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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  April 9, 2011 5:00pm-6:00pm EDT

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>> host: now, from graham, do you see a -- mr. graham, do you see a need for politics and prose, perhaps, to move into the selling of digital books or an enhancement of the web site? >> guest: we are looking at enhancing the web site. i think that will be important. we realize the threat from e-books, but it's not a threat we're going to run away from. we are hoping to, um, to provide opportunities for self-publishing, and we're looking at a print-on-demand machine like a number of other stores have acquired around the country. there are a host of initiatives, i think, that you'll see beginning to take shape at politics and prose. ..
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>> next, ron reagan, the son of former president, ronald reagan, recounting his father's personal life and political career. ronald reagan would have 100 on february 6, 2011. ron reagan remembers his father at politics and prose bookstore
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in washington, d.c. this is just under an hour. >> thank you, mike. is this on. can you hear me okay? all right. thank you, mike. pleased to be here on the very unlikely event. not that they don't do readings and things as they call them all the time. i'm the unlikely part of this. because i never really intended to do anything like this. i'm 52. i managed to get through at least half a century without ever considering to do something like this. but a little less than a year ago, it was february 6 last year, i was talking to my mother on the occasion of my father's 99th birthday when, of course, the 100 00th birthday came up. can you believe daddy is going to be 100. she calls him daddy of course to her kids still. i'm saying to her, yeah, boy,
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isn't that something? that's just incredible. inside i'm thinking please not another aircraft carrier. don't make me go to the dedication of a bridge or something like that. then i got to thinking about that 100 years. 100 years a long time. that 100 years is a particularly long time and a momentous time. it was a different world. it was a different world that he came from, my father. which may explain the peculiarities. nothing grim, strange, creepy. at the all creepy, in fact, he was an odd duck. he was almost too good. he never gossipped. not once did i hear him. he never blistered either. most men can come home and i'm
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going to kick that son of a gun's [bleep] not my father. not once. never raised his voice. he once did almost knock someone over with a set of keys. i don't know what he was upset about. he never yelled. he was soft spoken. if he wanted to make you feel bad, his tone would acquire this gravitas, he would start speaking slower and slower, until finally your whining sounded like gerbil's speaking after a while. i was conscious of the fact that my father has a reachable core to him. the 90% that all of us saw in the public as president of the united states, governor of california, actor, all of that, what you see is what you get.
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same guy as the dinner table as would be delivering the state of the union address. that 90% was absolutely consistent, absolutely trustworthy, you could count on it, you know, all day long. but there was this 10% of him, metaphorically speaking that he held very close. and everybody in his family, those of us who knew him were aware of the 10%. even my mother, were aware there was 10% that you couldn't always reach. a private part of him. that was the part of him that i determined to go looking for. that was the mysterious part of him, not the part that was right out there, but the 10%. where it it come from? what was it all about? i went looking, and that married to the 100 years, the 10% had to
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be forming itself in his early years. way back in tampico and dixon and all of the other towns that he lived in. that's where i went searching. now i have to say if you are going to write a story about your own father, it certainly helps if you had a pulitzer prize winning biographer tailing him around. a lot of your research is already done. so i relied on many of the books that had already been written on him for facts and dates and figures and things like that. but, of course, those people who had accomplished as they maybe, edwin morris, for instance, being the pulitzer prize winner for 14 years. they didn't grow up with him. they are looking at him from the outside. i'm looking at him from the inside. there are many people that know much more about his policies and
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politics. i didn't make the study, i didn't cover him while he was in the white house. but i grew up with him. i knew him since i was, you know, this big. [laughter] people remember him as president, people remember him for the challenger disaster, maybe. or some state of the union address, of course, the assassination attempts, things like that. i remember him going way back when he would pick me up over his head and fly he to bed, making a propeller sound. [airplane sounds] >> under the doorways and into the bed. finally he would sing me a song and sing me to sleep. that's my memorable of him. but still, he was mysterious. still he was something of an enanything ma. i didn't stop at just his childhood either. i was interested in the family history as well. i went all the way back to ireland, all the way back to
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thomas o'reagan that came down. nobody is quite sure. they list both, and married the girl named margaret murphy, and together they lived in dulis, which is outside of valley, which maybe a town you've heard of if you followed my father. dulis is no more, it was a collection of huts. it was like mud and sticks. they'd make their own set of mud and sticks. they melt back into the turf. these were more irish people, peasants, really. they worked the field and the irish potato famine. the population of ireland today has not recovered fully from the poa lay -- potato famine. there still aren't as many today as there were in 1945, let's say. right in the middle of this,
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dirt poor, literally dirt poor is the reagan. the o'reagan i should say, family, at this point. thomas and margaret die. michael o'reagan is the only child in the family. my great, great grandfather. is that right? yeah. great, great grandfather, he learned to read somehow. he was the only one that wasn't illiterate. he came a soap maker and moved the family to england. here's one the other pieces of original research that i can claim and be proud of. i got an e-mail from ancestry.com. i don't know if you know that. i signed up for it years ago. now available the 1851 census. they moved in 1849 to brittin. maybe they are in the sense. maybe michael o'reagan and his bride are in the census.
