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tv   Book Discussion on Alter Egos  CSPAN  August 23, 2016 1:55am-3:00am EDT

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into new neighborhoods my family was a casualty of that we move to another place in the st. louis that was probably 95 percent african-american we have a great marriage was really impressive figures cross she will put the city the right direction population is 25,000 today. >> nothing today except the casino riverboat it is all gone and that is part of the problem. >> what about popular books like that harry potter series that sweep the country they attract your attention? >> usually not the girl with the dry and i guess i did read those and they were pretty good but don't get caught up in those two much
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i get fixed on certain authors like a fellow named sebastian who is irish and has written a series of books and get the biggest kick out of his books they are good stories to start with they talk about ireland and the 20th century in the irish turn of a phrase i get the biggest kick reading that and a woman named fuller she is the special case but she wrote several memoirs about growing up in south africa in the southern part of africa of the zimbabwe region in those that were excellent one was entitled don't let's go to the dogs tonight year there was cocktails' under the tree or something of that nature the most dysfunctional family you
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could imagine a way white family preyed upon the verging blacks of the political structure the father was the handyman they drink a little too much but a very gifted writer. >> are their books that help you? >> sometimes i gravitate towards those but there is another one i'm putting on by brandeis i don't know enough about him in this will be a great first book so i do want to get into that so that does help me there is another one fixing medicare that i just ordered trying to get myself into the frame of mind of the entitlement programs with the reflection bin to be thoughtful would be helpful. >> to read books that you
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disagree with? >> i don't get through them by getting three. [laughter] if i cannot finish the book even if try the second to third time maybe it was not meant to be maybe not all of government to take to the finish line data so k eddo mind trying to pass it on i could learn something even if i stopped at 100 pages. >> you mentioned you ordered a book? >> where you get your books? >> amazon out of convenience a favorite story on amazon is waking up at 5:00 in the morning on a sunday morning they said teeone same-day delivery? on a sunday in chicago i'd like to see how that works it was delivered by 230 in the afternoon so it is pretty convenient but having said that i go out of my way to over pay for the books that the neighborhood
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bookstore i worked at a discount books and records in washington through college the second and third best job i ever had i got a big kick out of it i had more books than i should but i thought about amazon and how good they are but i also thought i don't want to lose for these bookstores so by my condo is the unabridged bookstore i spent too much money it could save 20% for scheerer so i have a soft spot. >> if a kid told me with joy
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to go into the bookstore grey to it and our great to an hour-and-a-half great if it is a good bookstore give me time i will amuse myself. >> are there any books that you recommended to your colleagues or staff? >> yes. . .
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twitter or post it on our facebook page: next, mark meder from "the new york times" talks about the relationship between secretary clinton and president obama in his book "alter egos".
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>> welcome bright and early. there is an echo here. i am delighted to host -- here i am. i am delighted to host a very interesting conversation about a new book. we are joined by our council member, corporate council member even furry and a dear friend of mine, carol chris, who for 11 years was president of smith college and now returned to berkeley where she is once again becoming acting provost of the university. i am delighted to welcome to incredibly journalists to the center. my dear friend andrea mitchell
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and new york times white house correspondent and wilson center public policy fellow mark lander who is now out with a few book. it is called "alter egos: hillary clinton, barack obama, and the twilight struggle over american power" as i am sure he is going to mention at every stop on this book tour, i will mention that again, as i am sure he is going to mention at every stop on this book tour, mark wrote this book here! projects like mark's -- mark, where did you write your book? ah! projects like mark's are at the heart of what we do. the wilson center gives exceptionally great people the resources they need to do deep, original analysis and it pays off. as many of you know the latest pulitzer prize for non-fiction went to yet another wilson book, "black lag,.
