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tv   Amanpour Company  PBS  December 4, 2018 12:00am-1:01am PST

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hello, everyone, and welcome to "amanpour & co." here's what's coming up. >> i feel very fortunate to be president at this fascinating time. >> remembering george h.w. bush, president, war hero, and a model of moderate republicanism. i speak with former senator alan simpson, a friend and fishing buddy of the late president. and an urgent call to action on climate change. >> right now we're facing a manmade disaster of global scale. >> unstoppable at 92, david attenborough puts us all on notice. then how has the conservative movement changed since the days of bush 41?
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our michelle martin talks to conservative thought leader rich lowry. uniworld is a proud sponsor of "amanpour & co." when bea tollman founded a collection of boutique hotels, she had bigger dreams, and those dreams were on the water, a river specifically, multiple rivers that would one day be home to uniworld river cruises and their floating boutique hotels. today that dream sets sail in europe, asia, india, egypt, and more. bookings available through your travel agent. for more information, visit uniworld.com. >> additional support has been provided by -- rosalind p. walter. bernard and irene schwartz. sue and edgar wachenheim iii. the cheryl and philip milstein family. seton melvin. judy and josh weston. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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welcome to the program, everyone. i'm christiane amanpour in london. president george h.w. bush, the 41st president of the united states and the father of the 43rd, returned to the u.s. capitol today as washington and the world paid tribute to his rich and accomplished life. bush, a decorated navy pilot shot down in the pacific in 1944, died in his home in houston texas surrounded by friends and family. president bush presided over a time of massive change in the world, overseeing the end of the soviet union and the liberation of eastern europe and leading the global coalition to drive back saddam hussein after he invaded kuwait in 1990. bush was a one-term president, though. he was defeated by the democrat, bill clinton, who used the economic downturn of the earl a nooint to undermine bush's
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support. even if defeat, he left this note for clinton at the oval office. you will be our president when you read this note. i wish you well. i wish your family well. your success now is our country's success. i am rooting hard for you. former senator alan simpson knew george bush first as a congressman, then as president. but also as a father and a friend. he joins me now from cody, wyoming. on behalf of everybody, we offer you condolences on the loss of your friend and fellow traveler, and you're going to be delivering a eulogy during the funeral on wednesday. how should former president bush be remembered? how will you remember him? >> well, i think he should be remembered with a little bit of lightness of spirit. some of those things -- the myths of a politician in washington is formed by the mythologists, you know, that he was out of touch. he wasn't out of touch on
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anything, or that he was this or he was that. he was always on top of his game because he had learned things in early life called discipline, which is pretty important. it means -- comes from the world -- you know, disciple comes from the word discipline, to teach. and he had loyalty, and he had manners, an unheard of thing, i know. manners. and he loved people, and he had a view of life which what would we do without family and friends? how can you beat a philosophy like that? and then there were times, you know, asking him about broccoli. i mean honest to god, it just got absolutely stupefying. >> you know, you talk about broccoli. i mean some people might think what is former senator simpson talking about, but that was one of the most famous quotes by president george bush. we actually have it somewhere. we might be able to dig up that quote. but he did say, i don't like broccoli. i'm president. i don't have to eat my broccoli anymore. but let me ask you because -- >> that's right. >> we have some lovely pictures
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of you and the president fishing. you saw him in the summer at the family home in kennebunkport, maine. what was the last meeting like? how did he seem? what did you talk about? what was on his mind? >> well, the word was out from relatives and jimmy baker and others who were close to him and close to me that he was in tough shape. and we knew that because barbara had died, and we all thought how long will this magnificent man live? well, he -- you know, that was april, and now it's november. so we went out there in july, just ann and i, my wife ann. and of course there was no one there. barbara's not there. but doro was there, the daughter, and margaret, marvin's wife, and another relative. and we were very careful. they say, when the door is open, you come in.
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if the door is shut, we'll be tending him. of course he can't walk, but we got our first shot at him, and ann gave him a big kiss on the head and said, you look awful handsome there, george. and he just smiled. and i said, george, you have been devoid of some great, pure, rich humor, and i have a couple of jokes for you. of course i want you to be prepared for it. well, i told him a couple of barn-burners, and he threw his head back and laughed like i had always seen him do. and we just had a wonderful time. for a couple of days, it was very, very special, just us and the intimate members of the family. and that's what we did. we were very privileged. we traveled with him when he was vice president, went to glacier national park. when he got out of the presidency, somebody gave him a great hoorah for a ten-day trip through the greek islands and the aegean sea. he says, come on.
