tv After Words CSPAN September 28, 2015 12:00am-1:01am EDT
now on the weekly interview program after words though o'reilly discusses his book killing the reagan with buchanan president of the american cause. but to discuss the career of ronald reagan and the challenges he faced following the assassination attempt during his presidency. >> host: how are you doing today? >> guest: good think you for taking the time to talk to me. >> i'm delighted to talk about this book, "killing reagan." it is the fifth in the series is that correct? >> guest: that is correct. >> host: the others i'll die a violent death may be in the case of patent it was accidental but a violent death. in this particular case ronald reagan the assassination was an attempt.
it didn't kill reagan. it's a bit different. >> we think the story involved with the assassination attempt was in context with our series so ronald reagan was shot and very shortly after it elected president he was at a certain age that when you get h., i got it affects you physically and mentally but certainly happened and it was almost a miracle that he pulled through so we wanted to toy story in the context of killing ronald reagan ended and the repercussions afterwards. >> fair enough. >> do you consider this attempt on the life of reagan changed the course of history? >> yes. there is no doubt that he was a different guy after he came out
of the hospital. it's interesting because he was so robust and so vigorous that when he appeared with nancy reagan shortly after he was shot and people said, and i said this myself with a miraculous recovery. look at him. he's out there in his bathrobe with his wife and smiling and he's cracking jokes to the medical staff before he went into the observation. but what we didn't know and was told to the public is that ronald reagan had a lot of changes that took place in his persona physically and mentally and that's what the book is about. it chronicles the situation. >> host: if indeed it has affected him would you say that adversely they could have done more or he was less capable after the assassination because of physical and emotional and mental changes is that what you're suggesting?
>> anyone that worked after he recovered said he had his good days and bad days so there was a change and i believe that ronald reagan somehow almost miraculously lifted himself up by sheer will and overcame the physical destruction that was upon his body. there were some days when he was so detached he didn't even come down to work he watched soap operas. so we chronicle all of that and something pulled it all together and allowed him to have a very successful presidency in the top ten of all. >> host: that's interesting because as you say this attempt this was on the president's's wife and life and occurred within six weeks of his taking
office if he goes on to another to do phenomenally and to inspire the nation to lift them up economically to win the cold war was more could he have done do you think? where did this change things for the worst or did it impact in power have to be more that was taking place without his knowledge. and the speculation, his own
advisers at one point after he was elected senate we might have to remove him from office because he is not able to grasp things and that is the key part of the book. >> you pointed that out and say say the study was done and they observed them after they were concerned about this and there is no effort to take it to the next step like in your words they might have had a bad day. >> guest: you don't launch an investigation without a reason. they were loyal and relieved and
they were able to engage in all of the issues they felt a sigh of relief and they didn't have to go to the vice president, george bush and invoke the constitution but to be leave me there was concern at the highest level and this wasn't taken lightly. >> host: i was with the president for about nine years in a different capacity. and they would be down for three days and we had monday through thursday and the that reason is he's an older candidate number one you don't want him to be looking old and tired not a good thing and this seems to be to be very much the same thing. he was almost 70-years-old.
i'm not there yet but i'm telling you these things happen. to suggest that happens he has a couple of days where he takes naps in the afternoon, something we all knew about. he used to joke about it himself. how can you then jump to the conclusion that he had these terrific eight years following this assault and you're suggesting that he was harmed mentally, physically in a way that would bring to cause him doing differently than he would have otherwise. >> guest: you just made my case for me. you said that before the shooting he needed rest. he was an older man. he had to look vibrant and you had to give him time off. that is before he was shot and then he shot and almost dies, he's on the operating table and they don't know whether he's going to pull through. the trauma is so intense or you
going to tell me that that didn't affect them adversely from that moment forward? when he was already being paste or pacing him? >> guest: your pacing and for good reason. >> guest: in nature, like that can only exacerbate the condition that was in play before. we go through the horseback riding and the ranch. he was a very physical guy and he embraced the life and that's what really put him through and he fought against the trauma that was inflicted upon him by hinckley he fought against it and then he rolls about it.
