tv Former President Obama at Rice University CSPAN November 28, 2018 8:32am-9:31am EST
list. join us for "in depth fiction edition" with author brad meltzer live sunday from noon to 3 p.m. eastern on booktv on c-span2. >> former president president t down with former secretary of state james baker and presidential historian jon meacham to discuss their experiences in office bipartisanship and jewish leadership abroad. the discussion was part of the celebration of 25 years of the baker institute for public policy at rice university. this is just under one hour. [applause] [cheers and applause]
>> thank you, thank you. mr. president, welcome to texas. >> it's good to be back in houston. jew. >> congratulation on the texas victory yesterday. >> they beat the titans so no, sir, we don't want that. and i'd like to say as tenants like to point out if it were not for us you all would still be part of spain so you can thank us later. i made that joke to george w. bush when he was governor and he went that's pretty funny, ass all. [laughing] >> if it weren't for us he wouldn't be saying y'all either. >> that's a good point. absently. i'm honored to be here. president reagan boom secretary baker served so wonderfully and so well used to say that when using hollywood you get a call to come to a dinner to speak and
perform, and reagan was it but i don't sing or dance. the organizer would say, we know but you can introduce someone who can. so my job is to introduce two people who can. and wanted to start with secretary baker and thank him for the remarkable institute, but even more important -- [applause] the half century of service to america and to the world. >> thank you. [applause] >> it is, as someone who has spent most of his time thinking about the past and talking to dead people, it's when they talk about that when you are in trouble, i must say it's hard to imagine and it's a great tribute to our country that two such different people come to the pentacle power and are able to
lead the nation and the world in such a remarkable way. we have a man from texas and princeton and a marine the start republican administration. we have the 44th president of the united states from hawaii by way of the ivy league, and what brings them together as as a tk what brings the country together, which is a shared sense that we have to push forward to a more perfect union. and so the subject of a more provoking is what i'd like to talk about tonight. [applause] so, mr. secretary, ordinarily of course the president would go first but in an age before beauty moment -- [laughing] >> you got that right. i'd like to ask, what i'd like for us to talk about is how the world worked on your watches,, washington worked on your watches, and how they didn't work and what can we learn from
both those positive and negative experiences. and some for narrative purposes, sir, when he went to washington in 1981 as chief of staff, what was the anti-reality of washington for you? it wasn't perfect. it wasn't a great bipartisan mahalo. there were tough fights, but what was it like what that it feels like. how hard was it to get things done? >> thank you, jon. before and to that question, or try to come let recently say that mr. president, you on us by being here tonight and we are very, very -- [applause] we are very appreciative and very grateful for your being here. we are having dinner when they were announcing all those big dollar numbers. i looked at the present and i said, mr. president, 10% of that is your. >> he said the hell it is.
i'm not letting you off that cheap. [laughing] he said, i want the rolodex. [laughing] so anyway -- >> jim still uses are rolodex by the way. [laughing] [applause] so jon, what was it like? well, i think it's fair to say considerably different than it is today. it was not, as you point out, not a big kumbaya moment or anybody would agree with everything. i worked for a president who was considered to be quite an ideologue. in fact, he was considered to be so harsh, such a hard-line conservative he used to joke, he used to tell people, you know, our administration is so conservative that the right wing never knows what the far right wing is doing.
but we were able, , he was ableo reach across the aisle. people forget this but president reagan have democratic house for his entire presidency, all eight years. tip o'neill was the speaker of the house, and he and president reagan really saw, didn't see anything hardly i to i on policy, but they both i think arrived in washington wanting to get something done for the country. they would fight like hell during the day, , and at night they would retire somewhere at 5:00 and start telling irish jokes and drinking bourbon. and they found ways to cooperate, and ways to get the nation's business done. in foreign policy, i think it was a much easier time perhaps, although in thing that i want to make it clear, nobody should at any nostalgia for the cold war.
