tv Book TV After Words CSPAN February 26, 2012 12:00pm-1:00pm EST
cover the military and i see every day the extraordinary feats and what they achieved in various provinces but doris lessing wrote a book that sticks with me, the title of it and it says, it's about afghanistan and the wind blows away their words. and you just have a sense that whether it's this great military or previous militaries. as soon as they're gone the afghans have a way and they will go back to their own ways and i don't think it will have changed based on my experience. >> i'll just add one very, very quick note. girls are going to school in afghanistan today. they weren't in the late '90s. >> absolutely true. >> if the u.s. stays there, they'll probably keep going to school. if the u.s. leaves, it's a possibility there could be back-sliding. how much is it worth or at what price should the u.s. pay so that afghan girls can go to school? it's a tough question. it's one very quick example of the kinds of questions you're looking at.
>> setting aside the politics that we would like the americans and the israelis and the arabs, what do you personally feel would be the equitable solution israeli .. never going to be a perfect solution. these are two peoples that have been there for centuries. they both have legitimate claims to the land there. they're going to have to find ways to share it. and as i said. it's not incompatible. israel needs -- the one thing israel really needs is security. and they deserve it. the one thing the palestinians need and deserve is a viable state. you can have both of those things but it will have to be worked out between them. i think the united states can play a very valuable role as a mediator but the u.s. can't force it. a formstam baker james baker when he was secretary of state, said, the
u.s. can't want peace more than the palestineans and israelis. we can't just say, here's a plan, implement it. when you get strong enough majorities on both sides and day agree to some sort of compromise, that's the solution. [inaudible] >> the question was, what do our daughters' birth certificates say in terms of where they were born. they say, jerusalem, comma, they don't say a state because jerusalem is to be negotiated according to u.s. policy, and -- but you remember there is a supreme court case this year -- this became very relevant because there are -- there's a case before the justices -- i'll let greg explain it. >> the child was born in jerusalem to jewish parent whose live in the u.s., and they want
the passport to say jerusalem, israel, and the u.s. state department's position is since the state of israel has not been resolved, it just says jerusalem. so that's exactly our goal. it wasn't an-for us because we thought it may make it difficult i they wouldn't travel in certain countries in the middle east. it might make it difficult. we thought that will be 20 years to sort that out. will, six months after anna lisa was been 9/11 happened, and we were asked to go to pakistan, and there was no way pakistan was going to allow somebody in who has a jerusalem about stamp in their passport. so littery in six months it became an issue. i went and jennifer stayed in jerusalem there you are.
>> who is best aligned to stand out leading palestinians toward peace? we're very aware of the leaders in israel who are quite able to do that. what leadership amongst palestinian people will move towards peace? >> well, the problem with fata hamas. you have mahmoud,, and you have the prime minister, former imf leader and very welsh thought of in the west, and then you have ania, the leader of hamas, and the two sides, as much as we heard talk of them uniting in recent weeks, the gap between what they believe is enormous, and the hamas still does not accept the right of israel to exist, and so i think there's an open question about who is the
leader of the palestinian people and who -- certainly hamas has shown no signs of wanting to negotiate with israel, and the israeli prime minister, benjamin netanyahu said recently to abass, if you do a deal with hamas, there's no more talking. so these are the issues they're grappling with right now. >> we have time for one more question. [inaudible question] >> hadas, i had the most extraordinary room with a view looking over the old city to give birth to both our daughters. very special place. >> okay. thank you very much. >> thank you very much. [applause] >> coming up next, of words, an
hour-long program where we invite guest hosts to interview authors. this week, ira shapiro and the last great senate. he shines a spotlight on the senators of the 1960s and '70s who passed the civil rights and great society legislation. he argues the senate was diminish witness the republican gains of the 1980 and has not recovered. he discovered in the institution over the last half century with independent senator from vermont, bernie sanders. >> hi. i'm u.s. senator bernie sanders from the state of vermont, and we're delighted to be here with author ira shapiro, and we are going to talk about ira's book: "the last great senate: courage and statementsmanship in times of crisis."