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hop on. i says, i'll be there. and fishing and hunting. but he was a great competitor. he loved to compete. i think people missed that, that he was a -- he just -- whether it was tennis or golf. and he was always in a hurry. his funeral kind of matches that. i mean he died just a few days ago, and the service will be wednesday, and the one in houston will be sunday, and that's it. >> and that's it. you're absolutely right. within a week. so let me ask you to expand the view, then, because you describe him as disciplined, as civil, as experienced. we know he had a mass of experience from all over the world from being cia director, from being the first u.s. envoy to china after the rapprochement. his presidency coincided with the collapse of soviet union, and he had to manage that along with mikhail gorbachev. i guess tell me just sort of
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succinctly as you can, what were the elements of the relationship between a leader of the soviet union and a u.s. president that enabled that smooth transition? >> he liked mikhail gorbachev. i met gorbachev. i was privileged to go to russia in '87 and several times after, and i made a friend of g gorbachev. i told him one day, you have nothing to fear while i'm here in your country because all the icbms that are aimed your way are located in wyoming. and they wouldn't shoot those while i'm here. and he said that to his interpreter, who understood all my western slang, and gorby just threw his head back and laughed. then of course he'd show up in washington and give me a big hug. which appeared in the star tribune, so i think they thought i was a commie for a while. it was all about friendship.
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he made friends with these people. he liked them. he liked to sit with them and have a drink and have dinner. and gorbachev came to the university of wyoming at the request of many of us. this was not many years ago, to speak, and he and i did a debate. well, they filled the house. we're sitting in the greenroom. i said, have you talked to bush lately? he said, no, i don't like to bother him. i know he's not well. i said, look, let's just call him right now. i punched in, and i said, george, there's some guy here wants to talk to you. and the two of them just got to clicking along for about ten minutes. that's the way he worked. >> that's amazing because it was an incredibly smooth transition. obviously the economic pain on the soviet union was still feeling the fallout, but it could have been so much strategically worse.
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so fast forward, senator, to today, the current president of russia, vladimir putin, also sent condolences and talked about president bush and the arms control era. i guess there's obviously a major problem between russia and the united states right now, russia and the west. how do you think president bush would have managed vladimir putin, his aggression into crimea? would he even have allowed it to happen? how do you think he would have managed this very, very prickly relationship now? >> well, he might have picked up the phone and said in his delightful new england vocabulary, this will not stand, and not meaning any more than, you know, we're going to pull the trigger or anything else. in fact, when the wall went down, they kept interviewing george. he said, this isn't my day. this is gorbachev's day. i mean he was always ready to
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hand the ball to somebody else. he was unselfish. he was a guy who believed in courtesy. i mean that's a really almost a bizarre word. but i think he would have picked up the phone and said, wait a minute now, pal. what's happening here? we have this thing that's been in place. we had a cold war. we had a phone between both countries for 40 years and we were about to plow each other under the ground. then we say, well, somebody must have been communicating with the russians. well, who the hell -- it's been going on for years. i don't get it all. it's beyond my comprehension, but that's what he would have done. he might have flown over there. he might have sent his people, the vice president, quayle. quayle was a very interesting foreign policy guy. ted kennedy worked with him, and ted told me, i've enjoyed working with him. he's a bright guy. >> interesting. >> he's got his own myth, yeah.
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>> so you're saying president bush would have used a lot of personal diplomacy and behind the scenes diplomacy. so how do you think, senator, president bush would view the current leadership in saudi arabia? would he have been angry about the killing of the journalist who was based in the united states, jamal khashoggi, remembering that it was president bush that basically gathered the massive coalition that defeated saddam hussein and saved saudi arabia from being invaded by saddam hussein? >> well, that was jimmy baker out there raising all those bucks, so we didn't have to do them ourselves. i think he gathered up about 60 million bucks so that colin powell and cheney could shoot the works. but he had a very tight relationship with the saudi leadership, and that's a very sensitive thing. i don't know where that would be
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today, but always there was something going on, some coordination with saudi arabia. so obviously dicey is half a word now with this situation. >> look, i'm sure many people will ask you and many people probably have asked you, how do you compare the leadership of president george bush 41 and your republican party with the current leadership and the current party of trump? i mean that is what they say the republican party is right now. on the global stage, how would you compare the impact and the efficacy of the two different styles? >> well, there's not much -- i don't want to get into that. this is a sensitive time. i have a talk i'm going to give. you know, i'm a republican, and i'll stay a republican. i'm not a tea party republican.