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the rise of isis" this is part of an initiative called books at wilson dedicated to showcasing the work of our scholars. i hope you have all ordered copies and i am sure many of you saw the excerpt in the new york times sunday magazine "how hillary clinton became a hawk "i feel free to make a suggestion to mark and made it to him walking in here. i personally don't think hawk and dove are labels. i think mark does a good job of highlighting there is a diversity of views. not just across the dysfunctional parties but within them, too. nobody owns one label. there is common ground. that is the other thing we need to understand. we all want, all of us, want a
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strong national security even if we disagree on the policies that will get us there. for my part, i will say as we head toward the general election i hope voters keep in mind security is important more than military might. it is the strength of the economy, the strength of our democratic inclusive institutions and the strength of the values. before i let mark speak to those ideas and the book i want to give a serious shout out to andrea who will monitor. ever since being the first female program manager of she has been blazing trails in journalism. she wrote a book about it but tragically not here. neck book here. nobody works harder or sleeps less than andrea mitchell and brings an incredible amount of
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wealth of information. just a few days she interviewed second clinton for msnbc. i love and admire her even though she never takes my tips on work-life balance. please welcome both of them now. [applause] >> thank you so much. i could not by more flattered. mark is it gold standard of journalists covering foreign policy and this book proved what a trailblazer he was. he was my seat mate on the horrible -- the secretary of state's airplane i started
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flying on and the old 757 hasn't been upgraded and there is a back story as to why the appropriation committee was there at the time. we shared many long flights and meetings together but he moved on to the white house and has a unique perspective covering both hillary clinton and barack obama and ai want to ask you to speak for a moment about the book and i will ask you questions and have questions from all of you because "alter egos" is the perfect road map not only to hillary clinton's mind and heart and political strengths and weaknesses and the foreign policy strengths and weaknesses but the obama legacy in foreign policy and there is a relationship between the two fascinati
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fascinati fascinating figures and the template of which against to view this campaign such as it is in the last 48 hours we see the shape of the general election and the presumptive nominees after john kasich dropped out and nbc officially assigned donald trump the presumptive nominee because he is not facing anyone else. we are in very strange terrain. in 40 years of covering politics i have never seen anything like this. i am not enjoying it. it is not the campaign i wanted to be the capstone to this career but this book, "alter egos," is the greatest way to try to grapple with the issues that i hope will be debated in the media intensely and among the voters and among all of you
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rather than just chasing twitter feeds and other social media apps and insults back and forth between the two candidates. mark? >> thank you so much, andrea. i was enormously tickled andrea agreed to do this and not just because she is famous but because i discovered as james suggested in the introduction that andrea is the most amazing shoe letter reporter you will ever encounter. and one small antidote. i was on a plane about to take off on a long trip and wrote something that involved tom donnelly, the national security adviso advisor, and she came up to me and asked what is going on and i said this is what i here and i am not sure. and she said let's ask him. normally i didn't e-mail and get immediate replies and she took out her black berry and punched
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away and i went to sit down and she came back and said i think i know a little bit more and i thought that is a terrifyingly good and connected well reporter. just quickly about jan, the wilson center has become this go-to place. so many of my colleagues have made this stop in their career and i think we all agree it changes a lot for us in how we think about our jobs in journalism and it is such a stimulating, friendly environment. you is a tolerance for the way journalists think which is different than the way academics or public policy people think. i think it is a unique institution in washington and i love the fact you created this great legacy and i could not think of a better place to have written this. i cannot help but say it kind of gives me a taste of two f
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formidable accomplished women are here with me because i am writing a book about a formidable accomplished woman. very quickly on the book, as jan and andrea said, i covered clinton and obama as foreign policy figures. i didn't cover the clinton or obama campaign but i view them very much as foreign policy figures. and like many reporters who began covering hillary clinton in 2009 i went in thinking maybe they will hate each other and there is going to be sniping and leaks and contention and maybe end in misery and none of that. it was the opposite. they worked publically very much in lock-step and it was harmonious and the reason for that was they both worked really hard to make sure it was that. obviously underneath you had two
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strong willed people coming from different word worlds and different instincts about the world. that fascinated me. this relationship that played out in the internal debate and i wanted to get into that relationship a little bit and go through the first obama term and look at the great policy debates on war and peace starting with really afghanistan and moving through the arab spring, libya, syria, iran and try to figure out the role hillary clinton played and where she was influential and where she wasn't and what extent she tipped things in a certain direction and try to get an extent of what kind of commander and chief she would be. i wanted to make a couple stipulations at the top.
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my contention is not these two people sit at opposite polls. they don't clearly. there is a world of difference between donald trump's isolation and where clinton and obama sit. they are both lawyers, they are huge champions of the rules based order the united states put in place after world war ii and want to preserve and defend that order, they believe in diplomacy before military force, they reject unilateralism of the bush years. i am not arguing they are on opposite sides of the spectrum. but they have a different view of the role america plays, the extent you make military force one of your diplomatic tools. i think because of where hillary clinton came generationally,
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geographically, as the first lady watching her husband conduct the balk intervention. president obama's younger, came of after vietnam, had a childhood that included time overseas. his formative foreign policy event of his life was the iraq war and won the election on rejection of that partly and went into office with a strong conviction he wanted to not just wind down the wars of the bush years but bring americans to terms with a new view of america's role in the world that is somewhat different than what we have had for most of the post-world war ii era. one in which we recognize limitations.