i'm old enough to remember those days when we had drills as a school kids hiding under a desk because nuclear annihilation was a distinct threat. so in foreign policy perhaps we had a little bit easier in formulating the policy because we knew what we were for. we were for whatever the soviets were against, and we were against whatever the soviets were for. but the implementation of that policy was extremely difficult, even back in those days, just as it is today. so things were different. i think that perhaps a few more things got done on a bipartisan basis. i'm reminded of domestic policy and how president reagan's 1986 tax reform act was passed with
democratic votes. and it was a tax reform by the way. it was a true tax reform. it didn't check up the budget deficit for the debt, the unsustainable debt of the united states. it was revenue neutral. and how also he and tip o'neill were able to come together to protect for 30 years at least the financial solvency of social security by republicans giving a little bit more in contribution in taxes, democrats giving a little bit more in jacking up the retirement age, and it worked. it worked for 30 years. i really do believe it was, and from the standpoint of bipartisanship, which i know is an issue that's geared to president obama is heart, there were perhaps more opportunities to see some of that happen.
it didn't happen totally in foreign policy. when we decide, when president bush 41 decided he's going to reverse iraqi aggression in kuwait, both the house and the senate were controlled by democrats, and both said no, you're not, this is that something we ought to do. how many lives is a worth, mr. secretary, to do what you want to do? that sort of thing. but president bush was wise enough to go out and get the rest of the world on board and then he was able to bring the congress alone. he wanted the congress, not that he thought he needed it, because he thought he could do it under his commander-in-chief powers, but he wanted the congress in order to be able to say he had the support of the american people. >> mr. president, you took power in -- [applause]
sixteen years after the reagan-bush 41 era. pretty clearly something happened in the 1990-94 timeframe, the rise of gingrich-ism and the result of, against 41 in 1990. how much of his description of washington was true for you when you came to power and how much does it sound like were describing monopoly? >> not much. but first let me complement jim, not only for the extraordinary work that is being done here at the institute, as well -- [applause] -- the ambassador and all those who support what you are doing.
i had a chance to meet some of the young people who are interning here and the excitement that they have about the prospect of serving the country in various ways. it got me excited and inspired, but also let me complement jim for the extraordinary service that he rendered the country. i had the pleasure of visiting my buddy, 41, briefly this afternoon. i have said this to you, jon, in the book that you wrote, and i continue to believe it. i think when it comes to foreign policy, the work that president george h. w. bush did with jim at his side was as important and
as daft and as effective a set of foreign policy initiatives as we saw in recent years, and deserve enormous credit for navigating the end of the cold war -- [applause] -- in the way that could've gone sideways, all kinds of ways. one of the challenges when you're president or working for a president is you don't always get credit when nothing happens. and nothing happening is good, a lot of times. [applause] now, what i would say is that by the time, what i'm saying is not take an original but i think it's accurate, by the time i took office the were a number of trends that had started to
advance what some commentators are calling the great sorting. what a mean by that is when jim arrives in washington in 1981, you still had a whole bunch of conservative democrats, many of them from the south. you had republicans, many from the north, the were extraordinarily liberal on it by mental issues or civil rights issues, on a whole range of topics. and political scientists use to get angry about the fact that american party don't make any sense. there's just this hodgepodge of various interest groups that are all stuck together and there's not always any rhyme or reason for it.
