tv Charlie Rose PBS March 1, 2010 11:30pm-12:30am EST
>> rose: welcome to the broadcast. tonight, a conversation about washington with senator evan bayh, democrat of indiana, who just announced he that he will not run for reelection. >> this is a noble effort to try and extend health care coverage to 30 to 35 million people who do not have it. we should live a country where everyone has access to quality, affordable health care. that is not the case right now. but you've got to be somewhat... you have to take into account somewhat the times in which you live and the constraints of the moment that you're operating in. and i think we now know with the benefit of hindsight that extending an entitlement of that magnitude at a time when the economy was the worst it's been since the 1940s, having major new expenditure, even if it does not add to the deficit at a time when people are concerned about record deficits was just going to be a very heavy lift. >> rose: we conclude with jonathan cole, professor at columbia university where he served as provost and dean of
faculties. his new book is called "the great american university." >> the greatness of american universities has more to do with the production of knowledge rather than the transmission of knowledge. and the production of knowledge through the discoveries that are made at these universities, the inventions, the devices, the medical miracles which have come from these universities have, in fact, transformed their lives in ways that they are really not terribly familiar with, don't realize that they really come from these great institutions, and therefore they're not aware that these institutions ought to really be protected. >> rose: senator bayh on what's wrong with washington, jonathan cole on what's right with american universities. next. ♪ if you've had a coke in the last 20 years,
( screams ) you've had a hand in giving college scholarships... and support to thousands of ouration's... most promising students. ♪ ( coca-cola 5-note mnemonic ) captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: evan bayh is here. he has served as the democratic senator from indiana since 1999. he was also governor of indiana from 1989 to 1997 with an established record as a moderate voice in the senate. he served on the banking, arms
services and intelligence committees. during the 2008 presidential election, he was short listed to be president obama's running mate. last month, senator bayh announced that he will not run for a third term. his reason? congress is frozen, bipartisan politics an narrow ideology. the people's business, he says, is not being done. i am pleased to have evan bayh at this table to talk more about the idea that he's been expressing since he made his dramatic decision and also to look at where washington is today, where the senate and the house are and where the president may be on specific issues. so welcome. >> rose: good to be with you, charlie. >> rose: first, health care reform. tell me where you think it's going to go, what's going to happen and whether you think the country will buy if they have to use the reconciliation process? >> i think there's a slightly better than 50-50 chance that a bill will get enacted and it will probably involve using the reconciliation process. the place to look there is the s not so much in the senate but in the house. it really is going to be a very close vote there and i think
most americans, charlie... i... given my desire to work across the aisle with people, i think that reconciliation should be kept as a last, last resort. but i suspect because it may poison the well for dealing with other issues over the next remainder of this year. of course, the counterargue some that is there's probably not a lot of bipartisan cooperation going to be forth coming in any event. i suspect most of your viewers and the american people are focus not on the process, however, but on the results. if you like the substance of the health care bill, you don't care so much how is it enacted but that it gets enacted and if you oppose it well, then, reconciliation or not you're going to be opposed to it regardless. >> rose: did you like the substance of the bill the senate passd? >> it was a close call in my mind. obviously i didn't like the issue involving nebraskament some of these other things that were in there that are going to be taken out before the final bill is passed. but i ultimately concluded although it was not the bill that i might have written, we couldn't just sit here and do nothing. so let's try and expand coverage.
let's try and start getting some of these costs down. let's reform the way insurance is issued so that people aren't denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, serious illness, things of that nature. then if there are aspects to it that don't work as well as we'd like, let's improve them or correct them. there was a great piece in either the sunday post or times saying, look, if you don't do anything, it's not as if you're going to have the status quo, things will get worse. >> rose: right. >> so my mind it came down to in a close call try something. >> rose: and the administration seems to be counting on the point that if they pass this health care bill-- which essentially i assume will be like the senate bill-- that they will find over six or eight months or a year than that people like it better than they might have imagined and all of the worries they had about it might not be true. that's the bet the administration is making. >> that is the bet. that some of the misconception out there will be proven to be false between now and the election. and i think there also...
