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tv   Washington Journal Clarence Page Peter Wehner  CSPAN  December 5, 2018 11:52am-12:35pm EST

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agencies expires friday night, democrats and republicans have agreed on a 2-week extension of government funding to prevent partial government shutdown as congress considers that spending bill. you can watch the house live on our companion network c-span and the senate is live here on c-span2. >> on the life and legacy, and clearance pages a long-time columnist with the chicago tribune with the ethics and policy center. serving in both bush administrations. as america says goodbye to its 41st president, how should we take the measure of the presidency? >> you do it by what happened and what didn't happen. is the country better because of the stewardship.
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did the present uphold the constitution, or did he apply the qualities as a human being that we look for and once upon a time, in a president. and the time in which a president serves because qualities are needed in some situations that are not as important, war or peace, a domestic crisis, is it a foreign policy crisis but if you took george hw bush, the time he served, the things he did, things he prevented from happening i think he looks awfully good in light of his record and the perspective of history. >> what matters when we judge a president? >> this morning i quoted patrick buchanan, a
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conservative who ran against george bush in 1992 and got 40% of the vote in new hampshire at the time and rattled the establishment. a lot of the division we have seen since then with newt gingrich at the house etc. etc.. what his thoughts were about george bush, he said george bush was an american closer. a closer is someone you call in near the conclusion of a business transaction to take things to a satisfactory conclusion or the end of a baseball game. george hw bush happened to be president at the time the berlin wall came down, the war was ending and he may well be remembered longest for having
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brought that to a satisfactory conclusion at the time when we worried about civil war breaking out etc. etc.. it worked and his temperament worked at that time and able to juggle that. we saw in someone who was good at bringing it together, he lacked the vision thing, a memorable quote, when he said new world order at the time, interpreted by different people. he was talking about an order we now see under attack by the current president, nato and other multilateral alliances bringing about a peaceful pro-democracy world and that is getting backlogged right now. this is a time to appreciate george bush at a time when his
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good works are under attack and deteriorating. >> talking about america's 41st president in the next hour and 15 minutes. we will end washington journal at 9:30 and take you up as preparations get underway for the departure ceremony taking place from the president's line and states to leave the capital. and at 11:00 this morning, the president will go to andrews air force base and the arrival and departure taking place 1:15 and the president's casket go to houston at 5:30 eastern time where the president will lie in repose at saint martin's deepest couple church in houston, we will be covering at
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all on c-span this morning. we hear from you in the life and legacy of the late president george hw bush, phone lines as usual put them on the screen to start calling in and i take the panel to c-span's presidential historian survey, asking 91 presidential historians to rank the 43 former occupants on attributes of leadership. george hw bush came in 20th on the list ahead of ulysses s grant and john quincy adams and behind andrew jackson and john adams, highest marks on crisis management and international relations. is that where he was at his best. >> he was a person whose history, preparedness for international affairs, and the most interest in domestic policy that captured his imagination. but foreign-policy was, he was very good at it. he was known to be good and
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able at the time. as the years of unfolded, we see how impressive he was. from the period of postwar period began, up until the end of the 1980s, if you said the soviet union would disappear from the face of the earth and that would happen without a shot being fired or cataclysm, that would have shocked people in the way george hw bush helped manage that it was very tricky, the reunification of germany, it is very skittish about, george w. bush felt it should. he had the ability to pull that off. there was the gulf war which was one of the great successes, getting iraq out of kuwait in 1990, the coalition he put
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together, nafta, which he expanded to include canada, the agreement with mexico. acid rain agreement, the precursor of global warming. it really was international affairs that interested him the most. i will say the team he had, jim baker, dick cheney on defense, colin powell, that was one of the most impressive foreign-policy teams ever assembled. >> on where george hw bush received the lowest marks in that survey, coming in 27th when it comes to setting an agenda the vision, 23rd on public persuasion. >> that vision thing. having the vision and public persuasion, being able to sell it, the most instructive issue for bush was the issue of read my lips, no new taxes.