>> it doesn't diminish ronald reagan. it enhances his legacy in my opinion. >> host: . but also because of the person that he was, one of those qualities that he had is that he's a good and decent man but came across a kind man. someone nightstands of women talking about different things that would suggest intimacy with the president after the divorce.
i understand that i'm reading a kitty kelley book by all of this is in there with great detail. it seems to me if you thought it was necessary for us to know that he had this kind of lie outside for three or four years all you needed to do is say that. why go into all of this and what is the purpose of talking about this. >> number one we don't think it great detail and number two we don't use anything that was a double source with names on it. we took out a whole bunch of stuff that we found out that we couldn't really nail it down and people wouldn't put their names on it so we didn't use it. now just as in killing kennedy and killing lincoln the same thing, we want to present these people as human beings. we are all sinners and we all have a recount fight and and feel of the things we are proud of. every single human being on earth does that but the
overarching of the book is that ronald reagan was a great man and this was the essence of his greatness and we spell it out. but for me to ignore that what he did and he did it there is nothing that there is nothing in the book that isn't true why i wrote about kennedy in the same vein and pattern in the same vein. so we are out in the business of deifying anyone and i understand why people might not like that and they don't have to read the book but when you read it you will get the picture of ronald reagan as he truly was with the good and the bad and i agree with you i think that he was majestic in a way that he inspired fellow americans in his kindness and he wasn't a saint. >> host: nor did he ever suggest he was. >> and i think that ronald reagan would like this book very
much. >> host: i would disagree because there is so much to what you say that if he said she said affairs. >> that is fallacious. >> postcode you have evidence of one night stands? >> guest: of all the things we write about are footnoted in the our first noted in the book as you know if you read it. they have names, yes you didn't read the book next >> host: i read the book. >> guest: they are in the page and on the back of the book as well, all sourced and footnoted. no anonymous stuff. >> host: why >> host: why is her personal life tossed in there as well? >> guest: because it is the same thing she was three people. first come of this, this driver that wanted to marry ronald reagan and we have to explain why and where she came from and how she got to hollywood and what happened. then the diva who got the governorship because nancy was
very smart and very protective of ronald reagan and there were a lot of people believed ronald reagan ronald reagan would have become governor of california or president of the united states without nancy. i can't say yes or no on is that i can say that the portrait of nancy is accurate. she was a diva in the white house and she was overbearing and cruel but then she emerges in the end of the president's life as a true hero, somebody that is unbelievably sensitive to her husband's ailments protecting him making sure he has the best care and devoted her whole life to it for a decade it's an amazing story of love and we portray the story very vividly. >> host: you do in the end but every chance you take her and you put a very negative light on her. for the first 200 pages.
>> guest: with the status for the c-span viewers watching this interview you are reading this book on an ideological level. i understand you are an ideologue. i am presenting these people the way they were. once again. whether it is controversial or who's headed. there is no tabloid stuff in the book. there are no irresponsible allegations. it all happened the way we wrote it. we took the painstaking. we went over this with three or four scholars where they read the book. is it accurate that accurate or out of context and are we overstating.
i know this man has many americans did and he was a good and decent man. >> let's go to another aspect of being a great man. strong and courageous. you get a great story. there was violent strike. can you tell the readers a wonderful story about the kind of person that he was where they were suggesting maybe they go to the trouble to get there rather than break up the picket line. >> guest: now i'm going to compliment you. what you put your would you put your finger on is the genesis of ronald reagan. when he first arrived in hollywood was a shallow.
he was threatened and so was his family by the communists rectally threatened and what reagan did is he got the gun. that experience turned him against the communists and that was the centerpiece of his presidential administration. we laid out vividly in all the things he did in all the things he stood up for me also as you know say that he did inform others in hollywood to the fbi so we are telling the truth about ronald reagan and that's why this book i think if you are
interested in then it's worth reading. we are looking at a balanced picture. >> host: so i will agree. then telling about this at a meeting with the leader of the strike and how he used to try to intimidate and he came to the meeting and there was no intimidation whatsoever. >> the famous gene kelly was at the meeting and we write about it. he never backed down. >> host: let me ask on page 50 you write nancy reagan possesses an inner steel that her husband is lacking.
