really consist of. house republicans. those should be the people most easy for him to communicate with. he has yet to deal with democrats. he has yet to deal with the senate. and in tax reform, you know, lindsey graham and others there say that that package if it includes say a border adjustment tax is dead on arrival. it remains to be seen if this is the sought after win for the trump administration. after that comes infrastructure which will be a heavy lift because house republicans don't like the idea of spending a ton of money, essentially a stimulus project. there are a lot of moderate republicans who would go for t plenty of people in the senate, a lot of democrats mile play along too. but as bob was eluded to earlier, it remains to be seen whether democrats will want to give trump a win. if he is really bleeding electorally speaking in terms of approval ratings, they may just sort of let him flounder. they may sense the possibility to actually take back the house, and maybe possiblably the senate
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and of course have an inside path to 2020. >> rose: it is a fascinating article. thank you so much. >> my pleasure. >> rose: robert draper in the new york sometimes magazine this weekend. back in a moment. stay with us. the glass menagerie is one of tennessee williams most beloved plays, auto buy graph kal play, las been staged on broadway eight times since its premier in 1945. the current production from director sam gold is now running at the palace koa theater. here is a look. >> do you think that i'm crazy about the warehouse do you think that i'm in love with the konl-- i want to spend 55 years down there in that interior of florescent tubes. i mean honest to god, i would rather that somebody picked up a crowbar and-- my brains than go back but i go, every time. and you come in yelling that goddam rise and shine, rise and shine. i say to myself, how lucky dead
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people are. but i get up and i go. for $65 a month. i give up. all that i dream of doing and being, everything. self, self is all that i think of. listen, mother, is self is all i thought of i would be where he is, gone. joining me now are the four stars of the play, sally field, joe man tella madison ferris and fin wittrock, please to have you here at this table. let me just start this. this is the way you were. you didn't want to see, you didn't want to hear. >> no. >> brilliant performances. >> well, thank you. >> we have to go back tomorrow is do them and all we will think about is seeing ourselves on the monitor. >> rose: why is this such a great play. >> boy, why is it such-- first of all, people would say the language of it is-- . >> rose: a great playwright
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produced it. >> yes, yes, the language of it is so beautiful and poetic. but i think it's because it is ultimately really about things that always stay relevant, whatever era you are looking at it in. and that it's about family and love and the complications of that. of trying to be-- trying to grow up and away from your family. and live through a complicated time and a complicated family. and that it is auto buy graph kal and that tennessee really never did quite survive. is he a great artist but the ramifications of leaving his sister stayed with him all of his life. and tortured him. >> rose: how long have you wanted to play amanda. >> well, all of my life. certainly it is one of the great roles for a woman. hamlet, for an older woman. so always.
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every woman wants to play amanda. it is as complex as you possibly can imagine. or can possibly make it. we make it very complicated. >> it is a great role, a wonderful role. >> you in part wanted to play it because you wanted to watch sam direct. >> yes, yes. that is actually the primary reason, yeah, yeah. >> you know, i think mike nichols said the thing about directing is it's like sex. you never get to see anyone else did it it so you don't know how good you are. and so i. >> what mike nichols would say. >> yeah. so i wanted to be in a room with sam. and i said to him early on, your met an lism as a director is so radically different than mine. and i want to know what you know. and it's been extraordinary experience from that part alone. >> rose: what's the relationship between laura and tom? >> well, my playing tom is an
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older man looking back on his time with his sister. and his mother. it really is, the thing about this production is sam has really embraced the memory play aspect of it, obviously, with someone of my age. >> rose: they call this a memory play. >> i think it means different things in different productions. at 54 years old, my looking back at a story that happened when i was 21 or 22 has a different set of stakes. you know, at 54 to still be rehashing the story, remembering the story, being haunted by the story is different than a 31 year old man looking back on nine years earlier, whatever. so it is go how memory is retracted. what are the things that are remembered accurately, inaccurately. what are the things that get expanded. we talked about all of that as we worked on it.
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>> a bare set, nothing. >> nowhere to hide. >> that makes it easier or harder for actors? >> it's very exposing. you feel very naked up there, i think. there is nothing to hide behind literally. nothing to lean on except for each other. >> yeah. >> first it's complicated because you don't have anything. and then once you figure out the version of the play, then there is something liberating about it >> i think it's difficult on so many levels. i mean i guess, certainly the space as we live in it gets smaller and we own it in a certain way. but it is so enormous, the real stage, it is higher than you can see and there's nothing to let the sound bounce off of. so we're really triering to figure this, or at least i am, this really huge space, cav
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earnous space-- cav earn us space. and that for me i think i'm aware of that and the kind of energy that it takes to do that. >> tell me about laura laura is in this production trying to keep her mother and her brother together. and she is, she's very sweet, i don't think she's very extroverted. i think she likes to be by herself and she is an artist. she likes movies. she likes going to the zoo. she likes plants. and for some reason that is weird. >> to the family. >> this is a play though you can go and see on videotape. you can go see how many performances have been done.