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then i thought, no. they are an irish peasants, living in a slum. nobody counts those people. well, they were very efficient in britain in 1851. in fact, they diploma count those count of people. there's michael o'reagan, now michael reagan. the o' fell off. he's now a soap maker, and living with a bunch of other poor irish on bendly street in south london. he's going to marry a katherine. i look for her. sure enough, there she is, living kitty corner across the street. they must have met right there. she's a gardener, living with poor young irish people from the southwest of ireland, including one young woman who's identified as a heather picker.
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we don't see heather pickers these days. this is the sort of family that he came from. michael o'reagan comes over to america. he has children. one of which is john michael reagan now for the first time reagan. who be gets jack reagan, john edward, that's my father's father. so what did i find when i actually started looking at my father? getting past all of the family history and stuff. well, we think of him, i think, i do, as a sort of big strapping, confident kind of guy. you know, not afraid of anything. what would scare him? but when he was a little boy, it turns out, he was a little boy. he was undersized as a youth. his family moved around a lot. he was the new kid in school. perennially. he was picked on my bullies, he was chosen last for games in the playground, and he spent a lot of his time alone. he spent a lot of his time in
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places like the attic of a rental house in gailsberg where they lived, where the previous owner had left strange artifacts as he saw it up in the attic. he would spend his time in the dusty sun beams in the attic, going through all of the stuff birds and strange plants. many who had seem to come from the west. there he began to form the impression of the west as a wide open landscape. instead of roaming that, he saw himself as going into a hero in this landscape. he could do heroic things, he thought. his mother encouraged him in this. when he was born, she called him perfectly wonderful. she never changed her opinion of him. she was always her perfectly wonderful ronald. to his father, when he saw him being born said, well, he makes a lot of a lot of noise for a
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fat bit of a dutchman. everybody called him dutch. his mother called him ronald. but everybody else called him dutch. dutch is the kid, dreaming the dreams of the life ahead where he will be a hero, and he will roam this wide open landscape being the guy in the white hat that rides in and saves the day. the come -- compassionate, yet removed hero. because he's satisfied to a certain extent, alone. being solitary. by the time he's 15, he has found, perhaps, the perfect job for him. and he called it the best job he had ever had. it was life guarding on the banks of the rock river, lull park just north of dixon, illinois, where the family had moved by that time. he had taken some life guarding
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classes, and studied all of these things. he was going to be a life guard. went down to the park to talk and ran the park in the concession stand. his dad drove him down. they looked at the skinny kid. 15, just completed his sophomore in high school. he wants to be the life guard at the big beach where lots of people come. hundreds of people. he looked at him and said, you know, i don't know. he may have taken the classes at the y. you know, he's going to have to dive in there, like, save people, you know? jack said give the boy a chance. he can do it. indeed he did, seven years, 77 people pulled out of the river. if i did the math, that would come to about 11 a summer. which would work out to about ten live saved every ten days or so on that river. imagine being a 15-year-old or 17-year-old, or 20-year-old for
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that matter. what do you do for your summer job? well, every ten days or so i'll save somebody's life. now some people would have said, you know, i mean, it's -- sure, he goes into the river, and he pulls some person out. that can't be too impressive. i visited that river for the first time when i went there. the rock river in illinois. slows into the mississippi. it's a feeder for the mississippi. it is a major river. it is a powerful river. you get caught out in the middle of that current. and you don't know how to swim, you are in trouble. you are heading downstream in a hurry. somebody is going to have to come and get you out of that trouble. well, guess who that was? for seven years. he learned -- as i said, i think it was the perfect job for him. because he was at one in the same time the focus of the attention, the man of the hour, when things went wrong, he was the one that everybody turned to. yet, at the same time, he could
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remain solitary. you have to be removed as the life guard. and you can't be off snoozing at the concession stand, or hanging out with your buddies. you've got to be watching and paying attention. given that he's near sided, he really has to pay attention. staring through the thick glasses the whole time at the river. trying to figure out who's going to get in trouble and where the whole time. he was, i think, keeping the planets aligned is how it -- he was keeping the universe in order by pulling those people out of the river. drowning people were chaos. and my father couldn't stand chaos. he liked his world orderly. he would be free to dream his dreams in peaceful tranquility. so he would dive into the rivers and pull people out. now, almost nobody ever thanked him for doing this. he learned a lot about human
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nature too, i think. no men would thank him for being rescued. he used to do a little imitation of him. he'd -- after he'd do a rescue, his father jack told him, he complained, nobody ever thanks me. i'll tell you what, get a log, stump, carve a notch for every person that you rescue. so he would. 77 notches on a driftwood log, eventually. he used to imitate people coming up and men he'd pulled out of the river. well, you know, i -- i wasn't really in trouble out there at all. really. and he'd just keep carving that notch on his log. oh. okay. carve, carve, carve. one man did thank him. the only man who ever thanked him. this was a giant of a man who arrived at the river one day with somebody leading him because he was totally blind.