frankly, from just a purely political standpoint it's a difficult road for the democrats which ever path we take. but i think they are that they are betting the myths will be dispelled and it's better to look strong and effective than it is to look weak and ineffectual. i think that's another part of the calculus there. >> rose: what should the president have done from the get-go? should he have delayed health care reform? should he have only done it in part? >> well, having been governor and having been second guessed myself, charlie, i'm reluctant to go there because you never know all the stresses and strains you're operating under unless you're in the room. i would say with the benefit of hind sight first this is a noble effort to try and extend health care coverage to 30 to 35 million people who do not have it. we should live a country where everyone has access to quality, affordable health care. that's not the case right now. but you've got to be somewhat... you have to take into account somewhat the times in which you live, the constraints of the moment that you're operating in,
and i think we now know with the benefit of hindsight that extending an entitlement of that magnitude at a final when the economy was the worst it's been since the 1940s... >> rose: right. >> having a major new expenditure, even if it doesn't add to the deficit at a time when people are concerned about record deficits was just going to be a very heavy lift. if you look at the polling, people are anxious about their own circumstances. so they're big hearted, they want to help those who are without but it would have been more ontor 3o tune to await the big begining of a recovery so people said "i feel good about myself and i want to help myself." >> rose: at times of good economic circumstances you're better to have health care reform in a comprehensive way passd? >> correct. the opposite calculation was famously said, you never want to waste a good crisis. a at the beginning of a presidency you have morely political capital. there was a lot of moving parts and so there was an opportunity, that was the other calculation, but the benefit of hindsight it
was going to be difficult under the economic and fiscal environment under which we've been operating. >> rose: republicans seem convinced-- lamar alexander said that-- that that democrats go to the reconciliation process that it's going to be deadly for them in the general election in 2010 at the congressional level. are they right? is he right? did you're in? i mean, i realize that you didn't fear for yourself but do you fear that for fellow democrats? the house especially? >> the health care debate has gone against the democratic party for a number of reasons. some of which are without merit and some of which you can argue back and forth. i don't think the use of the reconciliation process will matter that much to the american people. they want to know about the substance. and so if they're concerned that it's going to run up the deficit and that kind of thing or raise their taxes, even if it's not true, that may work against us. >> rose: or restrict their medicare. >> correct.
or their access to their own physician and that sort of thing 97% or 98% of voters have health insurance. what they don't like are some of the aspects of pre-existing conditions, lifetime caps, aspects they'd like more security on. and what they're really concerned about, charlie, is the rapidly escalating cost of that health insurance. i'm a little afraid that people are going to think that, you know, the month twors months after this is enacted suddenly their premiums are going to go down substantially. that that is not the case. what we hope to see over sometime the premiums will rise less rapidly but they're still going to get the statement and it's going to be modestly higher rather than lower and i wonder how that will resonate. >> rose: was there a political mistake made, just looking back with 20/20 vision for a second, a political mistake made to not appreciate the american voters' concern about the cost issue with respect to health care? that was the mistake made? >> if you look at what is
driving independents away from us right now in massachusetts and elsewhere, it is the deficit. that is really the issue that they are most concerned about. and so that deals with the governmental cost side. yes, if personal cost side, i think that that was... this is a humanitarian undertaking, a worthy undertaking. but it does not go to the core concern that independent voters, moderate voters, have in the country which is the cost of their current health care. >> rose: but did president have an argument to make-- which he used occasionally-- that this was... that changing health care was an element, was a tool in his battle against the deficit? >> well, that's true. if you look at the out years, what's driving the deficit more than anything relation medicaid and medicare. and if you look at the second ten years, this does begin to dlaekt in a substantial way. but a lot... i think intuitively the american people understand that a lot of things can happen in ten years, you're asking me to trust congress to make the
right decisions over the next ten years? they kind of wonder about that. so we absolutely... if we're going to get on top of the deficits... i think i saw peter orszag on your show making this point directly and accurately, you've got to reform health care. also, to sit and do nothing, the costs are going to continue to compound at double-digit rates. so we have to try and get this under control, even if right now it does not resonate as it should with undecided american voters. >> rose: people say to me that the three issues for the country are jobs, debt, terror. those three things. is that what the voters in indiana are telling you? >> i think it's the economy-- broadly defined-- jobs to be sure is the number-one issue. but they're also concerned about the deficit. they know that imperils our long-term future, and our children's and the economy. they're concerned about our energy dependency, charlie, it's the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the country,
we've got to do something about that. so the economy broadly defined and yes, terror, as well, national security. we're only one incident away. we saw the christmas time incident from that being a major focus of the american people. >> rose: before we talk about your decision, talk about washington for me today. i mean, what's happened? is it the senate that you were elected to? is it the senate that your father served in? >> you know, it's not. particularly going back to my father's time. and i was privileged as a boy to grow up when my father was around the senate, we'd have members over to our house of both political parties, they'd socialize. there were those interpersonal relationships that would overcome ideology and partisanship and help to forge, hopefully, principled compromises. members don't get to spend that much time together anymore for a variety of reasons. the endless fund-raising demands are part of it. i've recounted this before, but in my father's time, the saying was you legislated for the first four years, you campaigned for