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i'm not one who believes that the only purpose of marriage is procreation. i'm not one who believes that gays and lesbians are outside of our society. we're all god's children. it's a sick idea, i know, but that's what it is. and abortion is a deeply intimate and personal decision. who the hell who want to be involved in it? but it happens, and i represented people in the practice of law in this little town and said, if i have to have another child, i'm going to take my life, and did. i don't need any lectures on this stuff from other people. if the republican party is what i think it is, government out of your life, the precious right of privacy, and the right to be left alone, well then get at it. >> well, we hear you loud and clear. so let me ask you about another major issue, and that is climate change, global climate change. president george bush was in rio de janeiro in 1992 to open the first u.n. conference on climate
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change. i covered him. i covered the story. this is what he said about protecting our environment. we must leave this earth in better condition than we found it, and today this old truth must be applied to new threats facing the resources which sustain us all, the atmosphere and the ocean, the stratosphere and the biosphere. our village is truly global. you know, he said that in 1992, and today the administration believes that climate change is some kind of a hoax, that it's not economically viable for the united states to protect the environment. what do you think george bush would have said about that? >> i don't -- he would have been very disappointed. i don't want to get into that either. i mean we all know that this is your job. you're a journalist, and you're a damn good one. but, you know, this is about george bush's death, not the comparison between trump and bush. >> right. >> and that's a sicko if you
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want to play that game all day long. but that's not the issue. there is climate change. i believe that there is climate change. i believe it's real, and i don't think man did it all. if you look at the cycles of the history of the world, of where the bering isn't a sea or is land, these things have been happening for eons. ice and fire. ice and fire. i believe in climate change, but to lay it all on methane gas and cows, you'll have to leave me out of the game. and so i believe it's pollution. i believe it's fossil fuel. i believe what george bush said, and i believe today he would be very disappointed to see what would be happening. i believe that. i do believe that. >> so end our conversation on george bush, i want to play for you the bit about broccoli, and then we'll talk about it. >> i do not like broccoli, and i haven't liked it since i was a
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little kid and my mother made me eat it. and i'm president of the united states, and i'm not going to eat any more broccoli. >> i mean that is funny. >> well, it was absolutely terrific because then they talked about it for about two weeks. well, what will happen to the broccoli growers? well, maybe they'll go into tobacco. oh, lord, i hope not, they won't go to tobacco. maybe they'll raise yams or sweet potatoes. and finally, don't forget -- and i'm going to use it. finally it got so absurd, we had gone off to see an andrew lloyd webber, barbara and i and ann. and we sang on the way back to the white house, and it was a beautiful evening. he was at his peak. and suddenly we were singing -- ♪ don't cry for me argentina so finally after all that babble
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about broccoli, george at this press conference said -- ♪ don't cry for me argentina and they thought he was losing his marbles. george bush, today the first indication that he's lost one or two marbles. and he loved that. he said how goofy can you get? you know, if you have a sense of humor nowadays, you get cremated. humor is the universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life. george believed that. i believe that. i got in a lot of trouble. hell, i went from the a list to the z list. but humor is the foil and it's your sword and your shield. he had that. humor nowadays, if you use humor, they'll say, this guy's a nut. i don't know what he said there, but he used a joke, and it was supposed to be serious. give me a break. >> i like what you said about humor. you're absolutely right. it's the essential foil. senator alan simpson, thank you
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so much for joining us with your remembran remembrances. thank you so much. so climate change is actually too important to leave to government. that is why sir david attenborough, the naturalist and broadcasting legend, is telling people all over the world, if you don't speak up, nobody will. attenborough is the first occupant of the people's seat, a movement by the united nations to let the voices of citizens be heard. and here's #takeyourseat. >> i'd like to thank the u.n. for inviting me. >> the challenge of climate change. >> we're increasingly witnessing impact of climate change in china with our own eyes. >> it is already affecting us in a really scary way. >> climate change affects everyone. >> and will continue to affect millions of the world's poorest people. >> the people speak, giving millions the opportunity to talk
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directly to you, the leaders and decision makers today. voices were heard from all over the world. >> we all know what's good and what's not good for the planet. >> we're too concerned as a society to be inconvenienced. >> you have seen what's going on around you. >> climate change is the biggest issue facing the world. 95% say they have personally experienced it. >> drought, rising sea levels, heat waves, bush fires, and extreme weather. >> this used to be my home and my neighbors' home. >> being able to sustain our own country is the most important thing. >> there's days where i'd get headaches. >> people are willing to change their behavior and step up. they demand that you step up too. >> we need to act now. i call on our world leaders to
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once and for all accept climate change. >> so that is a taste of how young people, the future, think about this existential issue. i spoke to sir david attenborough from poland where he's attending what is the essential next step after the paris accord, where countries around the world write the rule book for the fight against climate change. the u.s. is absent, refusing to take part. a hosts of blockbuster series and current series, david attenborough has done more to bring the natural world into our homes than almost anyone else. once a skeptic, attenborough's work has made him a fervent convert to the climate change cause.