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he was 6'5", 350 -- i mean he was huge to hear my father tell it. and my father thought how am i going to get him out of the river if he gets in trouble out there? he'd already told me when i was little that there were some techniques they didn't teach you at the y.m.c.a. for rescuing people, some of which involved hitting them with a right cross to the jaw in order to subdue them so that you could safely get them back to the shore. because a drowning man, -- a drowning anybody, will kill their rescuer. you are frantic out there. imagine a 15-year-old boy. he has to go out and rescue full grown men who were bigger and stronger, and terrified, clawing at anything to stay on top of the water. now he's confronted with a guy who is, you know, five times his size. what is he going to do? sure enough, he gets into the water and starts paddling out. and gets sucked into the middle
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of the current and down the stream he goes. he does what drowning people do. ends up vertically, and starts slapping at the water. and into the water goes my father. thinking this maybe the last time i do this. this guy is going to take me in the bottom and going to be rolling along the river bottom to sterling downstream. he said as soon as he reached the man and put his hand on him, the man instantly relaxed and let him do whatever he wanted. because he was blind. and he'd been led around all of his life. as soon as he felt a human touch, he thought i'm safe. he simply relaxed. that was the only man who ever thanked him. he did get notoriety. the first time he got his name in the paper was a rescue. he closed up at park at 9:30. he used to do this.
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hot summer nights, people linger in the water. i want to go home. but people wanted to stay. because it was hot. so he'd start taking a little pebbles and just flicking them into the water. sure enough people would say, what was that? what was that? just the old river rats. they come out this time of night. usually emptied the beach. so this night, the river rats had done their job and everybody lived. he was at the concession stand. he was, you know, helping ed grabil close up there. all of the stud, three people come screaming out of the darkness from the direction of the river. help, help. their friend, they had snuck down to the river. and one of their friends who wasn't as strong of a swimmer as he thoughts went under. now it's 9:30, 10:00 at night. it's dark. and there's a man out there in the river who's drowning.