the second two years of your term. now it is unending. literally, literally, my first day in the united states senate we had a caucus meeting. they were already discussing our prospects for the next election. it's constantly on people's minds. so if you're constantly fund-raising, if you're always looking at the next election and you know, the votes that are being put up for the purposes, sometimes, of running these negative 30-second commercials, it makes it a lot harder to reach across the aisle and find that kind of common ground our country so desperately deserves at this moment in time. >> rose: the president has talked about bipartisanship during the campaign and since he has been in washington. so why didn't... why couldn't he make a difference? >> the president is making a genuine effort. he really is. i've talked to him about this personally. he deplores the current state of affairs as much as anyone. but it does take two to tango. and by that i mean both parties in congress. on the republican side, they
need to be willing from time to time, charlie, to commit a heresy, which is to sacrifice a little short-term political advantage for the long-term well-being of the country. things are going pretty well for them right now as you look at the midterm elections, but there are things that need to be done to help the american people that they should put ahead of tactical political advantages. >> rose: when you talk to people in are friends of yours on the other side of the aisle and you raise that very point, what do they say? >> well, the men and women of good faith will say you're right but we do have a philosophical difference and it's very difficult to bridge. and some of them candidly will say well, look, it's hard to take politics out of politics and there is an election, let's talk about that afterward. i wanted to be balanced about this. some people on my own side-- who i love, and they're well intended people-- but they have a tendency in the most progressive precincts of the democratic party to view accepting half a loaf as in some
ways being a sellout or the a reflection of lack of moral character and fiber. but some progress is better than none. and so you have the partisanship on the one side and sometimes the ideology on the other frustrating the vast number of americans who say, look, we understand you're not going to agree on everything. we don't agree on everything. but at least get done what you can and move the ball forward rather than just being constantly gridlocked. >> rose: and how much has media contributed to this? >> well, there's some of that. but i don't want to just lay the blame at the media's doorstep. the economics of the media seem to reward-- this show notwithstanding-- controversy. it almost in some ways has become more entertainment. and the blogosphere plays a useful role but that is not always as well researched as the mainstream media might be. and so the net kind of leads to a dialogue that can be pretty
bare-knuckled sometimes. >> rose: what did you think of the sum nate the president sort of presided over? >> well, i thought he had to do it. it's another manifestation of him reaching out. i think he was insincere in that. they also knew if it was not successful, even though he made that effort, it would show the american people he made that sofrt if we ultimately had to resort to reconciliation it was a last resort and not just quick use of power at the expense of the minority. and i thought... so i thought our side benefited from that, the president benefited from that. i thought the republicans benefited some by not appearing to be just sort of knuckle-draggers and completely devoid of thought. >> rose: david brooks who i've quoted to you before has said the second useful thing about the meeting was that it bypassed a congressional power structure. the quality of the comments got worse the closer you got to party leadership. and then went on to talk about the comments made by people who were not either speaker of the house or majority leader of the
senate. >> well, there are thoughtful people in the congress. i would recommend... and it's too bad. when you would talk to individuals-- including the president-- ron widen, a very thoughtful democrat. bob bennett a thoughtful republican being charged in his own party for the temerity of reaching out and trying to find some common ground had a really thought-provoking innovation to reform health care. and most observers agreed. you know, that would really be... if we were starting over again with a blank slate, that's what we'd do. but to try and do that now would be too destabilizing and i think maybe we sold the american people short in that respect some. i would... i think some bill's probably going to pass here along the lines of the senate bill but if we can step back and incorporate some of the concepts bob and ron had in their bill, i think the long run that may give both parties something to build upon in this effort. >> rose: was that the effort of the cooperateive? >> theirs was the effort of
giving individuals vouchers as a... in some respect. but energizing the individual smooshgt that every american would have the resources to actually go out and shop in a robust marketplace for private insurance, those of modest means would receive some subsidy from the government and it would really build upon a private model which the republicans would like but there would be robust subsidies and a guarantee of universal coverage which the democrats would like. >> rose: and why didn't it happen? >> well, as i said, some of the powers that be concluded that that was just a bridge too far, although conceptually would be a place we ought to get. it was probably... ironically, charlie, it was going to be too tough to accomplish given the political realities in congress today. well, we've seen they were pretty dog gone tough anyway. >> rose: how long did you think about that i don't want to run for reelection? was there a moment that this came to you and you got up in the morning and you said in the
