tv Charlie Rose WHUT April 9, 2010 6:00am-7:00am EDT
>> rose: welcome to the broadcast. on a day that president obama and president medvedev of russia signed a historic nuclear arms control agreement in prague, we talk to the russian ambassador to the united nations, vitaly churkin about the nature and the future of u.s.-russian relations. >> rose: is it a resetting of the relationship? >> well, it's continuing resetting of the relationship. but what happened today very important on many levels, of course. it's very important for overall strategic stability. it's very important as a step in continuing to cut back nuclear weapons. it's very important for overall relations between our two countries and now we are very well-positioned to continue dealing with the problem on nuclear proliferation. >> rose: and on this important day for the president three eminent historians and bayographers of presidents, doris kearns goodwin, jon meacham and douglas brinkley assess president obama.
>> unlike social security and medicare there was questions about it but nothing like the rumbles that we're seeing now. and we were talking about before about lincoln having made this great at the same time one time that public sentiment, with public sentiment anything is possible. without it nothing is possible. he who molds the sentiment of the country is even more important than he who passes law. he now has a battle. he has to make people understand what is in that bill, why it was the right thing to do, why it's not scary, why there are no death panels. all those things have to be told. >> there have been pain moments of furry and anger in the country but this feels a little raw and a little rougher and therefore all the more-- all the more dangerous. and it's not that we've never had conflict. it's not that there is not a legitimate case against the health-care bill. this isn't about that. this is about people who in greater numbers than historians usually can summon right now, are actually threatening lawmakers for votes that
they made in the congress, on a bill that john dingel who has been in the house since 1955, said is to the right of why nixon was. >> what differentiates it between fdr or lyndon johnson and obviously he's part of that lynniaj is fdr passed social security, he hamilton fish, he had bipartisan support. lyndon johnson had evert dirkson on that civil rights bill. obama has had nobody. and the radical right or conservative right of today has been operating as a big fist of no. and the fact that obama survived that fist with health care is really his big political accomplishment of his presidency thus far. >> rose: russia and america, and president obama from a historical perspective next. >> funding for charlie rose has been provided by the coming.
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 our nation'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: president obama and his russian counterpart president medvedev signed an
arms reduction treaty in prague practicaling for nations to trim their stockpiles. about 30% less than currently allowed. this would bring the two countries arsenals to their lowest levels since the end of the cold war. the treaty still has to be ratified by lawmakers in both countries, though the two sides disagree over the future of u.s. missile defense plan, obama medvedev said the fact was a sign of improving relations. >> our relationship had started to drift making it difficult to cooperate on issues of common interest to our people. and when the united states and russia are not able to work together on big issues, it's not good for either of our nations nor is it good for the world. together we have stopped that drift. improving the benefits of cooperation. today is an important milestone for nuclear security and nonproliferation. and for u.s.-russia relations. have turned a document
that in full measure maintains the-- what matters most is that this is a win-win situation. no one stands to lose from this. i believe that this is both parties have one and take into account this victory of ours, the entire world community has won. >> rose: joining me vitaly churkin, i'm pleased to have him at this important good. a good day for russia. >> yes, good to be here. >> rose: is it a resetting of the relationship. >> well, it's continuing resetting of the relationship of the relationship. it is very month for overall strategic stability. it's very important as a step in continuing to cut back nuclear weapons. it is very important for our two countries. now we are very well-positioned to continue dealing with a problem on nuclear proliferation. of course in may the review
conference which happens every five years is going to take place in europe. so now we're well-positioned to argue that once we are performing according to our dutys under mpt as nuclear powers and reducing our weapons, other members of mpt should be committed and strengthened their obligation to refrain from actions which can lead to acquiring nuclear weapons. >> rose: you say to those countries who think they might want nuclear weapons no, and look at us we are cutting down on hours. >> exactly. >> rose: you. >> now there is an understanding, an understanding that it is an important issue that there is a clear connection between strategic offensive arms and anti-ballistic missile defences and we made it clear that should the capability of the u.s. anti-ballistic missile defense system change that may be a reason for to us withdraw from the treaty and the united states took note of that. so we are very open and frank with each other. than is a very good foundation for our relations. >> rose: also as you know as soon as you sign this thing the president was having
dinner with some of america's friends and allies in the region. he also called the president of georgia to reassure him of u.s. support for georgia. so i mean there's-- there are parties to be dealt with. >> fog, nothing new, you know. we are understand that there are certain relations between the united states. and of course the dinner with east european countries is a perfectly normal thing to do. they are our partners as well. we do have our own attitude to president of georgia, we think he is a dangerous and untable person. and of course he created that horrible conflict two years ago but i hope that those contacts between washington and belisy also contain some restraining element, and element which would make us less concerned about the possibility of adventures, further adventures coming from sackish villey. >> you worry about further adventures not whether they join nato or not.
