tv Charlie Rose PBS July 4, 2012 11:30pm-12:30am EDT
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>> rose: welcome to the program, we talk about the american presidency with five historians and presidential biographers, they are doris kearns good wins, jon meacham, robert caro, james fallows. >> what about the president, obama is the living proof that, you know, we talk about a narrative, what is obama's place right now in the american narrative? that he is the first african-american president, so 43 years ago, blacks still did not vote in substantial numbers in the south. >> i mean, he made a lot of talk about theodore roosevelt and
learned lessons from fdr and from the do nothing congress of harry fru man, you see right in this campaign, i think the most important thing that jim fallows talked about in the great atlantic piece is his ability to learn from mistakes and to change as time goes by and if he does get a second term, that ability which made fdr a much better president the second term than the first made lincoln a better president will have a chance to play out. >> rose: the american presidency when we continue. funding for charlie rose was provided by the following.
from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: since 1789, 44 men have served as president, we have witnessed their successes and their failures, but what makes a great president? and what are the defining principles of leadership? george washington was our nation's first president and the father of our country, abraham lincoln ended slavery and preserved the union, roosevelt led us out of the great depression and to victory in in world war ii, reagan was a significant figure in the collapse of the communism, as time gives us distance and more perspective 2008 election was a year of historic change, president obama was the first african-american president in the past few years we faced a financial crisis two, costly wars, the threats oh threat of terrorism and a deeply divided congress, some even wonder if we are losing touch with the values and virtues that made our country great which,
woodrow wilson once said a country that doesn't remember what it was yesterday does not know what it is today, know what it is try trying to do, here with me tonight to asss our country and discuss its future is an esteemed group of historians and scholars, joining me from boston, doris kearns goodwin, she worked as a white house fellow for lyndon johnson, she has written a number of books, including liberty don, lyndon johnson the dr erndamzl p huz dream and her puzzle price winning, pulitzer prize work. >> and beschloss is a historian and written a number of books, including presidential courage, brave leaders and how they changed america, jim fallows, he served as a speechwriter for jimmy carter, he recently wrote a piece on president obama in the atlantic magazine, it was called obama explained, jon meacham is the author of american lion, andrew jackson in the white house, earned him a pulitzer prize and work, writing on georg george h.w. bush.
>> and caro, a two-time pulitzer prize winning author and wrote about lyndon johnson, his fourth volume, the passage of power, is set to come out this may, i am pleased to have them here for this important discussion really about men and power, about the power of the office and how those two things come together. i begin with barack obama. what did you go in search of? >> trying to find out to the extent anyone could what makes obama tick, and i think we all know if you support obama or oppose him there is something different about the way he seems or prepares for his reelection from what anyone expected four years ago when he was making his astonishing debut on the national scene, so trying to pars out whether the disappointment in him was inevitable because just a mismatch between what he symbolized in his election and the kinds of problems he had to deal with or whether it was something intentional he has had done right or wrong and trying to answer the question, has he been laying a long-term plan
whose subtlety we are only seeing with the passage of time or been buffetted by the republican opponents, by financial fresh and all the. >> pressures and all the rest. >> president obama is like several of his predecessors, he is a with divisible figure, you know, he is seen as a raving socialist by one side, the left feels he something of a sellout, and you have a man who i think is safely described as a raging moderate in many ways who still bizarrely given his self evident skills as a writer, one of the best writers we ever had this the presidency, and as a speaker, he has, i think oddly not connected on an emotional level with the country in any kind of ongoing way. >> i don't think he is as strong
a character in the life of the country as his greatest predecessors have been .. >> jon, you think he has such a long view and he is so calm and he knows exactly where he is going, which i find easy to believe, because one thing we know about president obama, without, michael and i have been at these dinners for historians he is really read, you can fool a writer about almost anything, but fool about whether he has read your book, and he has read them. >> so i think he has a long historic view and he might be thinking of this presidency in terms of eight years and he is on a calm, focused course. >> one of the points you make is how he is -- how he is viewed in history may very well depend on whether he wins this election or not, yes one of the reasons we want to do this article now is that a year from now we will though either he is a victorious two term president or beaten one termer and the way we judge his first, four years will be
colored by that fact, if he is re-elected oh, yes it was part of his artful plan, let the republicans over extend himself if he is beaten oh he went too far in medical care, et cetera, et cetera. >> kind of like 19 sticks one, someone described kennedy, people around kennedy, and, brilliant, 100,000 votes the other day, they would all be considered a chorus of stupid. >> when we think about obama, what are you interested in in terms of what makes him tick and how he is perceived by the country? >> oh i think two things. one is what bob caro said, he is a man who i think has learned from history, and that is great for those of us who spend our time with dead presidents to know that this president is able to extend his own lack of experience by learning from history, i mean, he made a lot of talk about theodore roosevelt and learned lessons from fdr and lessons lessons from the do nothing congress of harry truman that you see in the campaign, i think the most important thing
