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tv   Charlie Rose  WHUT  September 7, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am EDT

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>> #01: welcome to our program, at the conclusion of the second political convention. we try to put all of this in a context. we begin with tom brokaw and jon meacham. >> my sense of what history tells us is that presidents get two or three shots. basically. and it is in the nature of politics, which is not clinical but human, and it is messy and difficult and it is always provisional, you get two or three chances to rise above that particular moment and leave something that we talk about going forward, and with the congress in 1944, it was the gi bill, it was with bush 41, it was iraq and the mission to kuwait and doing the right thing in terms of the 1990 budget deal which bill clinton will tell you help set up the prosperity of the 1990s and george herbert walker bush when he broke the read my lips pledge in 1990 he
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would lose the presidency. >> we continue this evening with a look at president obama from two people who have written extensively about him, they are peter baker of "the new york times" and jonathan alter. >> if you look at it just in terms of his accomplishments, if you go down the list of what got done in the first two years, he obliterates bill clinton in terms of achievements as law is passed which is often the way that presidents are judged, obviously clinton had a better economy and conditions of the country were better, he did better on deficit reduction. >> but in terms of changing the structure of government and laws with long-term impact on all kind of things that people don't even think about from mileage standards to stirring up tens of billions of dollars for student loans, for people who are going to college. >> and the end of obama care and nobody knows about it, there are about a dozen major accomplishments that compare favorably to lyndon johnson.
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>> politics, conventions and the president in context. when we continue. funding for charlie rose was provided by the following.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications >> tonight, a special edition of charlie rose. >> rose: the conventions are over, president obama and governor romney have accepted their party's nominations in the race for president, it is officially underway between now and november, six, three debates will give the candidates a final chance to define themselves and their provisions. we are joined by tom brokaw, he is a special correspondent for nbc news and author of time of our lives a conversation about america, also jon meacham an executive vice president, executive editor of random house, and it is author of the forthcoming book, thomas jefferson, the art of power.
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welcome. you have said that this may be, we may be moving towards a time of political conventions should be a day rather than a week. >> i hope so. i wrote that at the new york times, and went to tampa and i found no one who disagreed with me, including all of the poobahs of the party who came to me one after the other, you are so right we have to get rid of the system. first of all they are very expensive. haylehaley barbour they spent $11 million when bob dole was nominated, he figured they were spending 7 million on security alone in tampa. and the only reason i am saying that, it is not selfish to say three days i think it shuts down the country if you reformatted it in a way one day, one night, vice president, gives a speech, introduces the president or the president's wife or the president's husband, the nominees' husband and then they
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give their speech, they have a family on stage, that is all that is needed to get the get the vote out rallies around the country. bronco stadium in denver, seattle, wherever. >> rose: in fact, when the weather was threatening and the hurricane was threatening familiar parks there was some consideration that maybe what the republicans should do is have one big night and then have somebody introduce romney, perhaps his vice presidential nominee or programs his wife and then make the speech. you know and then bring everybody out and there you go. >> yes. >> rose: what role do they play today? >> well, one reason to do it, in a brief brief constraint, if jesus could overcome suffering and death in three days surely to god we can get somebody nominated by that time in that same amount of time, in honor. >> rose: jesus was unique. >> in honor of your native state and billy graham nearby. >> rose: that's right. >> i think for those of us who love this process, and see it in
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teddy white terms as a quest, conventions have given us many moments, defining moments, and i think when we look back, we do see that there have been moments where nominees have broken through. you mentioned bush 41, i think it is unquestionable that in 1988 the speech he gave began to impress, he impressed himself on the country in a way he had not done it before. >> rose: was it essentially a read my lips or was it more? >> it is i am that man. remember? he had a very ambivalent relationship with the first person pronoun, george bush senior, and, as mother and father taught him. >> yes, yes, it was always don't talk about the great i am, don't be a braggadocio so he left out i which is one of the reasons his syntax was always a bit of a tangle. but he made, robert ails was part of this, .. there was a big
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moment where he had to say, i have been there, i have seen it, it is when when a young aide comes in announce ago crisis and comes down to the man who should be at the desk and i am that man, and that was something that presumably the convention at least in the sense of pulling the process together to kick off that last 90 days, 100 days, did play an important role but that is not to say you can't do it in a day. and do that. >> rose: what does america want to hear from these two nominees? >> obama and romney, what is their question for these guys? >> who is going to do something in the next four years where you don't have a debate over whether one is better off or not. i think there is, tom and i were just talking about that. there is a hunger for big ideas. will is a hunger for a kind of leadership that goes, harkens to