welcome, ira. let me start off with a hard question. who are you, what's your background, and how did you get into this book? >> i'm from new york originally, born in new york, grew up oblong island. a product of the 60s, got interested in politics during the '60s. responding to the civil rights issues of the time, and then ultimately to vietnam, when the war was so dominant while we were in college. graduated in 1969, and actually from brandeis university, and one day after graduation was able to start as a senate intern for jacob javits for the summer. i was impressionable but it made a big impression on me, and i decided to go to law school and came back in 1975 and spent 12 years in the senate, and in a sense i'm writing the book because i've been fascinated by
the senate for a long period of time. >> now, you make no secrets in your book that you are liberal or progressive democrat. you ran for the united states congress. talk a little bit about that, and then do you feel that your political views flavor the way you rote the book or do you think you could be more subjective? >> i'm clear lay progressive democrat. i have been involved in a a lot of democratic presidential campaigns, and certainly my own campaign in 2000 -- 2001 and 2002 to try to get to congress. i don't think the book will reflect that -- a bias. the early reviews of the book and the comments on it have been noting that it's quite fair. >> do you think republicans should rated, too -- should read it, too?
>> i think they should it focuses on the courage and statesmanship of what i call the great senators and the great senate. the epilogue of the book does indicate what i think happened since 1980, and it is critical of the republican move to the right and its impact on the senate. but it's no more critical of the republicans than many'mans have been. >> let me mention -- in your prologue you write in washington, dc, millions of americans who first were drawn to politics because of john f. kennedy, civil rights, the vietnam war, remember the age when the senate was great. and these are the senators ira is talking about when he talks about the great senate.
humphrey, dirksen, gentleman javits, sam irwin, full bright, bird, ted kent, robert kennedy, wayne moss, henry jackson, albert gore, edmund musky, warren magnus sin. robert dole, frank church. john sherman-cooper, eugene mccarthy. margaret k smith, birch bayh and that's quite a cast of characters and those are names that many older americans remember today. of those names, which names pop out to you, and which have impressed you the most? >> let me say first in full disclosure, the narrative of the book focuses on the last years of the great senate, the late '70s, and then -- but the book is backlit by what happened
before. my basic argument is that there was a great senate from the earl '60s through the '70s, so all those people you indicated are part of that. the ones that stand out most prominently in my memory would include hubert humphrey, who was perhaps one of the greatest senators of all time, although i think someone of a tragic figure because of what happened to him in-during the vietnam when he was vice president. but as senator he really invented the modern senator's role to some extent. he communicated the senate to the vast public on issues like nuclear disarmment and civil rights particularly, and he was one of the great senators. >> let me -- two questions. the 60s and the 70s were very profound moments in american history. i think those of us our age can
remember them. i just jotted down come -- coming here what i remember. the civil rights movement and it wasn't only martin luther king, jr., you had malcolm x, the black panthers, the assassination of president kennedy and the shock to the country, clearly the war in vietnam, profound impact that had on the whole nation, dividing us. and so forth. the rapid speed by which president johnson implemented the great society. and then the impact that had. young people's countercultural movement and woodstock and the women's movement, the environmental movement, et cetera, et cetera. talk for a moment about the great senate -- your words -- and all of these profound movements and events taking place in american history at
that point. >> i think the connection is that historically the senate had been a real disappointment to those who believed that our country should be moving forward robert careow and william wright have written and described the senate as the unending revenge of the south for get -- gettysburg. so the senate was block on progress. what you saw in the early '60s and started in the late '50s, but the senate became progressive and in tune with the challenges the country was facing then. so what you would see is the senate being the partner of presidents in progressive policies when they could be, and the senators being a check on presidents when the presidents
extended their authority in ways that was undesirable. so the senate worked very closely with john kennedy and lyndon johnson on the great society, the civil rights acts. but the senate also was a check on -- attempted to be a check on lyndon johnson and richard nixon, on vietnam. and other excesses of executive power. the key is, it was a progressive senate. it was no longer the graveyard of progressive dreams, and you would find these senators i write about were involved in every piece of social legislation, moving forward in that period. deeply involved. >> okay. now, let me ask you this question. in 1980, as we know, ronald reagan won a handslide victory over president carter. and the democrats went from