jim fallows talked about in the great atlantic piece is his ability to learn from mistakes and to change as time goes by, and if he does get a second term, that ability which made fdr a much better president the second term than the first made lincoln a better president the second than the first will have a chance to play out. if you don't learn from your experience then you might just with the, be the same in the second term from the first but he seems to be a man who can and hope in i the things that haven't worked so far he will be able to figure out. >> yes, but isn't it true also a number of presidents who won a second term run into trouble in the second term, so applying what they have learned doesn't quite work out the way you think it might? >> i would argue -- >> but if they don't have a second term they don't have a chance. >> we already established that, doris. >> go ahead. >> my amateur judgment would be george w. bush was unusual in being a better second term president than a first term president, i think reagan was worst in the second term and i think clinton worst in the second term the hope is that
obama like george w. bush in this way only would learn and continue this elf lucian doris is talkable about, reflecting of things that haven't worked, and i think the strongest lesson of his learning there position is positioning the economic argument which he has done in the last six or eight months in a way that gives him some strength for the election year. >> and yet you suggest in this article that the one thing that doesn't seem to come natural to him is to speak about economic issues. to explain them, to be able to identify with people who are suffering because of contemporary economic issues. >> yes, i had really interesting to interviews with mondale and hart, mondale i talked to him after the tragic death of his the daughter eleanor and something he learned from seeing people on the iron range, and other places how devastating it was when people lost their jobs, lost their houses and you had to be able to show that and he felt that he, by his, president mondale hadn't been able to do it enough and a challenge for a president obama.
gary hart made the point, his natural register was foreign policy, racial policies, et cetera and a month before the election, the world changed, and economic disaster, which he didn't really know anything about was going to be the defining issue. >> rose: he had no experience in foreign policy. >> correct, but he could say again, hillary clinton who had so much experience, the right call. >> rose: on the iraq war. bush 41 seems to look better and better with time, and the appreciation, you think sat fair? >> absolutely. >> rose: or right? >> absolutely. i think it is fair and right. >> rose: and also violates the idea that, you know, it is only a second term if you get a second term will you be seen in a positive light. >> it is a long-term vindication argument. and i think the great example of this is harry truman, who left washington a step ahead of the sheriff in 1953 and as the years went by people began to rediscover him and appreciate him. i think that has happened with george h.w. bush, i think that is something to do with his
son's performance. >> and the second term. >> rose: and you think so too? >> no comment. >> ha, ha, ha, ha. >> as your advisor, i would say yes. >> thank you, doris. my attorney in boston. >> i think you may want to go back to the well? >> but. >> nancy gibbs and mike duffy our friend at time magazine have a new book coming on the club, the president's club about the former presidents, and it is quite true when you have the great good fortune to talk to presidents, how clear it is, tier of the club and who is in the one term men's grill. the other guy can go all the way to the dining room. >> and president carter and president bush, can only eat sandwiches. >> but i think, of course, distance changes things, george
w. bush explicitly counts on that, someone who reads a lot of history, i just read four books last year on jeash washington's presidency, think people will change their view, michael taught this a long time ago, your rule is 25 years, about? to be able to really appreciate -- >> rose: have we changed our idea of our opinion of john kennedy in 25 years later. >> there have been all sorts of oscillations. >> in the sixties was a hero and you learn about him in the 1970's to bring him down and back and forth, it hasn't settled yet but you are absolutely right, because george h.w. bush is having a good time i think with his attorneys now, but he went through almost 20 years of almost hell, because -- >> rose: ronald reagan in part -- >> also in 1992 he did the diplomacy that ended the cold war, no one was interested because the cold war was over and we had an economic crisis and what it points to is that we just looked differently at presidents and looked for different things, 30 years later from the one we did at the time,
truman, for instance went back to missouri, you were saying approval rating was about 23 percent and you look at the numbers, people were angry about the war in korea, there was petty corruption, a lot of people said he didn't sound like franklin roosevelt so they didn't like him and the story was actually told he was asked what he thought of richard nixon by reporters, he thought nixon was full of manure and couldn't you get the boss to be a little more elegant and you have no idea how long it took for me to get him to use the word manure. >> whether he said manure or not it seemed important all we are these years later and look for different things. >> rose: let's talk about a man -- >> similarly if i could add about lyndon johnson although i will defer to bob caro, the dysfunction of the congress we have been living with for these last years now points to greater ability that he had in those years to get congress to do his will and make changes for the country that have done, improved, great civil rights