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our better hours, and i think wherever you stand, in a partisan sense, ronald reagan had big ideas, bill clinton had big ideas, and we thought that barack obama did, and for all of the circumstances and all the data points, it just has been very hard for him to breakthrough, and i think that what worries me most is that we are in a moment where in terms of the two parties we are in a battle for the narcissism of small differences, that it is one, one party essentially with -- an establishment party with two wings, and i think that is why you have a great deal of disaffection. >> rose: you took note at the time of neal armstrong's death. >> yes. >> rose: that was a remind that the country has been its best when it had a huge mission .. >> absolutely, absolutely, john kennedy went to rice and said we are going to do this, and did it, and i think that lesson has
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a great deal to teach. >> rose: to your credit, you get out to the country a lot. >> i do. and i absolutely agree with john, we were talking about the big idea concept and the country longs po for something in which it can be unified around, something everybody will agree on this will advance all of us in some way, i was reminded again by jon stewart no less than every three or four years a generation says oh it is hopeless, our kids are not going to live as well as we are, but it has not been as deep as i have been seeing it here recently. i also think that the country longs for one or another of these candidates to say, look, we all have got into this together. i made mistakes, i have learned from them, you know, and we can go forward, take the lessons i have learned and apply them across party lines, because this is a different world we are living in. i mean, we are a transformed globe. there is no question about that. china is setting out there and india and brazil and information
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technology has made it a smaller planet and a lot more people and we have to find a way that we can move forward together and one or the other parties if they can tap into that i think can do all of this. >> >> rose: so that brings to the question, that was exactly the spirit of the 2008 campaign of president obama. what happened? >> i think he was not as prepared for, first of all, the strength of the opposition on the hill, and how, you know, these guys had been around for a while, and they knew that the white house is a great engine, drives american politics, they wanted it back. i don't think he had as clear an idea to match up what he wanted to do with the objective conditions on the ground, the economy was in worse shape than anyone realized. by the way, including a lot of ceos. i remember in '09, i was with a group of very senior ceos and a lot of them had been struggling, their companies have all survived but they thought by
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late 2010 the economy would be back on its feet because the stimulus program would have kicked in by then, but it was deeper and wider and more persistent than anyone could fully have appreciated at that time. and the president did exacerbate that uncertainty with the healthcare push, but that is the great, to my mind, if you all agree, that is the great question of the last four years is by focusing on delivering on the promise of healthcare which has been an argument in american life since theodore roosevelt did he create a kind of uncertainty in the business community that has been able to be politicized in the sense that he looks like he was out of the mainstream as opposed to a part of it. >> rose: there is a question did he reach out enough, did he make enough phone calls and schmooze enough and everybody says it is not his nature and not who he was. >> i can't tell you the number of business leaders i talk to
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who were -- went in in a spirit of goodwill, wanted to get things done because their company was in a state, they wanted him to succeed for a number of reasons, a number of senior republican businessmen it is our first african-american president it would be great to have a roaring success and great for my company, but when america is booming we boom. >> right. when they walked through the gate, they got the heisman. keep your distance. and it is not something i want to talk about and they would all come out with almost the same kind of recitation of body language and how they got pushed back. including democrats. who went down there, who were very, very important, to the american economy and had a real feel for what was going on, one of them said, it was in one ear and out the other, he didn't want to listen about it. >> one of the great lessons of american history is why are so many successful politicians essentially introverts, richard nixon, introvert, ronald reagan
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-- >> ronald reagan is an introvert? >> no, bill clinton -- you either have extroverts on steroids or they are bullying alone and walking on the beach in the wing tips. people are always telling me because i spent a lot of time with reagan and covered him from the very beginning and to the very end, there was a place that you could only get so close to him and even nancy reagan has said that and certainly his core group of irssors, going all the way back to california said that. the shield would come down. >> rose: but at the same time it is said in washington he would alws have time for tip o'neill at the end of the day, he understood that that was an important thing for him to do. >> he did, because i thought that he got great experience in california, i mean, i was out there at that time, and california is the sixth largest country in the world, in effect. >> rose: and it still is. >> and the california legislature was run by one of the best politicians i had ever seen anywhere at any time. and onru said to me about since
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months after reagan took office he came to me and said this guy is so food, we can do business with him, and those two praises were really stayed in place for the next eight years. >> rose: what do you think he meant by so good? >> he was so good in terms of how he conducted himself as governor that he could hear where -- he could hear them and go where he knew they needed to go or he could meet them halfway and where he could draw the line. i wasn't -- i was in berkeley the night they fired the university of clark, and clark kerr thought he was dealing with a dumbbell, you know -- >> rose: because the california system -- >> right. and he really thought he was going to get the regents and i remember just everybody sitting, reagan came in and sat down as governor, put his hand on the table and said, this is not going to stand, and they were talking about conduct on the campus, at the university of california at berkeley and that had been a big part of his campaign and he was going to see it through and by the end of the
