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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  December 1, 2018 4:30am-5:01am PST

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husband and i was introduced on the receiving line by the president of the united states to her majesty, the queen of england as barbara and i know that his wife later told him of the error and it was -- it did not matter to me. i was just thrilled to be there, but he thought i might have been embarrassed by that. and the very next morning before i left for my job on capitol hill there was a delivery from the white house with a note from the president of the dwrieunite states, a handwritten note and a small gift, one of those silver trinkets that they hand out and it was his apologies. it must have been the wine, how beautiful you looked or whatever and he then wroetd and it was so george bush of connecticut, not george bush of texas. he wrote, will you forgive me
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and then george bush and i -- i always treasured that. it was just a personal moment but it was the grace and the manners that he had learned from his mother and was also those lessons that he learned from his mother that stood with him in such good stead throughout politics because he never had the ego that we see so often in political figures. he was always dedicated to the service and make others feel good about themselves. he could take the tough decisions as he did in the first gulf war but he could also do it with so much grace. >> well, andrea mitchell, i will suggest that the fact that he called you barbara by mistake was a great compliment to you since we know how much he respected and admired his wife barbara so that little mistake was a compliment to you.
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we very much appreciate your insights. thank you. >> you bet. president george h.w. bush and his mark on history. i'll talk with jon meacham who wrote the definitive book on the 41st president next. let's be honest. every insurance company tells you they can save you money. save up to 10% when you bundle with esurance. including me, esurance spokesperson dennis quaid. he's a pretty good spokesperson. ehhh.
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at comcast, it's my job to develop, apps and tools that simplify your experience. my name is mike, i'm in product development at comcast. we're working to make things simple, easy and awesome. a kinder, gentler nation and world, that is what president george h.w. bush envisioned in his inaugural speech. his call for unity is as relevant today as it was in 1989. this morning the country mourns the passing of the country's 41st president. he died last night at the age of
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94. his character and integrity being honored across political lines. his public service was evident throughout his career including in 1976. he was then asked what motivated him to take on the job of cia director. >> well, i said this at the senate hearings and perhaps the times are a little cynical and the people may not understand this. i felt a sense of duty, a sense of obligation. i was asked to do it without great background of chance to debate it. i was in china at the time and i feel like if you're called on to serve you ought to serve. >> let's bring in jon meacham. a good morning to you on this somber saturday. your reaction to those george h.w. bush remarks back in 1976.
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what do you think about them? >> it's classic george bush. he believed in duty when he was 17 years old he considered going to canada to join the royal air force after pearl harbor because the royal air force would take you if you were 17. the u.s. navy wouldn't take you until you were 18 which he didn't turn until the 12th of june, 1942. so from the very beginning, he was driven by really two things, a sense of duty, a strong sense of service to others, he was also driven, let the record be very clear, by great ambition. he was of hugely competitive man. there's a wonderful story about he had a much younger brother bucky and when one christmas they had a little marble game. some sort of complicated game was there for bucky and the christmas morning came, bucky
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opened it, poppy bush as george bush was known says let me try that and he mastered it. was really good at it and bucky marvelled to another sibling god, poppy can do anything. and the other said you idiot, he was up all night practicing. so that's kind of what we're dealing with, a totally gracious competitor. >> yeah. >> and he would be the first person -- well, the second person, the first person to say let's have some proportion would be barbara bush. the second would be president bush. but driven by that sense of duty that he talked about on "meet the press" and driven by ambition, to my mind having spent really almost a decade and a half working on that project, what came clear to me is he did some things along the way that were not wildly admirable. he opposed a 1964 civil rights
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act. but what did he do once he had power? he actually took risks, he put the country before himself. so he's running for the senate in '64 down in texas. he opposes as barry gold water did the head of the ticket as well, opposed the civil rights about but in 1968 when he's representing houston and the house, a very conservative district, he votes for fair housing and goes down to a meeting with constituents down at a high school in houston and he quoted edmond burk saying that sometimes a representative joes you his best judgment, not a reflection of your will. and he didn't see how americans could ask african american soldiers to go fight against tyranny and not be able to buy a house in any neighborhood they wanted many the united states. 1988, very rough campaign against the democratic nominee. but moments after that campaign was over, bush tried to govern in a spirit of bipartisanship