58-member majority down to 46. a huge landslide, not only in the presidential election but in senate elections as well. i think many people might be thinking, when you look at the title of your book, "the last great senate." if these guys were so great, why did they get their heads handed to them by by public? you thought they were great but apparently in 1980 the american people didn't think they were so great, or is that not a fair question? >> of course it's a fair question. there were a number of elements at work there. to some extent it was a generational change. many of the people that i described as great had come to the senate in 1956 or '58 or '62 and served three or four terms and to some extent the election terror rat decided it was time
for them to be changed, or some of the senators ran won they are in ill health, such as jason jrvits and warren magnusson but there was a tide in the country as politics were moving to the right. what i describe in the book is the tide moving to the right which culminates in ronald reagan's election. but i also describe the senate that even in the late '70s continues to do the nation's business and solve problems on a bipartisan basis. so the country's moving to the right. the will liberal tide moved outd that caused them to lose the election. but a lot of things were going on for the country. >> speak for a moment on an issue that has always fascinated me. we talk about the country moving to the right. them doing their job in a bipartisan basis. why does the country move to the right? what role did the senate have in
not raising the issues and making contact with ordinary voters and ordinary people in preventing the country from moving to the right? is there a fault here? >> i think the '70s can be remembered in part for a dramatic change in the u.s. economic position. 1973 is often seen as that break point, sort of the sweet summer of postwar prosperity that lasted until 1973, when we hit -- got hit with the energy embargo, opec's embargo, rising energy prices, the first blast of foreign competition, et cetera. at the same time people started to feel stressed from inflation. they were being moved into higher tax brackets that they thought should have made them wealthier but it wasn't because
they're taxes were basically going up. so we intersected with a tax revolt. so there's no doubt there were a number of things happening in the '70s that changed the political climate dramatically, and the democrats, carter in the white house and democrats in the senate, were trying to adjust to that. to sort of come forward with new policies that would adjust to that situation. i think they did some of them but they didn't have time to do all of them. >> let me pick up on the point you made. if i'm not mistaken, actual lyric 1973, in terms of real wages in this country, was the highest point we have ever been. is that your memory? >> i think -- i wouldn't be surprised if that was the case. on the other hand we had our high in manufacturing jobs actually in 1979. so, there was still quite a bit of economic strain, but what
happened in the late '70s, even though the economy was growing, inflation had again to double-digits, and really was out of control for a while. so people were feeling very stressed. >> let me stay on this point again. it's an interesting political point. that is the relationship between people in office, in this case the united states senate -- and what's happening in the general public to me to be great means to be in touch with people to be fighting for your values to be picking up what is going on in the economy. right now you're seeing a middle class significantly declining, poverty increasing, the gap between the very, very wealthy and everybody else getting wider. serious problems in health care and so forth and so on to what degree were in your judgment, these senators addressing those issues or the issues of their
time in a way that the american people are saying, thank you, i'm hurting, for example, during that period there was a property tax revolt. right? >> right. >> so apparently there was a perception that people just couldn't afford to pay higher and higher property taxes. right-wing republicans moved aggressively and the democrats responding to that. >> the democrats were offering some tax cuts that were smaller because they didn't think we could afford large tax cuts. nor did the think we could afford a situation where people pledged never to raise taxes again, no matter what. what you see is the democrats responding to a lot of the challenges of that time. ranging from energy, to health care. raised the minimum wage. did other things. they pushed for labor law reform but were not able to successfully overcome the filibuster. i think they were trying to come up with policies that responded
to the challenges of the time. but they were divided among themselves, too. president carter had view of doing health care reform, step-by-step. senator kennedy felt that health care was the unfinished business of the country. so they differed among themselves, which often happens. that's healthy. but what you saw was the senate still actually managing to work together in a bipartisan way. a lot of the time. >> you speak in your book about mike man's -- mans feel. before mansfield was the majority leader, lyndon johnson was the majority leader, and you contrast their styles. very different styles. talk about lbj as the democratic majority leader, followed by mike mansfield, their differences. why you like mansfield's style a little bit more.