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so off my father goes at a -- you know, full gallop towards the river listening now. because he can't see the man. remember, he's nearsighted and he has to get rid of his glasses. so he's listening for the sound of the man struggling out there. where do i need to go here to find him? plunges into the darkness. swims out. next day headline of dixon evening telegraph, james rader snatched from the jaws of death. they engaged in quite a struggle before he was able to subdue him and bring him to shore, pulling one arm against the current with him, drag him up on to the lawn, perform artificial respiration, to rei've him. they sent him home. he had his name in the paper. i think he was probably pretty
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happy about that. other than that, and the lateness of the hour, i think the rescue would have seemed rather routine to him. just another day on the rock river. my father was a storytellinger. his great opus was himself. he created a narrative, a template really for his life. wasn't that he was making up a story about himself that he would pretend to live out. he was creating, i think, a template in his mind, and trying to live up to it. he wanted to be a hero. but he didn't want to be just be seen as a hero, he wanted to really be a hero. now when a storytelling, of course, sometimes editing is required. i discovered in some of my father's early stories that i heard as a child, there was some editing, i think, done to focus the narrative a little more. usually focus it on him. the iconic story from his youth is one winter night, 1922, he comes home from the y or maybe
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it was the library where you also spent a lot of time reading there. and he's coming up towards his home in dixon. and he noticed as he approaches the front door, there's a dark shape on the door step. which when he arrives closer, discovered his own father passed out, dead drunk. belching up corn whiskey. he's been dimly aware his father was giving to some drinking. that's exaggerating. he did drink. his parents would have rows. his mother was not approving of the drinking. he'd heard the fights, but always pulled the covers over his head. in this iconic moment, he's having his coming of age experience. and so he says that while he was tempted to step over his father
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and go inside and fix something to eat and go to bed, he couldn't leave him out there in the snow. in his telling, he grabs his father's coat collar and drags him over the threshold and muscles him up the steep, narrow doorway and puts him into the bedroom. breathes not a word to his mother, as if she wouldn't know. i went back and thought about little dutch. who probably wouldn't have weighed, 100 pounds at that point. i thought of rather burly jack who went about 180 or so. i thought to myself, he didn't drag anybody anywhere. i have no doubt that he found him, and grabbed his coat and probably gave him a shake. but whatever, i suspect, was that jack woke up.
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jack staggered to his feet, and jack being jack, he probably had a few pussy things to say at that point. profane, probably, as well as w. but that gets edited out of the story. the focus is a young man that's having his coming of age moment. giving jack too many lines would just not work. jack has to hit the cutting room floor there. and he would do things like this. this was -- he had a tendency, i'm sort of skipping through a lot of tough here, of course. he had a tendency to encage in a certain amount of denial. he was very talented at denial when he needed to be. sometimes to rather humorous affect. my wife and i once in washington while he was president were accompanying him to some event. i can't remember exactly what it was. we were in the presidential motorcade in the big armored limo coming back. there were people lining the
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streets, waving and all of that. at this point, this is life, he decided what america really needed was the revival of the thumb's up guestture. he'd been traveling and giving them the thumb's up gesture. as we were driving back, he was thumb's upping people out the car. we reach a certain point. some young man, maybe in the 30s or so, got under the sawhorses of the police tape or broke through the secret service line. i don't know how he got so close to the car. there he was, maybe a body length or two from the presidential limousine on my father's side of the car. he was promoting a different hand gesture. he had an entirely different digit hoisted in my father's direction. i believe a word beginning in mother and ending in some other e.r. word was being deployed as well at the same time.
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my father takes it in, without missing a beat, turns to us and says, you see, i think it's catching on. that was my dad. now i suppose i should say because you've probably heard about some of this. i should say at least a word about the present controversy, which has apparently erupted with the publication of that book. my brother took it upon himself to help sell copies of the book. i owe him a thank you. he did it without reading the book too. that's how good of a brother he is. this centers around the question of alzheimer's. my father died of alzheimer's, of course. he was diagnosed several years after he left office. i say two things in the book that relate to this in my way. one i admit midway through the
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term as president, 83 or 84, i would occasionally notice things that seemed just like a hitch in the giddy up is what i've characterized it as. nothing you can characterize in my specific way. and not anything that somebody who wouldn't have and didn't grow up in a house with him would have noticed. when you are that attuned, any little change in rhythm or body language, the way they tell the story, anything is going to tip you off that maybe they are a little under the weather or having a bad day or something. so i mention that i did have concerns at one time. i don't put the name to him, i don't diagnosis him with alzheimer's at the time. i simply mention the concerns. i have to say it was in the mid '70s, the oldest president ever elected. he was losing the hearing and he hated to wear hearing aids. he'd been shot and nearly killed by that time. which will take a little wind