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that is almost unimaginable now and that's not nostalgia. that's not sentiment. imagine a republican president today signing the americans disabilities act. imagine a republican president today deciding that deficit control meant raising taxes and taking the political -- paying the political price. these are real things he did when he actually had the power as he put it to help people. and in many ways i think that's the political legacy. >> also the fact that he was so principled and that he let that really be his guiding light, if you will, and i love his points of light. something that he -- he really tried to bestow a graciousness and an understanding of volunteerism throughout this world. i mean, it was a remarkable challenge for him and he -- he did it with such grace and
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dignity. >> he did. the one thing he asked bill clinton for in the transition of 1992/93 was that clinton continue the points of light program. that was the only request between the two presidents. and it mattered enormously to him. people have made fun of it. people have thought of it as a bromide of some point but it came straight from his heart. i came straight from the sense that he was born to great privilege but he believed very much in the admonition that to whom much is given, much is expected and because he was given so much, he gave back and gave back and gave back. >> uh-huh. and to that end he pledged to his inaugural address in 1989 he wanted to make the face of america kinder and the world gentler overall. he certainly shepherded the end of the cold war with a certain sensitivity. was he given the vast experience
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that he brought with him was he the first diplomat president? >> well, he was arguably the most effective. he was -- you know, he'd been in the house for two terms. he lost a senate race in 1970. then he almost, one of his turning points where things could have gone an entirely different direction, for about 15 minutes he was going to go work in the nixon white house for h.r.haldman. but he had made a case to president nixon that he, bush, could do a really good job in new york for him at the u.n. and nixon thought about it for a bid and he decided that having the son of prescott bush making the case for a grocer for california was pretty appealing so he went to new york, went to the republican national committee.
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running the national committee during water gate and then he goes to china, then the cia and it was a remarkable level of experience. there are two things when you deal with his diary and his notes. he was very -- he appreciated the professionalism of the people in the government. he liked having people who had the intelligence, analysts who were dealing with the material, he liked having them come in. he knew there was a lot of expertise in the second and third tier behind the folks he saw in the course of the day. he liked bringing them in. and that came from and one of the reasons he was so effective as president is he knew who to call. he knew who to ask and he empowered people who could otherwise might not have direct access to the president and he knew that because of those six years in jobs under nixon and ford and those eight years with ronald reagan as vice president. >> that vast experience was remarkable that he had.
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you mentioned bill clinton and the one thing that he asked of him, but of course later in life he became close friends with president bill clinton, the man who of course made him a one-term president but these tweets just from june, they show them hanging out with sully, his dog and bush 41 showing off his bill clinton socks to mark that visit. how did this whole relationship, this almost paternal relationship from george w. bush to george h.w. bush to bill clinton, how did it come about? >> i have a theory about this. it's very interesting to me that presidents clinton, george w. bush and barack obama have actually been the son of george h.w. bush or wanted to be the son of george h.w. bush. i think that there -- the senior president bush embodied a kind of world war ii, cold war
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establishment order that was very reassuring. it was one of the things of being around him in recent years because he went in a wheelchair about 2012, is it was actually the closest people could kind of come to knowing what was it like when fdr was in a room. what is it like when the most powerful person, the central figure in a room is in a wheelchair? and he had a kind of powerful charisma in that way. my favorite story about the bush/clinton relationship which really began when george w. bush asked his father and president clinton to raise money for the victims of the tsunami in late 2004 is when president clinton and president bush 41 were going to pay their respects at the -- i think it was the indonesian consulate in washington and
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george w. bush is a few minutes behind them. 41 and clinton walk into the embassy, there's a painting on the wall and clinton says who painted that? and the ambassador says oh, that is our greatest painter x and clinton says that's great. i love that. they go sign the book. they over coming back out and george w. bush is coming in and clinton grabs the president and says george, this is my favorite work by x. i've followed his work for years. and at that point, as 41 would tell the story, he would say no wonder that guy would beat me. he could spin anything into gold. so i think president clinton loved president bush's serenity and dignity. george h.w. bush admired clinton's charm. >> well, if you can put it any
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way you want any time, particularly on the subject of george h.w. bush. thank you so much for your recollections today. >> thanks, alex. in a moment why my next guest says the one-term president was an enormous success. (dad) got it? (boy) got it. nooooooo... (dad) nooooooo... (vo) quick, the quicker picker upper! bounty picks up messes quicker and is two times more absorbent. bounty, the quicker picker upper. not in this house.? 'cause that's no ordinary family. that's your family. which is why you didn't grab just any cheese. you picked up new kraft expertly paired