>> well, lbj will live forever in the memory of mesh political history. he was an extraordinary force as senate leader. i describe him as sort of dragging the senate kicking and screaming into the 20th 20th century. he was instrumental in the first civil rights bill, the first break in the dam of southern resistance to civil rights, the 1957 act. he also aggregated a great deal of power. he found sticks and carrots that nobody knew existed. he made the senate work through the full force of his will. but he was abusive to people. he basically pressured people in a way they got tired of. and he would withhold office space. he would withhold committee assignments. he'd pup issue people he didn't like, and by the time he left to be vice president, he had pretty much worn out his welcome.
mansfield was the polar opposite of lbj. an, asian scholar. he was low-key, intellectual, and mansfield believed that all the senators so play a role. they were all adults. the democrats, the republicans, the senior members, the younger members, and he built the senate based on trust and respect, and what you see happening throughout the mansfield period is things get accomplished because of the mutual trust and respect that was nurtured by mapsfield. he wasn't the only one but was instrumental in nurturing it. >> you mak the case that mans feel was the nicer guy. who got more done? which style worked better?
>> i think mansfield served 16 years. he was longest serving majority leader ever. the senate in my view, only had its greatest accomplishments under mansfield. >> tick off some of those. >> mansfield's first major accomplishment was the civil rights act of 1964. obviously lbj deserves huge credit for the presidential leadership he provided. but he was always -- still had a hand in the senate, or wanted to, so he would suggest to maps feel, well, richard russell has emfa seem na or allen anderson isn't in good health and if you filibuster them, you can break them. just keep them on the floor. and mansfield says basically, that's now how i'm going to do. and mans feel win to everett dirksen, the ranking member, and the leader of the southern block, and said we're going to
try to break your filibuster. you're going to have every chance to make your case and we're going to do everything we can to overcome it but i'm not keeping people here all night and trying to break them that way. >> so interestingly here you have a contrast in leadership between lbj, the former senate leader, and mansfield, now the president, still coming from a different position. >> lbj's accomplishments in civil rights will always be remembered. he picked up the mantle after president kennedy was assassinated. 1963-1964 -- the hostic injustice of civil rights was going to be dealt with, but the senate was the last bastion of resistance that had to be overcome, and what mansfield did with hubert humphrey and everett dirksen and the other senators, they won an overwhelming victory
for what was probably the most important piece of legislation ever enacted, the civil rights act of '64. >> in addition to civil rights, which obviously was of enormous consequence for the country -- what are some of the other issues you cover in your book? >> well, the book tries to tell the story of the later years, and looks back on these earlier years. but i have -- i go through a series of things that happened in the late '70s. the pan panama canal treaty fight, the hardest political fight on foreign policy we ever had. you go from there to trying to save new york city. a financial rescue of the city hat precisely the moment that the tax revolt has just occurred. it's sweeping in from california. and saying, we're not going to spend money on these kind of things, and yet the senate in its wisdom, workes with the
administration and comes up with a relief package that's tough enough, has conditions and was tough enough to help new york city, and it was instrumental in the city's recovery. >> and senators voting to support new york at that moment clearly were doing something i gather many of their constituents didn't feel particularly good about. >> well, constituents were coming around. new york was -- at that time the first round of temporary relief had to overcome garyie ford who said basically i'm not going to help you, and the famous headline in the newspaper, ford to city: drop dead. so they were feeling a little better about new york city, but the banking committee and the senate was following the new york situation very closely. the banking committee in the beginning of 1978 said, we're not going to give them anymore
help. in the course of the next few months, the case was made that the help was needed, and the senate changed its mind. because the senate and the hearings that are quite -- if you read the hearings, you would say these people knew that why were looking for and what they were looking at. new mayor came in, moynihan and javits, lobbied hard, richard luger, stepped forward and came up with a plan. richard luger, who is still in the senate. but leaguer was -- luger was a very good example -- i see him as an example of the mansfield democratic sized senate. and if he was willing to step up and play an important role, the senate welcomed that.
>> what we remember and i remember interviewing akip many, many years ago, i gathered that he, republic yap, and mike mansfield, the majority leader democrat, would have breakfast every day. what did that indicate to you? >> well, they were best friends. i mean, they were very best friends, and they really got together for breakfast every day they weren't doing something else, is my understanding, but it signified the kind of bipartisanship. from the top down. the message mansfield sent and that's the message the mansfield akin friendship went but there were numerous cases like this. howard baker told me a story.