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sir david attenborough, welcome to the program. >> thank you very much. >> so let me ask you, you are there giving this speech. what is your underlying fundamental message at this time? >> it's a message to the people who have got their fingers on power, the people who can do things in terms of both money and legislation and practical events, a message from ordinary people around the world who are facing the brunt of what's happening in the climate today and saying that they desperately need action. and it gives them an opportunity, 208 million people, to express their views as to what they're feeling about climate change and what's happening to them. >> so were you surprised to hear what these young people have to say? always we hear from the people in power or the experts or whatever. were you surprised to hear from
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the people and what they had to say? >> i wasn't surprised, but i was very moved. the fact that there are people, several hundred million people around the world are using the internet to speak to the people in power. your medium and mine, television is very powerful. but there are many more people that have mobile phones than have television sets. so that message is getting to people that we haven't been able to reach. and what is more, enabling them to say what they think about the situation that they personally are facing, and bringing that into the center so that people who sit on these platforms, who control hundreds of millions of pounds in terms of the world bank, so that we can really hear what's happening in the world around him. in big conferences like this, international conferences, you're isolated from people
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whose homes have just been razed to the ground or are facing hurricanes. this is where it's working. this is where the penalties are being paid for what humanity has been doing to the planet. >> you speak with such urgency, and this is a very unprecedented event, this take your seat that you are representing people all over the world. tell me whether you believe this will continue. tell me about the importance of this hashtag movement, #takeyourseat. >> well, we will see. we will see whether people out there take advantage of this, and we will see. and i believe we can predict that if they do take advantage of this, that it will be a great incentive to the people who sit in conference rooms discussing protocols and figures and policies to realize that we're actually dealing with real people, men, women, and children who are actually taking the brunt of this on the chin.
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and not only that, but also the natural world, which is also bearing the brunt of what we've been doing to it and is facing catastrophe. >> i just want to go back to several of the things you've said in the past about this environment, which you are uniquely qualified to talk about it given your incredible decades-long, you know, travel around the world and bringing this to people's attention in the most understandable way possible. let me just ask you, i mean, you've used this medium, television, to really make an impact. at the moment, how do you reflect on the success of what you have done? >> well, i don't know. i don't know. but i think that there's a condition that the earth is facing has never been visible to a large proportion of the world's population. and it's the responsibility of people who do the sort of work that i do to make sure that what is happening is visible to
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people. mind you, they know. but is also visible to the people who have their fingers on power, both political power and fiscal power, monetary power to do something about this situation, which every day that passes, it gets more and more serious. >> so about 18 years ago in "state of the earth," you said the future of life on earth depends on our ability to take action. many individuals are doing what they can, but real success can only come if there's a change in society and in our economics and in our politics. so is that kind of the purpose of your storytelling, and do you feel that some of these people in positions of power are persuadable, particularly those who are deniers and who believe it's economically unfeasible? >> well, we don't have the choice. they can't reckon that it's