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as he was doing that i love to hear what you think. as he said that at the republican convention he is reading the lines, his heart isn't in this because he knows the promise of no new taxes, why do you keep on spending? and it is all set by democrats. ..ronald reagan raised taxes. it's times, 12 times, whatever during his ministration. revenue enhancement or something else. he was pressured into it by the democrats. the fact is that reagan knew how to sell a tax increase. bush did not. when the time came and newt gingrich stormed out of the room, furious that bush had allowed that to happen. it backfired. host: i do want you to weigh in. here's the moment fro here's that moment from 1988. >> my opponent will not rule out raising taxes but i will and the
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congress will push me to raise taxes and i will say no, they will push and i will say no. and they will push again and i will say to them, read my lips, no more taxes. >> host: the sign waving and the cheers after the pledge. >> guest: it was a good political mom came back to bite them for the reasons clarence said. it was a nice light and it worked as a campaign speech but i think it's right, it was not true to him. george w. bush, hw bush in my estimation was not a great natural or talented politician by think he was a great public servant and there was a difference. he knew the pros process of governing. he didn't know the poetryin so well. apropos of what claridge said,
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that's quite right. he suffered tremendously because of the tax increase particularly because of the republican party led by t newt gingrich. but reagan didai raise taxes. the increase and 82 is the largest in american history. he could agree with it for a couple of reasons but one was it was a bond reagan had with republican party in the w concet moment no one else had. he did do that and some people squawked about it but it was not a revolt. there was a lot of hesitancy and trepidation with george h. w. bush that felt like he was not them. his leash was a lot shorter. when he did the tax increase, he came to regret it whether it was the right thing to do or not, it did underscore a cord of george h. w.. bush which was a threat o write his life and that was courage. he knew he would pay a price for it. he did it because he thought it was right thing, remind the viewer is what your goal was in
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both bush administration's. >> guest: and president george h. w. bush i was in administration. i worked for wayneon bennett, secretary of education to ronald reagan, part of the reagan administration and office of national drug control policy. then i was deputy director speech what it for a couple of years for his son george w. bush and then director of the office of strategic initiatives i was in the george w. bush white house for seven years. a lot of my understanding of george h. w. bush came through the eyes of his father. just on that for a moment. it was an incredible relationship. not only one of the really excellent very political families in american history but certainly one of thenl closest. it's been said a lot since george bush the elder died how much he loved his family. but it was also not simply that a settlement and his kids loved
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him but they revere him. to a person they said he was greatest man that p ever knew ad his son could hardly talk about it without tears welling up. when it did the 2000 convention speech, my friend who wrote the column in the post speechwriter for george w. bush and wrote about this, they had, a member, then to cut back the section of the convention speech of the speaking of his father because it waso just too emotional for him, which will make the eulogy today very, very interesting to watch. >> host: taking your calls, phone lines as usual. john is in charleston, south carolina, up first. go c ahead. >> caller: yes. i would like to let americans know that george h bush wasn't perfect. he ran on the premise of peoples fear.
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willie horton got him elected. thank you. tremont clarence page, take that it is a a show that like today. civil rights record. >> guest: it was mixed. interesting, one always felt that his heart was in the right place and even back at you like you involved in naacp and was always one who was on the progressive side of civil rights. but he also, there were political considerations whenever he ran for office, he would stick his elbows out sometimes. that's what i would put the willie horton affair. it was something that, while his own campaign didn't run the ads, for the five or six people who don't know who willie horton was, he was, well, he was a convert to walk away from massachusetts furlough program,
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a a program that michael dukakis supported as governor, and so he was linked to it. first by democrats in the primary states of the caucus aspirations and later by people associated, supported the bush campaign, involved in the campaign but the put at the tv with willie hortons picture, frightful looking fellow who became this iconic bad guy that you should be afraid of and, therefore, you should be afraid of michael dukakis. bush did not hesitate to contact the furlough program but it didn't talk about willie horton specifically but the tv at did. something that helped george bush to win, at the time in 88, helped them to beat michael dukakis, and michael dukakis didn't help himself very much by
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being too unemotional over the issue during a a debate with b. and then by the time the 92 campaign came along, it was a different bush, different set of people supporting him, including conservatives who were angry at him over thegr tax increase. so this time you lost. >> host: on the legacy of the willie horton ad. >> guest: i mean, i think clarence said it very well. if you're talking about a civil rights legacy, it's good from yale and he fought for civil rights legislation and he was a member of congress in texas which went against his interest. on the legislative side he did well. hed appointed clerics thomas, african-american. the willieie horton ad, he wento the history of the apples of people interpreted the willie horton ad largely on whether youry liberal or conservative r republican or democrat. the people who defend george h.