laws, improvement to education, we took that for granted in the sixties. >> lyndon johnson take over after kennedy's assassination, kennedy has two must bills, civil rights bill and a tax cut bill that is going to boost the economy, both of them are absolutely stalled in congress. and the tax cut bill he comes in, he knows that kennedy can't get his budget passed bihari bird senate finance committee because he wants a lower, $100 billion. >> that sound like a long time ago. [ laughter ] >> kennedy's people, say to johnson that the day after the assassination, saturday night, he meets with kennedy three economic advisors, heller, kermit gordon and gardner axley and they are talking about going around harry bird in the finance committee they have been talking about for 11 months and lyndon johnson says you can't go around
a larry bird, he has nine votes, how do you know he has nine votes? because harry bird always has nine votes. >> and johnson says, ther theree if you want your tax cut you have to give him what he wants on the budget, and all of a sudden, i forget which one, i think gordon or axley says oh all of a sudden it became so clear. you give harry bird what he wants and we get everything else. >> rose: ho how much was the fat hhe had succeeded and come to power after an assassinated president, much beloved by the country at that time? >> he had all of the momentum from kennedy, the sympathy and grief behind him but he also had --, you know, you forget when we talk about experience and lyndon johnson being senate majority leader, everyone forgets when he was a young congressman, 31, 32 years old, he was franklin roosevelt's protege and he used to have breakfast with roosevelt
in, roosevelt would be sitting up in bed with the cloak around his shoulders, so johnson knew, he was majority leader, he saw it as dealing with eisenhower, he knew the presidency and to watch him pick up the reins after the assassination in many different areas before vietnam is really to see, this is what presidential power can be. >> johnson loved to be around people, he couldn't stand to be alone, he loved to have these relationships on the hill, these friendships with people like dirk son and he loved, threatened to investigate their taxes. >> the. >> and which was both positive and negative but it got wonderful things like civil rights and i was thinking so much when i was reading jim's excellent piece because barack obama is almost a diametrical opposite he doesn't like to be around crowds of people and doesn't like to get in fights but the point i am making is, it almost makes you wonder getting
things out in congress these days, especially when at least one house is owned by the other party, you almost want someone who is so emotionally and psyche psyche jackcally needy, to be using the stick and the carrot, that's the way johnson got it done, i think .. even barack obama would say that it is not something he does well, it is not something he likes and probably -- >> rose:. >> doris? >> one of the things picking up on jim's piece again he was talking about president obama not using the white house as much as he might for favors to invite people, supporters over, what lbj did in the first few months when he became president was have all of the congressmen over in groups, whatever, 40 or 50, and then the wives would come and they would be taken on a tour by ladybird, so that he used every resource he had, i mean h he would call the congres at 6:00 this morning and 8:00 and have them at cocktails, he called a senator at 2:00 a.m. and said i hope i didn't wake you up and the senator says no i
was just looking at the ceiling hoping my president would call. he just had indefatigable energy and as michael just said he loved doing this. so i think that is a certain kind of inner need that matched the times perfectly. >> and even if you are not as zero veteranly needy as lyndon johnson which i think he sort of redefines over neediness. >> i think we can agree on this here g .. -- >> it is a worthy need. >> as long as it is overt. >> as long as it is overt. it has nothing to do with his southernness at all. >> the but jefferson, who whom i spent a lot of time with, has a great model here which he would is a every night during the congressional session, 12 of the 14 congressmen in to dinner, there was no president, it was a round table, he got that idea from you. >> he did. >> rose: he never thanked me. >> he never thanked you.
>> but he would not have republicans and federalists though, because he didn't want conflict, so this wasn't about some bucolic bipartisan situation mission, it was about loyalty, and attachment to him, but he would tell friend, i will see you in four months, because i am going to be busy dining for the next three, four, five months with the congress. >> rose: one lyndon johnson story that fascinated me is richard russell and going to the baseball games with him, johnson didn't even like baseball? but if richard russell wanted to watch the baseball game and he needed somebody to be there with him -- >> you know, johnson -- >> it used to drive me crazy because i loved baseball and he would be talking through every inning. >> it wasn't just that, johnson comes to the senate and asks bobby baker the senate secretary he doesn't ask about the senate rules, baker says everyone else knew senator came in and asked me about the rules, lyndon johnson had one question, who has the power around here and i
told them will there is only one power here, richard russell, johnson doesn't ask for the best he asks to get on russell's committee, armed services and starts staying late and say to russell, russell was a bachelor and lonely, johnson would say first let's get a hamburger, he know where russell -- why don't you come home for dinner and russell usually didn't do that, lyndon would say you have to eat somewhere, and when you say what are the means by which lyndon johnson rose so fast a lot of it is what you are talking about, this interpersonal relationship. >> if i might bring in obama for a second, this is not something alien to him, when he was in the state senate in illinois the protege of a man named jones who was a party leader, and he was sort of a professional son to jones in a way bob has written about lbj being a professional son to russell and sam ra rey bn so he is able to do it but we haven't seen much of it in