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unfeasible. that's the voice of doom if they said that. of course it's -- action is feasible. we have to do something about it. i didn't start by -- i was unaware when i started making natural history films that there was going to be a disaster facing just over the horizon. i didn't know that was going to happen. and the motive that i had in making "natural world" is because i think the natural world is marvelous and wonderful and one of the great solaces of human beings that we are part of this sort of thing. and that's the sort of thing that television should be dealing with. that's why i started in it. but what you realize now is that if you don't speak up, nobody will. i've had unprecedented good fortune in being able to travel around the world and see all the most wonderful things. and what sort of a person would i be if i failed to speak up on this occasion when we suddenly see what iss facing us just ove
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the horizon? >> you've also said that the alarmism over climate change, some of the sort of doom and gloom that is the sort of narrative that's out there, i guess in good faith, because people want to try to get everybody's attention to shake them by the lapels. but you think that sort of negativism and alarmism can have the wrong effect. >> no, i don't, properly handled. i think if all you said was the natural history programs on television is that the world is doomed, then an awful lot of people who are not in touch with the natural world, having the good fortune that you and i have, which is being able to travel in it, hundreds of millions of people around the world, their horizons are not that broad. so to those of us who have that privilege, we have two responsibilities. the first is to explain what it is and explain the part that
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humanity plays in controlling and determining what happens, and the other is to actually show the world itself. so we have those two responsibilities, and any of us working in this field knows that and feels it very strongly. >> so people around the world are really familiar with your decades of series on this issue, but now you're taking a giant leap forward by putting on your new series on netflix. tell me what that means to you and what kind of exponential effects do you think it might have? >> well, the two advantages of it are, first of all, that they can immediately, overnight, once it starts, it's available to over 200 million people. there's no other single network, television network, in the world that can command that sort of audience. so that's one very good reason why it should be on netflix, so
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that everybody can see it. and what's more, can go on seeing it for a long period of time, not governed by schedules. as you know, in netflix, once you join, you can in fact see at any time what it is you wish to see. so that is a huge advantage if you really care about the message that we are trying to make in that series. >> so as you talk about all these young people, and as we've seen all these young people respond to the #takeyourseat, we've also seen over the weekend, in australia for instance, in cities all over the country, young people took to the streets and practically closed down the traffic in those cities, demanding that their leaders take action on this really huge issue. so that must be sort of a positive thing for you. and what are you trying to say maybe to americans whereas you know, the leadership there has been quite reluctant to admit and take action on humankind's
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effects on the environment? >> what i would say is we're not telling lies. the evidence is there. we are showing the evidence of what's happening around the world. and if you take any account of knowledge, of research, of science, we know what's causing these disasters, and what is more, we know how to deal with it. please join the rest of the world, the rest of the world, the entire rest of the world is united in trying to take action on this. the united states is a very, very powerful voice. please, please join us. >> and i want to play a little clip of your latest series airing on the bbc. it's called "dynasty," and you're taking various animal species and delving into how they are in their own environment. the first one was about chimpanz
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chimpanzees. we're going to play this little clip about a chimpanzee called david and how he's struggling to remain in control of his tribe. >> as leader, david gets his pick of the feeding spots. but he is wary as he must feed alongside old enemies. he has two particularly ambitious rivals. david's toes begin to twitch, a nervous tick he can't conceal. this is jumpkin, who has long sought the top spot.
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and this, lufah. a tempestuous younger male with an aggressive streak. the troop is together for the first time in months and jostling for good feeding spots can easily lead to clashes. >> so what happened after that clip? did he stay in control, david the chimp? >> no, he didn't. in fact, that clip was -- the original film, the original recording was made just over a year earlier.