they were before they were married and he was close to 40-years-old when he married ronald reagan or nancy and this occurred before so here is a man that is incredible. is he lacking? >> you still got it out of context. >> what we are saying is that she would do the dirty work that ronald reagan didn't want to do because as you pointed out is a very kind man. he didn't have the heart to fight your antibody or schooled anybody. reagan wasn't like that so while he was a man of courage and stood up for his convictions and wasn't afraid of people that wanted to hurt him, he didn't have the heart to yell at anybody or fire anybody or tell them that they were not doing the job.
that is what nancy reagan brought and she did it and that is the steel that we were talking about. >> host: okay. let me go back to that point. this was the first note that i took concerning that. you have nancy is almost the individual that is running the show. almost the puppet and she could hear referring to her as the one that is dominant in the personality at one point saying me and means he has more influence over him than the aid to do. >> host: this is where the clear vacation needs to take place. >> guest: there is i think that you are correct on that nancy was in lockstep with
ronald reagan on policy. we didn't find any disagreements that they had a politically so he was anti-communist and nancy was anti-communist. ronald reagan was pro- capitalists and private marketplace smaller government and so was nancy so we didn't see any tension. what nancy did after the assassination attempt is took off all this stuff that she felt ronald reagan shouldn't have to deal with and it was a lot. nobody wanted to see him without nancy saying yes. that's a big. that is power and the chronicle that you are correct nancy reagan and ronald reagan pretty much agreed on all policy. we never found where she pulled him aside and said maybe we will do this or that and that's not correct. they were pretty much of one mind politically. >> host: it's the one to another one.
it's kind of a mixed message i believe. it's not an issue out of the belief of god as another quote. but at the same time, you do mention that there is spirituality. in your words with message are you trying to relate to the reader? is this a deeply religious man in your opinion? >> guest: i think that he was a spiritual man and certainly he used his belief in god to define his public policy. i'm going to give you an exclusive. i have a handwritten letter written by ronald reagan that he wrote to an abortion-rights person in 1980 that says he
opposes abortion because it is his belief that god created all human life and it is sacrosanct so that he formed his position on abortion which he changed by the way on the spiritual belief system. i have it on his own hand. okay. organized religion never really attracted ronald reagan. however i do believe that he believed that this country was founded to have a special place in the world and that came from god and that drove the shining light on the hill in the concept that he endorsed so spiritual man not in organized religion.
>> host: that they give you something i learned along the way. i interviewed his pastor when he was in pasadena and i talked to him about that and i was thinking of writing a book myself before i did this interview and he said the reason he didn't attend is that when he went into the church for the sunday service everybody would turn to look at him and there were the was the excitement and he felt it was unfair to disrupt the spirit that was there and certainly that was true when he had the secret service attending the service with an anti-preferred them coming to his house and likewise in the white house often would have a service. does this not suggest that maybe he was a religious person in all aspects in the sense that he did
appreciate the services the scriptures? >> you know who else doesn't go because it is descriptive? >> host: probably obama. >> guest: that is exactly what his pastor told me. i don't care whether people go to church or don't go to church. however i will tell you that when ronald reagan got married, sacramental marriage, he got married in a secular way into there were only two people at his wedding. do you know who they were? >> guest: mr. and mrs. holden. >> they despise each other and they were fighting during the ceremony. i think we can all say that organized religion wasn't at the top of his list. his marriage was conducted in a way that had no religious connotation at all and his children are all secularists except for michael i think
michael is religious but i'm not sure so i think that once again we are telling you about the man and what he did and what he did not do any very accurate way. >> do you belief that this crusade against communism communism was indeed part of the spiritual struggle? that he thought as such and so that the driving force -- >> guest: that's what ronald reagan believes. ronald reagan believed that the communist totalitarians violated the law that god gave us to be free to express ourselves to earn a living the way we want to to hold private property. the any legal rights that we we talked about in the declaration and the constitution. he really believed that. he believed that we were -- america was the shining light in
the world and the communists were the evil empire the forces of darkness and of that belief was centered around a spirituality more than politics. i think that you are right on that question. >> host: let's go on to if indeed he has a strong spiritual base grounded in the faith a very strong faith and yet on page 76, you indicate you say of course no man is perfect and ronald reagan still possesses that which may be kept quiet in order to divine the future. i see a terrific contradiction here. >> guest: ronald reagan couldn't care less. nancy loved the astrology so to
make nancy happy, keep her happy, he went along with it. nancy reagan was so evil that he and doctor rose ceremony when ronald reagan won the governorship was held when? postcoital is held of midnight. he wanted to be there. come on. [laughter] >> host: okay. i have no trouble if you had mentioned this as nancy and here he is a good husband >> guest: lay it out for you.