>> this is an entirely different issue. in general, we have concerns about nato expansion. and of course if the intention of nato were to go to the caucuss that would be something which would create a serious problems and something which will need to discuss. so there is a concern which is only exacerbated by the unpredictability and venture of mr. sakakibara -- >> restoring relations the president said when he was ining arated he wants to restore a good championship relationship with russia. vice president biden used the word reset, i think. and this is-- puts that in play. >> i think we're on track. i think we're moving well and another important development in prague it has been announced there that president medvedev will pay a visit to washington in summer. with the intent to focus on our economic relations. as you know, during the first meeting of the two presidents last july they set up a special
presidential committee coordinated by secretary clinton and the foreign minister in 16 different areas of our relations. and so the agenda has been drawn. some first steps paid but still much to be done. and we're keeping the momentum very well. frankly, charlie t relations between russia and the united states is one of the few good news in international relations these days. so i think both sides can be proud about that. >> one part of the good news is that russia and your president seem to be more open to the idea, the idea of sanctions against iran as long as they were smart, he said, and did not hurt the iranian people. >> yes. >> you know, we are of course open to the idea but one other thing i think common denominator we have is that between the united states, russia and other members of the six, we really want to have a diplomatic and political solution. so if even as we start some discussions here in new york, about this issue of a new
sanctions resolution, the doors are still open for negotiations to iran. and we hope that we can avoid the adoption of a new resolution. >> rose: what has to happen to avoid a new resolution? >> well, they have to respond positively to a number of proposals we have been making. and particularly the one thing which would be the easiest for them to pick up is that idea which we developed together with the united states, france and iea to have a supply of fuel for their research reactor, nuclear research reacter using a large part of the enriched uranium they are producing in their facility, elevating the concern that this enriched uranium can be used for developing or building sometime down the road a nuclear weapon. unfortunately, there is -- their response to that proposal has not been constructive. but still, the door is open. >> is there any reason to believe that they will have a response that will be
constructive. >> you know, at this point i think we're all quite discouraged. but they can always change their mind. because i mean frankly sank or no sanctions i think they are not in a winning situation. the hope is that they will realize it at some point. >> define not in a winning situation. >> they are not gaining, they are not going to gain anything by pursuing this course and they have much to gain by responding positively to this particular proposal, by responding positively to the larger offer of this to discuss the overall concerns of iranian side, at the same time discuss their nuclear program, that larger negotiation, they have basically also shun since the first of october of last year when they had a meeting which encouraged us to think, us meaning the six that were about to start those negotiations but then what transpired afterwards was very disappointing. >> so how do you explain that. you get encouraged and then
disappointing. you get encouraged and then it's disappointing. >> well, there is no good explanation, unfortunately. our iranian part nevers have not given us a good explanation about the motivation of the their behavior. our argument-- . >> rose: what did they say when you asked them. >> of course, first of all i'm not sitting regularly at the table with them. only on occasion. but there are various explanations of what they are doing in terms of their right to pursue peaceful nuclear energy programs and we accept that. but as to our concerns, our concerns of russia, concerns of the six, unfortunately they have not been forthcoming in their response. sufficiently forthcoming. there was an iranian represent any moscow two or three weeks ago so the amount of contacts, certainly they cannot complain that we're not open for contacts with them. but there have been contacts. but the depth of the conversation, the constructiveness of the responses have not been there. but again let me reiterate, the door is open.
no mater what is happening now or what might happen in new york, the door for negotiations is open. >> rose: if you were sitting down with let's make it big, ahmadinejad, what argument would you make. what would be your argument to him. would you say to him, mr. president, i know you think you want nuclear weapons. however, well, let me, i talk of course from time to time with my iranian colleague here. i'm to the going to go through details. but basically i try to say what i have just said very briefly. that there are all sorts of opportunities you have. that the-- the proposals we're making, well, they have explained their concerns about international relations, all sorts of restrictions. they face, they feel that they are not recognizing and respected sufficiently. that they are not uping tear place in international relations or in the region. and their response to them, of russia and of the six, we're prepared to discuss all that. but we also want to have a
serious conversation about where nuclear program is going. and unfortunately, they expressed readiness to discuss their concerns but not ours and of course this is not good enough. >> you know i know nothing about this but let me make this point. all this stuff about their place in the community of nations and all of that has been said forever. all this stuff about recognizing the importance of iran has been said forever. all this stuff about saying iran is a great nation has been said forever. what you have to do is convince them that nuclear weapons are not good for them. and will not bring them any more prestige, will not bring them any advantages an in fact will be a bad thing for them. >> well, i think charlie you are saying basically the same thing which i did but only more eloquently. but are you absolutely right. this is the bottom line of this entire conversation. that you want to have a peaceful nuclear program and you are having one. in fact, we have built a nuclear power plant for you. but if you want to develop your nuclear peaceful program, peaceful energy.