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day clark kerr was out of a jo. >> rose: so what are the lessons in presidential leadership, boldness, the american people would like to see bold. >> i think the president said this, he said he realized that in america, and the country, the ideological divide is not there, there may be a divide on policy but it is not a deep ideological divide the way you see it in congress. >> that's true. >> rose: and you have to reach out to that. and bill clinton has come forward to say, we will talk about the choices but also talk about the explanation of things, which is his gift. >> you know, i tell you when i thought president obama without at his best and never replicated remember when he went to the republican caucus and he owned them. >> rose: that's right. >> and they realized that they had gotten sandbagged by him. we didn't see that again, really, and i remember having discussions with his staff, and i said, look, i know a lot of independents out there who voted for him or i know a lot of moderate republicans who crossed over, i just feel like he walked
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away from them, and they never went out and tried to reignite that constituency in the first couple of years. they got their votes and then they turned their back on it. >> rose: what is it we learned from history, whether it is jefferson, bush 41, or the generation that came back from world war ii, about leadership and about where the country is, because that was a time that the country exploded after world war 2. >> yes. those were different conditions. >> rose: exactly. >> we were a close us is, economically, germany, europe was devastated. >> rose: there was a divide. >> there was a divide. let's all be -- we are deeply divided now, but mccarthy was not a great moment. >> and bob cav ran the republican party that was a really conservative party. >> and general eisenhower did not speak out forcefully at the beginning. >> precisely. and my sense of what history tells us is that presidents get two or three shots, basically,
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and it is in the nature of politics which is not clinical but human and it is messy and difficult and it is always provisional, wow get two or three chances to rise above that particular moment and leave something that we talk about going forward, and with the congress in 1944, it was the gi bill, it was the bush 41 it was iraq and the mission to kuwait, and doing the right thing in terms of the 1990 budget deal, which bill clinton will tell you helped set up the prosperity of 1990s and george herbert walker bush knew when he broke the read my lips pledge at andrews air force base in 1990 he was going to lose the presidency. >> and he knew that. >> you are sure of that. >> yes, i am. >> and johnson losing the civil rights bill. >> there goes the south. >> there goes the south. >> charlie, there are certain kind of simple but fundamental truths we are dealing with, for
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most of the postwar years the government has been giving people things in this country, the entitlement programs keep getting expanded under republican and democratic administrations alike, we will have to start reeling those in across-the-board and that is a very, very big proposition, and then it comes down to this simple questio question on both, romney saying about obama, look what he has done to you, obama saying about romney, look what he is going to do to you, and that is the intersection of where this will -- >> rose: that is all negative. >> yes, it is all negative. so here is an idea, throwing one out. what if one of the two of them said, we are going to have a marshall plan for training the workers for the 21st century, we are going have a big job retraining program in this country, we are going rearrange education. >> rose: and i am going to raise your taxes to do it. >> you may have to do some of that, but, you know, that is a big issue. >> rose: the plan costs money. >> it did cost money but actually you could do the marshal plan without spending that much money because the
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infrastructure is in place, community colleges are out there. >> rose: right, right. >> and you make the public private. >> the private corporations are desperate for skilled workers and silicon valley is, has set up all kind of ancillary trying to get more computer tech misses and more people in the it world because they see that as their future, make that -- that is a nonpartisan, nonideological issue that you can get involved in, something like that i think people would say, hey, wait a minute, that is new, and it addresses what my kid needs. >> rose: would it be different if the president is re-elected because he knows he will never be a candidate again? and, therefore, he will feel unrestrained? >> we certainly said that to the russian leader, i got one more election. i think so. i think that, you know, second terms are notoriously a mixed bag. they usually get about a year, president reagan got two, because he got the tax reform in 86 right before iran-contra
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happened. bill clinton now of fable and legend, did not have the best of second terms, given the fact he was impeached. which is interesting, which what is wonderful about the american capacity is just how terribly wrong scott fitzgerald was is there are no second acts. fewer sentences have been proven more wrong. >> rose: a thumb to charlotte. >> that's right. and you will hear it in that arkansas voice. >> rose: what have you learned from this new biography of thomas jefferson? which the sub title is the art of power. >> the art of power. the art of power is you have to have an over arching devotion to .. a principled idea, for thomas jefferson it was very straightforwardly the survival and success of a kind of american republicanism, we were locked in a 50 year war with great britain that ran from the
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end of the french and indian war until andrew jackson and the treaty of again in 18 february, 1815 and it was not unlike the cold war, it was an existential struggle and one of those wonderful arguments you can make because the british did come back in 1812, not a provisional argument, came back to washington. >> came back, that's right, and what he believed in the survival of the country, but he would depart from dogma at the drop of a hat to serve that cause, and the greatest example is louisiana purchase, which he believed required avid constitutional amendment, and then he got a letter from his people in trance saying napoleon is having second thoughts and suddenly well i think this will be just fine, i think we will take this and we will be okay and that gave us brokaw's country out there. >> rose: yes indeed. brother brokaw, what book are you reading we ought to know about? >> there is a new book called