>> tell the people who howard baker is. >> howard baker of tennessee was one of the great senators and he becomes -- at the beginning of my book he has just -- he becomes minority leader. 1977. he had tried to be minority leader couple times but hadn't made it. now he is minority leader. carter is president. robert byrd has just become majority leader. howard baker told me the story that the first time he went on a foreign trip as a young senator, he criticized lyndon johnson while he was abroad. and he -- abe ribikoff of connecticut was on the trip with him and he quietly took howard aside and said, howard, i've always found we don't criticize the president when we're in a foreign country. doesn't matter who the president is. and baker said to me, the way he did it and the wisdom of what he said meant a great deal to me. baker took in the lessan but
they became very, very close friends, and in the book there are times when you will see baker and ribikoff collaborating to get things done. it didn't matter that one was a democrat and one was a republican. >> so the sense of a senate past unions a -- bastion is a body trying to work for important national goals in a bypass -- bipartisan way, people think does not exist today. talk about that and the contrast between what people perceive today. >> i think the bipartisanship was really deep in the dna of that senate. we were always -- at the staff level we were always told, if we came up with an idea -- i was democratic staffer -- the first words were, go find a republican. we thought in those terms and
there were republicans to find. at every commitey level you saw democrats and republicans in every committee working together. the key votes were not particularly partisan. it was almost a demilitarized zone in term office bipartisanship. there will other differences but they weren't partisan differences. we have lost that over time and what the epilogue tries to do is explain how and when that got lost. basically the republican party has continued to move to the right. and they have embraced a hyper partisan model that now the senate is trapped in essentially. so that straight party votes become very commonplace. and that's not the way the senate used to work. but it has changed over time, and you will find that republican senators, republican senate leaders, used to work very closely with democratic
presidents, but have stopped doing that, and that message has pervaded the atmosphere and the workings of the senate. >> something we deal with every day right now is the -- on any issue of significance, and some of not significance, we need 60 votes. that was not the case back then in most instances. >> it was not the case back then. but interestingly, senator, what the book indicates is that robert byrd, the majority leader, and who revered the senate traditions and knew the rules better than anyone else -- felt that the senate was always threatened with possible paralysis by filibuster. he had seen senator james allen of alabama come up with a new kind of filibuster, the post-cloture filibuster, and byrd tried very hard to reform
the process, and did in 1979. but 1979, that long ago, byrd said, if we didn't make serious reforms we would have a paralyzed senate, and some of the language he used is very much like we heard 30 years later. so, the senate, i tried to say in the book, the senate usually worked barely, but it worked because of the mutual trust and respect accommodation that the senators reached. >> talk for a brief moment about some of the democrats and republicans who you see as the outstanding figures of that period. >> well, i think the people i put on the cover of the book, ted kennedy was one of the great senators of all-time. i cheated a little bit because his greatness actually was even
more deeply established after 1980, but he was already a powerful senator during the '7s. howard baker was perhaps the epitomy of courage in statesmanship. >> a republican. >> howard baker was minority leader. the panama canal treaty comes up. president carter says we need to negotiate a new arrangement with the panama to allow for access to the panama canal but wore not going to continue to possess it. howard baker's reaction was, this has been around for years. why now? why me? and he was thinking of running for president -- seriously, and he knew that if he supported the panama canal treaties it would probably be the death nell of his presidential hopes but he did it anyway because he thought the national interests required it. jacob javits on the cover,
republican of new york, universally regarded as perhaps the smartest lawyer and the best legislator perhaps of that time. routinely would good to three or four committee meetings, annoyed the hell out of other senators by coming into the meeting, demanding his time, and going right to the heart of the issue. he always managed to add value. you read other books about the senate, books by other senators, and the say, don't make me debate javits. it was too frightening. ed muskie is on the cover as well. a wonderful story. when muskie came to the senate, democrat from maine -- he had been a very good governor. he comes to the senate and gets on the wrong side of lyndon johnson, difference respects johnson, and johnson gets mad. gives him the worst committee assignments he can possibly give him. and muckie sulks for a while and then realize johnson has given him a favor.
johnson put him into the position of becoming an environmental leader because the environment became the issue that it did right in the early '60s. so muskie is very famous for that. and then there's robert byrd on the cover. >> going to take a short break and be back to talk with ira how the world has changed in terms of the senate over the years. thank you.