if you want to develop economically without any hindrance. if you want to have a better, a higher place in international relations which you think you are entitled to or you can occupy, then if you have concerns let's discuss them. but at the same time we have to discuss also our concerns which are about your nuclear program. because your cooperation with ia has not been perfect and there are some unanswered questions and we believe that enriching uranium is something which is creating concerns, which are valid concerns by the international community. >> how concerned is russia to this idea often expressed in america, is that they open up and say we want to give you some encouragement and then they come back and deny you access of all the things that they do. and then new things discovered that somehow it's all about giving them time to move further along the level of enrichment so they have time to do what they think is necessary so that
one day they can say we're close enough that we don't have to care what you think. >> well, this is i think a valid concern. and they will lay the step announcing and even starting enriching uranium from 5% to 20%. of course another disconcerting element in this whole thing. but at the same time they are not clearly there yet. they are not yet at the point where they can say tomorrow that or tomorrow start producing nuclear weapon. so there is still a window of opportunity there still time to reconsider and there is still time to realize that they do not have much to gain or anything to gain. in fact, risking a lot in terms of their national interest by pursuing this line of action. >> rose: so what happens if they don't listen and continue this line of action and sanctions don't work, what then. >> you know, i don't want to go to far down the road. we'll see. we'll see. of course the prospects of a conflict are quite daunting. i mean a conflict in that part of the world would really undermine matters a lot in the broad region and
internationally. >> rose: what's important about this day is that the president said this stops the drift in u.s.-russian relations. we're resetting it. we're cooperating. this is a big day. tell me where that can go. >> what is the good news in the future about u.s. russian relations that may be beginning with this signing. >> you know, first i think there are many things in the strategic area which we can do. i think much is still to be done in relations between russia and nato. and the voice of the united states and good relations between the united states and russia can play an important role. we can cooperate even better in various areas. i think frankly that in the middle east, for instance, our corp. raise is close to perfect. we have understanding. we work in support of senator mitchell. we use our contacts with at rabs, palestinians and israelis. we have good relations with so many actors in this. so there we are operating i
think at a very high level of coordination and understanding of what we are trying to accomplish. i'm sure there may be room for even stronger cooperation on afghanistan because we have similar concerns. we have similar goals. >> rose: there are some people who worry and you an i have had this conversation more than once. that democracy not all that it should be. in russia. >> you know, democracy is not what it should be full stop. >> rose: meaning everywhere. >> meaning everywhere. exactly. >> rose: okay. but i mean you know, but is it trending the wrong way in russia. >> no, i don't see it this way. i think that first of all i will be among the first, maybe not the first but among the first to admit that we have problems. but-- . >> rose: how would you define the problems. >> no, you know, it's, my favorite example is a pendulum. i think this is one of the greatest rules of nature. and we had a situation in russia when everybody at least in this country was
saying you have such great democracy and the country was falling part. now we have a political system which is working. >> rose: okay. >> if people are complaining that there is not enough freedom of expression, then we should be careful about it, we should be looking into it. we are cooperating with various international bodys who are like about democracy and free om-- freedom of speech and freedom of the media. so we have, you know-- . >> rose: you have room to improve. >> suitly. >> rose: and with you are working on with . because it not just me raising this question it is also mikhail gorbachev recently raised the question. >> so he is a very respected voice. i didn't hear what he had to say. but i would not be surprised if you tell me that there were some words of criticism. >> rose: there was. >> because it's also f you look into the regions where most of the complaints come about, the regions are not only about the regions but also a very political environment. it's a democracy which not perfect so a politician who is trying to hold to power in certain region he may not be very pleased if he is
sort of bitterly criticized by the media. this is a political, in the united states, you have a very tough political environment. in it is i democracy, also a tough political environment. and sometimes the rules-- are bent and not perfect. >> rose: what is the russian relationship with china? >> eck excellent, excellent. >> rose: do you have influence with china on the question of sanctions against iran. >> you know, we consult but we work as a group. the group of the six. we share our views. some areas our views coincide with our chinese friends an partners. but we work as a group of the six. >> rose: here is the conventional wisdom. you have heard this before. if russia is on board, china will come on board. and at least they will simply abstain, they will not veto. >> well, listen, and i are very close contact with our chinese colleagues. china is a sovereign country. russia is a sovereign country. china is a sovereign country. >> rose: i don't understand the relevance of that. >> the relevance is that they have their own mind.