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and so i think as you saw these two titanic figures go through all these spaces you got an interesting lens into a broader debate that is very relevant as we look toward 2016. that debate is you know, we have been through the maximalism of the bush years and you could say the minimalism of the obama years. do we want to split the difference? go were a goldie locks scenario where we are more engaged and not as engaged? or does the minimalism that obama set out for this country really appeal to people? have we truly reached the end of a long period where we view ourselves as an indispensable nation. my number one driving goal was
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to write a book that was interesting and colorful and had a lot of details and hopefully as many new ones as i could unearth and i think i unearthed some interesting ones and i would love to talk about that. with that, andrea, shoot. >> wonderful. you talk about the areas of disagreement which illustrate, i think, very graphically their different world views. i agree entirely from your reporting and my experience there is a generational and geographic aspect to this. let's talk about libya because that is something she is now going to be forced to defend. she is being attacked by donald trump already on the interventions like iraq and the 2002 vote. and libya is the acquisition without thinking of the aftermath. that was an engagement he came to from all your reporting
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reluctantly and she more or less won the day. >> perhaps more than any debate was the one she came in with a different point of view and i think turned the debate. at the time that debate was framed as the girls versus the guys oddly enough. there were a number of influential woman making the case for the nato airstrikes to avert a potential genocide in benghazi at the time. susan rice and samantha power were both well known advocatiad and pow wrote a book about what happens when the united states doesn't intervene to prevent atrocities. so i think that was accurate but what was interesting to me was
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really hillary was the voice that i think pushed it across the finish line. bob gates, the defense secretary, was against it. he felt that it was just -- we didn't have a vital national security interest in libya and as he as written in his own memoir it could potentially mean a third land war for the united states and he was against it. at the beginning, obama very much subscribed to that. and hillary was spending so much time traveling overseas was getting a different point of view. the arab neighbors supported this and wanted the u.s. and nato to do something. the british and the french were in the drivers seat and there was a sense in the white house in the final days even that even if the united states didn't sign on to something that france and britain would go ahead with the security council and try to do a no-fly zone without the u.s.
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hillary made the key presentation to the president saying to the president we can do this and we will not be isolated or unilaterally but with the cover of the arab world and indeed the leadership role of allies in europe. she turned the debate. the aftermath of this is forgotten because of how terribly bad benghazi turned out. the first several months of the post intervention were really good. it took a while to get rid of k kadaffi but the nato forces finally did that. there was even government formation in the early days that looked promising. at that time, her own people really began to believe this was going to be a huge winner for her. she was urge in e-mails that came out by sydney bloomen'and
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her staff she wanted to latch herself to this and have quote ownership and stewardship of the party. and when he was killed, bloomenthal said you should take credit for this. this is your moment in history. jake sullivan said they were putting together an opt-ed where she could articulate a clinton doctrine. so of all foreign policy issues she is vulnerable on this is the biggest perhaps because she lashed herself to it and it was clear her voice was important and the critical voice. >> another, which is closely tied to her relationship with the israeli-palestinian conflict and the larger middle east is her approach to the iran negotiations and the way she is
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now embracing it. talk about the secret negotiations, the overture, and her nature in terms of the israeli-palestinian dispute and i would argue iraq. we only went, the whole time she was secretary of state, she only went once to iraq on saturday and i was with her. yes, joe biden had the iraq account, but she knew a looser when she saw it. how much responsibility now should she be taking in the debates to come for the sub subsequent failures and the lack of coalition building. >> i think you hit the nail on the head in terms of describing both the iraq and the middle east peace process. i would argue she made some fairly pragmatic calculations
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earlier on where she would have success and push the bolder up the hill. in the middle east peace process, i think she judged with the government coming in and an ex exhausted palestinian authority there was little hope of a breakthrough there. she named a high profile special envoy, george mitchell, and didn't want to medal in his business too much t at the beginning. but iraq was a loser and convenience developer. there is an interesting antidote in chris hill's book, the former ambassador under clinton, and he talks about the trip i was on with her and she said if you need anything call me. stay in touch.
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that was the last time he saw her. she made a couple cold-blooded decisions about where she thought she would get success and iraq wasn't one of them. going back to iran, i think this is fascinating because it shows her instincts filtering in. in '08 she was an iran hawk and ran to the right of obama and iran and didn't want to have talks without conditions. she used this famous tough phrase when asked about if iran ever attacked israeli and she said well we would be in a position to totally obliterate iran. ...