but the advantage of that was that you had overlapping, and overlapping ideological spectrum in each party, so that they were going to be some democrats you could have a conversation with who in turn were going to put some pressure on tip o'neill because they said, doggone it, if i'm trying to keep my seat in tennessee, you're going to have to give although that because reagan is really popular down there. and conversely, democrats would have to deal with the fact that there were going to be some republicans who they could reach across the aisle because actually they had the same view on certain issues. there are a range of reasons why that changed. some of it has to do with, frankly, the shift in the media
because in 1981 your news cycle was still governed by the stories that were going to be filed by ap, "washington post," maybe "new york times" and the three broadcast stations. >> right. >> and whether it was cronkite or brinkley or what have you, there was a common set of facts, and baseline around which both parties have to adapt and respond to. and by the time i take office what you increasingly have is a media environment in which, if you are a fox news viewer you have an entirely different reality that if you are a "new york times" reader. it means the basis of each
respective party have become more ideological. it means that because of gerrymandering, members of congress now are entirely secure that they will win their seat if they get the nomination, but the have to worry about to have somebody from father to my right or father to my left who's going to win against me in a primary. they then are not willing to stray from whatever the party line has become. you've got folks like limbaugh and others who are enforcing what they considered to be ideological jury in some sort. and what, when you combine that with the perpetual campaign which is fueled by highly ideological, very wealthy donors, what you had the time i arrived is a congress that has
difficulty getting out of campaign mode and into government mode. we saw that even when we were in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the great depression. i still feel bad for charlie crist down in florida, the governor, hugely popular but had not gotten the memo he wasn't supposed to cooperate with me. >> right. >> and supported the recovery act at a time when the economy was contracting faster than it did during, right after the crash in 1929. and the poor guy, you know, he's looking at it, this is good for florida. our housing market is tanking. i need to make sure that we sure things up. our budget has imploded.
we need the federal help, this makes sense. i think the fact that i can give him a little bro hug, you know, that was it. i mean, he -- >> typhoid mary. >> i felt bad for the guy. because he became a cause célèbre inside the republican media or the limbaugh fox news media world which is off marco rubio got elected essentially was saying you're not a true believer. i think the challenge that we continue to have, it's gotten worse, not better now with the internet and all these things taking place, is one of the things you discovered as president is that the post world war ii order that was
constructed by fdr, truman and eisenhower, and george marshall, that that asic notion of liberal -- basic notion -- in partisan terms but pluralistic liberal market-based role of law based democracy, and those sets of universal principles, democratic and republican leaders believed in those things. and that's the running thread basically from 1945 all the way through reagan. there were certain ideas that
jim, regardless of how was viewed, whether this was far right are right, it were certain ideals that you assumed you had to follow because that was part of american leadership in the world and it was part of what made us a great country. those are now being contested in part because of the fact that we don't have this common base of information. and i think that the biggest challenge we are going to have over the next ten, 15, 20 years is to return to a civic conversation in which, if i say this is a chair, we agree this is a chair. [laughing] [applause] we can disagree on -- [applause] we can disagree on what whethes a nice chicken whether we should replace the chair, , whether you want to move it over there, but we can't say it's an elephant.
>> i thought we were against obama chair. [laughing] >> that was a good chair by the way. [laughing] >> i know the folks who tried to move it in the last election didn't have a good time. [laughing] [applause] anyway -- [applause] but i do, one thing i realized when i got to congress, which was part of the reason i didn't stay very long. [laughing] is that, and i'm making a great generalization is there some wonderful people in congress, but the fact is members of congress are primarily motivated around keeping their seat.
>> and it is getting worse and worse. >> i can't tell you how many times during my presidency i would have former colleagues of mine from the senate, who are good people insensitive people, come up and say, could you i'd love to help you but i would get killed doing this. and i think that kind of pressure, jim, i may be mistaken, wasn't as -- >> no. >> that didn't exist, at least not inevitable. and once in a while you would get an ideological foe, the league would come in and say look, you know, you got to tow the line. but that was not on every single item in the way it is today. >> i totally agree with that, mr. president. i think another way to say it really is perhaps is that the
responsible senator in american politics has disappeared. and it's because of the -- [applause] first of all, we are a pretty evenly country, red state blue state. we do have a constitutional requirement to redistricting if you live in a state dominated by republicans, they will drop more and more state dishes on the record democrats more and more safe distance on the left. people who go to washington today to represent us, take her in the congress, no longer take their families up there. there is no longer any social interaction in washington between the two parties. and lastly, the last thing, or maybe not quite lastly, next-to-last, he had the advent of the internet. that really makes it easy to be
divisive. divisiveness cells. comity doesn't sell. if you can get somebody to say something outrageous, that person can get on tv, right? and lastly, i've got to tell you, i think part of this problem is the responsibility of the media. our media today are no longer objective reporters of the facts the way they were when i was there. [applause] they are, , as you pointed out, they are players. they are players. you tune into fox news, you think you are listening to the house of the republican party. two into msnbc and you know you are listening to the -- >> i would change at around. those kind of slick moves are what made baker so effective. [laughing] >> that's why we are here. >> that's exactly right.