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w. bush in that ad make the following argument. the furlough program was real and willie horton did go out on furlough program and he had been a murder and it did rape people afterward. what made the ad effective was not the race the willie horton, it was at the crime that was done. if he had been a white person that still would've been a legitimate go after. i understand the counter argument directly at wire was a campaign director. lee atwater had admitted republican party in the late 1960s or so-called southern strategy, they use racial codewords to do that, roger ailes was involved in in the campaign. i understand is what it had taken a trip but it's a different way. that was a kind of a dog whistle. i don't know because i don't know thet motivations of the people that ranat it. sometimes i don't even know my own motivations. even if you thought george h. w. bush was wrong, to begin with
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what the caller said, of course it wasn't a perfect man. he never would've saidfe he was. none of us are. you had to take individuals in the totality of the acts, what's the sum total of the life? i think you take george h. w. bush as human being, as men of integrity, strength and honor, of courage, he ranks very, very high ticket is in it he was perfect. doesn't make mistakes, but he was a person who was estimable and had abl lot of integrity. >> host: south carolina, justin is next. good morning. >> caller: yala just did a really good job discussing the willie horton issue. i'm also troubled by the lack of discussion on resident pushes legacy across this time as cia director and vice president as well. in terms of his support of school america's and the iran-contra scandal and all that means for the instability of
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central and south america and how he contributed to it. really interested to see how y'all will discuss that troubling aspect of his legacy. thank you. >> guest: it's a long, long story a lot of arguments i've been over the years in regard to the culpability of george h. w. bush. the largest larger cfa policy e cit group wrote in the foreign policy of the united states. it's a lot of this is false history piggybacked legendary history surrounding with the cia did a lot of good. also quite factually inaccurate. wasn't involved in overthrowing governments, , assassination plots, et cetera over thehe yea. i think if i'm not mistaken george h. w. bush is remembered for his reform efforts in making the cia more transparent, if you
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will, which is a a paradoxical word to use for the cia. as i said, you know, we do have good reason to have intelligence in this country. we do have good reason to have intelligence in this country. i'm a vietnam era veteran and no, look at ken burns series on one seo from the very beginning intelligence was her biggestst problem. that's our biggest pump and a lot of course. i want to see a more effective intelligence services, so did george h. w. bush. >> thank you for your service in the war. i agree that is exactly right, the worst things to happen in terms of the cia didn't happen under george h. w. bush is watch. he was at the two came in after what was called the church committee investigations which revealed a lot of the darker side of this year a history and use very good enough job. he is revered as the cia and by
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-- the cia is named after george w. bush. he worked really well with democrats. he did make itoc more transparet and open and he helped bring back the prestige and confidence in the agency and he wasn't a director for a very long time enjoyed it and he appreciated what they did in the integrity of the peopleof in the difficulty who worked for the cia. it's not an easy job but it has to bee done. it worked well under him. >> host: speaking of legacies, talk about former president george h. w. bush's relationship with the news media. this from an interview from 1999 with brian lamb, the former presidents talking about that relationship and his interaction with the news media. here's what hee had to say. >> i didn't write the actors, i
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didn't like theot publishers. i bought one letter when i was i got smeared by an ugly story about being disconnected because of the scanner. i never knew whatec the scanner was. and what we've done is brand-new technology. most of the other media people reported it that way. >> grocery store. >> no, and a convention, unveiling new machine or compel you can take a crushed package for the first time in history and show the price tag on that package. i said this is amazing. some lazy reporter for the "new york times" that in his office, wasn't even there and wrote there is come he's out of touch, he doesn't know you can scan groceries. the dam story lived on. even though a cbs guy said this is unfair, even though everybody else come most anybody else jumped on thee guy that wrote e story. but it's still there caught up in one of your big computers somewhere. i saw a fable story about me in the "wall street journal" this year. i'm out of it.