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if that sort of sits at the mouth of the persian gulf to be the place you can have secret talks and do it privately, no reporters would hear about it and they were unique having ties with the supreme leadership in iran as well as the west so this whole process began in the state department. but while that was underway, senator john kerry later secretary of state john kerry. they were going out to visit and
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a. of us convenient to have someone other than the secretary of state handle some of these more fragile endeavors so he came away convinced that they could play this role that they had ties to the supreme leader. she was much more skeptical. when she finally did send her a one team around in july 2012. it was driven by the fear that john kerry and his enthusiasm to get something going.
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i won't go into the details but the big issue was do you tell them we will give you the right to enrich uranium. we didn't do that under bush and there were a lot of people in the bush administration that didn't want to take that step. unwittingly they were giving the impression that we would recognize the right to enrich up front. we have to be very clear about what it is we are offering and not offering. she sent out her own team and they took over the process and
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then it unfolded a story that i tell in the buck where there were a lot of backwards in frontwards steps to a. this is the other key moment she diverges from president obama she's left the state department and john kerry is the secretary of state. he is seeking some kind of channel to the west and at that point there is an enormous debate about whether we slapped them with new sanctions. they passed the house and the question is what the senate passing it. john kerry and obama fervently oppose that and begged them not to pass and said it would blow up the negotiations. publicly they didn't deviate. she even wrote a letter to that
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effect saying diplomacy is important. privately she told her friends this would be the moment to squeeze them and see what happened. she actually believed what some of the republican senators, and menendez obviously a democrat, benjamin netanyahu what these people were aggressively advocating for hitting the iranians want more time because we had them on the ropes to do a deal and if we squeeze them again and hillary went along with that. the willingness to squeeze iran she was the person who put together the sanctions regime that brought them on to the negotiating table. this is now help she will build herself. i'i am the person who is best qualified to enforce this deal and that is an argument that may have quite a lot of appeal because after all in the aftermath of the deal we are
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seeing all of this evidence of supporting proxies and youn in d hezbollah causing trouble, so she would position herself as i was the bad cop the whole way through the process. i'm not a perfect person to enforce the deal the president made. on the question of force she's also very cautious on diplomacy. and you saw it in iran and the middle east and that is another theme of the book. much more cautious than president obama. at the presidential debate between obama and clinton.
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when you ask what the legacy would be certainly for the other architects of the secret negotiations in cuba and iran negotiations would say these reaching out and being transformative. clinton from the beginning of the campaign from the first engagement rhetorically had a very different position on that and came very late to the cuba engagement. >> clinton's views were shaped like many things in her public career they were shaped by what happened during the bill clinton administration and if you recall the act is expanded in the trade embargo came during the clinton administration so she had a fairly standard o view of diplomacy with cuba and that line and that debate things have
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to change. it's opening up the political system. president obama wasn't out there talking about how i'm going to have a new mission with cuba. one of the stories i tell at the end of the book is about the cuba opening because it was frustrating not just for her but john kerry after her because when she became secretary of state i would argue she had something of a change of heart. she went down to latin america on the first trip. i went on this trip and it was in honduras and the issue on the table was should we readmit and she was blown away by how every single latin american leader and not just daniel ortega of the
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world about all the people we like down there were coming out saying this policy is a relic of the cold war. it's crazy and hurting you in the region. when are you going to wake up and she came back and said to obama we should do something about this. so this is an area where her rhetoric from the campaign and what she felt when she became secretary did change but the issue was she then began as the secretary of state say let's explore people to people exchanges. let's explore direct mail and the administration began to take these steps. but it was very awkward because president obama still had a domestic political calculations say was a very big thing on the people to people exchanges. for the administration teeso thp for the summer of 2010. and that the last-minute president obama went to florida to help a couple of democratic candidates and god a blast of a message it would be great if you
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didn't do this a month before the midterms and then that whole initiative was put off until the following january. so there were these streams of domestic politics and foreign policy. and then this is the key development of the imprisonment and then i it was up to hillary clinton secretary of state ask for his release. but the state department was accused of being unimaginative and a saying release them while offering nothing. they go in 2012 and that they have sort of a repeat of the experience and honduras where the leaders are saying to them you've got to change this something has to happen.
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he says if i am reelected i will do something in a second term. he comes back and authorizes the inroads as henry mentioned to makjamaica secret overture to te cubans and there is a very complicated prisoner exchange between alan gross on the one hand as well as an intelligent agent. they were imprisoned for shooting down a plane and so this happens in the context of a broad diplomatic opening. the frustrating part is she's now out of office and alan gross who i interviewed for the book gives her very little credit and she used the state department as having been part of the problem not the solution.