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out of your sails. i had all sorts of things to worry about. this was just a background worry there. i do say later in the one chapter in which we deal with any of this, there is one sentence that's specifically links presidency and alzheimer's. and it is a deduction based on when he was diagnosed and what we know now about alzheimer's disease. which is that it is a process that extends for years, even decades before identifiable, observable symptoms will present. i mean if i'm going to get alzheimer's in my '70s, you could look at my brain right now and tell. there would be changes going on right now. it seems to me the question as to whether the disease was present in him during his presidency seems to be academic to me. it would almost have to be. that is not to say, however, that he suffered from dementia
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while he was in officer. alzheimer's is a disease. dementia is a symptom that shows up in the ladder. i saw no signs of dementia while he was president of the united states. i allude to that in the back. i've been answering questions in the last week and a half. yes, but you say. i say no, i didn't. show me. they can't. because they didn't read the book. they are making it up. i pretty much explained to exactly what my side of the controversy is. i don't know if he had alzheimer's for sure when he was in the office. i think it's a likelihood that the disease was present. i did not see signs of dementia, nor do i say that i did. that's about it as far as it goes. at heart, this is not a political book, by the way. i had no interest in doing a
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political history of him. it is a book primarily about his early life, formative years, and a son to find his father looking in the distance past for his father's rather elusive character. in a last chapter, i bring you up to date, somewhat up to date into the white house and then to the end of his life. i just determined that was the way to end the book and jump ahead. that's what i did. you can't do that without mentioning alzheimer's, of course. since i mentioned it, i knew i'd have to deal with it forthrightly and honestly as i could. so i did. that's what i had to say about it. i will take any questions that you might have. i would be happy to entertain any questions. yes, that's the microphone. or you could shout out from where you are, i guess. [applause]
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[applause] >> thank you. one the things you mention is his incredible whit. which i had occasion to witness. >> yes. >> and his being so phonic. there was an occasion until white house where i had to go through stacks of photographs with v.i.p. there wasn't a single shot which he was on camera. and looking good. i bet his driver's license's photo was a keeper. he would not take a bad picture. >> yeah, he was amazing. that's not my question. it has to do with religious. i haven't read your whole book. i've read a few of the first chapters. you mention his catholic/ protestant mother and father. >> jack was on and off against catholic and nelly was a disciple of christ as they call
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it. >> did he emulate with what his parents did in letting him decide later on in life. how did religion? he wasn't a chart with the religion on his sleeve. but he wasn't a george washington that never talked about it in public. i'm curious to get your overview on the whole issue. >> well, his general feeling about his religion, it was a private kind of thing. he wasn't ashamed of it. he was quite open and, of course, the religion writ when he needed to written an election. but he did not go around the house like a holy roller. we didn't have bible readings in the house. he was a regular church goer. he knew he would disrupt things and could potentially be a threat to people. we see that bad things happens
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sometimes to politicians. he did follow in his parents, nelly, the disciple of christ, you do not try to indoctrinate young people. you let them decide. he took that attitude with me. although i don't think he was entirely happy about it. i announced when i was 12, i'm going to church anymore. [cell phone ringing] >> i have the same ringtone, by the way. he said let's go to church. i said i don't believe this. i'm going to pretend anyone. he was upset about it. hurt more. i could see he was very worried. he wasn't going to wrestle me into church. that wasn't going to work. you know, put me in a half nelson and take me to the alter
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there or anything for some kind of exorcism. one say i found the pastor of our church waiting to have a talk. don was his name, he later became not the pastor when it turns out he was tending to his flock on occasion with his pants around his ankles. he was a big guy. used to play football for ucla. i think he was an all american. he was a big guy and all. you know, he was going to convince me to come back to church. but within a few minutes, i realized i can have this argument with him. i was worried about first. he was a professional. i can hold my own. after a few minutes, we gave up and talked about football. i was disappointed. when he left, i was still an
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atheist. >> he didn't communicate with god were making decisions? >> certainly not in any exhibitionistic kind of way. i think he would pray quietly at times for guidance. i know after he's been shot, he believed that his god had spared him. not as a mandate like because you are so special. you know, there was a responsibility that he saw to do god from there on out. as much as i disagreed with him about things, he meant well. he always thought he was doing the best that he could for the country. >> if your mother has read the book, how has she reacted to it? >> well, she had read the book. when all of this came up, i thought, well, i better ask her what she wants me to say about this. you know, i called her up and said they are going to ask me.