clear light of early morning "i can't do this anymore"? >> there was not that sort of epiphany moment. but it had been growing on my mind for some time. i'll give you an example. a year ago january i went to visit senator reid and senator menendez who lead the democratic political efforts to say "i haven't made any decisions but i want you to know that i have some growing concerns and i don't want you to be surprised." i visited with the president about this, i think it was august or september. and then several times thereafter. >> rose: did they not take you seriously? did they think you'd come around? >> oh, i think they took me seriously. but after my meeting with senator reid and menendez, you know, look, i wanted to pour my heart back into the senate and say, look, what can we get done here? because we face some gathering challenges. and i did and i think they probably concluded that i just reconsidered and was in a different place. i had several conversations with the president and i think,
charlie, all these things are deeply personal decisions. you, of course, remember george mitch who will decided to retire when he was majority leader. i mean, if there's anyone who's in a position to make a difference on a day to day basis it's the majority leader. bill frist... >> rose: and he turned down the supreme court, too. >> he did. and has gone on the a wonderful career, continuing to be a major contributor in public policy as well as in the private sphere. bill frist stepped down when he was leader as well. so these things are not unheard of. in my case, my formative experience in public life was being an executive, a governor. i was making decisions everyday. i was being held accountable everyday. it perhaps was not on the national or international scale that you have in the federal government but everyday i felt i was helping a child get better education or someone receive quality health care, re@ago job, that sort of thing. congress... there are great people in congress and it is intellectually fascinating, but months can go by and i don't get
that same sense of, yes, we are making a difference each and everyday. and so for me that's what made public service and still makes public service worthwhile. >> rose: could you have changed it? could you have led the crew snad >> well, i ultimately concluded that i couldn't make the kind of material contribution that i would have liked. i'm going to do my best over the next ten months. i'm going to suggest some changes to the fill bust cher i hope we can do. the minority deserves a healthy voice. but given the challenges that we're facing and the fact that our challenges are no longer simply internal but are global-- china is moving forward, other nations are moving forward and we are stuck at our peril. we've got to change the filibuster. so i'd come down on the side of action as opposed to inaction. >> rose: what's the likelihood... i think you talked about 55. what's the likelihood of that kind of change? >> less than 50-50 over the next ten months and the reason far is that the filibuster empowers
every individual senator-- including myself-- with the ability to stand up and basically stop things. and so you're asking members to give up some individual power for the sake of the functioning of the overall body. >> rose: explain how the filibuster works. >> well, it requires a 60-vote threshold. and back in my father's day it was 67. following the... the filibuster had been used, as we all remembered, the frustrate the civil rights movement so following they that they decided we're not going to do that anymore. they lowered it to 60, you can have multiple filibusters on the same piece of legislation. your viewers will probably find this to be mind-boggling. you can bring up a filibuster to bring up a bill. when there's amendment you can filibuster each of them. then you can have a filibuster before you have the final vote on the bill. so the prospects for delay are substantial and so for your viewers who remember "mr. smith goes to washington" and jimmy stewart looking haggard and pulling the all-nighter, the mere threat of a filibuster is
now you have no bring the snoot a halt. so one of my proposals is that, look, no longer should one sbrij allowed to do this. you should have a critical mass of senators be required to say "yes, i support. this" so whether it's 25, 30, 35. then, charlie, they should be required to physically go to the floor and stay there night and day if they feel that strongly about it. make them pay a price in terms of public notoriety, it putting their reputation on the line, and physical discomfort. otherwise you get these frivolous filibuster which is keep the public's business from getting done. >> rose: some have described your leaving the senate as a canary in the mine. that somehow you will spark by leaving a real serious consideration. do you hope that's going to be true? do you have any reason to believe that will be true? >> well, it may be a situation where an individual's action meets the moment. there does seem to be a lot of national discussion right now, even before my decision, about why aren't we getting more done
as a country to meet what are obvious and gathering problems? it really is a moment of great jeopardy for the country. a number of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have said to me that they're saddened by my decision. and i hope that it perhaps can spark that kind of conversation because we do need toe do a better job of addressing the challenges that face our country. and if in stepping aside i've helped to foster that, well then i will have accomplished something even as i've departed the stage. >> rose: you believe that a third party candidacy-- not for you but a viable third party candidate-- could win in 2012? >> well, let me be clear, because there are all sorts of rumors running around. i support the president and i think he's got a good chance of being reelected for a number of reasons. >> rose: and you will not run as a third-party candidate? >> no, i will not.
but i do think the level of frustration among the american public is such that following the last administration there was a big vote for change, as we know. if washington remains stuck-- even though it's not the president's fault, even though most of this may rest at the doorstep of congress-- that frustration may fester and grow, particularly in the economy remains somewhat sluggish. and would create an opportunity for someone with the sort of resources that ross pro, for example, had a decade or decade and a halfing too make a case to the american public that, look, we need someone from just completely outside of all this to come in and really shake things up. so there's that potential. >> rose: how about someone like michael bloomberg? >> well, he might nate bill. he certainly has the resources. >> rose: resources and public experience. >> correct. >> rose: and an appeal to both democrats and republicans because of some positions he has which are democratic, some... certainly on fiscal issues some positions that are conservative.