you know, i know -- >> maybe i should've said cnn, not msnbc. >> well, the observation you made about not moving family here, look, i was a senator i didn't move my family here. in part, by the way, for a healthy reason, which is a lot of spouses have careers, right? and so michelle was, like, you know, i got a job. but part of it though i think is also there is the perpetual campaign that takes place which puts enormous pressure on every member of congress. they know they are being watched every minute.
they are being scorecard it and graded by whatever ideological group that is out there every single minute. >> right. >> they don't feel like they can afford to be away from -- if they move their family, somebody will say the guys going to washington, he doesn't believe, you know, that we are important anymore. and so you create this atmosphere in which folks are running scared all the time. the ability to step back and reflect, to compromise, is reduced. now, i will say that the three major issue is a solvable problem, jim, unlike some of these issues. that are larger forces of work that are also creating this peer
we have an economy that has created differences of opportunity in urban versus rural areas, for example. those trends, because of technology, globalization, a whole bunch of forces, probably are not going to reverse themselves anytime soon and that has created divides in the country. but gerrymandering is one that you can actually solve. california shifted to a nonpartisan, independent commission that carries out gerrymandering. i am actually a strong proponent and the been supported of eric holders efforts to try to get more states to adopt a non, you know, a nonpartisan -- and by
the way, i say that as come when it comes to gerrymandering, it is absolutely true that democrats do the same thing republicans do. if they are in control than it will try to maximize the number of seats they have, and vice versa. we are in texas by the way which is a champion of some gerrymandering. it is a fundamentally nondemocratic approach because essentially what happens is the elected official chooses the voters rather than the other way around, and actually, when people ask me what are a few things that can be done to improve the functioning of government, this is an area where you can actually have an impact in some states you are seeing referenda in which the average voter gets it. they think this is important. ..
>> and i don't know where it's going to, would. i know it's beginning to work in california. >> you know, you just had a referendum in michigan, passing this. so, you're seeing citizen initiatives around this in part because they recognize what is currently in place is not working. and i have to-- one thing i will say, my observations during the time i was in the white house, sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that the problem has to do with the people who are there, and if we just kick
all the bums out then it's going to get fixed. now, there are some bums, don't get me wrong, who need to be kicked out. i'm sure you've got a list and i've got a list and some of them overlap and some of them may not. >> some just got reelected. >> but i will tell you that if you don't change the incentive structures and the underlying dynamics, then we will continue to see these problems, good people will burn out and get discouraged. and voters will continue to be frustrated and what it does, by the way, it leaves a vacuum then for those who garner attention through the most divisive, controversial outlandish statements to win. and the challenge that we have, people ask me often, john,
what's surprised me most about the presidency. it is the degree to which the united states underwrites the international order. it is not always in the obvious ways. but if there's a problem around the world, people do not call moscow, they do not call beijing. they call washington. even our adversaries expect us to solve problems and expect us to keep things running and when you start getting dysfunction in washington in which it's difficult for decisions to get made, and policy making to run an orderly process. when what is one of our greatest assets, which is an extraordinary civil service, that career staff, let's say at the state department, when that begins to get undermined, that
doesn't just weaken our influence, it provides opportunities for disorder to start ramping up all around the worrell and ultimately makes husband less safe and less prosperous. so we have a stake in making sure we have our act together enough because everybody else, whether they admit it or not, tends to follow our lead. >> exactly. and there is a line between dean atchison -- [applause] >> there's a spectrum, really, from dean atchison and george marshall, to jim bakker, to secretary clinton and secretary kerry. that was a coherent conversation among secretaries of state. you would possibly be over the spectrum or over year and it was coherent. were you surprised the past 24
months or so-- he he he's voldemor-- you've got to read harry potter to your kids. >> with baker, it's grandkids. the solutions that you draw on and united states and 12 resolutions during the gulf war, in extraordinary coalition, madrid, itself, the peace conference, those institutions were pretty effective through this man's presidency. >> right. >> and now, really, and i'm not just being clever, over the last two years, we've begun to fear the breakdown of those institutions. did you see that coming in. >> no, i did not see that coming and i tend to agree with