>> we're descending into single digit favorability. i want to quote -- i want to chat with you a little bit and get your views as to what has happened. the senate was once a quite respected institution. that is certainly not the case right now. nor is the house. let me quote from your prologue. this is what you say. the election of 1980 -- that was the reagan year -- shattered the great senate and the senate has never really regained its stature or reclaimed its special place in the life of our country. in the three decade since the senate has become basically a third wheel in our political system. all presidents reagan, clinton and bush did battle with the house of representatives and its powerful speakers, tip o'neill, newt gingrich and nancy pelosi. the senate's descent to greatness did not go unnoticed.
it was written that a profound sense of crisis now surrounds the senate and its members and it would grow still worse. since barack obama took office with america facing its worst economic crisis since the great depression, the already diminished senate became virtually difference funkal. tomorrow by bipartisanship, paralyzed by filibusters, and the institution seemed frustrate by its lack of accomplishment but unable to change the situation. the once proud senate often seemed to be a parody of itself, quote, the empty chamber, end of quote. elaborate on that. >> well, i think that what i tried to explain in the epilogue, which the epilogue -- somebody said to me, you can't just end it in 1980. you have to connect it. and i felt the need to do that. >> think that's right, by the
way. >> what the epilogue says is, '1980 election shattered the senate. it was the hugest exodus of progressive democratic experienced senators of all-time. replaced by very conservative, mostly very conservative republican neophyte senators so it essentially shattered what i call the senate ecosystem. but what said in the epilogue the senate made a seemingly comeback in the mid-to late 80s. there were still quite a few good senators around and it was not unreasonable to think the senate would claim its position, and if you look at the mid-to late '80s you'll see a lot of accomplishments on a bipartisan basis. so there is would some comeback. then it started down, and i would say in the early 90s and has continued to go down. and the difference was the
partisanship and the desire of republican leaders not to work with democratic presidents, to some extent that started with bill clinton. the republicans never really acknowledged bill clinton as a legitimate president. and it got much worse with barack obama. supporters of barack obama sometimes say he was naive to think he could transcend partisanship. count me among the naive people. i believed in the national narrative in a time of crisis we would come together across party lines and that didn't happen. he hasn't gotten the cooperation he needed, and the republicans like to make fun of his statement that elections have consequences. but they do have consequences. the fact that the republicans have won seven out of ten
presidential elections since 1968, before obama, have consequences. obama was entitled to think that he would get cooperation, not uniform cooperation but cooperation from the minority. we don't have a parliamentary system, which guarantees the party in power the right to get its program done. we believe in a cooperative minority, and he hasn't had it. and, therefore, the senate has looked worse in the last few years despite -- i have to say, and carl levin pointed this out to me when i spoke him -- very frustrating here. we can't get a lot of things done even though we've gotten some big things done. so i don't want to say nothing has gotten done, but the process has been polarized and often paralyzed.
>> and this contrasts to the period you write about. >> yes, it does. the reason i wrote about the late '70s -- somebody said to me you're writing a book about the legislative fights of the carter years? that will sell wimp said, well, i'll call it the last great senate. maybe it will sell better. but the late 70s were a difficult time for our country some of the same kinds of problems. interestingly, carter in his white house diary that came out last year, in the notes he said, president obama is facing a lot of the same problems i faced. i had one advantage. i had a bipartisan congress that would work with me. and what he meant by that is he had a bipartisan senate that would work with him, because the house -- he had a democratic house just as president obama had a democratic house, but he had different senate. >> let me ask you this question.
it's not only that the senate has changed. the world has changed. politics has changed. right now, for example, we're looking at what i consider to be a disasterrous united states supreme court decision which says that corporations and billionaires can spend as much money as they want on political advertising, evolving our political system into control of a very small number of people. i think that's just not what american democracy is supposed to be about. but the role of money in politics has always been there. maybe more -- talk about money in politics. how that ties into some of the changes that we're seeing between the senate of today and the senate back then. >> it's an important question. i think there's no doubt in my mind that it is harder to be a good senator and effective senator now than it was.
the demands to raise money require a great deal of time from senators, but the senators in that book didn't actually have to put in. >> tell me about that. i'm very interested. i'm up for re-election. how did they manage that? >> the campaigns weren't that expensive. i remember senator tom eagleton, a good friend of mine who i worked for, democrat of missouri, and he was outraged he might have to raise a million dollars if he ran for re-election. so, the price of campaigns has gone up dramatically. >> even taking inflation into account. >> yes, and that's taken a toll. >> somebody who is not in the senate comment on that. i think people just don't know what kind of toll it has taken. you see good people, democrats and republicans, spending huge amounts of time raising money and it's not just the time.