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the young titan, it is winston churchill in the young years in the beginning of the 20th century when he was this dashing guy who came back from the world war and escaped prisoner of war. >> rose: talked about what it was like to be shot at. >> and it took him a while before he found -- and courting everyone and he was being rejected on a pretty regular basis as well. but here is the interesting part for me is he went from being a tori to being a liberal during that time and one of the things that he struggled with was how progressive the british government should be toward the masses, toward the poverty that existed and there is a great phrase in this book in which he says there are things that government must do not because government does them well, but because if government doesn't do them, no one else will. and that is kind of the conundrum. >> he brings us to 2,012. >> thank you. >> rose: thank you, john. >> thank you, sir. >> rose: we will be back, stay
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with us. the. >> rose: we continue this evening with peter baker of "the new york times", he wrote a profile of the title, about the president, four years later, scarred but still competence. and he wrote the promise president obama year one, a book that got lots of attention and lots of praise, i assume he is writing another book, i am pleased to have both of them on this program, the convention is over but we are taping this before we have heard president obama's speech in the interest of time. so we know pretty much what the president's views as his challenge which is to lay the ground work for the future, we will find out how much he defines that but i want to look back first. you said this about the bill clinton and i have got it here but basically you made the point that never has there been someone so praised for, on the one hand, attacking a party so
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well, the republican party and at the same time getting so many reviews for being bipartisan, only bill clinton can do that. >> it is classic bill clinton, somehow he comes out of a convention 12 years after his presidency and we have reinvented once again what his presidency was all about, it was an era of bipartisan deal making between democrats and republicans on welfare, on spending it was a time of economic prosperity and republicans and democrats apparently didn't hate each other. of course that is a significant revision of reality, but both parties at this point have an interest in making that revision, the republicans are using bill clinton as their touchstone to say that obama guy he is no bill clinton, bill clinton was a man of the center and a bipartisan figure, obama is a leftist and of course in clinton's interest to refashion his presidency is one of grave success and bipartisan achievements all of which forgets the various struggles and painful fights that happened to get to where they finally got to. >> so what did you think of
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clinton last night? >> oh, he is masterful, one of the things that i find interesting is his evolution as a speaker, the first big speech i ever saw him by, i was on the floor of the 1988 convention in atlanta and he laid such an egg that when he said in conclusion, the delegates cheered, and he got better and better but i think he is better as an ex-president than he was as president, because he doesn't really give a speech. he explains. he gives kind of a talk and he is able to, even in a huge hall and on a national stage, to create a sense of intimacy as if you are just in a room with him and 30 other people. >> rose: you are exactly right, john, it is like everyone everybody in that hall like he is speaking to me, wait, wait, wait this is serious now, and you, as you might talk to somebody one on one. >> right. and he is able to find plain language for complex policy ideas, so that he will take something a little bit complicated like medicaid or obama care and when you are at the end of the paragraph you
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kind of go, oh, yeah, i understand what he is trying to tell us and he pretty much took apart the republican argument, if you look at it, and not only exposing the lies of paul ryan from last weekable and the husband pa, that was. >> hutzpah. >> rose: he hasn't backed away except on the question of the marathon. >> here is what he. >> here is what clinton did, this may not stick the way the marathon sticks but intellectually it is very interesting, he pointed out that for paul ryan to say that barack obama is raiding medicare of $716 billion, when precisely the same to the penny, $716 billion in savings from medicare are in paul ryan's own budget, you know, it lends meaning no the world hypocrisy. >> rose: his budget has eliminated those cuts. >> he has, which is its own kind of outrage if you analyze it because then what he is saying is okay, yeah let's just return
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to over paying these insurance companies and healthcare providers under medicare advantage, although medicare advantage is fine in the post obama care period. >> rose: so where is bill clinton now in -- as an icon of the democratic party? does he become in some new elevated place because of what he has done and because that speech last night? reminded everybody of his unique ability? >> well i think what is interesting is he has repaired what was a very tense and uncomfortable relationship with president obama. they are not buddies the way they were hugging last night. >> rose: they have a relationship -- >> it is totally transactional, but nonetheless, a political parpartnership at this point, ad as far as the white house is concerned, they will take it, they will welcome it. they need it. and bill clinton is a needy politician who likes to be needed also, and it is very