you. i certainly agree with you and i know that president obama would agree with this that american leadership in the world is absolutely imperative. nobody -- no other country can do it. everybody expects us to lead. [applause] >> everybody expects us to lead and we won the cold war because every president from harry truman through george w. bush was steadfast, whether they were democrats or republicans. we won the cold war because we had alliances that leveraged our power and that we could rely on and those alliances were evidenced by nato, of course, but by our security agreements with japan and korea, by -- in the economics sphere, the world bank, imf and so forth. those institutions were created by america in order for us to do what the rest of the world needed to have done and what
with as good for america. and i think it's still good for america, and i don't think we ought to be denigrating those institutions or attacking them. do they need, some of them reformmation? absolutely. as someone who spent a lot of time working with the imf, the u.n., another good one, even nato, this president is right in one respect for sure, nato needs-- our european allies need to pay their way, what they've agreed to pay. [applaus [applause]. we shouldn't be forever required to pick up the tab on that. but these institutions make america stronger and we ought not to be running them down. [applause] >> let me ask, ask both of you and mr. president, you first. here is an exam question that
they would have at rice. assess the validity of this statement, if you would. american politics between 1933 and 2017 can be understood as a kind of figurative conversation between franklin roosevelt and ronald reagan as a field on which we made most of your domestic and foreign policy recommendations between the relative and market and state and relative force among commonly agreed upon rivals and foes. this particular moment from your leaving the white house until now feels like an incoherent part of that chapter, of that story. do you agree you governed in a world that was shaped by those two traditions, and if so, how does one recover restoring
those? >> and i think the statement a correct -- despite tip o'neill and ronald reagan going at it. the truth is during that period that you described the ideological band of american politics was pretty narrow compared to most other countri countries. there was a broad concensus around a number of core principles and you know, there's a reason why i was comfortable asking, for example, bob gates staying on as my secretary of defense when we're still in the middle of two wars. there was a reason why i could consult with a bret scocroft or
a jim baker about an issue. we had a baseline of assumptions and values around certain issues. i think what is also true is that that concensus was usually beneficial to the united states and that over the course of the post world war ii era net-net it was hugely beneficial to the world. it doesn't mean we didn't screw up, make mistakes, weren't hypocritical, weren't self-interested. we're a nation state governed by politicians and so the world had all kinds of opportunities at various juncturejunctures, t united states doesn't believe what it preaches, it's supporting folks who aren't democrats, they're doing things for convenience, all those things. but at the end this have period
of, let's say, let's call it 60, 70 years, the world was wealthier, less violent, healthier, more tolerant, more democratic. the average person had -- their life chances were improved across the board. and yet, billions of people -- look, the chinese essentially were free riders on the system we built and lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. it's justifiable for us now to want them to say stop riding for free, you've got to carry your weight now that your status has changed, but we did something very valuable there. here is what is also true. what's also true is that -- and
this is true for any political system, any concensus, that over time contradictions appear and there are things that were not tended to. and in the united states one of the major fault lines in america was always race and you know, we made halting leaps towards changing our laws and our customs and our culture so that we were more likely, at least, to live up to the ideals of the declaration of independence and the notion that we're all created equal, despite not getting there. now, as we started doing that, that concensus starts weakening. that's why lyndon johnson when he signed the civil rights act
in 1964, the first thing he said, we just lost the south for the rest of my lifetime, maybe more. because he understood that part of that old concensus had ta tamped down this big contradiction. we talk a lot about it, but we're not treating everybody the same. gender, part of the reason everybody could get along pretty good in congress in 1957 or 1965 was there weren't any women there to say what you guys are doing is stupid. [cheers and applause] >> and suddenly some women show up and they started questioning things and suddenly men are kind of uncomfortable. changes the concensus, right? same with lbgt issues, right?