no one person has an intellectual will that can say, okay, i'm going spend four hours a day raising money, and then i'm going worry about the important issues facing the american people. doesn't work like that. you are -- people or can successed with campaigns and raising money. citizens united has made a very bad situation much worse, because you need to raise even more money to combat corporate money. what you're saying is that inflation accounted for that kind of money-raising pressure was not as significant back then. >> no, it really wasn't as significant back then. not saying that they didn't concern themselves with raising money, but they didn't have to spend that kind of time by any means. >> that is a very, very important factor. >> well, it generally -- just on the time alone, it contributes to the fact that, in these senators have said so. they say it regularly. we don't spend time together. we're running back to our states and running to fundraiser, we
actually don't know each other. the senators then spent a lot more time together in part because of the way the senate worked. senate wasn't televised. wasn't televised on closed circuit. >> when did c-span start tell televizing the senate? >> 1986. there was closed circuit into the offices a little while before that, but what that meant was, if you wanted to know what was going on in the senate, you kind of wandered over to the senate and you would see the members -- the senators would go and do committees in the morning. then they'd have some lunch, usually together, and then they'd wander over to the senate chamber or the cloakrooms. >> a lot of members on the floor. >> i don't want to exaggerate a lot but a lot more. but they were around. they enter acted all the time. senator bachus of mt., who is still there came in -- elected
in '78, he has said the senate dining room, we used to eat together, democrats and republicans and that doesn't happen anymore. senator dashle and susan collins, now senator, have said you have to find ways for people to interact more. so i think that there has been a loss there. but i also think it's a harder media than it ever was -- >> let's talk about that. money is significant, and let me just vouch for that. the amount of time members of the house and senate, republicans and democrats spend, is an outrage and has to be addressed. talk about media. media world has changed. right now, if in the house and senate, you give a sphynx if you're doing commit year, it's going to be televised on c-span or elsewhere. that wasn't the case back then. but what does that mean in terms of how people related to each other, et cetera? >> well, it's a complex question
but i think we have so much media and so much coverage that to some extent, it cheapens the debate. in the senate that it described, if you heard that frank church was going to speak on vietnam, democrat from idaho and an early opponent, people went to hear the see. it was big event. and that was true of a lot of the speeches. people didn't speak that often but when they did, the word would get out and you would sort of listen. >> a speech on the floor. >> speech on the floor would get attention. so it was different kind of thing. also, of course, now the media is sort of always there, and there's a different media. >> let's contrast that. you're saying in the '70s, a speech on the floor was --
members would listen and media would pick up on it. now most political leaders saying would be on fox or c-span or cnbc, you're talking to a lot more people. >> it is significant but there's just so much noise out there. it's hard to break through. >> talking about the 24-hour cable cycle. >> a lot of noise and it's hard to break through. in those days, you had less noise. you also had senators who were known and regarded in certain areas as national figures. so when they spoke, people listened to them. when robert kennedy, jacob javits, walter mondale, went down to california and florida to look into hunger, they got a lot of coverage on that.
they were shining a spotlight on these issues. george mcgovern and bob dole worked on hunger for years together on a bipartisan basis. they shown a spotlight on issues, and because of who they were, it moved the country and it moved the legislative process. it's harder to break through now. >> because of so much noise? >> so much noise. so much noise. >> let me get back to an issue which i consider to be enormously important. a lot of folks inside the beltway especially focus on the institution of the senate, which is by definition fascinating. 100 people, different personalities, different states, different political compositions and makes for an interesting dynamic. but i personally believe that what is far more important is the relationship between what goes on in the senate and the needs of the american people.
theoretically you could have a wonderful senate, bright people, they all love each other, all get look and the country goes to hell. that's not a great senate. that's a failed senate in my view. and as you describe, during the '60s and '70s, tremendous problem facing this country, today, even more dramatic problems. talk for at bit about the relationship between these people who you admire so much, theirs relationship to their constituents and the american people, and maybe how that has evolved over the years. >> i think that this ties in a little bit with what we have been talking not terms of how the senators spend their time. certainly senators now are hyperaware of what is on the mind of their constituents. that goes with the territory. we used to have to read mail. now there's all kind of ways to find out.