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infreak that you see barack obama ever needing anybody, because he is not needy, so it is flattering to clinton that obama after everything they have been through has kind of come crawling to him to ask him to help him over the finish line. >> rose: let me turn to barack obama. and your piece about him. tell me where you see him today. >> well, you know, of course, denver four-year was about promise and this time about patient patience he is asking the american public to stick with him and yes, it has been slow, yes, progress hasn't been as great as we would like it but we are head manager the right direction, and it is a real challenge for him, both here and in the convention and in the next 60 days or so to reconcile sort of those really heady, loft at this aspirations and expectations he both fomented and profited from four years ago .. with the sort of messy reality that follows, the sort of miss mixed results obviously he can claim that a lot of
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achievements and that he pulled the country back from the economic of this and he saved the auto industry and pulled the troops out of iraq. >> rose: but there was no grand bargain. >> but there was no grand bargain. debt is sky high, unemployment, hhe is going to wake up the day after the convention with unemployment report and even if they are good must be they are not going to be anywhere near people would have hoped for four years ago and he has to make the case to an impatient country to be patient. >> if he wins then she a major american president, because what i think the public has absorbed, because already if you look at it, just in terms of his accomplishments, if you go down the list of what got done in the first two years, he obliterates bill clinton in terms of achievement as law is passed which is often the way that presidents are judged, obviously clinton had a much better economy, the conditions of the country were much better, he did better on defer sit reduction, but in terms of changing the structure of government and laws
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with long-term impact on all kinds of things people don't even think about from mileage standards to tense of billions of dollars for student loans, to to allowed people to go to college that would. have come in that came at the end of obama care and nobody knows about it, there are about a dozen major accomplishments that compare favorably to lyndon johnson. so you really have to go back to johnson and fdr before him to see that kind of legislative accomplishment. if you -- if he wins all of that will be part of the architecture of american government, if he loses much of i it will be repealed and seen by historians as having been a failed president, so it is all on the line for him right now, which at this point, to use our kids or the metaphor of kids from the 1950 this is one is for all the marbles, and it does get rolled back, not just obama care but many other things they got
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accomplished will get rolled back and much of the new deal, honestly, in get rolled back because the philosophy, this is what is so hard for me to convey to people, republican philosophy, as embodied in the only document wes have, things like the ryan budget or even mitt romney's proposals, it is a rolling back of part of the social contract that we have had in this country for 75 years, and it is not an exaggeration, carlie, you know i am like a neoliberal, not a classical time liberal and so, i am in danger of being seen as crying wolf, because for for so many years liberals have been saying the wolf is at the door they really want to shred the safety net this time they do, they want to go at the end of the nba playoffs and cut down the net, if you get into the implications of what ryan himself describes in the introduction to his budget as a rewriting of the american social contract. >> rose: the president has
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called it social darwinism. >> he has and i think it is an accurate description. >> rose: but how do you find this president and being in the white house has changed him? the word from he has become, his patience is now the by word for their argument? >> remember, this is a person of course who talked about fierce urgency of now, and urgency is not -- >> rose: martin luther king. >> martin luther king, taken from martin luther king and he now find himself in a position where in fact he has t to take e long view and make the argument this is not a four-year reclamation project and not even an eight year reclamation project of some of these events it may not even be accomplished under one presidency, you know, he has learned lessons overtime, i think the idealism or naivete or hubris or whatever word you want to use he came in with has been tempered, you know, people people will argue about who is responsible for the polarization, but either way he is no longer tethering himself
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to legislative accomplishments as prime minister, he is, has given up on roosevelt's real summits at the moment and takes the country, puts pressure on congress to do what he wants to do,,. >> rose: in all of the conversations i have, including with him it seems to me they are really have come to some conclusion that a little bit like reagan was able to do masterfully which is go over the heads of congress. >> right. >> rose: but that so far has been unsuccessful that he may have had a higher appreciation of his negotiating skills than he really had. >> i think he really came in with this, he thinks of himself as a rational thinker and things thinks if you simply sit down at a table with other reasonable table you can solve these problems, and that is true whether international with iran, palestine and i see rails and the republicans and democrats in the house and senate and in fact it doesn't work that way or often doesn't work that way and it is not just a matter of american politics, that is true
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across the world, vladimir putin doesn't have the self-interest that barack obama thinks he ought to have on these things, so i think that was a revelation to him, and he is adjusting accordingly. >> i think he understood that from very early in his presidency because it was clear to him in the first week that he wasn't going to get any republican votes on the stimulus and he adapted quickly and, you know, said a few to us reporter i am not naive and i understand. >> rose: said to eric cantor at one events, you know, eric, we won. >> that was probably not a smart thing for him to say, to kind of rub the opposition's nose in it but even if he had been a very skillful negotiator which he was not, i am not sure the result would have been any different, because they understood that their only way of coming back into power and this is clear from robert draper's book about a meeting that took place on january 20th 0. >> rose: inaugural night. >> gingrich and others there, their only way to come back was obstructionism.