they know what is good for their country. we know what is good for our country. we compare notes. we coordinate. we are partners. but it is not that china is going to do what russia is going to do. >> rose: is it sfwood for china to have sanction against iran or not because of their economic interest. >> it's bad for everybody. it's bad for germany. it's bad for france and. can. it's not maybe so bad for u.s. because you haven't had much relations with iran anyway for the past 30 years. >> rose: so are you saying if there are sanctions against iran a lot of countries will suffer, not just china but also germany and other countries in europe. >> absolutely. in fact f my figures are correct, in the six, russia is number three economically in terms of the volume of relations, china, germany and russia, this is the kind of the level. >> rose: then if i was putting together a sanctions package i would want sure those three countries were involved and in agreement. >> and we are involved and we are trying to reach agreement on what we want to did about it. >> rose: how do you make smart sanctions? >> smart sanctions which are sanctions which are targeted. which do not hamper normal
economic relations, which do not undermine the livelihood of people in iran. but at the same time, which would make it difficult for iran to pursue a nuclear program which would be posing, you know, raising concerns amid the international community about where it is going. >> rose: and so when you hear americans talking about sanctions against the revolutionary guard, that's -- >> this is a detail i don't want to go into. >> rose: why not. >> because we are negotiating. >> rose: what is the biggest conflict between the united states and russia today? >> i don't think there are major conflicts. >> rose: something this big. >> there are no conflicts between russia and the united states there are some concerns. there are some problems. i can mention nato enlargement, for example, we have different views about it. but i don't see any clashes of interest, really. >> rose: thank you for coming. >> thank you. >> rose: always good to see you. >> good to see you. >> rose: back in a moment. stay with us. president obama's secured
his first legislative accomplishment with the recent passage of the health-care bill it also earned him a place in history. the overhaul is the most sweeping domestic policy legislation in decades. and it is the culmination of efforts by generations of democratic leaders. at this historic moment we tack a look back at presidents past and a look ahead at president obama's place and challenge. joining me now are three presidential historians, doris kearns goodwin who has written about abraham lincoln, lyndon johnson and now theodore roosevelt. she is now work on a biography of teddy roosevelt. jon meacham wrote a biography of andrew jackson and now on president george bush 41. douglas brinkley who has written by roosevelt, reagan and carter. mi pleased to have all of these eminent writers on this television program. so i begin with doris kearns goodwin and having her assess where this president is at this time and what comparison can we make with other presidents.
>> well, i mean, there's no question that the passage of the health care has secured a police for him in history. you know, it's interesting. i think he always wanted something like that. i remember the first time i met him down in the senate office building when he was still far behind hillary clinton. and he said that he used to look every now and then at the pictures on the wall of the various presidents. and he didn't want to be fillmore or-- but even then he was thinking if i do this, i want to use power for a purpose. so here is something that generations as you were saying, since teddy roosevelt in 1912 have been trying to get this through. it's sort of the last big piece of the new deal, of the progressive policy-making that is now timely in place. i mean i keep thinking that even when medicare was passed, old lbj went back to harry truman's place to give him credit for his having wanted to pass it. so he's got his place in history. and that's a big dealment you live through these moments. a lot of these characters in congress have never seen that for the last 30, 40 years.
they just go through day-by-day. they now know they have something they can tell their children. >> rose: it also, you have written and have said causes them to think and they enjoy the experience and what is said at the moment so they want to reach for big ideas. >> i think that's absolutely true. lbj told me that after the passage of the civil rights act it was an extraordinary feeling inside to know that he had changed the lives of millions of people. and rather than then resting on that, because people said to him look, you've just desegregated the south, stop for a while. let the country absorb this huge piece of legislation. he's like no, i've got to go further. i want voting rights. that's the meat in the coconut,. >> rose: but he still has to sell, he's got legislation but he still has to sell it to the country because it seems that the country, yet, is not in favor of the level. >> i couldn't agree more. right now i think the battle to sell it to the country is as important and perhaps even more important than the battle of getting past.