>> correct. >> rose: that's the profile of somebody. a lot of money, an appeal to independence. and it's in your judgment knowing politics doable if certain convergences take place? >> if you look at our history it's unlikely. and i still believe the president will be reelected. but under the right set of circumstances, if the economy is sluggish and congress remains stuck someone with those sorts of resources and an executive back ground of proven accomplishments, that's always attractive to the american public. >> rose: there is noun no one on the horizon that sort of fits this bill but i'm thinking of general eisenhower or ulysses s. grant and people like that who come from a military background and get into the presidential race and win. one came after the civil war, one came after world war ii, two very different wars. but is the country looking for leadership of a kind that they're not seeing? >> i think they're looking for progress. and leadership, of course, is an
important part of achieving that progress. we have... we rebelled against a king, and so our entire system of checks and balances is designed to in some ways frustrate government action because we don't want the heavy handed government, we value our personal liberties and prerogatives. but collectively now we have challenges that are going unaddressed that will overwhelm our personal well-being because the system of checks and balances is in n this dynamic world in which we're living today working perhaps two well. if we were living in a time of peace and prosperity you could argue that, well, the status quo is okay. but to continue on down the path with the deficits, our energy dependency, some of the other things that... our trade imbalance. you know, i don't have to tell you, you talk to the chinese, for example, their belief is that we will continue to be a military power but we'll no longer be a financial or
economic and therefore diplomatic power. >> rose: and there's been no country that's been able to maintain its world position if it didn't have a strong economy that continued. >> that's correct. >> rose: you could argue the soviet union had a strong military but never thelts when their economy collapsed... >> we are the greatest debtor nation and that does not make us strong. we don't finance that debt. internally we're thorough in savings, we borrow much of it from from abroad. this is money that's going to have to be returned with interest by our children. >> rose: what do you make of the chinese challenge to america? >>. >> i think they have some things going for them but they're not perfect, either. and a fair amount of hue mill city in order in terms of predicting down the road. i recall, for example, books being written about the japanese century shortly before they lost a decade or now two. the chinese have a command-and-control economy, they can move quickly. they have high rates of savings. they are using their vast financial reserve stras t.j.ally
to require natural resources. even, charlie, to buttress their diplomacy. they're going across latin america, africa and using those funds to help governments who then, of course, feel very positive. >> rose: and, in fact, sending in armies of engineers to build roads and create infrastructure and a whole range of things like that. >> that's absolutely right. and so their dynamic economy, they're large rates of savings, they're think strategically about not only acquiring national resources but investing in a people. their rate of growth in r&d is faster than ours so in terms of innovation they are catching up and masur pass us at some point. but they're not supermen and women. they are not a democracy. there are going to be big relocations within their economy as people continue to move from agriculture into the cities and from state-owned industries into the more dynamic parts of the economy. it's not entirely clear whether
they're going to be able to make that transition smoothly because as their people acquire more wealth they become accustomed to more freedom, they're going to want to have a bigger say in what happens in china and there's no mechanism now for them. at least not a legitimate mechanism. blessed by a popular vote of the public for them to do that. and that challenge is going to be a difficult one for them to address. >> rose: let me go back overseas to afghanistan. there has been, now, the surge into marjah and they're going to go to kandahar, evidently, and general mcchrystal's strategy seems to be taking advantage of the troops that he has received seems to be on the march. are you confident? do you feel better about the possibilities in afghanistan? >> the thing about afghanistan, charlie, is that ultimately it's not up to us. it's up to them. our troops, our other people on the ground will behave hero
wickly, literally. but ultimately it's their country and as you know they don't have a long history of being a coherent nation state. do they have the ability to reconcile their differences amongst themselves that will allow them establish that state with the breathing period we are giving them? that's the bet. i think it's 50-50 wager. what the president did, he's giving the optimal outcome in afghanistan a chance. >> rose: right. >> because if we withdraw and there's no strong central government there, it will fragment and there was a reason that al qaeda located in afghanistan to begin with. the tribal areas in pakistan were not their top choice. they went there as a matter of necessity. and so there are two questions there, and these issues are joined. are the afghans capable of stepping up and envisioning for themselves and making the tough compromises necessary to fashion with our help a coherent nation state that will have staying power?