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there was a revival three years ago. >> yeah. >> do you do that? do you want to see how other people have interpreted the characters? >> i don't. >> me neither. >> no. >> i don't even want to see how i've interpreted interpreted it. >> is amanda the same now as you imagined her before you took the role on? >> not at all. and i don't think i really imagined her. i actually played amanda once before at the kennedy center. however many years ago it was now, 10, 12 years ago, in a very straight forward production in a very sort of pass telly way that it is usually shown. >> rose: pass telly. >> yeah, kind of soft memory like thing and very linear fashion. and this is like a whole other play, so it is like a whole other character even though i have played it before. >> rose: what do you think you know about letter now? >> what do i think i know about her now. i wonder if i have really come
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to any conclusions about her. i hope i haven't really come to any conclusions. >> rose: is it-- inspiration every night. >> i think so i hope so. i'm trying to do that. i think that is the task now since the first run is going to be fairly long one. so i, every night, i know there are certain ingredients that she has, this fierceness about her that you know she gets, she's so deeply frightened of destruction because she has no choices as a woman in this era that she's kind of in. that it comes out in a fiercer attitude than i had tefer imagined. but again, i think every night i discover certain aspects of how much she feels build things and how much of an illusion she lives in, and yet accuses him of it. >> does everybody suffer the
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father's abandonment? >> well, i know amanda does. >> much-- of course she does. >> i don't know about whether they do or not. i haven't bothered sto ask. >> i imagine laura was sick when the father left so i think she has memories of about be with him on possibly the night he left. >> rose: they're not all fleg tiff memories. but sometime there is a guilt, like with divorces. >> the children blame themselves. >> rose: why did daddy leave t must have been me. >> right, and to have a younger brother to sort of look out for who maybe has one or two memories with him at four what does the-- bring to the play. >> it is funny, what i was going to say about that is he is almost-- gentleman call certificate sort of filling a void i think that is, 245 was
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left by the bother. he's totally a different person and is incapable of doing that. all these people kind of need something from him he says at the very beginning he is the long delays but always expected, something that we live for. >> rose: long delayed but always expected, something that we live for in some way i think jim senses that, maybe even unconsciously that he means something strongly to all of these people n a kind of ideal stngs way i think he is-- believes in the american dream in the sort of old-fashioned sense of that, pull yourself up by your boot straps, if you believe in it, you can make it happen. and life isn't quite giving back to him in a way that he expected that it would. he was a star in high school. he was the main guy on campus.
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and since graduation, things haven't, he has fallen off that pedestal so then he comes back to laura who is still remembers him in that way. remembers the heroic side of him around it reminded him of that old glory. >> we minds him of his best years. >> yes. >> but also then i think the two of them in their scene have an unusual, it doesn't go the way that he expects it too. i think he is as entam erred with her and with her as she is with him. >> is that how he gets her to open up. >> i think so. >> laura? >> yeah. >> yeah, i think st starts off by laura thinking she's going on a date with some joe schmow and realizes it's the guy. >> the man. and it's intimidating. it's scary, so much so that she
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shakes but she rallies and she-- i think it's a familiar story of needing someone that was, the it man on campus and six years later, they're much more humble. and that really allows her to. >> the world outside is humble. >> yeah, exactly. it allows her to blossom in fronts of him. >> it is, in fact, that he is no longer the big man on campus but he has been chas advertised or show has been leveled by the outside world. >> he makes her even identify a bit. >> i think they always had a little bit of a connection but this is where we really get to test those waters. and they do, i think they really click. and i think they even fawm in love however briefly. >> yeah is this what tennessee
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williams had, family, talkner wrote about family in different venues. >> yes, i think he was haunted by this story and about what happened at this time in his life. he wrote about it many many times. he wrote screenplays. there are lots of different as we did research, there was a lot of material that involved these characters and so on some level he was consumed by those early days with his mother an sister. and then i think those characters blossomed and became-- blanche du bois. >> all of his writing, all these characters, you can find them everywhere, yeah, little pieces of them, certainly amanda and street car. >> and in other characters.
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>> what have you learned by watching the direction of this. >> what you came to do. >> i mean what i think, what i admire so much about it, st a really really bold and modern take on the play. it's very unortd docks and probably unlike any production of the glass menagerie that you will see. but i think what i learned is that sam took tennessee williams charge very, very seriously which was he said we must get beyond naturalism we must get beyond the refrigerator and the sofa and that you can get closer to the truth stwhreu abstraction so to watch sam struggle with, what does that mean in 2017 as opposed to what did it mean in 1945, we took that charge as a group very very seriously. and these choices that were made were not cavalier, they were not meant to, you know, disrespect.