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it referred to too bad he wasn't connected in the scanner thing showedth that. so that kind of thing would get me angrier than maybe it should. but it did write a letter. the rest of my president i don't think i've ever come some guy watches and said yes come here's the letter, i think i ever directly personally appealed to a publisher, except the phone and said this is, that lousy store you guys are doing. maybe i should've done more of it. >> host: clarence page? >> guest: george h. w. bush should've gotten together with al gore, who never said he invented the internet, or bill clinton who did not hold up traffic at lax airport, getting a $500 haircut on aboard air force one. the president has these stories that get out and accurately reported, that get corrected
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later but it doesn't matter because the whole story, this sounds more true than the real story because the stereotype if that's what with bush. he was at the grocery scanner. that figures, the yale later had never been to aor grocery store before, et cetera, et cetera. i sympathized with him frankly, but he never had the impression that this was a purposeful thing. it was a conspiracy in the media out to get him come in those terms, , but he did the light at rallies in showing off a bumper sticker that said annoy the media, vote for bush, i heard you juxtapose his relationship with immediate against the president. >> guest: yeah. the late president comes out much better. he never referred to the press as the enemy of the people. that clip that you played, it was sweet. beverly did capture him, both
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his humanness and there's a attaching side to him. i will say in comparing h. w. bush to donald trump, they are in some e-waste the antithesis of each other. in some ways in policy, the view of america, america's role in the world,am free trade, temperament. george h. w. bush was a man of tremendous experience and wise judgment and cautious. and trump is a person who has no experience for the presidency, and has very bad judgment and is volatile and his temperament. and beyond that is just sort of the core decency of the two people. one of the things about george
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h. w. bush is he was a person of deep empathy, sympathy. that's why he cried easily and they were human stories that moved him. he never wrote an autobiography, partly because he was a person who it was in print in him when he was a child from his mother about humility and modesty. never did an autobiography by the stiff the book came out, all the best, george bush, that was a book of his letters. is one of the greatest letter writers in american history. the point here is that they were letters the people thate are reached out to and felt an attachment to. trump has no empathy. he has no sympathy. i think he's missing the gene. and so in area after area professional, public, hector and all the rest, the contrast between george h. w. bush and trump couldn't be sharper
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whether people explicitly saying it or implicitly saying it, that is what is happening in this capital and in this country now because sometimes that are virtues you take for granted in individuals and in the life of the country. you don't appreciate them and when you're stripped the way you realize why they matter. i think george h. w. bush is helping us realize certain of the purchase he embodied matter in an individual and the country. >> host: south carolina, good morning. >> caller: can i please have a couple of minutes? pathologic unpacked, not just mr. bush but the bush family. if you would know a lot about bush the individual you have to do the research. i believe this gentleman to name was peter wehner. he stated the fact that how was the only did influence him.
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look at theneed to history of the bush family, starting with prescott bush. you have to understand that if you are former director of the cia and you become the second most powerful man in the world, i mean, just the things that you have known, we need to understand part of this cia's policy, whether it's what they're doing in the golden triangle during the '70s or how -- tied to a tree and shot and killed. this jump as his hand on the strings of many global affairs and events. i just find it really disturbing, sort of like when steinbrenner died, and that's no disrespect in but we really need to be more objective in our approach where we really try to come like when you try to describe individuals, you know,
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former graduate of yale, a member of a secret society called skull and bones which by the way some of the presidents like his son to the office. when you hear terms like new worldd order, and everybody please do your research because we don't want d to be the conspiracy crazies like -- >> host: catcher point. tragic i agree we should be conspiracy crazy. we can all agree on that. look, if you believe that being directed at the cia is an automatic disqualified from being president of that your view. i don't agree with. this individual southlake he doesn't think the cia should exist. that just isn't reality you need a central intelligence agency for all sortsne of reasons. being a member of the skull and bones society, heal, i'm not quite sure what that is supposed to mean.