washington. >> one difference is he has a family, a young family, i mean lbj could go over to richard russell on sunday morning and read the newspapers with him and he is not with his family, so that is a difference in the way you spend your time. >> what really strikes me as we go through the range of history, maybe from the modern era is how through the demand on the presidency are so enormous nobody can do it, you need have the need dins of clinton and lbj and the intellectual combat of obama and the large scale retoral power of reagan. >> .. >> no wonder we find fault with all of them. >> rose: why is this emotional, seeming emotional detach. on the part of president obama? >> i in draw here on my experience serving the 39th president of the united states, jimmy carter, you could tell carter really didn't like the idea that he had to go through all of this mess of politics, he liked making the decision, he liked saying yes this is what you do about energy and should
do this about the b 1 bomber. >> rose: what should we do about who plays ten miss on the tennis court. >> all of this crap of having richard russell and the counterpart on the baseball game he could barely reveal his impatience there is something similar with barack obama. >> in fact the story is told carter l la late in the term trd to make friends with journalists and had a number of them to dinner at the white house and so, hey, all right, mr. president, you know, did you enjoy the dinners, yes, anyone there you would like to see again. >> no. >> okay. so talk about these historians coming to the white house with the president obama. about the way he is. >> the way he is is fascinating to me because i am writing about a man, lyndon johnson that every minute, every gesture had to be i am the president and this acknowledgement. when president obama -- >> exactly. why did he have to say that, you know, with obama, you feel when he comes into -- at this table, he is like one of the guys. he has read history and talking
about history with historians. there is a wonderful sense and it is why i think he is going to have a wonderful second term there is a wonderful sense of who he is, and there is a calmness to him, i feel, and i think that you come away from those dinners and your wife says what was it like? you know, it was just a great conversation, and -- >> you are absolutely right and i think what is so impressive is that he is very warm in those settings, number one, so you do feel emotionally connected to him. but more importantly, if he notices somebody hasn't spoken he asks that person a question, if you have said something he picks up on what you said to make you feel like you might have said something important, so in that kind of a setting which is why he was so good at that republican summit, remember when he had that, i have often thought if he would replicate the round table kind of settings more where he is just one of a group of people talking it is
much better for him that that teleprompter where he looks so disconnected from us that's the setting that works for him the best. >> rose: i could help him on that, doris. >> i bet you could. you know, maybe you could. >> rose: but -- >> almost a majority of his time, as a professor -- >> harvard law school. >> >> rose: here is my problem with that many terms of putting too much weight on that, it is that i think that he is, you know, a man of enormous practical at this and pragmatism, and that there is a bit of a chicago, in him and he has captured politics. >> you don't rise in the chicago aegis for 12 years without there being -- a politician -- >> and he is there for a reason and he went to that church for a reason. >> sure. so clearly he does have practical skills, he won, beating hillary clinton was no gimme so to be prepared for this election i guess there is a
question of scaling from electorial skills in the campaign to, you know, running the white house and dealing with the kind of opposition he faces from republican the first year, year and a half and i think when i talk to people about what they regretted the lessons they thought they learned about why things went wrong in the first year is everybody, even here they said too easy on the banks and needed to have con semiconcentrated more on accountability, the other was they had not recognized fully enough what the republicans were setting out to do, soy think there was all of this missed opportunity in appointments and the filibuster and everything else so hopefully he will prern learn from that in the second the sgleerm what he indicates now he realized there is little to be done in bridging, of building bridges now so he is now looking at a kind of populist, 99-1 idea and there are more 99s than there are ones. >> when obama became president it was at a time very different from what he imagined, he had every reason if he became
president in 2009 it might not be 1988, you know, the end of the cold war coming or 1996, economic boom, but the guy had no reason to think that, you know, he is elected and then suddenly everything just drops on him like bricks, not only the two wars he knew about but economic crisis, all sorts of other things, so my point is, when a president is dealing with all of these emergencies, they are all calling for his attention and decisions, can't help it, it is a very different presidency from a president coming in like george bush and 1989 where the biggest problem immediately was dealing with savings and loan companies. >> rose: let me talk about ronald reagan, and where you think he will be in history if you look at it today. >> i would argue that if i were writing a big history of the 20th century and early 21st. >> rose: edwin gibbons. >> yes. story. >> sorry. >> there are too many ways to go
with that. i will stop. the conversation, the terms of the conversation, fundamentally changed twice, right? in 1933, when fdr made government part, a permanent part of the landscape in the conversation in, ratified in 53 when eisenhower did not push to repeal it but took it and decided we were going to manage and not try to repeal it back. and then 1981, when reagan makes the private -- pushes the private sector back into a center place in the conversation. and that period ended and was ratified when president clinton said the era of big government is over. i would argue that, therefore, roosevelt, fdr and reagan were the great term setters of the last 100 years, and we have not had anyone else -- no one has yet changed it again, and whether obama does or not, it seems unlikely to me at this