so within the united states we had a whole range of issues that were not being addressed as they come up, which is a healthy thing. they couldn't be buried. suddenly that concensus feels less comfortable. and when it comes to the academy, part of what happens is that the globalization that you actually had a concensus between bill clinton, george h.w. bush, george w. bush, and certainly elements of my administration that we wanted to get the trans-pacific partnership done, for example, tpp. concensus arn free trade or -- it didn't fully address the fact that although net-net the whole world was doing better because of globalization and
the internet and global supply chains, there were folks who-- whose factories were being closed and suddenly found themselves to be redundant workers and you suddenly had a winner take all economy where back in 1960 maybe the ceo makes ten times more than the guy on the assembly line. now suddenly it's 200 times, or 300 times and the capacity of nation states to regulate global capital. so at least they have some control where they say, you know what? let's speed things up, slow things down, let's ease the transition for communities that are being hurt by, you know, whether it's automation or foreign competition, that becomes harder to do because everybody's just worrying about what their quarterly reports are going to look like on wall
street, now that creates frustrations and contradictions and i think that what we -- i think a legitimate critique of that concensus, of which, you know, i consider myself to be a part of and still believe in, is that we did not adapt quickly enough to the fact that there were people being left behind, and that frustrations were going to flare up and all these changes happening were happening really quick and you had to address them and speak to them. and in those environments you then start getting a different kind of politics. you start getting politics that's based on that person's not like me, and it must be
their fault. and you start getting the politics based on a nationalism that's not pride in country, but hatred for somebody on the other side of the border. and you start getting the kind of politics that does not allow for compromise because it's based on passions and emotions and-- >> it's identity. >> identity and which is, by the way, when i hear people say they don't like identity politics, they don't like -- i think it's important to remember that identity politics doesn't just apply when it's black people or gay people or women. >> no. >> the folks who really originated identity politics were the folks who said, you know, three-fifth clause and
all that stuff. that was identity politics. that's still out there, maybe that was a little too controversial for houston, b but-- jim crowe was identity politics and that's where it started, so part of -- part of what's happened was that when people feel their status is being jostled and threatened. >> yeah. >> they react. and what i would agree with is that the washington concensus, whatever you want to call it, got a little too comfortable with, you know, they're looking at gdp numbers and they're looking at the internet and everything's looking pretty great and then particularly after the cold war, jim, after what you guys engineered, you had this period. >> yeah. >> of great smugness on the part of america and american elites thinking we got this all
figured out. remember, there were books coming out, the end of history and-- >> the end of history. >> that came back to bite us. so, i don't know that was kind of a long lecture there. i'm sorry. we're just having an after dinner conversation, i should have thrown a joke in there or something. >> mr. secretary, what do you want us to remember most about your public service legacy? >> you mean what am i most proud of about my public service legacy? i suppose, john, i'm most proud of the fact that i had the privilege of serving two presidents of the united states as chief of staff. i had the privilege of being secretary of the treasury. i had the privilege of being secretary of state. i had the privilege of running five presidential campaigns for three republican presidents,
and spending 12 years in washington and leaving washington unindicted. [cheers and applause] >> well, something there, good job. i give you credit. [laughter] >> i think that's-- i think susan gets the credit for that, sir. but mr. president, what about you? >> he stole my answer. n no. >> of your eight years what do want us to think about? your life is unfolding. >> there are obviously accomplishments that i'm extraordinarily proud of and believe deeply in. i think the affordable care act was important, it was incomplete, but it was, it was
a -- it was a starter house on the path to a smarter, more rational health care system that -- where we're not spending 6, 8, 10% more than other advanced countries for worse outcomes and i was extraordinarily proud of the paris accords because, look, i know, you know, you know, i know we're in oil country and we need american energy and by the way, american energy production. you wouldn't always know it, but it went up every year i was president. and you know, that whole suddenly america's like the biggest oil producer and the biggest-- that was me, people. i just want you to--