and then the pakistanis. are they willing to get over this obsession with india that they have and this sense of encirclement and instead understand that a failed state in afghanistan ultimately... >> rose: is a threat to them. >> is an existential threat aimed directly at them. >> rose: right. what do you worry most about when you look at the future of the country? >> i worry most about our economic position in the world because everything else flows. our ability to fund our health care system, educate our children, even our diplomatic and military power has to be based upon a comparative economic advantage that we are pursuing in a coherent way. and we need do that now because we are well past the post-war world war ii period where we dominated the globe and almost effortlessly created fwhelt this country. what is that comparative sflang i think it lies in an innovative economy. that means higher levels of resources into research and
development and into education. because there's really the heart of divisions between thes have and have nots in our society, the quality of education, the individuals. and our ability to address that and other things lies at the heart of the political challenge that we face, can as americans in spite of our superficial differences we find common ground in the aspirations that we hold and in the channels that we can confront. because united there is really very little that the american people cannot overcome? the mesh experience suggests that over and over and over again. but divided in the globalized world that we face today we run great risks of having our children inherit from us a different and diminished united states of america and we must not let that happen. >> rose: in the end you've got to be able to fashion a relationship with congress in some way or the other. and that's not happening because there's a partisan divide. >> well, the president is a very
gifted and intelligent individual and every chief executive... i know at the end of my eight years as governor i was a much different person than i was at the beginning. >> rose: how were you different? >> oh, i had learned how to work with my own state legislature. i learned how to identify where the con s.e.c. trick circles overlapped and get done those things that could get done. >> rose: suggesting it's better to be governor as training for president than it is for being a legislator? >> well, there's to one right path but i think certainly executive experience informs... look at the congress, charlie. you can tell. bob corker has stepped up on financial regulation. >> dealing with dodd. >> look at bob's background. he was a businessman and a mayor. not just dealing with issues in theory but in charge of implementing them fact. that just affects the way you look at things. >> rose: here's an interesting idea. are the best among us those decision makers, those people with the wisest sense of how to bring factions together, provide executive leadership, would they
best from somewhere else? >> well, i don't know what other system we would have. i thought about this at one point. people who were involved in the presidential process complain about how rigorous it is and exhausting and demanding. i think that's pretty good. >> rose: good test. >> it is a good test because you're applying for the hardest job in the world. now all of them are human beings with strengths and weak nesses so the challenge is/-to-identify the person with the strengths that meet the moment and who have the minimal amount of weaknesses. i tell you what's good about this president-- among many things, i mentioned his intellect-- but his temperament. his temperament. the stress, the strain, all of that: and he seems to keep a truly even keel even a amidst the madness and that's something you want in a chief executive. so let me kind of end that thought by saying we are living at a moment when the short term
political calculus, the tactical decisions reward a decisions that perhaps are not in the long-term best interest of the country. we as americans, we have to blame the political class some. but we as americans need to step back and ask ourselves from time to time are we being excessively partisan, are we being excessively ideological? maybe we should reward those individuals who are attempting to find that common ground because they're the ones that we need. >> rose: let me turn that around. is the problem with us rather than our leadership that we're not demanding the kind of solutions that would advance the ball? >> well, the blame lies-- if that's the appropriate word-- with some of each. the political class in washington tends to get caught up inside the beltway, maneuvering and that kind of thing. but after all we do vote these people in and i think all of us-- and i've said this involving myself-- you need take a long look in the mirror and
say, okay, who are we rewarding? who will we support? even if we don't always agree with them, i think that's the kind of decision the american people need to go through if we get the leadership we need at this moment. >> rose: some have speculated that once that choice was made that somehow it was inevidentble that you would be where you are now, announcing that you're not going to run for reelection to the united states senate. that there was an inexorable move from not being on that ticket to saying i'm going to reconsider my options for public life. >> well, those are people who must be familiar with the level of satisfaction i had being governor and, again, being in the senate i have found to be intellectually fabulous. but i guess i'm just a little more action oriented. i'm not a committee chairman, not a prospect of this is a committee chairman, not the leadership where some of the decisions are made. so far me, charlie, it's about
getting things done and so it's true that as vice president i... if you have that kind of relationship with the president, one of close confidence, you can really make a major impact, no question. so they were better at predicting the future than i could have been at that moment. >> rose: thank you for coming. >> a pleasure. >> rose: great to see you. senator evan bayh leaving the united states snoot consider new opportunities, new ways to influence and have an impa on the country. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: despite the country's economic troubles there is one field where america retains its global supremacy-- it is higher education. according to one resent survey, 17 of the top 20 universities worldwide are in the united states. a new book argues that protecting this advantage is vital to the future of our economy and our society.