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what do you want me to -- people have been describing sentiments to you. i don't want to do that myself. tell me what i say. you said, i read it, i loved it, it made me cry, and i'm very proud of you. such a mom thing to say, you know? [applause] >> yes, ma'am? >> hi, i particularly loved hearing you the voice of reason on air america. >> i thought you meant around our dinner table. [laughter] [laughter] >> i thought of myself. >> sure. [laughter] >> so is anything brewing, any chance that we can hear you again nationally on radio? >> it is possible. although there are -- there has been talk already with our publisher about doing another book. which i think i would like to do. i'd rather like the process and the whole rhythm, as opposed to the daily grind of the three hour show and temperament tally,
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i'm not as well suited to radio as i would be to something like this it seems to me. i'm not a yeller. there's a lot of that going on. they do the book tours and radio satellite, where you sit down on the phone and they keep throwing the host from this town and that town. we got to tampa, florida. the ted and jack show. you might want to avoid the ted and jack show, or at least ted. ted was -- i'm going to use some language that might offend some. i'm sorry. within one minute of getting me on the air, ted had called me on asshole, threatened to kick my ass, and said he hadn't bought my book and wasn't going to until he needed something extra to wipe his ass with. and i thought, can i speak to jack? is the grown up in the pair
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there? this just went on. this was all he said to me this whole time. you are this and that. you are a small little pathetic man, ted. and it turned out he was -- well, i won't say -- he's just what you'd expect i discovered. >> that's why we need you. >> thank you, i appreciate that. >> i used to work for bill foster, democrat from illinois 14th congressional district. we had tampico and democrat. we had a picture of your dad. he was a scientist. he said, you know, not that he didn't like your dad. if he had to pay homage to your dad, that was the proper form. my question with that as a backdrop, what do you -- how do you go in with the modern republican party revokes your dad. they constantly do to emulate his success and personality. when they invoke your dad for
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specific policy conditions or things that you think you know him. you think he wouldn't say that or do that. does it make you mad. how do you react to that? >> it can be annoying at times. i'll admit that. but it comes with the territory. i understand why they are doing it. who else do they have? they are not going to go to nixon. or something like that. you know, harding? hoover? they are pretty much stuck with ronald reagan, which is not so bad. i do note that many of those people not only didn't know him, but probably had never met him. yet, they are speaking for him. i am very reluctant to speak for my father in any specific political sense. i don't know what he would feel about today's issues. presumely, his thinking would have evolved.
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well, he'd want taxes to be lower, or repeal the health care. i don't know what he'd feel. i do feel confident in saying he would be distressed by the level of vitrea control. he would just find that beneath the dignity of our country. there are a couple of things i could probably -- he would be distressed by the recent effort on the s.t.a.r.t. treaty. that was big. john kyl and some of the people tried to hold it up. he would probably pinch somebody's head off over that. he would find it awful. the only other issue but i was tempted to put in the book, my editor said you cannot have any politics at all, because that'll be the entire focus of any discussion that you have. that would be the torture issue.
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my father signed a covenant against torture. he meant that. that kind of cowardness wasn't part of his character. he would be nauseated by that. but that's my personal opinion. >> thank you. >> can you explain the political evolution? apparently he was a roosevelt guilty? >> he was a roosevelt democrat. in the 14th, jack and nelly for roosevelt democrat in a republican county. they were weird in all sorts of ways. not weird like disturbing weird. just different. the light lip farm country. they would love to put on plays and stuff. they were kind of bohemians in a way. it was a dixon. he was reluctant to admit this when i was a child. dixon was a town where apparently black people were not
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allowed to spend the night. were not welcome to spend the night in a hotel. any hotel in dixon during the 1920s and 1930s. but that wasn't the case in the reagan home. you know, one day the story and i relate it in the book where he in the football team arrive in dixon on their way back from playing a became and they pull into a hole. there are two black players on the team. and the hotel manager says, yeah, we've got room for your team. expect the two black players. and the coach, mike mckinnie, said we'll go to another hotel. no hotel in town, says the manager, is going to take the two black players. fine, says, mac, we'll sleep on the bus. my father intervenes and says, you know, why don't you put me in a cab with my two friends and we'll go to my folks house.