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and actually david succumbed. he was an aged david, and he was overturned by the young males who had already made an attempt on his life, as it were, which we were there to record. and a year later, however, time passes, and time does pass. >> and you've talked about people and humans and human impact. i just want to refer you to a quote in 2005 in an interview with "the telegraph," if we humans disappeared overnight, the world would probably be better off. i mean there's a point there, isn't there? you still believe that. >> yes. if by the world, you mean the natural world, yes, that's the case. i mean we have inflicted terrible damage on the world, the planet. we have overrun it in a way that is unprecedented. no other creature in the world has had the effect on the
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planet, good, bad, or indifferent, has had the effect on the planet that the human species has. and so we ought to be aware of what we've done and recognize the responsibility that we now have in our hands. >> you are one of the world's best storytellers, if not the best storyteller around the world right now. you've been doing it for a long time, even before you got in front of the camera when you were controller at the bbc here in the uk. you're the one who pioneered these amazing documentaries and series on, for instance, civilization, the ascent of man. describe for me what it was that got your interest in these epic stories about our humanity and our civilization from such a young age. >> i suppose i thought that television is not trivia. i thought that here is a means of communication unlike anything
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in the history of humanity ever before, that suddenly you're able to bring pictures and sound to tell messages. and surely those messages aren't just trivia. with that huge opportunity, surely you should deploy that to say things that are important. if you believe that knowledge is important, well, then you should do something about it. if you believe that understanding is important, you should make it possible for people to share that. that's what television should be doing. television isn't just to sell products, isn't just to while away, isn't visual chewing gum. it can be used to say something really, really important globally. i mean it is an extraordinary facility that's been put in our hands. why don't we use it? we must use it. >> well, you've been using it to amazing effect. so i wonder at the grand old age of over 90 now, you are still so
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vigorous and so involved and still traveling and still telling these stories. what do you make all these years later, having been based and rooted in the evidence world, in the anthropological world, in the sort of natural history world, of this assault on fact, on knowledge, on science, and on natural history? >> well, you can only have the fai faith. the truth is its own message, and the truth will be recognized. and the mendacity and falsehoods and downright lies will be exposed for what they are. those of us working in the media -- that's you and me -- do our best to make that clear. >> we certainly do, and you've been doing it for an enormously long time, and everybody is grateful. sir david attenborough, thank you for joining us. >> thank you very much. >> attenborough's current bbc
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series debuts in january on bbc america. now we switch from conservation back to conservatis conservatism. our next guest is the editor of the news magazine national review, rich lowry. the publication has long been a leading voice on the american right, and just before president bush's death was announced, lowry sat down with our michelle martin to discuss the issue. >> rich lowry, thank you so much for talking with us. >> my pleasure. >> what would you say it means to be a conservative in the current moment? >> well, i think it means largely the same thing it meant in the post-war era. limited government, an emphasis on certain social values and virtues, and a belief in strong defense. now, i think trump has shifted some things. i think kind of the culture war in this country, the access of
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it now is less kind of sexual morality issues and more kind of nationalist issues. what's our national identity? how important are borders? how important is sovereignty? i think that's something that he's emphasized, that's been part of the conservative mix but not as prominent as it's been lately. >> as any shifted for you as a conservative in recent years? >> i think the rise of trump in particular has made me rethink the issue of trade and, in particular, trade with china, where i had sort of accepted the libertarian argument on china. they're cheating, and they're selling us cheaper stuff. why is that a bad thing? our consumers are buying cheaper goods, where now i think it's more nefarious than that and something that requires a response, not necessarily what trump is doing policy-wise, but it needs to be taken more seriously than it was either under george w. bush or barack obama. >> we just can't get away from
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mr. trufmp, can we? >> who can? >> what i was going to ask you is how do you see your role in the current moment? >> well, our role is sort of the same as it's always been with republican presidents. it's a little more augmented with president trump. but we've always called balls and strikes in the cliche, and with every republican president with the possible exception of ronald reagan, but we dinged him on quite a lot of things as well. we've had a constructive but critical relationship. with trump, there's a little more emphasis on the critical because there's some things we disagree with more fundamentally than with other republican presidents. but it's just a fascinating and tense time on the right because you just have people all over the map on this president, from people who are basically now flirting with the left to people who are 110% defenders of him. >> the national review published a volume of 22 essays solely
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devoted to why donald trump is not fit to be president. now that he is, has your role changed? >> yeah. well, my view -- >> what's your job right now? >> my view has changed in part because circumstances have changed. so we ran that issue in december 2015 when he was one of 17 options, and if we could go back in time and do it again and he'd be one of 17 options, i'd probably be with the other 16 still. maybe i wouldn't be as harshly critical of him in particular the way we were then, but i would want another option. >> why wouldn't you be as harshly critical? >> because he's been more conservative. the way he has governed has in some ways been completely as an orthodox republican. a big tax cut and corporate tax reform, regulatory reform, judicial nominations that, you know, are signed off on by the
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federalist society in effect if not formally, and that wasn't -- we didn't necessarily know that was going to be the case when he was running in the primaries. and also he's done some things that i think are important and correct that i'm not sure other republicans would have done. i'm not sure other republicans would have pulled out of the paris accords. i'm not sure other presidents would have moved the embassy to jerusalem. the downside is entitlements, trade, even though i think it's important to target china and push back against china. i think the steel tariffs are counterproductive and unnecessary. and then there's just the behavioral issues and the way he conducts himself. >> the national review, among other conservative outlets has written a great deal about the vulgarity on the left. so where is it?