point. >> one of the obstacles president obama has had to face is that lack of faith in the government, which was building ever since reagan changed the terms of the debate, and he came in, we thought, in an activist era, that government was going to be able to do a lot, even before the economic crisis, that we hadn't seen it do in recent years and once the consciousness has changed against government that's how the whole deficit became so difficult for him, because people were thinking in terms other than using the government a as an activist tool he was able to do it on healthcare and on the stimulus and able to do it to some extent on dodd frank but he was fighting against a conservative ideology that has taken hold of people more deeply than i thought it did during reagan and that is why i do think he has more of an impact than i did at the time. also, it is a dog that didn't bark, i think if we were talking in 2008 an someone said what are the chance it is next president can get us out of the war in iraq, out of the war in afghanistan, without either of those two situations caving in
or a domestic controversy in this country where people would go after the president, saying, if you you are letting down or defense i think most of us thought that was pretty unlikely, president obama has almost finished doing that and done that almost sound leslie. >> and two other dogs that didn't bark, we have gone this far in the conversation not to mention the fact he is the first black president and this would have been you know six months before his election many serious people thought no, it wouldn't be possible for the u.s. to elect a nonwhite president and the fact so much of the formal discussion about the way he is fixating, is abstracted from his race where i think that has evolved in a lot of his historical importance and the opposition to him, the underdog, the people who are opposed to him, many of whom i interviewed is an incredible alternate world view, many republicans feel we give and we give and we give, he keeps turning his back on us, and he listens only to nancy competent lpelosi and what are .
>> i don't think has dealt with this separate fact universe. >> the republicans think he doesn't have a bipartisan bone in his body. >> the narrative tarp bill and nancy pelosi and want to be at the abl table and only listenino pelosi and reid. >> and president obama was an republican idea to start with, the idea of these individual mandates and all of the rest and he has been as accommodating as he could have been on a lot of these things, but it just doesn't register at all. >> >> rose: go ahead. >> i think also the feel that there are two houses of congress that were democratic that first year, particularly, and their version of it would be that he ran down this enormous stimulus in healthcare without sufficiently consulting them, the other thing is this is the way washington has gotten, and it is not going to change. >> but i mean it has gotten this way, it didn't used to be this way, and i think the modern opinion machine, largely in the person of roger ailes,ing that is something we will be writing
about too, creating a narrative that is different, f department r and johnson had their haters but it wasn't as established as this. >> rose: well, loved -- he could use them as a battering ram. >> i mean,. >> i welcome the hate. >> rose: i welcome the hate. >> it is true that the constant nature of the information, not really a news cycle anymore, just news. it is a treadmill. has changed. >> and you add on top, add on top of that the political culture that has changed, so fundamentally these people are not friends across party lines and not staying in washington on the weekends to play poker and drink together as they used to. their wives are often not there with them or their spouses so that they go to parties together. and it allows that tribal kind of politics, where you see what you want to see about the other side. i think that is as deep a problem for us in in generation as anything else, that that whole political culture has not become a social culture in the way it once was.
>> rose: go ahead. >> plus the gerrymandered districts in the house and the imbalance in the senate. >> right all of these things. >> plus the way money has taken on this enormous, humongous awful role in american politics. >> the fear of the prime -- to be primaried is my favorite new verb i am getting primaried. >> somebody will run against me in my own party. >> this sort of rush limbaugh, astroeastroturf, all-round the y where every district has their talk show host and if you are an incumbent member of congress and you reach out and you don't stick with the orthodoxy you will get killed every afternoon, and that is going to encourage somebody to primary you and becomes expensive and becomes embarrassing so suddenly, you find it, why the hell, stray from orthodoxy when i will pay for it. >> rose: is there any perfect to training, any perfect training to have when you are president. >> if eisenhower had been president in the 1930s he would have been a disaster, because he
was not someone who loved to be hated. he was not someone who would have confronted the forces of greed and selfishness and didn't like it and roosevelt, if roosevelt was afraid president in the 1950s or may 20s, time when people didn't want activist government or president, he would have been frustrated, he would havwould have done terribs and gotten impeached. >> rose: what is the difference teen being a good ceo and a good president. >> a good president has to have a moral quality to what his politics and what he does. i am thinking, you know, we all -- and it is a cliche and you can hear them on many shows, you know, the times matter. what about the presidents who changed the times? obama is the living proof of that, you know, we talk about a narrative, what is obama's place right now in the american narrative that he is the first african-american president. so 43 years ago, blacks still did not vote in substantial numbers in the south, everyone said to lyndon johnson wow have a different kind of civil rights bill passed in 64, you cannot