the book is called "great american university: its rise to preeminence, its indispensable national role and why it must be protected." joining me now, the author, jonathan cole. he's a professor at columbia university where he served as provost and dean of facultys from 1989 to 2003. i'm pleased to have him here at this table. welcome. >> rose: great to be here, charlie. >> rose: congratulations. we could just talk and i could take these three questions and we could a great conversation about american universities. it's something we do well. >> it certainly. is undoubtedly we have the best system of higher learning in the world. i think very few educated americans actually understand why we have that 80% of the top 20 universities in the world. and part of my book is to try to explain to them what it is that produced these great institutions. >> rose: explain to me. >> well, most people when they think about our american
universities they think naturally about undergraduate education. and that ice what they are most centrally interested in. after all, this is what their children are going to be up to. they want their kids to go to very good schools. they are interested in professional education. and after all, that is also what we've... the leaders of higher education have spoken most about. they're concerned about costs and other kinds of things. but what they haven't realized is that the greatness of american universities has more to do with the production of knowledge rather than the transmission of knowledge. and the production of knowledge through the discoveries that are made at these universities, the inventions, the devices, the medical miracles which have come from these universities have, in fact, transformed their lives in ways that they are really not terribly familiar with, don't realize that they really come from these great institutions and therefore they're not aware that these institutions ought to really be protected. >> rose: duds that mean that universities for all their
ability to produce knowledge and for all of their ability to also transfer knowledge are not very good in communicating their own essence and their own reason for being? >> i think we're very poor at that. part of my reason for writing this book is that when i would talk to alums of wonderful institutions, whether they be at columbia, harvard, stamford, arizona state or wherever they might be, they invariably ask me questions about what the quality of undergraduate education is. they never ask me the question "what three discoverys have come from columbia in the last five years that have changed the world?" they've never asked me about eric kandel's discoveries about the mind and the brain or people like, oh, you know, richard axel's discovery of a gene for the sense of smell. this is outside of their range of knowledge. and this is an important omission and we have not done well in communicating. >> rose: i hope to see this notion that china, for example, says that over the next 50 years
they want to create at least three universities that will be in the top 20. is that possible? >> i think it's unlikely. i think that there are many aspects of chinese society that would lead you to believe that they can be, and i think there's a great fear of competition from the chinese. i, in fact, actually spent some time china in the gin sue province being asked to create a blueprint of what would it taked toz make one of the great universities in the world in china within 25 years. and here is what i think is missing. i don't think for one thing that they fully understand the core value of academic freedom and free inquiry, without which i don't believe you can have the kind of free expression, the freedom to explore that we have in american universities. they claim they have that idea. they claim they've internalized. but i don't think they really have yet. >> rose: how would you go about creating a great university? and how long would it take? and what would you do? >> well, first of all, here are
the following things that i would want to do. i need the following kinds of values that would be part of the some, one the value that emphasized meritocracy or universalism. that opened up schools to people of talent regardless of their social origins and their economic background. i would want to have a system in which there was organized skepticism, a high level of skepticism about what constitutes a fact, what constituted a theory and that it depended upon the idea of evidence to prove those kinds of things. i would want the open communication of ideas. there must be a freedom for ideas to flow. among the academics, that they can build on it, challenge those ideas. it has to be a system where really there are no borders to ideas. that is you allow ideas to flow to you from wherever they may be in the world. it needs to be a system in which there's an effort to create the common good. there has to be free inquiry and
academic freedom in that system. >> rose: how well have we done as a society in maintaining the values of the university? >> well, i think that overall in our history we have done reasonably well and that's probably why we have grown up so quickly. in fact, i actually would argue that the greatness of american universities comes and the takeoff really comes after the second world war. the values were settled on in the first three decades of the 20th century. so we're relatively young. it didn't take us that long, in fact, to become producers of great universities with great discoveries. so it can happen in a relatively short period of time, but there has to be certain ingredients that are there. >> rose: when you say why it must be protected it's suggested that there's a risk about it. >> well, i think there are risks. first of all, these fragile
institutions. one only has to go back to january, 1933 when germany and german universities dominated the world of hire learning. they captured most of the nobel prizes in the first three decades of the century. they were the envy of american leaders of higher education. january, 1933, hitler comes to power. in the same month franklin d. roosevelt takes office and what happens? by april of 1933, the german universities were purged, they were purged for ideological reasons, for racial and religious reasons, and there was a huge exodus from europe and from the german universities. they were destroyed. they were dismantled. and 80 years later there's not a single german university in the top 50 in the world. so it's much more difficult to recreate excellence and extraordinary quality than it is
to dismantle it. >> rose: do you see some kind of risk that we might do that? >> i do. i'm worried... not that it would be in the extreme form that we see in the nazi period but there is a dismantling taking place right now. if you look at california and the way in which they are disinvesting in higher education-- and many other states are doing it as well-- you're taking one of the great institutions, perhaps the greatest public set of institutions of higher learning in the history of the world and you're... >> rose: that would be the university of california system? >> the university of california system, yes. if you look at university of california berkeley, u.c.l.a. and san diego, those are three of the top 20 universities in the world. they are being strangled. they're being financially strangled and it's a very highly competitive system. one of the things about the american system which has been a virtue in many ways is it's very highly competitive. so if you don't think princeton and harvard and columbia and other places are hanging out