>> >> he was not proactive thinker that he was introspective. but he had a brilliant talent to absorber information, cutting and all the of b.s. and be able to communicate the information to the folks which is why he was successful politically. but was he a great thinker like jefferson or lincoln? no. could he define problems to reverse the effect the usa? yes. it was a different kind of
intellect not book smart but he was a good reader and he absorbed the information given to him up and tell the time of the shooting then after the shooting he had some more trouble with that the seven days he was brilliant other days he was not to. that is one of the lynch points i wanted to make. >> host: after the shooting he went on to inspire a nation with the economic powerhouse to clobber his opponents. he was on his game constantly. >> he was very, very good
did big moments but you know, who i was responsible for turning that situation around. >> host: and roger ailes. >> guest: that's right. my boss. he saw that reagan was failing and he was not up to it so he went in there to kick his but. not physically but he said you have to bear down and here's what you have to do. and he went out to pound mondale. >> let me tell you what happened in the first debate. i was working with the president for some time. we have seen them be stellar so many times and we knew
right away they had pumped him full of information and facts and figures really need to show how smart you are. and his personality did not come through and he lost the debate. >> to suggest she was not up to his game and to show this >> i have to respectfully disagree if you read about roger ailes that he caved in and said you were overwhelming the man with these facts and figures and you have to use strip away to the heart of the better ball that is written in the book. it is all there.
>> you show him fall three the alzheimer's situation was moving and. he did not have the capacity. let's use the word comfortable. but before that before the assassination attempt he could have done a lot better than after. but he never was a policy wonk not because he couldn't be but that is not who he was. >> guest: he was head of the screen actors guild. he had to develop contracts and all of the other stuff for these people and had to be detailed in was the
secretary before president. >> host: you are making my point. he was completely capable to do that but that is not how he won the debate. >> guest: but not after he was shot. may disagree on that. >> host: let's move on. then to suggest that incident brought on the elements of alzheimer's. >> guest: it accelerated to a lot of the doctors who examined him this is not off the top of my head but based on medical exams and if you have a weakness in your physiology and the trauma
that is exacerbated and that is what happened this is an opinion of mine but he slow that down by sheer will. and to be a disastrous situation because of this passion to defeat communism he said i will not let this brings me down and i will get through this and he did. right after he got out of the white house you know, what happened. part of killing reagan is the sheer will have the courage that he had to overcome the tremendous trauma. >> host: indeed. and after the shooting you
said he was on borrowed time and he had a calling to do something while he was here. to use his time wisely. so this attempt on his life actually emboldened him to make him stronger but this is our time i have to use every a minute wisely. >> she had to fight to maintain his physical and mental acuity and he did. that is why i am so stunned that people feel more than any other book that has deficits but tremendous courage and that is on display yes nancy was a diva
and did bad things but in the and the woman of courage to make sure the last years were comfortable. and that's really shines in this booktv other stuff is true. >> is unfortunate. might soon read the book with the and he said i prefer jimmy carter because he felt that you put such a negative spin on and every little thing it with the eyes of a cynic. frontpage two and under 15 you speak about evidence of alzheimer's to go through several different points to
have contradictory statements are you suggesting that even before he became president there are signs of the terrible disease? >> guest: i think the disease was in him because of heredity and it manifest itself differently. that is all we try to use say. we don't try to make any medical diagnosis. >> but i am distressed he had such a negative view because it is not a negative book is a positive. it is a tremendous trauma. the top 10 of all presidents
to say i prefer carter your son said that? was a terrible precedent but said great man. >> darr broke my heart to be honest. >> your son should watch this interview that he may take away something different. >> host: let's talk about hinckley. you raise some interesting points. what do you think? there is so many places where you said these things could have happened but then the president was shot. give us some insight.