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>> there was an interesting point about this meeting they basically said yes, we did come out with a kind of game plan, but he also said that, look, as i think someone asked emand it may have been dan bowls asked him the question, so here you come in on the day the guy is inaugurated to say we want to stop him. it is a part stan world that we live in, partisan world we live in .. in washington and said to gingrich, so, you know, what happens? and gingrich says he could have by governing stopped us in our tracks which puts the ball back in his court, he didn't govern in a way that could have stopped us. >> all that means is he wasn't successful in having the economy turnaround on a dime, but that is kind of an unrealistic expectation because we know from a lot of economic research, economic history that when you have a financial crisis as opposed to another kind. >> rose: it takes a long time. >> it takes a long time so if the economy had come roaring back whic wii barack obama didnt expect by the way. >> rose: there are criticisms
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of what happened in the first four-year. >> there are no questions he made mistakes. >> rose: who fashioned the legislation and how it was fashioned and whether there was too much coming out of the house. >> no, i think it is also important to remember that, you know, having a meeting on inauguration day certainly feeds into the perception that -- >> rose: you are not going to a social party. >> you won't be playing on the playing field and george bush as we all remember took office in the second inauguration, the first thing out of the box he wanted to change social security and the democrats resolved because of politics and policy reasons they were not going to cooperate with him on it and didn't like his plans and republicans didn't like president obama's plan. >> that did not happen to president bush when he came in the first time having just lost the popular vote, he got some real cooperation, even before 9/11 on his education program, and some other -- >> well first thing he did -- >> he called in ted kennedy and he said the difference was in some way they could work with ted kennedy, over a ten, 11 month process president obama
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and president obama felt the need you could say it is his fault or you could say it is a matter of circumstance he felt the need to put a stimulus bill right away because the economy was in bad shape so 24 days after he has taken office, stimulus is passed, the urgency in their view. >> rose: getting the votes from the republicans. >> there was an urgency over came his desire for bipartisanship, is that the right choice? i imagine he would say yes but there was a cost with that, and so anyway, it is a partisan town, he did encounter a great partisanship, democrats have their moments of partisanship too, and the question is what do you do at that point? and i think that he was -- he is -- he he spent a lot of time on legislation and what reagan did is transcend the messy details and appeared to be a leader in a way that obama is only now kind of beginning to. >> rose: clearly not a part of his game plan is what i hear from them. >> yes, look at what he did.
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he couldn't get the dream act through, this is the legislation that would allow young illegal immigrants brought by the parent to stay so he uses executive authority to achieve that for 800,000 younger immigrants. he can't get through climate change legislation so the epa will use its authority to do what it can in that regard. >> rose: using executive authority rather than legislative? >> not holding himself hostage to the messy legislative process. >> and maybe he should have moved to that earlier and pivoted to a jobs message earlier, i think he admitted that he messed up communications, we expected him to be this great communicator and struggle and legislative achievements because he was a rookie and he got all of this stuff through congress. >> rose: one thing that comes out of all of this conversation about president obama is that i mean he clearly has his own mind, whether it was on the osama bin laden issue where we had people, bill daly tell me at this table that he, in fact, you
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know, there were a lot of people voicing reservations about doing what they did. >> secretary gates was against it. >> he was against that particular mission, but was in favor of bombing and sort of missiles to do that, but the more importantly, that is an act of leadership and at the same time you hear a stories about people in the white house being, including rahm emanuel being opposed to going so far on medicare, and the president said, no, he kept his own counsel. you wrote about this. >> this is one of the main things i learned from my book is rahm emanuel told me in 2009, quote, i begged the president not to do healthcare." and david biden thought they should not go ahead with this. and so to me this is a mark of obama's greatness, and i don't use that word lightly. so i am very critical of him in some areas, and his negotiating skills leave a lot to be desired
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and a lot of tactical mistakes, but, charlie, this is something the progressives in the united states have been trying to achieve since the progressive party bull moose party platform of 1912, 100 years, seven presidents tried, including some republicans, none succeeded until barack obama. and i asked the president, your advisors were against this, why did you do it? and he said, well i told nancy pelle city i may not get re-elected if i did this and so i repeated the question, why did you do it. >> if we didn't do it now it wouldn't have happened and to me that is the mark of a president who is showing leadership. you might not like it. >> rose: yes. >> but it is leadership. >> rose: i would say the following, john, i hear you and i know all of that, i have heard that conversation, i believe with a that even though he said i might not get re-elected he didn't for a moment believe that he would not get re-elected because his own confidence in himself was so strong. >> absolutely true. yes, he is extremely self-confident individual.