you're barraged with it. so senators know what the people care about. the issues are hard. the question of whether you can find consensus or bipartisan consensus to move ahead on them is hard. those senators found ways of understanding what was going on with their constituents and in the country. and then they addressed the problems. and they addressed the problems not always successfully, but they addressed the problems year after year. and they were on the fourth cutting edge of dealing with the problems facing the country. i think the senators now have the capacity to do that, but i think they're trapped in an institution that is operating in a way that doesn't do that. >> eye mean, even logistic include -- senators spent more time in washington than we do now. i should tell you, i never spent time in washington on weekends.
i'm always back in vermont or someplace else. but that was not the case back then. >> it's hard to generalize, senator. there some senators who spend time in washington, spent time then, always have been some that have gone back to their states a lot. but the time -- amount of time they spent actually legislating and thinking about the issues that lead to legislation, i think was quite high. it was quite high. and that the understood dish think certainly there are senators now that understand this. i like to say they understood the basic deal. you have the privilege of being a uunited states states senator. a six year term and indeed often multipel six year terms. you can dig deep into issues or range wide on issues, but in return for the privilege, when you sort out the privileges on you, your state matters and you don't forget your party, but
it's the national interests that matters most. what those people whose names you read -- what they stood for was basically they were -- the north star was the national interest. and they believed that you debated things vigorously and won when you could and sometimes you lost, but we weren't there to obstruct -- for the most part. there will a few exceptions but you weren't there to obstruct the senate. the senate was supposed to take collective action, novelty be obstructive. >> i gather in your judgment, certainly in my judgment, that world has changed. >> think that world has changed. i think that world has changed. i think -- although some people debate this, i think there are rules changes that are needed for the senate. that would make it work better. but i also think a change of attitude is very, very important. i was struck -- i don't know if you were but i was struck when senator alexander of tennessee last fall, who was in the
republican leadership, said, i'm leaving the leadership because i want to be freer to make bipartisan compromises of the sort that senators should make. what he was saying was, in essence, i'm not functioning the way a senator should at his best. the senate isn't functioning the way it should, so i'm going change the way i'm functioning. i'm not going to quit in frustration. i'm going to change my approach. >> take us back to the '60s, '70s, and some of the memorable periods or maybe examples -- dramatic examples if you like -- of people standing up, doing heroic things appropriation files in courage, doing things we look back and say, that was pretty good. anything come to your mind? >> well, indicated howard baker on the panama panama canal
treaty. >> moderate republican, his mother, who was a great politician -- stepmother, great politician, said howard is like the tennessee ripper. he always goes right down the middle. but he gave up -- really gave up his opportunity to ever be president because of his position on the panama canal. frank church on the panama canal. from idaho, his staff said, you're active on this, you're done. you won't be reeleaked. >> not a whole lot of political gain. >> no. it was a ferociously negative. so he stood up and was the floor leader on it and he lostin' -- lostin' 1980 my a very narrow margin. there were a lot of examples of that sort. the thing that is interesting when you look at the votes on the big issues eye describe the late 70s, many of them passed without 60 votes ultimately.
they passed because the senate concluded, we have had a searching debate on this. we have really gone into the issue and now it's time to vote. >> but at it not just time to vote, and the difference between then and now is there was a consensus at that point that majority rules. 51 votes would carry. >> that's right. although -- i think -- i mean basically they said as long as we have had a good debate, and -- but it was -- everything was different in the sense that jimmy carter was not strongly respected by a lot of the members of the senate. many of them -- some of them had run against him. some of them thought they should be president. they didn't really respect him. at certain levels. but he was the president. >> they respected the office. >> they respected the office, and his proposals were taken very, very seriously. so that there was a one chapter i write about president carter
proposes to sell f-15s to saudi arainarch at a crucial moment in the middle east. apac, the american israeli political action committee, strongly opposed to it. henry jackson and jason javits. two giants of the. friendses of israel. strongly opost officed to it. the senate goes with carter. the senate concludes that carter's arguments were better. howard baker and abraham ribikoff helped carter get this done. and some months later, carter has the opportunity to mediate peace at the camp david accords. it was the vote -- the vote -- 28 democrats who went for and it 26 republicans. it was completely bipartisan and it was completely on the merits of how they saw that difficult issue. and they didn't spend months on