>> hinckley had a psychosis and was mentally disturbed. and was intent upon killing someone. jimmy carter. ted kennedy. but the opportunity presented itself to kill break-in because he was delusional and thought this would make him famous and jodie foster would respond to him for it is crazy but hinckley a trained himself feted and nge. not an irrational babbling guy. that would be an insult to ronald reagan and james brady of those who were previously wanted. he should never be allowed out to and was responsible for what he did.
>> host: we heard ronald reagan wanted to call him to offer his forgiveness for a are you familiar with that? >> guest: i heard something about it but it didn't happen we did not track it down. >> host: his parents? the doctors said not to call hinckley it could make things worse. and bb accurately so to be concerned true to the right thing. >> heartbroken whenever you are a parent of a child who does something heinous the paving is tremendous. but that goes back to the rusbridge raleigh with said judeo-christian in tradition upon which his was forged
that is paramount to sincerely believe that and wanted to show the country that his forgiveness was there. >> host: interesting that morning he comes to d.c. and it is a fluke. >> pcs in "the washington post", and i will go gatt reagan he just wanted to kill somebody. >> host: it is amazing how coincidence after coincidence even at the last minute thinking and will kill myself in front of jody. >> guest: he is a lot like all small the. bear the same guy. and the opportunity presents itself.
and hinckley reads about reagin trip to the hilton hotel in the paper before is that they're treating themselves to be assassins they knew how to or what wigwam dash weapons to get. keep that in mind. >> you don't have anything about reykjavik. >> guest: it'd is not a policy book. we don't really do dash it and you would agree you cannot put the book down. it is readable it is page after page. we didn't get into policy lot president reagan, and nancy reagan and hinckley we
tell the story all the way perot. >> and reykjavik as when he took a walk. it was his strength and courage and the belief to protect america first and foremost, is says a lot about the man. >> guest: but we cover that with his interactions with target badger and gorbachev and the old and a success and margaret thatcher and we made that quite clear that the restructured his administration he was very successful in the foreign policy realm and on the domestic front if you combine the two you have a great president. >> host: truly great. the relationship with margaret thatcher. it wasn't always smooth
sailing. they were strong individuals >> we have that transcript after america invaded grenada in thatcher was furious and had a right to be. there are some things about ronald reagan then he did not tell his best paul said thatcher wasauling out to dry. mint she says they would tell me and he doesn't the shiites have a very have the transcript it is fascinating but this is what we do in the book. relay out the whole thing. knew was that regins funeral is in tears did have forgiven him was his best friend and champion? margaret thatcher. be sure you even though
there was a detachment they came back together because essentially they were of like mind and wanted freedom to override totalitarianism and that is what bound them together. >> host: but you do spend a great deal time on the balkans war. >> guest: it was his militaristic point of view that was sublimated. again this is the fascination of reagan. he did not want the war he opposed thatcher fighting in the south atlantic over those islands. so although warmongers how many times have you heard he was a warmonger? how many times? report that in there to show he wasn't he did not want the war. he didn't think it was worth
it to do that but then he invades grenada quite? why? the communist that is what lit his views. so though whole thing is he was not a warmonger that is why i spent time on the balkans. >> host: bet that is where he opposed that sure that i think shows to leaders very much to mind with respect of one another but did what was best for their own country. if that meant of sending someone it did but isn't it clear that reagan did not tell her because they didn't want to anybody to know? >> guest: but he could have told her and she was such a good friend and she would have kept his
confidence. why he didn't i don't know if you read the transcript says he is very cheapest not defending himself. i am very sorry. but they were the same person. they would steal and get the bad guys to protect our nation and that is what bent them together. >> she was there and gave the eulogy at his funeral. it was beautiful. you mentioned that and he wrote a letter to her as his last act of president. talking about communism. humility. did you find as you studied reagan when he was president a depth of humility?