get a voting rights bill passed in 65. lyndon johnson watches the selma march, and gives the speech we shall overcome, you know, when martin luther king is in the living room of an assistant in selma, alabama, and when lyndon johnson says, we shall overcome, martin luther king starts to cry and he said it was the first time i ever saw dr. king cry. johnson rams this bill through, to watch him do it is just something, you know, he comes down from that speech, he be i was the question shall, he is walking back up the line and emanuel seller, the age shunltd januarjanitor of the judicial committee i will start hearing on these bills tomorrow, and johnson says, start them tonight. >> 43 years later, so that is 65. and 2008, 43 years later, which is just a blink of history's eye, we have an african-american president in the white house,
you know when you have a program of presidential leadership, i mean, this is presidential leadership, it is president's power, what a president can do despite the times. >> rose: let me talk also back to jimmy carter, though, i thought there were real examples of presidential leadership with what jimmy carter did at camp david. i mean here was a thing that nobody thought would work, he persevered with the possibility that it would have huge electorial consequences for him, if he failed. >> and the courage as well as -- >> even if he is defeated. >> as you will recall he was much closer to be re-elected if it appeared in retrospect, if there was another -- on the commission -- >> rose: and that accidentally would have been re-elected. >> and remember, he was challenged by teddy kennedy in the primary, the interest rate was 21 percent and running for reelection and still he was close to reagan at the end zoo if he had been re-elected we would look back on that as the first step in carter's
architecture of piece, especially the panama treat, panama canal treaty. >> and talk about president kennedy during the three years as a presidential qualities that he had. >> he was one who certainly did learn from mistakes. i mean the cuban missile crisis handled so brilliantly in part because he learned from the mistakes of the bay of pigs. so he had a certain kind of rational intellectual ability to look at himself from the outside in, he also had a sense of humor, which means he could make self depractice a toir .. remarks, it is so missing in our culture today, if lincoln said you are two-faced mr. lyndon if i had two faces do you think i would be wearing this face? but i think, you know, jfk will still be in our memory because of the youth because of that period of time, the 60s opening up to civil rights, opening up to great changes this the role of government. the excitement of that time, there is only three years, i remember one time bobby kennedy
was lamenting jfk had three years and my husband said, don't worry, bobby, julius sea star only had three years and bobby turned to him, yeah but it is nice if you have shakespeare to write about you. >> it will always be hard for him. >> which raises another issue about successful presidencies, it is said that bill clinton had bemoaned the fact that during his presidency he did not have a historic event he could show what he was made out of. >> well, that gets back to how much a president really does makes his times i think doris is absolutely right about how much john kennedy grew. throughout most of this first temple, he said to his aids, civil rights, i can't do anything about that. too controversial, second term. nuclear test ban treaty i will be crucified, put that in the second term but the point is, he grew and he realized these things could not wait, so that by the summer of 1963, he was saying, if i lose a second term because of civil rights or test
ban treaty, won't like it but it will be something that i feel would have been worth it. >> rose: bush 41 back to my experience, go ahead and make your point. >> i think it is true that i would understand president clinton's frustration on this because, you know, andrew jackson, u.s. grant, bill clinton, two term presidents, who were peacetime arrest who to some extent it is harder to keep them on top of popular mind because there wasn't a war, there wasn't -- >> economic boom for seven years looks pretty good nowadays so -- >> rose: that is precisely what we have been talking about, you know, how someone looks depends on what is going on right now. >> right. >> you know who knows more about 41 than most people is barack obama. who has a great interest, who sees him a good bit, who reaches out to him a good bit and gave him the medal of freedom and i think part of that, this is my unpaid freudian view, that he believes he is a one term
president, the kind of one term president you want to be. >with due president is george h.w. bush. >> rose: he said he would prefer to have he would rather be a very good one term president -- >> yes, i was introducing my article to actually to disagree with it saying there are rare examples of the excellent one term presidents, possible that in the long-term of history bush 41 will be seen this way. >> bush 43 based on what bob was saying about lyndon johnson responding to the selma march in the way he did, i think the verdict on bush 43 may in the long run become even harsher than it is now because he responded to 9/11 attacks in a way that going into iraq and not addressing any of the economic, strategic, et cetera issues that had a unique chance to be addressed so it was the first historical moments that were not used. >> when we were talking about presidential leadership, i thought when we talked about kennedy, it is the, it is a
ability through speech making to ignite a country's best homes, i mean, when you listen to kennedy's speeches you say this is idealism, i remember someone saying to me, i was at harvard, one day everyone wanted to go to harvard business school, the next day everyone was enlisting in the peace corps, that is a form of presidential leadership. >> i also think that everybody has to find their own form, i mean, lyndon johnson would have been really good if he had the confidence in himself just to go out there and not try to make brilliant speeches but show what it was that was his essential strength, his command of understanding personality and his command of the issues and his command of being able to connect the two. >> you know, it is such a tragedy because you see this as a first couple of years of this presidency, the great society, the war on poverty, things he really believes in and he gets them through congress, and then you are reading the notes of these minutes, where the vietnam decisions are made, and you see that all of the logical