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whoa. what are your folks going to think if you show up with two black players. he said nothing. jack didn't care. jack didn't let the family see birth -- see "birth of the nation." damned if i'm going to let anybody see that. it's about the clan against the blacks. he says. i'm not going to forget that. >> was it the time at g. e. that changed him? >> oh, the transition. >> not so much at g.e. -- >> or the gold water? >> it was before that, he had become a conservative probably by the early 50s, later 40s, early 50s. >> he voted for ike, didn't he? >> yeah, he did. he voted for truman first. then he voted for ike later. i think it was really the meetings that he had with some writers during the -- when he was president of the screen actors guild. one meeting in particular where
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one the writers, i don't know if it was dalton, but it could have been somebody else. given the choice between the american constitution and soviet constitution, he would choose the soviet. and this so shocked my father, i think, he thought we have a real menace here. you know, i've got to kind of enlist in the fight against this. so that's just short of brief over view. i don't really get into that part of the career in this book because i'm going back further and earlier. that's my understanding. yes, ma'am. >> thank you so much. obviously, you have inherited your father's gift for humor. and speakifiing if that's a word. you may not know the answer to this. after the recent tragedies in tucson, i have heard conversation about had there been a movement of some kind after the attempt on your
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father's life, to do something to change the gun. >> well, we did have the brady guild. >> right. there was just conversation that had your dad, perhaps, then a bit more involved in something to do something to correct the gun laws or had the administration, and i just wondered if there had ever been any talk to your own family of just the necessity, or the importance of that? >> not too much. i grew up with guns. when i was 6-year-old, my father presented me with a 22 caliber rifle which i kept in my room with bullets. i knew that at age 6. he explained to me, this is not a toy. you never play with this. when friends come over, don't play like it's a toy. you leave it up there. you have toy guns. play with them. never ever point a real gun at
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anybody if it's loaded. forget if it's loaded or not -- whatever. you never point a gun at somebody. excuse me it's loaded. the guns were, you know, they were a tool. he didn't fetishize guns the way so many people do now. all they can think of when they talk about the constitution of the united states, i get to carry my gun. you know, it guarantees me the right to carry my gun. my gun, my gun, my gun. come on. if you had a penis, you wouldn't need the gun so badly. you know, really, that's what it comes down to. [applause] >> just come on, get a grip on your whatever. [applause] >> so i can't -- i don't know exactly what might have happened. you know, he was obviously sympathetic to the second amendment. he was a gun owner and things like that. he didn't seem to fetish the guns like so many people do now. i hope that answers it somewhat at least. >> your father grew up in a time
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when divorce was an issue. >> uh-huh. >> it's the first divorced president. could you talk about his marriages and how the government affected things? >> yeah, two marriages, one to jane, and the other to my mother which lasted 53 years before he died. i think he was very -- the period of time in the late 40s. this isn't what's covered in the book. the period where he was divorced from jane weinman, and when the war was beginning to go down. this was a rough, rough time for him. film career on the way, divorce, and then he playing at a charity softball game, shattered his femur. he's laid up on crutches and cast, hanging out at his mother's house for a long period of time. he recovers in time to go off to england with neil and todd who steals the movie from him.
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you know, meanwhile, jay -- jane weinman is about to collect an academy award. so that was that period. i don't think he ever would have filed for divorce himself. he just wouldn't have -- however desperately unhappy he may have been in that marriage. i don't know how unhappy that was. he never would have asked for a divorce. she did. i think she was moving on with her career. saw him maybe as a liability even at this point. hollywood is like that. you know, i don't want to be hanging out with somebody who is lower on the totem pole than me. that kind of thing. even if i'm married and have had children with them. i don't want to do that. i think that was -- you know, anyway. that's pretty all i have to say about that marriage. anybody else? >> we have time for one or two more.
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>> okay. >> obviously your mother loved your dad dearly. is it on? >> yes. you are on now. >> obviously your mother loved your dad dearly. she was portrayed always as being somewhat of a strong person. what influence did your mom have on your dad? would she as far as his decision s on her opinion on things happening politically? >> she was not a political person. so the idea that she was sort of, you know, pulling the strings behind the scenes and gets them to sign this bill and not that bill or whatever. didn't happen. she encouraged him certainly with the soviet union and gorbachev. she and i talked to him about the aids crisis when it was apparent that the administration was just dragging it's feet. they weren't doing enough. so we kind of teamed up with them on that. but her -- mostly she had a
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great antenna for other people's agendas that might conflict with him. i'm talking to people who worked with him. personnel issues were where she would make her feelings known more than politics or policy, or anything like that. that was, you know, don reagan, for instance, famously hung up on her twice. that was the end of don. >> would these be previous or things discussed in the family quarters? >> both. you know, she might -- again, she and i talked to him about the aids crisis together. but mostly that would be, you know, pillow talk basically. yeah. >> we'll finish with the last question. >> hi, i'm so happy to be here and meet you, finally. i just have a short story. that was i was very much against your father's presidency, and not a fan at all. i was working in the army navy
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club at the time. when he was president. and during that time, i saw it being turned into a homeless shelter. and some of the policies. there was one day they closed off i street, i was out on my lunch break. i was the only person, no cars, i'm standing there in a scarlet coat, the limo now comes out. your father and i were about four feet away when the car took a -- he turned on i street going the wrong way. >> you can do that when you are president. who's going to stop you? >> he looked at me. i looked at him. such excitement. the wonderful charm. it's really difficult. this is my brush with mr. reagan. >> you couldn't have five minutes and not like him.