there like vultures trying to possibly pick off the very best scholars and researchers at the university of california because they can no longer run their laboratories, you're making a mistake. >> rose: talk about teaching as a quality of a university. and is it prize sfd is it appreciated? is it nurtured? >> well, i think by and large it is. let me begin by saying there's an enormous amount of informal teaching that goes on in the graduate fact you will tease of universities. for example, if you were to look at the laboratories of an eric kandel or a richard axel at columbia you would see the most extraordinary set of interactions between students who are post-doctoral fellows and graduate students who are in many ways viewed as co-equals in the laboratory and are producing knowledge. they're being taught by these great minds all the time but most people think about undergraduate education when they think about this. and the stay day that actually
exists are counterintuitive or counter to what most people believe. if you look at student evaluations of the quality of teaching and corps tlat with the quality of the research of the same professors, you find actual a slight positive correlation. >> rose: in america the crisis is primarily financial? >> yo no, i don't think it's primarily financial. it's political as well. >> rose: even today, political? >> i think it is. >> rose: what's the political? >> it lingers. for example, the provisions of the u.s.a. patriot act which allows the f.b.i. to go into researchers' laboratories and to make it a penalty for any faculty anybody who allowed an iranian student-- regardless of whether or not there was any evidence, a scintilla of evidences that they were a security risk to stab step into that laptory, that've could face criminal penalties. a cornell, a nobel prize winner
robert richardson said... a great immunologist, by the way, trying to find vaccines for plague... against plague, all kinds of terrible diseases said that after the patriot act, just two years out of the patriot act, the number of laboratories at cornell that were working with sort of select agents, these viruses, toxins and back year that were potentially harmful, the number had dropped from 40 laboratories to two. we had, in effect, decimated the laboratories in the united states, at least in one university, and others, because of fear of the government intrusions into their activities. there were other ways in which the government intruded. that is trying to get surveillance, as it were, of library records of records that had to do with how people were using their commuters. there was an effort to try to pre-control publication. and there was also actual efforts to sensor great
scientists. like jim hanson, who's one of the great climatologists, was subjected to prior restraint in the bush administration where political figures were going over his speeches and his talks and trying to sensor material that was counter to the existing political ideology. now, you recognize the question, a very good question, is it still there? in the obama administration are we still facing some of these problems? and the fact is that congress hasn't changed the laws that relate to... >> rose: the patriot act. >> the patriot acttor bioterrorism defense act. and thus far, we... i'm sure the tone has changed. i'm sure that president obama himself gets it. but it takes more than the white house to really produce policy changes. >> rose: some fear that because of certain kinds of immigration policies we're going to lose the thaej we've had. do you? >> well, i think there's a real
threat there. i'm very concerned about this. we have benefited enormously from the talent that has come to the united states from around the world. higher education may be the only industry in the united states that has a favorable balance of trade. >> rose: yes. >> and, in fact, we continue to have... this is a destination for brightest and most able people. and one of the interesting things is that if you look at the people from china, from the people's republican of china, come to the united states and take ph.d.s here, about 90% stay and they work here, they work in lab tirs, enter higher education. now, that might be problem mat if i can we were producing on our own the necessary scientific engineering talent. and we're not. we're simply not. when you car which in high schools in the united states i think there's 15% of all teachers of fizz sicks who actually have certification in that subject. so 85% of the people who are teaching our youngsters actually are not certified to do. so. >> rose: and how could a society
be so good at levels of higher education and have so many things that people criticize about, can 12. >> well, it's a very good question. after all, most k-12 education is locally based and state-based. it depends upon local resources and state policies. a great deal of what's happened in higher education has been done through private education and then a kind of sense, at least, for a certain period of time that investments in higher education could lead to enormous economic development and welfare creation of new jobs at that level. but they weren't filling the pipeline. and this is a tragic situation that we have in the united states today. >> rose: in terms of 2 t amounts of federal money on an aggregate basis, a g.d.p. basis, not an a per capita basis but a g.d.p. basis, how does the united states xwar europe, with latin america, with asia? >> when you look at the
resources available through the n.i.h., national institutes of health, for fundamental research for applied biomedical research, based upon a peer review system i think we actually to quite well there. and... but, there's a huge need to keep that trajectory in positive slope on the investments in these institutions. in fact, the real problems we face at... in universities especially in the biomedical area is that we have young people who aren't establishing their own laboratories, aren't getting what we call r-01 grants from the n.i.h., until they're 43 years old. so they're not really establishing their independence as scientists until they're in their early 40s. that's a terrible situation. we should be establishing them as creative independent scientists in their early 30s when they're no longer working for great scientists or other scientists but working on their own. >> rose: you're supportive of tenure?
>> i am supportive of tenure. >> rose: because? >> i'm supportive of ten glur a sense for its original intention and this is that it protects university citizens from the imposition of political, ideological, and irrational grounds for severing their positions at the university. >> rose: some would say it also shields phlegm rational grounds. >> well, i mean, there is... you know, some of this. i wouldn't say rational grounds but i do believe that, you know, there are some people who hide behind tenure but i don't think that's the predominant number. the people who get tenure at the major great research universities-- and i teen talking about-- work like crazy, very, very hard. they're highly productive. the best of them certainly don't have to worry about tenure, quite frankly. >> rose: this book "the great american university: its tries preeminence, its indispensable national role and why it must be protected" by jonathan cole.