arguments are, we are going to stand down, we are going to deescalate and at the end he always escalates. >> and that gets him to presidential psychiatry, because this is a guy who understood this country, no one understood it politically and says in private we get involved in this vietnam war and it goes badly every campus is going up in flames, he knew what was going to happen, but for some reason, he didn't trust his own instincts and that was perhaps -- >> and the instincts is in the tapes when you read those early tapes, every part of him was warring against the desire to get involved in this thing but he did not follow those instincts. >> his heart was going -- >> i think he has been helped historically by the tape when you see the conviction and the emotion he had about civil rights and poverty compared to the nixon tapes that makes him worse than what he was i think it will help lbj in the long run. >> another issue having to do with the presidency, doris, your
book, team of rivals is how presidencies may very well be a product in part of how you choose the people around you. >> i think there is no question that when president obama first came in, he took that whole lincoln 11 to heart, in fact, at a certain point, right after he beat hillary in the nomination process, someone said to him would you really be willing to put into your inner circle someone whose spouse was an occasional pain in the butt one of your chief rivals. >> absolutely. >> lyn leonardo dicaprio con sad the country is in peril. >> and he tried to get the guy from new hampshire, senator greg. >> but he went back to the political culture i think it is harder today to get real factions that are different, certainly harder to get republicans into your administration, but he does seem to have the temperament that allows arguments, allows people to question his assumptions and he can sit back and make his decision and that is a strength
of the presidency. >> one thing i think i can say about these dinners although they are off the record is one thing i noticed and this is rather rare for presidents, when someone gushes over him, he obviously does not like it, he sort of shrinks back. most presidents are sort of the opposite. >> most human beings. >> but you spoke about -- >> jim, in the book, in the article we talked about the obama explained -- >> yes. and i think you have to say one of his greatest successes in terms of temperament and policy is the incorporation of hillary clinton as second of state and brilliantly successful in that job, the foreign policy has been his area of greatest achievement and the fact he seemed so calm and unthreatened by her presence and she has been so entirely wholehearted about it, i had hoped that he would use bill clinton more. >> i think all of the complexities when his wife is sitting secretary of state too many people -- >> what does oh, yeah mean? >> the second term, the second
term. >> once quoted i am proud you can't have three presidents in -- >> rose: right. >> you know, obama's temperament in making decisions about osama bin laden and being able to incorporate hillary clinton, having all of these former rivals and i come to think that temperament is really the thing we should look for above anything else in the president. >> i agree. >> rose: bush had temperament did he not, the first, 41. >> absolutely and pdr. >> the great lion. >> whether to fight or not. >> oliver wendell holmes fdr had a first-rate temperament and a third rate mind. >> and i don' i don't know thats true. >> but temperament is the way you approach the world and deal with people your outward sign of the inner emotional intelligence you have and i think it is the most important quality. >> if you try to predict how these people behave no office temperament is one of the few things you really get a fix on.
>> in other words, people can get, people ought to be able to understand the temperament. >> the stupid debates. >> you see what people are like. >> they are so -- >> you see them on the trail -- >> rose: what was it about lincoln, he called on to have a successful presidency? it was clearly courage and it was clearly intellect and it was clearly a sense of mission, the overriding need to save the union, and end slavery but tell me more. >> i think from the time he was young, he had this desire to create something that would stand the test of time so that he would be remembered, i mean from the time his mother died, his first love died, his sister died, he felt that life was just over when you died and by starrily that became his load star, the desire if i can do something .. that really matters i will then be remembered by people overtime. and that brought him into the presidency, that meant he could
make decisions that might seem tough in the short-term, but he knew if they mattered in the long-term it would keep him going, he never lost faith that the union would eventually stay together, and then he had these incredible political skills on top of the statesmanship, that is what i didn't know until i lived with him during that period of time how genius he was as a politician and that sense of humor that allowed him to get through the darkest days to be able to laugh which so few of these characters are able to do. >> rose: and andrew jackson? >> andrew jackson is the only president who tried to attack his own assassin, so as a baseline -- >> i will put my guys against all of your guys on that point. he was always trying to prove himself. in he was the first self-made president, the virginia, aristocrats were named adams, and andrew jackson, never knew his father, which makes, gives him something in common, unusual
percentage. >> rose: unusual percentage of presidents. >> bill clinton, obama. jefferson's father died when he was 14. >> rose: put on your freud hat before we move on to jackson. >> i will quote president obama who says that a man is always trying to live up to his father's expectations or make up for his father's mistakes. and sometimes it depends on which hour if you are trying to do that. the other side of that equation is, you have presidents like the adams, the bushes, the kennedys where there is a very strong father involved, but i think jackson was trying -- he believed he was representing a different kind of american at that level and he saw his own success as a test of the common man, now, it was common white man and landowners and all of the natural caveats there, but he believed that he was a test of whether democracy could, in fact, produce great men and let