>> it is hard to say. i think ronald reagan was not a guy who went for self aggrandizement. kennedy did. lincoln did not. reagan did not but i don't know if you would describe him as pope francis. he had confidence he was right, a certain swagger when he would address the world and the nation for i know what i am doing. i am doing the right thing but he would not brag or if a thing like that. >> host: i've been his finest quality was his humility. >> guest: is a personal sense you have the vintage overreacted not know him by covered the inauguration but you did so that is an
interesting insight. >> host: he had a plaque at his desk that said you can accomplish anything if you don't care who gets the credit and he lived by that. >> guest: i agree with that. >> host: one of the reasons it was such a great person because she thought you were his cousin the way he treated you because he retreat everybody equal the most humble man a mitt in politics that isn't saying much but he was. so that is an aspect of his person so i will ask after he left office and again it goes back to your thesis with the assumption of the attempt on his life that sped up the science of alzheimer's but it is also
true about people who are in and i and demanding positions that they don't keep busy mentally and have challenges they will deteriorate mentally. johnson is the perfect case. he is still very vibrant he goes to maxi -- mexico and neck -- nancy thinks that is the key part but the fall from the horse where he had the of confession and operation talk about that. do you think nancy hit something? >> guest: all the trauma accelerate with every you have inside you is a hereditary kind of way but it was not our intent to be
medical but to show what happened to taken from a historical point of view to tell people who lived during the era of to like him and don't come i want to be ready to read the book what he was like to replace the myth with the fact and i think we accomplished that of bull's-eyes. he was not a war maugre he did care about the people that was another charged he didn't care about the people absolutely not true. absolutely not true. >> host: where do you show this in the book? >> guest: but the free-market system he believed if you allow american capitalism of freedom to prosper that everyone will work who wants to work and that is exactly what happened. we showed that privet one dash page 50 the success was due to feet the communist
soviet union to revive an economy that jimmy carter had destroyed. both of those are superlative accomplishments and we walk you through what it was. he did want to do the economy just pretend he was interested in the folksy didn't like they're struggling to get jobs and waiting on gas lines. >> i think he would say he did not that he believed in the people and he inspired them to greatness. >> guest: he was inspirational but his policies allow the people to prosper. >> host: he said you get off your back you have to do the work. that is what made him great a good and decent man who is humility and deeply religious with great courage
of his conviction and strong to accomplish great things and i don't know of the case has been made the attempt on his life has caused a change in history the eventual death of the president to fail. >> guest: i disagree entirely. that is what is fun about reading "killing reagan" you can have your view and i will have my but i will submit this if he was not shot there would not have been any oval office meeting by his top advisers to consider removing camera for the presidency. >> host: how do you know, that? >> guest: because he ran his governorship efficiently there is no problem on the job there. eight years and campaigned in the way it was very efficient, very energetic
energetic, not watching tv and so popper is in very engaged that his first weeks of the presidency he had a goal to accomplish then he is shot and everything changes. that is what i believe we document pretty strongly but you're free to have your opinion. i like your opinion year read the book i ever glad we're having this conversation and folks can decide for themselves. >> host: what is the most significant aspect for people that knew him and loved him to take away? what is fresh? >> guest: everybody will take something different just as your son did just like jesus and kennedy and lincoln her i got heat when every book provided not say in killing jesus we didn't talk read his speech rolla your the resurrection i got it from that side belli will get it that you did not
canonize hammer may camass st. her cry of not in business to do that it was a fair and methodical and entertaining way hit on things that i felt was important that people didn't know about. we have a lot of new stuff in the book is entertaining you can put it together yourself but we did a fair and balanced job i am proud of the book i think ronald reagan would like it is in heaven he probably knows about it and says what about bill? [laughter] >> i have to disagree. i read the book i was delighted to think i could read about it a band that i've loved for all his accomplishments as for america of and as he continues to inspire as i handed it to my son and i got the sense you're
undermining and demeaning his greatness bring in things there is an irrelevant your team to see just he was a really with it but he accomplished all of those things after the the table and i stand behind the book purports to your emotionally attached. i am not provide a great historian the rights and on this book is an honest book nothing we say will be challenged because weekend back all of it up. the selection is debatable but i didn't set out to write st. ronald reagan but here is a great president here is what made them greater and here's what he overcame. you over the -- human beings could not overcome. of the assassin's bullet it is the compelling story and i am happy to talk to about it. >> host: good to be with you and