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>> there's a cost. there's no doubt about it. there's a political and cultural cost and one i would have preferred to avoid. but he's president of the united states. so here we are. >> so what are your editorial meetings like? >> well, they reflect division. we have some writers who are constantly appalled by his conduct and really have trouble seeing anything else but that. and then we have writers who are more focused on what they consider the substantive advances, and there are some significant ones. so it's a tension. it's a debate within the right and one that we'll probably still be debating 20 years from now. >> as the editor in chief, do you call it? do you decide that, you know what, we're going to ignore behavior directed at allies in favor of these other policies? do you call it? >> iultimately it is my decisio. most of the things we write officially as editors, as
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editorials, are fairly consensus. we try not to ignore any of those things. it's just we are never just going to write about the vulgarities and crudities because there are other important thing. >> is that a market decision, you don't want to alienate your supporters, subscribers, contributors who prioritize those things, or is this a matter of values and ideas? >> it's a substantive decision. the fact is if hillary clinton had been elected, she would have been a more polite president, but you wouldn't have gotten the tax cuts. you wouldn't have gotten the regulatory reform. pro-life measures are very important to us. you wouldn't have gotten the reform we're seeing out of the education department, this title ix rule that we think really -- >> it wasn't a rule. it was an advisory, which was a little different. >> it was taken as a rule because whenever the federal government makes such an
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advisory opinion or, in this case, a letter, it has a threat of pulling federal funding implicit, which is why so many universities fell in line. anyway, so the point is these are all real things. they're really happening. they're really important to us. we are in favor of them long before donald trump was around. we have favored them before donald trump favored them. and in my view, it would be perverse to turn around and ignore all those things or oppose them just because donald trump's doing it. >> and what about the deficit, which i thought it was supposed to be an important issue for conservatives, which has now exploded under this president. >> yeah, we've written about that a lot. we had a cover last six months or so specifically on the fiscal rot in washington, and we are steadfastly advocating for entitlement reform. so, you know, as an opinion magazine, you don't get to just
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unilaterally decide what your side is going to do. you can nudge and argue and hope to have influence over the long term, but this is one where the party has split away from us. there's no doubt about it. >> i'm thinking about mia love, the utah congresswoman who recently lost her seat in a very close election, and i'm paraphrasing from her concession speech. but one of the things that 14e said in that speech was that the reason that -- she is a republican. she sees herself as a deeply conservative republican. but what she said was that the republicans do not embrace minorities because they will not listen to them. is there any validity to that point of view? >> well, i take anything she says very seriously, and she has the credibility to say it. and this is historic weakness of the party, and i do think there should be more focus on it. and i think one thing that's happened with the more populist orientation of the republican party, there's been a greater focus on the working class, but it's kind of cliche in political
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circles. we talk about the white working class. the fact is there are a lot of non-white working class voters in this country, and i think the party has a more populist orientation and makes more of an effort to reach out to working class voters of all races and ethnicities. i think this turn of the party could somewhat paradoxically given where we are now, could unlock some of those voters to the gop in the way it hasn't. but you have to try, and you have to show up. >> where is this kind of racist strain coming from? i mean i know that you've taken some stance. i mean you've fired people for having written things that you thought were beyond the pale. but for the president to take, you know, days to disavow the anti-semitic and racist language coming out of charlottesville. >> the president and
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charlottesville, the initial action was completely appalling. i think part of it is he gets his back up if he's told there are things he has to say, that, you know, quote, unquote, respectable people want him to say. and thereat's a very unhealthy reflex, and it obviously was in that one. eventually he went back and fixed it, but he did a lot of damage to himself in the intervening days. i reject -- and i don't know if this is what you're suggesting so i don't want to put words in your mouth -- the idea that anyone is concerned about the cultural cohesion of the country or concerned about immigration policy, that that's inherently -- >> i'm not talking about immigration policy. no, i'm talking about race per se. i mean what's your take on whether this is a worthy cause of the conservative movement to address. i mean there are lots of causes. both movements have causes, and i get the sense that the conservative movement sees racism as a sentiment that is ugly but private. i get the sense that people of a
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different persuasion see it as something embedded in institutions that needs to be regular la regulated. is that your attitude or not? >> i think one reason that you get the backs of conservatives up on this issue is that we feel legitimately that the term "racism" is thrown around indiscriminately and used as a political weapon. and i think there are lots of things that are dumb, that are illegitimate, that are ignorant, that short of racism. but it seems every week more and more things are deemed racist. >> what is something deemed racist that you don't think is racist? >> cindy hyde-smith, the senator from mississippi. >> uh-huh. >> there's a video clip of her with friends supporters, and say