unlike these other social security and medicare there was questions about it, but nothing like the rumbles that we're seeing now. and we were talking before about lincoln having made this great at the same time one time that public sentiment, with public sentiment anything is possible. without it nothing is possible. he who molds the sentiment of the countries is even more important that he who passes laws. he now has a battle. he has to go out and make people understand what is in that bill. why it was the right thing to do. why it is to the scary why there are no death panels. all those things have to be told because until he does that it's not really in our hearts and minds. >> rose: but it also ought to be factored into his leadership ability over the since he was inaugurated why or whether he had done that as well as he had should have. >> somehow the republicans were better at the communication of what they wanted the people to think about the bill than the democrats were. there is no question about that. democrats thought in large sentences and paragraphs. teddy roose vet once said you have to think like a poster. there just has to be compression. they never compressed what
it was so people could say this what in the bill. even now they are still not sure so yes, that is the big bat ale head. >> rose: with that context, what do you think. assessment, barack obama at this place? >> i agree with everything doris said. i add that we have to look at the health-care bill as survival for barack obama. it became such an issue that if he didn't get some kind of legislation passed i'm afraid his presidency would have been in grave problems. at this point it's put lyndon, barack obama say oh, you even see him. he was aging before the passage of it. and he is looking younger. he's got a kind of clip to his walk again. and he's trying to avert the gingrich revolution of 1994 where everything right now that being done is in the con tech of this election year. and so you're seeing an obama once he gotthelf care passed doing some things that might hold the center for him or of the democratic party this year. example, on the offshore drilling issue. the increasing predator
drones in afghanistan, there is a lot that he's doing right now that i think aes little more center right even than his philosophy of yes, we can durg the campaign. he is still a progressive but he's becoming, he's doing a bit of try angulation on the side. and what differentiates him between fdr or lyndon johnson and obviously he's part of that lynniaj is fdr passed social security. he had hamilton fish. he had bipartisan support. lyndon johnson had everett dirkson on that civil rights bill. obama has had nobody. and the radical right or conservative right of today has been operating as a leg fist of no. and the fact that obama survived that fist with health care is really his big political accomplishment of his presidency thus far. >> i agree with what you all have been saying about, and i have written that he should find a way to speak
more cogently and more, to endorse his point about the poster, more briefly about what all this adds up to. this adds up to a secure middle class. find something to say. because sometimes he, it is almost as though he is running the brookings institution and not the country. and there is nothing wrong with sound bites. ask not, the certificate month-- sermon on the mount was pretty brief. gettysberg address. the most memorable speechs in history are very short. we not talking about edward everett, you know, so a kind of pittiness, i think he needs to get over a kind of intellectual potential snobery about being pithy. but all of that is commentary. he passed a hell of a bill here. and the problem he has right now, right now in the country is there is an-- there are people who are making themselves heard who believe that this is a-- the trail of american values, somehow. they are threatening and even terrorizing lawmakers
who voted for it. and they are betraying the american covenant of arguing civily within the republican lower case r construct. >> speak more to that. because it clearly we had this,. >> you know, there are threats against senator murray of washington. there are terrible series of threatening voice-mails. her life was threatened. there seems to be a threat against speaker pelosi. steve cohen of memphis, congressman cantor of virginia. there is an extraordinary amount of anger and it's beyond anxiety. it's a kind of blind anger. and you know this is where analogies get very complicated but remember what happened on you know stevenson was spit on in dallas. lady bird johnson was jostled. there have been many moments of furry and anger in the
country but this feels a little rawer and a little rougher and therefore all the more-- all the more dangerous. and it is not that we've never had conflict. it's not that there is not a legitimate case against the health-care bill. this isn't about that. this is about people who in greater numbers than historians usually can summon right now are actually threatening lawmakers for votes that they made in the congress on a bill that john dingel who has been in the house since 1955 said is to the right of where nixon was. >> right. >> i mean it's still hard for me to understand that it's only about health care it didn't be. i mean what could be so devastating to people about trying to ensure people who are not insured right now. trying to reign in the cost. trying to have people not have preexisting conditions undone against them. it's got to be about the feeling that people have that somehow america is
changing in ways that they don't like. and they've somehow fastened on this. i mean prohibition, when prohibition was really about was that the rural people felt the citys had taken over the country, and those horrible people are drinking in the cities so we're going stop the drinking and then we can have our farms back. right now it's got to be about something about what's happening in our country. there is more people open towards gays, more people open towards blackss, there are more immigrants coming into the country. whites may be in a minority at some point of view. and somehow they fastened on health care. i think 50 years from now when people lack back at this, it going to be inexplicable how this bill which is so much a part of-- covenant is a great word that you used, the covenant of what we owe our citizens as a collective responsibility, produced this extraordinary outcry. >> first off, i mean i had edited ron all reagan's diaries and he had a passage in which he said i had voted for fdr four times. i don't mind the new deal. what i want to do is overturn the great society. and i think this battle
isn't just about health care. that's just a piece in the game. it's about whether, it's about old states rights issues. today a governor mcdone all of virginia is talk being neocon fed ranceee. in texas where rick perry talked about secession there is an exhaustion of the american people about the role of the federal government in their lives. and ronald regular hand-- reagan has become the spokesperson from the grave of really a movement. but it doesn't have the humor or the benignness of reagan. and there isn't this sort of collegial attitude any more. so it's really i think a philosophical battle going on now. and to touch on something jon said i was surprised president obama earlier hadn't packaged what he is doing in a way. i mean you did have with fdr the new deal right out of the gate and harry true man's spare deal or the new frontier. it has been bailout general motors. economic stimulus, you know let's get some money to
finance banks and wall street, but it hasn't been as coherent so there has been a kind of defensive crouch by ot bama administration. they are kind of defending new dealism in a great society measures, extending it further. and i don't think it's been able to have the offensive swing and part of that pite be about race. barack obama might not want to be become the angry fist-pounding president because he's worried about white middle class blue-collar workers which the democratic party need to keep in places like ohio, pennsylvania. if they are going to maintain a a majority in congress and control the white house. >> two things. i mean the interesting thing to me is that i think obama did give a new deal, great society kind of speech when he called it the new foundation. >> when the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house, it fell not for it was founded upon iraq.