me tell you he had no doubt at the end but that it had. >> lyndon johnson, his mother was a or formidable figure than his father. >> his mother was a more formidable figure but his departure's florida was a turning point in lyndon johnson's life, they looked so much alike, they were both well over 60 and both had huge ears, and the father, you know, had the same gesture, when i spoke to wright patton, when sam johnston was a legislature he used to come up to people and put his arm around people and lyndon really felt a closeness and as doris knows because she has written about it, he said the happiest days of my boyhood when i would go, and his father because legislature is when i would go with my father on the campaign, he said, christ, i wished those days would never end. and then his father when he is 13, fails. fails miserably, drags -- lose
it is family ranch, tracks the -- lyndon johnson said we went from the a to the fs in my town and became a figure really of ridicule, where the merchants wouldn't by the johnson family credit storks lyndon when he went in, in junior high school would go into the drugstore and the other kids could buy candy and he couldn't boy candy, that marked him for his entire life, i feel. >> rose: he wanted to do something about the poor? >> well, i hadn't thought -- yes. exactly. but his brother once said to mely never forget it, his brother was quite a character and a lot of what he said we can't really believe. >> rose: like bill clinton. >> the most important thing for lyndon was not to be like -- a. >> >> rose: how about with bush 43, any of that there not to be like daddy? >> oh, i think so, yes. because of the -- early on he
talked about reagan more than his father. >> yes. absolutely and i think, going back to this in the club, in the culture of being president, there is that bright line between men who are re-elected and men who who weren't and i think to some extent, if there was a restoration, vindication drama unpolleding in the bush family, it actually happened not in 2000, but in 2004. >> the only thing he had done that his father hadn't, his father is excellent in all of these intellectual ways. >> rose: but george w. bush -- >> remember jimmy carter, remember when he was in the navy and sub marine on the submarines and nuclear submarines he came back home and lived with his father as his father was dying and he understood how people came to pay respect to his father and he knew that was something that he had not seen and had moved him to leave the may i have and come back home. >> and i will say also in jimmy carter's credit he has written a
number of books, and in the post presidency it is not just his hoe bell prize and not just all the good works he has done, he has become an insightful writer and a lot of memoirs of his first time on the campaign trail and others so i am in a position to know he had some limits as a writer but as a post presidency he really has been food in that way. >> rose: i also want to bring up because everybody thinks about him because of his contribution to the founding of the country, you are living with tom jefferson as we say. >> right. >> rose: what about him? >> he doubled the size of the country without firing a shot. he expanded the powers of the office in a way that jackson was able to pick up on. i think that he -- i think actually one of the things i am writing about he is a very underrated president because he was the first great party leader and understood all, all of the issues we are talking about, he understood that you had to have a mandate, that you had to have a legislature with you, and ultimately, he went out on a low
note because of the embargo but there are boston things in order to avoid war. >> rose: what is the greatest myth. >> before we just talk about fathers like abigail adams says let's not forget the women and women in fdr's case, she was the primary figure, most importantly, she was the one whose approval he wanted and gave him that incredible serene confidence and he was able to carry through by making him feel that he was the center of her life, so mothers are in there as well. barack obama's mother and grandparents too. >> truly was an influence. >> it is also true that one of the things that always happened in the roosevelt white house was fdr would have tea with his mother, invite his wife, and then suddenly have a matter of state business he had to go attend to, so he tended to leave her -- >> rose: when i hear these stories i think of douglas
macarthur. >> his mother moved to west point when he was a cadet. >> you were going to say? >> one thing you really do see through a lot of the presidencies is the tough, harsh, punishing father and the mother who sort of made up for that by making the child a center of her life. >> rose: so as you look through and wrote about barack obama, what was -- what was the surprising thing? here is the way la at least the cover writers say, chess master or pawn, you came to the conclusion he was a chas master. >> i came to the conclusion he was learning from mistakes and becoming more of a master and foreign policy i think he actually has had a fairly masterful strategy which i give some details about china but i think the world in general, he carried out well from the bin laden raid there are problems with israel and pakistan i think overall it is successful, i think in domestic policies and politics, he has shown what we most look for, which is an able ty to change course and i think that is to his credi cred. >> rose: this has been an extraordinary hour. thank you each of you, we have
come away with some understanding of the different personalities and different shaping influences, the power of history, to tell us who we are as a country, to tell us how people who come to that office and they find that it is never as expected, it is never, they discover, a perfect training to be president, but being president gives them opportunity to fail, to succeed, and opportunity to change history, and that is why we are constantly fascinated by, i thank all of you and thank you at home for joining us, good night.