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>> you said we took it as a group meaning how do you mean that. >> meaning that we took sam's idea of how we were going to tell it and we thought well yes, what does this mean with this particular group of people and it wasn't always easy it is hard to understand how you perform what his concept was in a lot of ways. and i think i was the one that went what? how do you do, that i don't understand. and maybe that was a good thing because sam would have to really think about how does he explain that to me. you know, and my training, the kind of actor that i am coming from the actor's studio, i would go how do i play that? i'm not really sure what that means. i do know that having done this now 50 performances or 51 performances, that you can feel the audience when we come in. they don't know what to make of
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it. it's so unorthodox. and you do feel the audience go, and they sit forward, they think, exactly. they think they're going to see, we know-- okay, so which within is it. we've seen this, it will be lovely. we'll be delighted by it. all of a sudden they go shall it-- and you can feel the room shift. and at first we, you felt them annoyed. they are kind of annoyed, you know, wait a minute. >> have i to work for this. >> really. >> and there's nothing to look at and it's not pretty. there is nothing pretty about it. it's just stark. not really-- and the lights are on. and we're not, we're like saying things that don't apply to what is really happening. and then all of a sudden because we made them, or soom made them sit up-- sam made them sit up and either an knowed or something they weren't expecting to feel, then we slowly weave
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5eur7bd into-- weave around into the play without them even knowing we're quite in it, without us even knowing we're quite in it until slowly the lights are lowering and all of a sudden we are kind of in a costume we weren't in before. 57bd then, then it's in. we dnt have an intermission. we don't have scene breaks. all the scenes are woven together like a memory. you can't tell when one scene is over and the next is beginning. >> people tell me that they have been trying to get you to come to broadway and you said no no no and no. >> i just couldn't find the right thing. >> but i mean i would think that just not that many roles like this. >> no. >> that really offer you the kind of bite you want to take. >> and i have looked and looked and looked and read, you know, done readings of new plays and other plays and scott ruden, bless his heart, he would say what would it be. i kept saying gosh, i wish i could do glarks i know it has
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been done. it is was when sam had done glass menagerie in amsterdam. he had done it in amsterdam and the great ben hole had come near to do view from a bridge. an he had gone over to take over for him. did he it in a whole other language. they did not speak english, in dutch. and then sam realized he had never really explored the play. and the play was not really where he had thought it was. and then he called scott and said i really want to do it on broadway. and sam said guess what, sally. >> rose: what do we know from what tennessee wanted this play to be. any sense of what he said or wrote about the glass menagerie, how he perceived it? how he. >> we're working from the published version that he wanted it. and what he originally envisioned which would almost be cliche and quaint now were the very abstract production with
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projections, with things that were very, very ground breaking in 1945. it was not done that way it was done in a sort of a very. >> mostly because the actors couldn't figure it out. like me and sam, what? >> but he wanted something. i mean since 1945 to have, one of the characters to come out and say hi, this is me. i am the narrator. you will see my sister. will you see my mother. i think it must have been startling in some way. and gen i think that's what we were trying to capture, that feeling of what it must have been like to see this extraordinary voice burst on to the scene as a young man 6789 and i mean i think the greatest compliment that has been paid to production is when people come back and say i heard things in the play that i have never heard before. and we haven't changed a word. and but isn't that the sign of an extraordinary, like a master piece that you know, it's like a
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standard. ella fitzgerald can do it and you hear this. and frank sinatra can do it and you hear this. and they're sturdy and they take interpretation. they invite interpretation. >> so looking, what did you look to. >> there is a great book called-- how to get influence, the carnegies which i reed a bit of every night before gi on. >> very popular. >> it is great. the way it is written is very much the way jim speaks. >> how to win friends and influence people. and that kind of. >> that kind of optimism. >> optimism, american vy tallity, you know, but actually that book is all about lessen to people and engaging them and making them, making what you want from them sound like the thing that they want. like to make it all about how to
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make someone else want the thing. >> that is called manipulation. >> i see your trick. >> carn egg. >> did it kind of very smart seemingly genuine way. >> yeah. >> as he says hold your own in any social level. and i think his extra vertism, does that work, like is a big contrast to when he walks into in this house especially. although he and amanda are sort of on a similar wavelength. but i also think that there was, i read that there was a certain man that tennessee had in mind in his youth. that he had a crush on. >> that he named, i think the character was named after one of his tra fernity-- fraternity brothers in college. >> who was in fact the one that shall. >> i think he is named after this yung man is. >> he had a friendship with
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probably from tennessee's end it was more than that, but this guy was a very outgoing gentle guy who didn't really judge him like other people did. but he also is full of his own self-delusions and self-hypnosis that kind of stops him. >> finding a play like this with all the success it has, does it make you want to spend a lot of time in theater? >> oh, yeah, right? >> me, yeah. totally. i mean this is, i wasn't happy doing this play in my basement. like this is just, yeah, i mean with this cast, with this crew, with. >> with this direction, yeah, i would have been happy to do it anywhere. you said it will be on for a long time. >> yeah. >> not that i'm not glad but it is, it's a mountain of every night t is a mountain to climb,
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a real mine time. >> thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. >> thank you, thank you so much. >> glass menagerie. thank you for joining us. see you next time. for more about this program and earlier episodes visit us online at and charlie captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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>> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. >> you're watching pbs.
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