so, so. [applause] >> sometimes you go to wall street and folks will be grumbling about anti-business. i said have you checked where your stocks were when i came in office and what -- what are you complaining about? just say thank you, please. because i want to raise your taxes a couple percent to make sure kids have a chance to go to school, but all those things -- i really would put as secondary to a variation on what jim said, which is michelle and i and our girls, we came out intact in a-- and what i mean by that is that the core values that we brought into the office, pretty home
spun values, you know, tell the truth and you know, try to see the other person's point of view and treat people kindly and with respect and work hard and think things through and, you know, we were able to sustain that in a difficult environment for that to sustain and know the only did i not get indicted, nobody in my administration got indicted, which [cheers and applaus [cheers and applause] by the way was the only administration in modern history that can be said about. in fact, nobody came close to being indicted. certainly because the people who joined us were there for the right reasons. you know, we -- we were there
to serve, but i guess there's a larger point to that and i'm in the process of writing right now and i'm -- the first time i was in the oval office was actually after i'd been elected. i had been to the white house, but i hadn't been to the oval office. i'd been there for several meetings, but the tradition is shortly after the election the current president invites his successor in. so 43 had me over. laura is with michelle, they could not be more gracious and i have to -- i have to make the point that they had set up a transition process that was flawless and generous and thoughtful so that every member of 43's staff had made
themselves available to the person who was going to be taking their place and had prepared manuals and books about how things work and because despite the political differences, which were real and significant, they recognized there was a value above those differences and when i walked into the oval office there is a reverence there for that office that is independent of you. and if you don't feel that, then you shouldn't be there becau becau because -- [applaus [applause]
>> because a lot of fights, a lot of sacrifices, a lot of of bloodshed is represented in that office. and not just soldiers at iwo jima, you know, it's maids in selma, and it's you know, workers in a coal mine, and it's, you know, farmers in the dust bowl, and that -- you're carrying that vessel. and i never lost that reverence for that office and every day i would come and i would say, i'm going to make mistakes, there are going to be decisions that are compromises. jim knows this when you're in that office, there's never such a thing as a 100% solution, if
it was easy somebody else would have solved it. they only come to you when there's no good answer. but through all of those ups and downs you always -- you had to have a part of you, and the bushes had that, and ronald reagan had that, and i know bill clinton had that that sense that this is sacred. this is important. and there's a civic religion and a set of ideals and principles that we won't get perfect, but we should strive to perfect. and that, i think, is something i never lost. [applause] >> throughout the time i was there. there was never -- my staff used to -- we used to put stickers on people's binders and folders saying guard against cynicism because you have to be realistic, but you
can't be anilistic. and serve whether you're president, secretary of state, or a young staffer who's there for the first time. >> i want to close, if i may, by giving ronald reagan the last word, which is always safe. >> well in this crowd, anyway. [laughter] >> not far from here in secretary baker's office there's a picture much secretary of the treasury, baker, next to president reagan in 1987. president reagan looks puzzled and it's in reagan's wonderful handwriting reads as follows, dear jim, it looks like i'm lost, but not worried. you'll straighten it out like you always do. ronald reagan. i think i speak for all of us
when i thank secretary baker and president obama because they've straightened out a hell of a lot for us. thank you. >> thank you very much. [applause]. [inaudible conversations] >> the u.s. senate is about to meet, going to continue debate this morning on president trump's pick for deputy for the commerce department. senators plan to recess for an hour at 11 eastern to hear from secretary of state mike pompeo and defense secretary mattis on saudi arabia and assistance to yemens. votes at 12:15 on karen kelly for deputy commerce secretary and limiting debate over thomas
farr for u.s. district judge for the eastern district of north carolina. he is an attorney who represented north carolina republicans in congressional redistricting and voter i.d. cases. also possible in the senate today, a request by senators flakes and coons to bring up a bill to protect robert mueller from political interference. now live to the floor of the u.s. senate, here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. gracious god, we praise you today for your love that sustains our earthly journey. when evil flourishes,