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>> guest: when his son ran for president, he ran against senator -- excuse me, i'm sorry. in the 2004 election, john kerry, senator kerrey was also a member of skull and bones. two members nominated by each party so it gets everywhere. >> host: clarence page, you've got georgia. go ahead. >> caller: thank you for answering my phone call. in today's politics we really need h. w. bush back. trump is killing us around the world everywhere. we are disrespected. i voted for him. i don't know why, of all present i wish we had him now. my gosh, think about all the times that we are going through
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right now, it's horrible, my friend. we need to get rid of this trump guy. i wish mueller would hurry up and do his job so we could impeach that guy and we could go back to normal decency. what's going on now in the world is horrible. i know, i did it but everything he says, 6500 lies, this guy is like all the time. when you get somebody with ethics. what are these guys for ethics? are they supposed to watch this stuff and calling out on that? >> guest: ethics, yeah, i want to see more of it in politics. we are being tested now in this country as to how much do we really care about ethics. we are learning a lot of people, donald trump is available. in other words, to the ends justify the means or what can we get out of this relationship because that's the whole function of having international
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relations or domestic relations, or serving various constituencies who maybe didn't vote for you. it's up to the voters. we all racing in these midterm elections arising movement of concern byri the voters who want to see more ethics in government right now and fewer your comfof interest and more accountability. >> host: peter wehner, you've talked about the late president and his love for his family. we saw plenty of his family members visit the casket as he was lying in state yesterday on capitol hill. today's "washington post," jeb bush with a calm along with james baker strive to live life like george h. w. bush. that's one of the columns. the bush foundation and putting out a series of videos about what the president, the late president as written in his diary. this is what about his reflections on aging and his family.
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>> dear kids, this letter is about aging. last year there was only a tiny sense of time left, of sand running through the glass. i want to put this aging on hold for a while now. i don't expect to be on the 18 anymore but a want to play golf with you and want to fish or throw shoes, and want to rejoice in your victories and want to be there for you if you get a bad bounce in life, and no doubt you will for the seas do indeed get rough. when i say be there, i mean in the game, ande the lineup, this probably involved in life even though i might be miles away. if i shed tears these are now try not to laugh at me because i will lose more sailing saline t makes me feel like a sissy. and besides, it's okay to cry if you're a man, a happy man, knee.
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all bush is great is that when were happy forsi counting our blessings, or sad. as the seas get a little higher, the wins a little colder, i'll be making some notes so i can add to this report on getting older. remember the old song i'll be there ready when you are? well, , i'll be there ready when you are but there's so much excitement ahead, so many grandkids to watch grow. if you need me i'm here, devotedly, dad. tragic that is a very moving letter. i actually, i show that to my wife and my son over the weekend when i i saw that. i can't get through it without getting choked up. it's just beautifully written for one thing, and it is
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authentic. and it demonstrated a person, st. augustine had a a line, more in the order of the love, and this is a man who had the right order for loans. family and friends in faith and country. he was one of the most self giving people in american politics, and that kind of letter to one's children is priceless. >> guest: speaking of bush letters, i've got to say that i was personally touched by a letter he sent to the surface of the colleague of mine in our washington bureau when she was in the hospital whoho didn't knw bush and my colleague was a white house reporter who was expecting this to happen but bush heard that tim's sister was in hospital and got her address,
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senator a handwritten note, which he was so famous for sydney at the various people just routinely. that's what you saw that the hemittee concrete where really did feel a real attachment, a a connection with other peoples lives. >> host: today by his son jeb bush and his former chief of staff and secretary of state james baker singh reached the pinnacle of power by living the virtues that make for good for boy scout. they seem old-fashioned some nec wrong.ed the vicinity of there are not old-fashioned. theirot time-tested within 2300 thes ago aristotle believed virtues of prudence, temperance, courage and justice were vital to mankind. george h. w. bush embodied themr all and he made the world a better place because of his adherence to the pic you can
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read that in today's "washington post." blake, texas, independent, go ahead. >> caller: thanks for taking my call. in response to a previous call it that you had talking about being objective about the legacy of george w. bush, or george h. w. bush rather, i think that we should be objective in how he handled the aids crisis at the tail end of the aids crisis when he was president. he did not do enough as president and, unfortunately, it has resulted in some of this in action on the issue of more people died as a result of the hiv virus here i was wondering if you thought that perhaps there were mistakes made in that field, in that area of his presidency? >> guest: there probably were. again, it was a presidency that was not without flaws and he wasn't a person without flaws.