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i would do anything for him. if he invited me to a public hanging, i'd go to the front row. and that is interpreted, i think, at least by some people extremely disingenuously and maliciously as her like endorsing hangings, which is -- it's a way of her saying, i would do something i don't want to do and something that would be very unpleasant because -- >> you can't think of another analogy? >> she did. she used another one as well. she said,ly fight a circle saw for this guy, but that wasn't part of the clip. >> given his mississippi -- go ahead. >> it was clipped in a selective way and interpreted in the most hostile, malicious way to paint her as a racist. so i think we should all agree that racism is wrong. it should be called out. but if you are indiscriminate and using it as a political weapon, you are demeaning the concept. so i think that's another very important aspect of the debate. >> there's a history of public
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hangings in mississippi, which is deeply painful to the people who she would represent. you don't think that speaks to qualification? >> what she was trying to say, i think pretty obviously, is, oh, this guy is great. i'd do anything for him. i'd jump off a cliff for him. >> but she didn't say that, and she represents a state that has a history of public lynchings attended by hundreds of people as a form of public entertainment. >> but it wasn't meant literally. it wasn't meant as endorsement of public hangings. >> but here again -- >> you think she's a racist? >> that is not my role here, but you're telling me that you know with assurance she isn't. >> i'm telling you with assurance it's obvious she didn't mean it literally because she doesn't want to fight a circle saw. >> it does speak to a point, though, which is that people have different sensibilities, and some of it is a question of whose sensibilities deserve a
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hearing and deserve to be considered. is that part of what mia love was talking about, which isn't that part of what she was saying is that there seems to be a certain point of view that only certain people's sensibilities deserve to be entertained and considered and that people who have different sensibilities, even if they are -- you consider them substantively important are somehow to be dismissed? isn't that in part what she was saying? >> i don't know whether she was saying that an obviously metaphorical statement should be interpreted literally in order to drag someone's name through the mud. i pretty much doubt that's what she meant. >> let's figure out where we want to conclude here. i'm wondering what you hope for given that we're now going to have divided government once again. the democrats are feeling, i think, very empowered on the house side, and yet the republicans on the senate side seem to have at least a couple more votes, even if they don't have all of the ones they would want. what are you hoping for?
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>> justice. >> that's it. >> as a conservative, that's really the only foreseeable -- you know, obviously events can intervene. but it's really the only foreseeable good thing that's going to come out of this country. there will be spending deals that will an even higher level of spending than you got in the last congress and didn't particularly like. the house will be passing a lot of sort of exemplary legislation, representing the new democratic domestic agenda that will have zero chance of passing the senate or getting to the president's desk. within several months, we're going to have first democrat presidential forum. we'll have the investigations in the house. we'll have the mueller report. we potentially could have impeachment inquiry, and then that takes us through 2019. then it's all presidential politics all the time. >> in a parallel universe, if you were advising the democrats, what would you advise them to
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do? >> nominate joe biden. >> why? to make life better for you as a conservative or you mean for them? >> i think you look at the electoral map and a lot can change. let's say trump holds all his states from 2016. democrats have to win all of pennsylvania, michigan, and wisconsin to win, and the results in 2018 were encouraging for them in all three of those states. but they have to have some more appeal to working class white voters than hillary clinton did. they need to show they care about them more than hillary clinton did and that they understand at least their culture and their values. and i think a candidate like joe biden would be best. maybe sherrod brown would be another. amy klobuchar from minnesota, kind of a midwestern working class sensibility would be the easiest way for them to win. and i think that trump, he has a path.
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he has a clear electoral college path, but it's really narrow. it might involve losing the popular vote again. and at this juncture, given his popularity, is dependent on the democrats nominating a candidate he can make unacceptable. and i think someone like joe biden, it would be very hard for him to do that. so that would be my advice. as very often with my advice, even with republicans, it will probably be ignored. >> rich lowry, thank you so much for talking to us. >> thank you. an important conversation about the future of american conservatism as the passing of george h.w. bush, ronald reagan's vice president and successor does mark the end of a critical chapter. but that's it for you for our program tonight. thank you for watching "amanpour & co." on pbs and join us again tomorrow night. ♪ uniworld is a proud sponsor of "amanpour & co." when bea tollman founded a collection of boutique hotels,
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