it was founded upon iraq. >> but the idea behind the speech was really good it said that in order for our house to be restructured, to be strong for the future we need to make progress on financial reform, health care, education and energy it was all there. i think it was one of the best speeches he made. >> it is not sustainable to have an economy where in 1 year 40% of our corporate profits came from a financial sector that was based on inflated home prices. maxed out credit cards, overleveraged banks and overvalued assets. it's not sustainable to have an economy where the incomes of the top 1 percent has skyrocketed while the typical working household has seen their incomes decline by nearly $2,000. >> but then i think events overtook him. and he had to deal with so many things. and the health care thing became like a zone. but i also agree with what dug said. to a certain extent the way you define who you are is who you fight against for your enemies. and that's what fdr is so
good at. that is what teddy roosevelt is so good at that is a tempmental quality. are you really willing to take them on. when fdr got so furious with land don for wanting to reveal social security. he went to madison square garden and gave my favorite speech, let it be said about may 1st administration that the forces of selfishness met their match. of my second administration that they met their master and there is thunderous applause. he was take on an intensity. and i think perhaps obama will have to do that as well. >> and dow believe that the passage of health care and what was necessary to pass health care has put him in that mind frame. >> well, perhaps he had to do all this compromising to get it passed. but i think now on financial reform, there is no reason for him not to be out in front. and really taking, i think, a strong position on that. even if he lets the republican filibuster some amendments that he wants to get through, then he can be the fighting president for that. because he is on the side of the populist anger there. and they are on the side of wall street. >> rose: do you think there is some resistance to do
that because as doug pointed out there may be a racial component to it that he doesn't want -- >> i don't know, to be honest. i think it doesn't fit his temperment as well. he wanted to come in as the konsyl yater but is so did fdr until he couldn't be it any more and then he got mad. i think it takes a step forward that more fiery person. >> one of the things that worries me is beginning in 1992 we have had three presidents for whom at least a vocal minority of the country has believed that they are not legitimately holding the office. that was true of president clinton, that drove a lot of the clinton hatred. i didn't think that anybody could make their enemies more irrational than bill clinton until george w. bush. and because of florida in 2000, there was a great deal of that, all exacerbated by iraq and the events of the first decade. and now you have people without don't believe the president of the united
states was born in the united states. and there is a thin line here between opposition of a principal nature and the fringe whereas richard half steter wrote in 1964 in harpers magazine, he wrote the paranoid style in american politics. and it, there are deep roots to it. of but just because something is perennial doesn't mean it's not important. and i think that historically we have to put this in context but i think this is a live, important issue right now. and if i were a republican politician i would be speaking out on it. you know, we can disagree and we can fight about these things but there has to be a kind of denunciation and clear signal sent that you cannot resort to violence.
>> sure this was a close vote, you know. fine. we can argue about the health insurance exchange. that's one thing. but there is something going on when you have this level of explicit thread on the lives of lawmakers that you did not have in previous decades. >> i couldn't agree more. >> that different. >> there should be some camaraderie on the part of our public leaders to be able to speak out and denounce this, as colleagues. i mean these are their colleagues that are getting death threats on either side. an there's no way that they should be able to even say i understand why these people are up set. they have to say this is unacceptable. this a dem sock-- dem sock-- democracy. we cannot go this far. unless we have the leadership from the center from both the party leaders than it gives a legitimacy to keep dwhooing they are doing. >> is the media in any way fueling this, doug. >> yes, the media has fueled it i think by the absence of cable television talk shows because it always a food fight. there is a line in the
middle of the screen. and here's, you know, you saw it during the swift boat debate, was john kerry a coward in vietnam or did john kerry deserve his three purple hearts. hes will's debate it. it makes for a big time wrestling dramatic television. and the cable industry, it churns a lot. a lot of people tune in on that. it sets a kind of tone and temper to things. but i want to dissent slightly in the conversation. i don't feel our times right now are uniquely oppressive when it comes to hate and death threats. just look in the 60s. martin luther king killed, malcolm x bill killed. bobby kennedy killed. john f. kennedy killed. places like oxford and selma, birmingham, these were battle grounds zones in the '60s. the thought that you could have so many black mayors in the south seem removed in the '60s. the fact that a michael steele african-american could be head of the republican party, and the fact that we have barack obama.