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i think the advanced it from where it was under the reagan administration. a lot of times you look back with decades to view certain things can sometimes centuries to do certain things and say we got this wrong, we didn't understand the gravity of a certain moment. the great aids crisis was a large one and in retrospect i think the government, federal government and reagan and bush emaciation probably should've been more aggressive in what they did. i'm not an expert. identical back and check the record. he named magic johnson to an aids commission and it was a lot of hope early on. i thinkop magic johnson ended up leaving because he felt like not enough was being done. that's what you have to do but with every presidency, he have to sort through the things. i will say just having certain three administrations for a lot of history, that my iq was 80
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points higher before i went in government and 80 w points highr when i met the government because it's a heck of a lot easier when you're on the outside as a writer, as a commentator as a person on the couch watching things unfold and seeing what works and what doesn't work and what was missed and say they should've done this or that. i am analogize it to being a quarterback in real-time versus being a a coach watching a quarterback on tape. it's one thing to run a a tape back and forth and say this receiver was open at this point and you should've hit him, and it's runningm back should've picked up the blitz and this wasn't a perfectly executed play. that's different than when you are aaron rodgers and you 2.3 seconds and a blitzing linebacker interface. it's harder than anybody thinks can liberal, conservative, republican or democrat. sometimes what government is about is getting most things pretty right, not messing up on a really large thing,al sometims getting some important issues
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right. it wasn't a perfect presidency, not a perfect man but but i thk all thingss taken together, and present as a human being and as the president. >> host: the caller in the "new york times" can destroy the road about he did not bleed aids. this is some of that story, critics of mr. bush did not enough to find aids treatment and it is critical policy proposals like a federally funded new exchange the activists believe could help slow the spread of the fiber speared by the end of his term hiv infections was a leading cause of death for men in the united states from ages 25-44 tragic i remember those days they will. ronald reagan had more criticism for sluggishness in responding to the crisis. he didn't recognize there is a crisis entails it hit him personally. friends in hollywood were hit by this awful disease. magic johnson's case shocked a lot of people. many of us remember in early
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days of the aids crisis, a lot of people thought you caught out of the air. just a few in the same room with somebody with age going to get it. they're all kinds of strange release jerry falwell was preachs is god's punishment for the gay rights. i try to look at this objectively. in the sense that reagan was slow that he did not respond. reagan was slow but he did respond. the elder george bush was slow but he did respond and the younger george bush came along and blew me away with the money to put into fighting aids in africa. he was starting to get by his connection with a christian evangelical community. a lot of things can happen like you said, peter. it's a different thing from the inside and looking at d it from the outside but over time we should all learn some lessons and use them to make all of our life better.
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hope our current president picks up on that. >> host: boston, massachusetts, good morning. >> caller: g this is ron from massachusetts. can you tell me why president trump if these doing this, i'm trying to get a drop out of massachusetts. i didn't get. to see senator jon mccain and now it is president bush. i thought he was going to help the military. >> host: robert in boston. we will stick to the conversation but like the legacy of george h. w. bush. it brings up the question of trump at the state funeral today, the use of air force one in the transportation of the late presidents remains. can you talk about what role he is going to play today? >> guest: i'll be interested to see what role he plays. he has a reduced role turkey will not speak. traditionally a situation like this sitting president a would speak. george w. bush spoke at the funeral of ronald reagan and
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gerald ford, and bill clinton spoke at the funeral for richard nixon and so that's the norm. there is a tense relationship between trump and the bush family but beyond that in a deeper way it is because -- >> follow today's "washington journal" is available at coverage of today's state funeral underway now over on c-span. here on c-span2 will take you live to the atlantic council in washington for conversation with former diplomats and national security officials on the ukraine russia conflict. live coverage on c-span2. >> on november 25 russian forces opened fire and sees three ukrainian naval ships attended travel. waters russia and ukraine legally share. six ukrainian crew members


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