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>> even at this moment he understands intellectually the challenge and the risks and where the numbers are and all of that, i think in his gut, though he has a very hard time imagining, especially losing to mitt romney who i don't think he has a lot of respect for and congress he thinks romney is someone who has thought through what he wants to do with the country and gets his competitive juices going in a way that has probably energized him after the defeat of -- >> rose: here is what i want to know and i have asked this from many people over the last couple of days, what does he want to do? what are the big dreams that are at least equivalent to healthcare on a domestic front or,bs something that is in league with the proverbial moon shot, you know, as president kennedy? does he see, does he have a vision? a big idea, the of big ideas beyond improvements which are significant in education, in the environment, in immigration? is there some overriding sense of
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where he wants this country to be? >> well, i do think that there is, and he hasn't done a very good job all the time of articulating it. >> rose: but he hasn't done a the job at all. do you have any sense if he felt no political restraints of where he would like the country to be four years from now? >> i do think that all of this talk on the campaign about the middle class actually rethrekts more than just campaign -- >> the party. >> rose: what do you mean? >> if we don get our act in terms of education and this is where he talks about the race to the top and what he is doing for community colleges which may sound a little boring but are actually central to the preparing our work force for the future if we don't get our act together in investing in human capital and preparing our work force for the jobs in the 21st century we are going to get our clocks cleaned internationally, and when he talks about this, he is quite passionate about it, and he realizes that this is about the greatness, future greatness of the united states, it relates to these investments that you hear in talking about that are not just more liberal
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government spending to him, they are, and this is where it does connect to bill clinton's vision, they are trying to get our society prepared for a level of international competition that we have not experienced before. >> rose: and certain issues of education being one and others having to do with a number of scientists we are training and all of that kind of stuff. >> it is a national greatness argument. a lot of these things as you say. >> rose: and national exceptionalism. >> that has just been split sighed as a term. >> it is like training, education and so forth, don't sell bumper stickers or what have you, he is tried in the past to frame them in at that larger way, through state of the union address to his georgetown speech in 2009 where he used the phrase the new foundation, you know, he has not yet found an easy way to kind of encap still late what do all of these disparate things mean, what does the tax credit have to do with our future and fit into the larger vision? and as you say for a great communicator to have not found a way to transmit that
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to the larger public. >> rose: and you and i are both fascinated by leadership and how somebody exercises it, what can't you get your hands around about this president? >> it is a great question. gosh, there is so much, actually, i went back, it is interest, a piece i wrote this week, i went back and read all of the man and his profiles of "the new york times" has done since carter, and every incumbent president coming into his convention, the that's has some piece on enigma and we don't understand this president and we say that each time but seems especially true with this one, he is differ dent, he is hard to understand sometimes, president clinton alluded to to that in a nice line he is cool on the outside and burns on the inside. >> rose: burns for america. >> it is clinton's way you think of me as the extrovert, as the gregarious fellow well i am giving you a testimonial to this cool, mr. spock kind of figure has the same kind of passion for
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the country. you know, it is hard to understand a little bit of what drives him, he is competitive and he likes to win basketball or legislative or politics, but what -- you know, what is that gets him going, it is easier to see, it is easier to see with hillary clinton than president obama. >> i don't think he is quite as hard to read as people imagine. i am not saying it is easy to read and you are right they are all enigmas, think wha what he d when he got out of college, he took one job in a financial firm. >> rose: internationaled. >> yes, he didn't like that. an he goes. >> rose: he didn't like it, he said -- >> belly of the beast, he said. so then he takes this job as a community organizer and he got mocked for it at the last republican convention mr. 2008, but you have got to look and read books like, by people by david and some of the people i have talked to, that talk about this, those choices in your 20s are very ininstructive and he was working with steel workers
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who had lost their jobs in the -- in the industrial america went into decline in the 1980s, and he was trying to help them make this transition and i think he is still interested in that and people say, why hasn't he done more for the poor? well he has been putting -- the house is on fire, first he has had to prevent a depression an that took a little while, in terms of what he is really interested in if he does get a second term, you will see him going to trying to help the american work force, people who want a claim on the middle class to get into -- those who are in the middle class not to fall out of the middle class. he is not necessarily just focused on that piece but he spend a lot of his policy day working on these different components of restoring the middle class. >> rose: an articulation of that in terms of, the i am getting a larger sense from talking about a whole range of people, the two of you, importantly a part of that about who he is instead of how he
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defined himself, when you start to see some of it in these long pieces where somebody has had a lot of access like michael lewis. >> i think one of his problems is, and this has been clear for a while, he is not needy, he is not a needy politician. >> rose: right. >> and there is a reason almost all other politicians are needy, because the profession almost self selects for neediness, next to acting, hollywood. >> rose: right. >> politics is full of the neediest individuals, and so on one level that is good, it is nice to have a. >> rose: it is nice to. >> >> rose: he does haven't that. >> it looked ba good on one level he is secure and not needy but it hampers him because if you don't show that you have some neediness and try to compensate for it by reaching out to people, you are going to have a gap between you and not just the public, but the people -- the politicians you have to deal with every day. i don't think he really likes politicians -- >> rose: one thing, there is also neediness and not neediness and imperviousness, imperviousness to a sense of people who have helped you and