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many people tried. come to a meeting with him, or whatever. and think i'm not going to like him. i'm just not going to like him. you know, they'd leave 15 minutes later, he's a great guy. you know? i still don't agree with him, but he's a good guy. you know, i felt the same way. we argued about the vietnam war, of course, when i was really young. we used to argue as i mentioned environmental issues sometimes. but, you know, we'd stay friends, and sometimes he wouldn't bother to argue with him. one story and then we can, you know, go do book signing, i guess. i'm riding horses with him at camp david. my father had a 19th century view of nature that i think. it was fine. he loved being out in nature and outdoors. he kind of thought that man had dominion. it was man's responsibility to manage. riding on horse back. there's the storm blowing through the night or two before. there's debt limbs and stuff
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scattered on the ground underneath the trees. he turns to me in the saddle. he said that maybe nature to some people. but i think we can do better. i was about to -- and i just thought what the hell. you know? >> it can be done. he was the package. he really was the package for republicans. >> again. who else? >> we all admire your courage too. i think coming out with you. thank you very much. >> thank you all. [applause] [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> this event was hosted by politics and prose bookstore in washington, d.c. for more information visit politics-prose.com. >> cynthia stewart was a mother in oberlin, ohio, small child,
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he was the mother of an 8-year-old. she lived in a farm house outside of town. she was a passionate photographer. she became after her daughter had been born. she decided to document her daughter's life in great detail. she relished doing that. she took pictures of nora all the time. by the time nora was eight, she had taken 35,000 paragraphs of nora. these are not digital. these are rolls of film. all of those pictures were numbered and filed and archiveed in cardboard boxes in her dining room. she wanted some day to put together a book. she was going to have a lot to choose from. on july 6, 1999, cynthia scooped up 11 rolls of film and took them to the discount drug mart to have them developed. a few days later, ten of those
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rolls came back. one did not. cynthia assumed that role had been lost in the lab. she began calling the lab to track it down. it really upset her to lose a photograph. she knew they had pictures of her daughter. it didn't dawn on her to worry. because she had taken photographs naked, along with all kinds of other pictures. most of them had been developed at the discount drug mart lab. a few weeks went by. on august 11th, they said they had her pictures at the station. she was relieved. she thought they found the pictures. there are serious questions about the pictures, ma'am. we want you to come down to the station to talk to us. she was willing to go. she thought there was nothing to hide. she could explain them. she invited the police and pointed out the boxes, and explained what she did, she was a photographer. they didn't ask to see the photograph.
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when she consulted david, he insisted they get a lawyer. they informed the police that's what they would do. the police left. the next day they met with a father, amy wertz, who was a specialist in family law. cynthia explained to her. the photographs in the bathtub. i think what's likely to happen, if the police are concerned about the photographs enough, they might pass them along to the prosecutor. if the prosecutor is concerned enough, he'll pass them along to children services. if children services is concerned, they will send a social worker out to your house or sign nora at school and try to find out the intend. what did you plan to do with these. what are they about? she had cynthia write up an affidavit that explained the
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photographs. they had it notarized and sent to the police. six weeks went by. the police never returned to the house. never a search warrant to ask to see the photographs. they never ask any other question of the family. the prosecute prosecutor did not contact the lawyer and ask for the questions about the client. and children's services never showed up. so everyone assumed this little incident was over. everything had been taken care of. on september 28th, two sheriff's deputies came to the door and arrested cynthia. and took her to the county jail. david had to bail her out by putting a $20,000 lien on their house. cynthia was arrested on two felony charges. the first felony charge was a lawyer in ohio -- the ohio law said that you cannot take a photograph of a naked child. i saw someone's eyes go like
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this. that would make most of us felons; right? fortunately, the law had been constrained by the ohio supreme court and the u.s. supreme court. two cases where there was a lewd exhibition or graphic focus on the genitals. nudity alone wasn't the focus can be it had to be a nude exhibition. the second law was a law that prohibits the photographing of a child in a sexual performance. the photograph that is were taken were taken after they had been to a art gallery. there was one photograph of a woman in the bathtub rising up. nora asked if they could do that at home. she said yes. they filled it with bubble bath and nora had risen up from the water.

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