but so i think we've got to kind of take stock. and also look at the anti-, the left hatred of richard nixon. and the things that were said about nixon and the let's get him by so many people. so i think we're in a danger zone right now that the heat is rising. that there too much hate language going on out there. but i don't want to leap forward and say the last 30, 40 years were a sweeter than this particular momentme. it's been rough out there. i think in this country. particularly dealing with race and issues of the federal government and these great society program whether they are good or not. it's been a rage debate for a long time it just seems to be crystallizing right now because of the health care passage. >> well, if it has been with us for a long time what does that say about america an its instincts. >> that race is a big issue in this country is one thing. when you can't study the 19th or 20th century without it being front and center. there are some people, and john meacham mentioned the
removement but some people can't fathom the fact that a man famed barak hussein obama is president of the united states. many democrats with didn't believe bush was the real president because gore had won the popular vote. we are deeply polarized and the centrist politicians seemed to be retreating more to the left and to the right. look at john mccain who was is the epitomized the maverick kind of center right but he never knew which way he was going to swing. that seems to be a dying breed and our political culture because the fund raising is being beguned up on both the right and left by how vociferous you can attack. we are being dominated by fringe groups more than healthy. and i think there is an opening for some centrist republicans and democrats to kind of step forward and try to create something that resembles bipartisanship. i think we are chiefing it in foreign affairs a little bit right now. the great secretary of defense, i think the best in
american history, is our current secretary of defense gates. you've got hillary clinton, i think most people feel doing a pretty good job at state department. and there is a kind of unity on afghanistan and iraq. although some people don't like the way things are going. so that might be a good news thing that our country isn't being severed on the foreign policy issues as much as the domestic policy ones. >> john earlier mentioned richard halfsteter our mutual friend arthur lessinger, jr. said the point of history is to remind us that our present times are not uniquely oppressive. and i think that is another role history plays. that this is not the worst of ever in american, and yet you asked earlier, charlie, about the media culture. we hype up everything. there is a news alert. you know, and turn on right now, special news this is a crisis. and it starts getting people on edge. and i think history can give us a little bit of perspective not to say that these problems aren't real. and i'm very worried about
these death threats. the fact that john lewis, my hero has to get a horrible, you know, all the "n" word told on his box or a congressman is getting spit on walking in, it's awful. but let's take a breath with it and not just say everything is the worse right now, it's the worst it's ever been. and i think that feeds on itself. i think president obama to his credit keeps in the zen zone with things and doesn't get rattled in that kind of dramatic way. >> rose: has he been mischaracterized in terms of who he is politically? and what do we know about his attitude about change and transformation? >> i think he is the man who ran in the election and won the election. he hasn't shifted to the left in any way. he ran as a sort of maybe centrist leftist. who wanted to use pot percent of government to make life better for people. to say it in the most positive way. people might not agree with that. >> rose: it not sharing the wealth or is it, this whole business of part of the rhetoric today, sharing the wealth, is having the
government take over private sector. >> none of that. what is striking to me is that i can understand how in 1948, for example, when they argued the truman's health care was socialist, that he had gotten it from the moscow constitution, that it would be scary. because what is happening in those days in 1950s. we're hiding under our desks worrying about the soviet union. they may have a nuclear bomb. that is not there. who are we are afraid of now. france, england, germany. i mean. >> i'm afraid of france. >> no, that's wrong. >> that's another conversation. but we alluded a moment ago to something very important which is a big generational issue here. there was a sign in one of those tea party rallies a couple weeks ago talking about obama, the communist think this. i wonder how many voters under 30 really, for whom the word, the epitaph communist that just doesn't resonate to. some extent, i think, people with an investment in
conflict which is to say extremeuss on both sides, want to have this kind of rhetorical paint ball and it's a danger. i think that he is arguably one of the least radical presidents. >> rose: what he wants to do for the country is it radical? is it how do you-- or is it center left and i think -- >> i think it's centrist, i really do. and my view is that right and left at this point have to undergo a significant redefinition because when you have a republican president who basically nationalizes the banks in 2008 and a democratic president who for all the historic things we're talking about not pan dating universal health care without doesn't want to do anything about guns and who is against gay marriage what are we talking about? >> doug? >> well, i agree with what john just said and i would add i think with the-- i just came back from haiti and i was talking to people there. obama all over is the world is very respected and in
that way he's kind of a global president which is very unusual. people are cheering for him and the health care debate we had in this country for a lot of the world they are thank og bama for bringing america to that health care to more poor people so he has a bully pulpit internationally which is really quite i think unique for an american president unless it's fdr during world war ii. but his bigger problem is here in these political trench warfare and in an election year, everybody thought, you know, how you can ward off republican momentum that they seem to be getting. i think he did it very well with wining that health-care bill. i think that has changed the game and has put the momentum in obama's camp in a sort of solidified his leadership. people are look at him and america as a leader. not just a guy that is getting rope a dope like muhammad ali taking all the punches and not swinging back.