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today our nation mourns the 41st president of the united states. president george h.w. bush passed away last night at age 94, eight months after his wife of 73 years, barbara bush. hess did kags toedication is ho celebrated. he was a decorated navy pilot during world war ii, a congressman, cia director and
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vice president to ronald reagan. in 2012, marking his 80th birthday he sat down with his granddaughter jenna bush and what he thought about his own mortality and the afterlife. >> i used to worry about death and i don't anymore. i have a feeling there's an afterlife and i have a feeling it's a good one. >> who would you want to see first? >> depends if barbara pre-diseases me, probably go with her, but -- i think my mom and my father, and maybe robyn, our little girl that died. >> now he will be reunited with his deloved wife of barbara bush who passed away just eight months ago. joining me, from "the daily beast," tweeted george h.w. bush was an enormous success, in your opinion. what was his biggest accomplishment and what do you
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think made hick a success? i. wa >> i wanted to distinguish between being an enormous success as the public servant and as a human being. it was mixed as a president. decisions you could question, but at one point be george h.w. bush said there is no definition of success that does not include service to others. he believed that no person could really say, look back on their own life and say that they had had a successful life, no matter how much money they made, no matter how happy they were in their personal life, if they didn't serve others in some capacity. that doesn't mean they had to vote their entire lives to service, but that they had to think about others and how to help them, and george h.w. bush started doing this at a very young age. when he was a senior at phillips
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academy, andover, he heard a speech by henry stimpsen, who was also a graduate of that school, as am i, and stimpson, who had been secretary of state and secretary of war then under fdr gave a speech about service, and bush listened to the speech, and he went off and he enlisted in the navy as a pilot, and he was the youngest pilot in the entire navy. 18 years old, as jon meacham knew him budge better than i did indicadid -- much better than i did. from the point he was 18 years old until his death he was always involved in service to others of one kind or another, and both he embodied that spirit of service that has built the united states and made us a beacon of hope and decency to the world, arguably until now. he not only embodied it, but
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he -- he conveyed that message to others through the thousand points of light that you spoke of earlier, alex, and a whole variety of other ways. he showed once you achieve a certain status in society and even if you don't, it's incumbent on you to think about other people. >> yeah. he was an enormous success certainly in that way and in his life, a life that can be remembered with great admiration, and yet to your point, only having served as a one-term president. to what do you attribute that, jonathan? >> well, the economy was bad in 1992. he was basically gifted candidate in bill clinton, and he hadn't been rye by his own admission a great communicator when he was president. he would say things like, message, i care. and even though i think he really did care about people, he wasn't able to connect, and you
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also had ross perot who got 19% as a third-party candidate in 1992. so bush only got 38% of the vote, in that election. clinton got 43%. unfortunately, we judge our presidents too much on whether they're a political success or not. there's also the question whether there is substantive success. i think on that score, bush gets higher marks. so domestically, he signed the americans disabilities act which changed the country. he was an environmentalist. hard to imagine any republican president as an environmentalist but he was with the clean water act extensions. and he showed great political courage when after having really made the mistake during the campaign of saying, "read my lips: no new taxes" which was a silly thing for him to say, he then raised taxes to cut the
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deficit and, of course, overseas was able to manage the end of the cold war. that could have gone very differently. we look at it in the large historical sweep with the soviet union crumbling, odds were that would end violently, were going to have a big war and partly because of george bush jsh nj.h were able to have peace in the late 1980s and early '90s. >> thank you for joining us on a somber saturday. george h.w. bush died last night in houston along with sons george and jeb. survived by two other sons, neil and marvin and 17 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. of helping you. business loans for eligible card members up to fifty thousand dollars, decided in as little as 60 seconds. the powerful backing of american express. don't do business without it.
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to seeing you again at noon. david gura is continuing with bp "up." >> welcome to "up." we start with special coverage of the death and legacy of george h.w. bush, the 41st president of the united states who died last night at the age of 94. he started his presidency with the vision to reshape america into a kinder and gentler nation. >> no president, no government can teach us to remember what is best and what we are. america is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. we as a people have such a purpose today. it is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world. >> this morning his death marks the end of a political era and

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