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much less grateful to hillary clinton and i think that it's probably one that frustrates her because she did recognize that things had changed and she would have been willing to take the steps herself. she was not part of this historic opening. i recounted in the book day after the return to the u.s. a free man, hillary's people get in touch to try to organize a conference call and she gets in touch in this welcome home and he says thank you. they have this very strange five-minute phone call where he isn't giving her much of anything and he's as well, we were thinking of you and then i contrast that to president obama's state of the union address sitting in the balcony with the michelle obama if he gets the triumph of saying
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welcome home with a standing ovation. so that is another interesting tale that gets at where she started and evil of two as a diplomatic. >> in this election campaign, one of the things we learned from the book which a lo bottlef us infer from experiences but didn't have the wonderful detail and reporting is the extent to which for all of her analytical ability and the fact that she studies harder than anyone and is always prepared and works harder than anyone, she is at the corner and i don't see this pejoratively, she is a political person. and i have covered persons arkansas so in the perspective i have seen the evolution through the white house years and then the senate race in the state department now the campaign. but the extent to which she and
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the state department was surrounded from the west wing many of them accomplished people but it's not an easy fit with the diplomats and the service officers and obama gave wide range that she wasn't to bring into the people who had been so vicious they felt during the 08 campaign where she found all of these channels. but the extent to which the white house was also political with others. they were more hostile to each other. but you also see through the e-mails the extent to which she was concerned with her relationship and access to oba obama. she didn't come back to new york until after she had her weekly meeting with president obama.
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it's concerned about her access to the oval office the white house staff grew exponentially in this period and if there ever was a divide which i hadn't seen since the carter years the state department was viewed as hostile territory. >> there i >> there's a number of things that illustrate your point. one was the insecurity she had in the first year in particular about the perception that she didn't have access to the president. there were a number of e-mails in this book that i talked about how she was worried about appearing on a panel with henry kissinger because she was worried people would point out that she spent half of every day in the oval office even as secretary of state and was on the phone with the president and day and night.
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she would have met the president in many other contexts. but she did not have that realm delete code around-the-clock access and was aware that there would be an unflattering comparison to go to the question of the political focus of the state department, also the e-mails are fascinating they kept looking at the numbers religiously it was as if the campaign didn't end. they pointed out at 66% of the approval rating which is an all-time high for her and wait until it comes out next week. even if it is above the fray in the nonpolitical job.
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it was a fascinating thing that i heard and it's in this book -- toward the end of her time in 2012 there was fighting between israel and hamas. it was a going away trip they went to burma together and then the situation explodes. she talks to her staff. it's going to be tricky but you can probably work out some kind of a cease-fire. i think i can fly in and take a shot at this. this could have blown up in her face who would have known how this was going to go. but after she made a presentation and left the room, there was a colloquy between the
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president and his top people and one of the things they were talking about is does she want to do this to make herself look good and what is the angle so here we are four years into the administration. she knows him well at the first instinct not of the president people around them what is the political payoff for hillary clinton so that to me was a fascinating illustration of how things can change and not change at the same time. >> i want to ask about holbrook because that's an interesting chapter a lot of us knew and cared deeply about them but also we knew of of this large personality and they didn't trust or like him or value his advice. maybe not getting past the personality and i into seeing te depth of the experience we can
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call on him now. >> i can only call him richard. i got to know him too late. i got to know him in the richard years. >> before he became so elevated in serious as richard, he was dick holbrook all through the accords and all the rest. it was a devastating loss. she tried so hard to protect him from the white house. >> yes. i love this chapter. and one of my colleagues who i think it's sitting in the auditorium so don't just make this a richard holbrook because you love him. he's an amazing character to write about and what fascinated me about it is i think that you can make the case that it wasn't just a personality issue.
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it was in part richard hope also embodied and a customized democratic foreign-policy establishment. it was two months ago in his interview with the atlantic and he also epitomized the vietnam generation. in other words, generationally in terms of where he sat he was just chalk and cheese with president obama and they obviously distrusted him because he was such a political ally of hillary clinton. during the campaign when he was one of the top foreign-policy allies, he made no secret of telling people who decided to peel off and go with obama. as suzanne rice and a handful of people who didn't decide to go with her. you are ruining your career so you are finished. if she wins, you are done. so there was a lot of antagonism and resentment after the fact.
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he wanted to be the deputy secretary of state, but then when they proposed this idea of the afghanistan pakistan special envoy job it was tough for the white house to say no because he was staggering. but once he got the job, he was fairly systematically stymied by the white house in ways large and small. he was left off air force one when president obama went to afghanistan for his first trip. he was left out in meetings. the anecdote that opens up the chapter is a meeting where he is on the screen and he opens up with a classic flowery opening about the council of lyndon johnson as a precedent faces consequential decisions and president obama cut him off and


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