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things like that. >> well, that is an often raised issue and i think a legitimate crit similar of him and the reason that he can sometimes seem as if he is lacking gratitude although he is a gracious individual when you interact with him, is that because he doesn't need that, that stroke, that reaching out so it is cash. >> rose: let me close, so, peter, bill clinton used to talk about, you know, building a road to the 21st century. >> right. >> rose: what road do you think barack obama wants to build? >> well, i think he raises actually a very good question, that he has given a smart answer to, the slogan of course is forward. >> rose: right to what. >> forward, period but it is forward, and that answers your question, here is a guy who doesn't need the stroke he is not a politician like any normal politician would have forward, exclamation point, he is
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forward, period, restrained, his argument nowadays is, lets keep going on the path we are on, the other guys path is terrible and it is a path to the past. and it is not one of grand articulation of a moon shot type thing. >> rose: i also think two things, one, if greatness is what you seek an greatness not just for yourself but also for the country you serve and let's assume people who want to be great want that as an equal motivation, you don't achieve that, i don't think, either by simply being able to say it could have been worse. >> terrible bumper sticker. >> rose: it is a terrible bumper sticker. you don't achieve that by saying the other guy is -- >> this is where he may not win because of what you just identified as two of his fundamental arguments might not get him to november. and it really matters. >> rose: and people who know we need something beyond that. >> i mean, how we see him in history is entirely going to depend on november. if the economy gets better in
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the next four years as it probably will get under any president by just psyche also also and the way things worked he doesn't want romney to take credit, i want to win partly because i don't want him to get credit for what i have done. the economy is in better shape and healthcare is implemented, people can point to a better life, he may -- >> rose: thank you both, thank you, peter, great to see you, thank you, jon. >> thank you, charlie. >> rose: as i leave you, looking ahead to the man who was president, who wants to be re-elected and we have talked a lot about mitt romney, there is this also thought, this election also is about judgment and also about character. we have heard in a conversation i did with bill daly, the former chief of staff, his own characterization about president obama at a moment of great, great tension when decisions had to be made in which you are putting men from seal team six in harm's way in the mission to either capture or kill osama bin
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laden, it says something, and it has become even morrell vant because of a new book rin/written by one of the members of seal team six and because some people have criticized the amount of attention that this act has gotten, but here as we close you this evening is former chief of staff, talking about that mission, he was in the room. thank you for joining us for this week of political conversation. we lack forward to seeing you again monday from new york. here is bill daly on the extraordinary story the of the mission by seal team six. >> i assume that one of the great moments for you to be in the white house, to be in the secure room when osama bin laden was killed, you will remember that for a long time? >> oh, yeah. it was an incredible day, and the leadup, i think it was the only national person in the
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security staff that was with every meeting in the president from the day i got there january 4th, around this issue, or january 6th, pardon me, and it was a culmination of ten years of work by professionals in multiple agencies in the government. i saw president over those three months, three and a half month drive the process, challenge the assumptions of military people and intelligence people, people who had been doing this for many, many years, he challenged them, they changed things, and it was a remarkable experience and obviously -- i mean, in hindsight, it may seem obviously to some people he was there, trust me, based upon everything that people saw, there was a legitimate debate and disagreement as to exactly what was there, who was there, if anybody was there of any note, so it took a lot of guts and when i see people say that it
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was a no-brainer to do this, they have no idea what they are talking about, they have no idea of the risk, not necessarily -- first of all, obviously to the men who were on the operation, go into an ally's country, sovereign nation and taking military action, in a part of the world that is extremely volatile on any given day, is a very difficult thing, not knowing, and it has been speculated and written about that there was serious disagreement by some very serious senior people. >> rose: bob bait talked to me on this program and laid it out. >> yes. and if there is one person that when he spoke in that room and disagreed you had to sit here and say, my god based upon his experience, he was in that room and he told us when the iranian hostage situation tack place, he was a young security advisor and
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so you listened to a bob gates and that makes you pause and say, well gee if bob gates thinks this way so it took a lot of courage, only the united states of america, only our military could have pulled this off and it was a great statement to the world and to the american people and it does come. >> rose: and of the president's support, respect and support for the military men and women who were involved in that mission. >> right. >> rose: that they could do it. he understood the risk but he believed in them, because he put his -- he put the country to a risk in a degree because gates said this to me, it might have affected because of pakistan it may have affected what happened in afghanistan. >> oh, absolutely, yes. >> rose: an he was recommending, it is easier to just go and bomb the place and level it. >> right. and the president chose another way. >> he had total faith in the military's ability to pull this off. that was never a question in his mind. i mean, once they went through and we have seen our military perform over there every night
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doing these sort of missions in many different ways, this was a unique one, but there are a lot more threatening ones that they do every night than even this one, so it was a remarkable experience, and i got up the next morning and i said to my wife you know what if this job ended today, this was a historic effort, and something that i will remember and be proud of the rest of my life. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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i'm alan cumming, and this is masterpiece mystery!