>> let's assume are you right on everything you just said so what does he do now. where does he take that and what does he do with it? doug? >> well, what he is doing, charlie, i think is playing for the midterm election, to not lose too many congressional seats, to kind of not have what i said before, a gingrich '94 situation. once he gets around that. and in order to do that he's going to have to tax center as john said a centrist but even center right a little and hope that his base sticks with him. i think they will. after the midterm election, i think will you see him do some more engaging sort of left issue things. i know, for example, interior department has a lot of environmental things on hold right now until after the midterm election. some of those might come forward in a year or two and will you see more of the progressive barack obama. this year he's the center, center right politician. >> i think one of the most important things he has to do is three big pieces of legislation were passed. the stimulus bill, the bank bill and the health care. he's got to explain to the country what were in those
legislations. 90% of the people say they don't even know what was in the stimulus bill amount of lot of good things in that bill. >> is that a failure of leadership. >> of course it is, that is why i'm saying that is why he has to do that. that should be his primary task. even the bank bill, large percentages of it has been paid back already with interest to the taxpayer. >> what has happened that might have made him at a better place and passing health care was a good place. in terms of the narrative, in terms of weaving together, in terms of explaining so that he could have thwarted some of what we have just recognized. >> it is the tide of opposition. >> at least a level of opposition. >> a terrific question and it's the central mystery to me. is how does a man who thinks of himself first and foremost not as a lawyer or professor but as a writer, he talks about that, who knows, who has a writer's sensibility of being in a moment and yet out of it, observing it, how did he-- did he let this communications gap, inspiration gap take place. i think on a human level
which is what we all do, you have to think all right well, what are things like really behind that desk. let's remember he doesn't get credit for what didn't happen which is a depression. you know the market is already discounted for that. the political market discounted for that. he comes out of this moment of epic crisis. he gets us through it. if he hadn't gotten us through it, we would be in a very different place. and i think he started thinking, and he does think in paragraphs when you talk to him it is a little like bill clinton. i mean it's just it is fully formed thoughts or scareily so. and i think that there was to use president clinton again for a second there was also a kind of empathy gap. bill clinton said recently that everybody knows can give a pretty speech. but he has to signal that he understands their anxiety, their concerns. >> remember this is a matter of two memoirs before he was
40 or 45. so he clearly understands the role of narrative. he lost track of it in summer. the summer. and that's, when history is involved it is written. what happened in july and august. >> rose: okay. >> when the town halls happened, let me say one quick thing about reagan which doug mentions. if you, according to gallop, he, his approval rating average for the first year was exactly the same as reagans. obama. >> obama and reagan. >> were the same, 1981 and 2009. and to some extent you can argue, perhaps that health care is obama's-- camp-ross. 9 tax cut that set in motion a lot of the reagan economic plan, then he raised a bunch of taxes. but recession, difficulty, tough midterm, but a recovery in the third year that lead to a big win. if i were betting that is what i would say is going to happen to obama is that he will get the wind of a
recovery, get kick around in the midterm because you always get kicked around in the midterm and that he also remember, this is a man who loved like all of us, loves winning. and he feels rightly that he just did something that nobody else did. which is the way he got the nomination. you know t is the way he went from being a state senator to president of the united states in four years. >> rose: what is what i want to come to, temperment. he was more interested in lbj than fdr. >> right, right. i mean he wanted to learn from the past. he also is a man who learns from history which is a great thing it means that are you not just starting out with nothing. you have all those lessons from the past to go. but i think the one thing to remember about his temperment is that with all of the storm and drag of this year he never lost, he really never lost that steady core that is him. and i think the question is just at times people need to feel other than the steadiness. they need to feel that he, not just that he's fired up
and angry, but they need to feel the empathy that he has. he has it as a person. when you meet him, i mean he throws hits arms around you. he is a very warm person. he is not cool at all. they keep saying he is cool. >> he never hugged me. >> no, no. >> rose: i don't think he knows me. there is an empathy gap. >> i feel an empathy gap. doug, go ahead. >> well, i was just going to, i agree with what everybody is saying. but i think the words unflapable, i think barack obama is a very unflapable figure and also his greatest accomplishment as john is talking about the books he wrote, was navigating the racial divide in the united states. the white-black divide it comes out very clearly in the bridge how brilliantly he's navigated that. so if you can navigate that divide, the thought is you can do that as president. now also he came in after eight years of gorge w bush who started using executive orders a lot. and i think you saw president obama wanting to be more lbj like, working with congress. the problem is lbj had 67
democratic senators. you had a very weak, maybe 60 with barack obama. so he wasn't really able to start this huge 0ee, 10 new, new deal. things like climate has gone sideways. immigration reform we don't even talk about. health care sucked all the oxygen out of the room. and i think you might see more of a tr o a. i think he's capable of it. we've seen some of his punches towards the right lately. but i'm not in this election year, again i think perhaps in a year or two he might, but he's calculates everything. first and foremost barack obama is a politician. and we make a terrible mistake underestimating how good he is at what he does. >> rose: well said. i mean the other thing about the narrative is that the narrative of the presidential campaign was he married historee to america's tore story. but that was about him, and his story, what he needs now, it seems to me s to take his vision for america and marry