tv Washington Journal Jon Meacham CSPAN May 24, 2018 3:40am-4:44am EDT
testifying wednesday about the 2019 budget report. he appears before the senate foreign relations committee live at 10 am eastern on c-span three. thursday morning, we are in madison wisconsin the next up on the c-span 50 capitals tour. the wisconsin lieutenant governor will be our guest starting at 8:30 am eastern. todd meacham is a pulitzer prize winning biographer, his new book is called the battle for better angels. in the opening pages of the book, you write this is a portrait of the power of which politics appear more prevalent and a reminder that -- is not new and a reassurance that they are survivable. are we in a new hour of public despaired of this?
>> it sure feels that way. if you are voting for president donald trump in 2016, you are clearly of this conviction that the country was headed in the wrong direction. that you wanted to make a great again according to your life. if you voted against him and if you stand against him, even now, you tend to believe that the country is facing arguably one of the most perilous hours in history. and what i want to do is try to put some context into that and figure out how to we get out of the moment from the past and how can we apply those lessons going forward. >> define the nation's sole. life, "e" core. socrates man a soul? my experience is that the soul has both good and evil, light
and dark. kindness and cruelty. the american soul is capable of great good. it's also capable of great evil. and i think if we don't confront that, if somehow or another you think that a given president or a given administration has captured america, we're not actually being honest about our fault. we are totally capable in this country, have been since the beginning. before the beginning. of getting things wrong. and yet, we have managed through strife and through starts, to move things forward. >> what is the responsibility of one president, one administration have for the soul of america? >> they are the custodians of that given moment. every moment is defined by the extent of our angels over our darker instincts. you have ultimate
responsibility. not to say that presidency is entirely devicive, but in which we look back, we want to emulate and commemorate, or tend to be ones that presidents have been in sync. >> do you think president trump is living up to that responsibility? >> i do not. i do not. part of the reason i did this book is because of the reaction in august of 2017. i think he is missing a historic opportunity to live into what franklin roosevelt said, that it is preeminently a place of moral leadership, and a place where you can shape the dispositions of heartened minds in this country. which is hugely important. the republic is only good as the sum of its parts. that's the wonderful thing about a republic. all of us play a role in the ultimate face of the nation, because it's a reflection of what we are. >> we mentioned you are a
biographer, is this a history book? >> it is. this is not a partisan book. it's of trump, but not about trump. which is like defining life in america today. i voted for democrat, i voted for republicans. i plan to continue to. what i wanted to do was look back historically and offer as backspace, in order to reach the maximum number of people. we are, as you know better than anybody, we are incredibly triable. and you pick a team and anything the other team does is motivated by ill. it's a danger. and yet we don't listen particularly well to each other. so, what i wanted to do was try to say democrats have gotten it right and gotten it wrong. republicans have gotten it right and gotten it wrong. it actually has very little to do with those kind of
affiliations. what i think the country -- the country is at its best when we more generously interpret the jeffersonian definition of the quality. and if you look at the history of progressive movements in the past in particular and of conservatism, the era which we look back on, are ones we opened our arms as opposed to clenching our fist. >> the battle for our better angels. the author, jon meacham with us, until about 8:30 this morning. if you want to join the conversation, republicans 202- 748-8001. independent, 202-748-8002. take us to one of those moments of madness and injustice as you describe them. >> the capital is right here, so in august 1925, 50,000 marched down pennsylvania
avenue. we were at a moment in american life between 1915 and 1927, when the white working class was anxious about broad cultural and economic shifts. we were moving to an industrial society. immigration was high. there was a fear on the part of native foreign americans that those immigrants were going to come in and take their job, an explicit worry that was in the literature of the time. after the movie, the birth of a nation was released, there was a renewal of refounding of the new kkk. 3 to 5 million americans joined it. colorado, georgia, texas, it knew no regional boundary. enormously important. 327 delegates to the national convention. 103 ballots, they were so determined to keep the irish
catholic from being nominated. what happened? because if the clan had been at strength in the early 1930s, it's arguable the 30s might not have turned out the way we did. we were facing a crisis that could have provided fashionism. a couple things. the press was tough. the new york world, coverage early on increased their numbers. were investigated the clan. there were problems internally, some corruption. there were two supreme court decisions. one, upholding a new york law that the plan had to publish the names of its members. the other striking down in oregon that required all public school children to go to public schools. the court stepped in. harding and coolage. took the right position against the clan. it dispated as the 20s went on.
but for an intense moment, it felt as though the clan was a permanent and powerful interest group in the united states. and that was not 100 years ago. >> you mention it dispated. there wasn't one moment where it was defeated? >> very rarely one moment. that's the interesting thing about history. joe mccarthy. in the documentary that plays in our heads, we want the mccarthy phenomenon, which began in 1950, to end with edward r.murrow who said the fault of your brewed is not in the stars, but in ourselves. the council for the army says, have you no decent si, sir, at long last. that's the big hollywood moment. >> you know, mccarthy had a 34% approval rating a month after that. >> it was important, but these things rarely map in the way a trig would. like in our own lives,
narrative is messier. >> as a historian, what do you think of the phrase, make america great again. >> well, ronald reagan used something like that. he used, let's make america great again of the 1980 campaign poster that says that. the way donald trump used it, let's make america like it was in 1956 again. if you were a boring white man, it was a great time to be alive. if you didn't look like me, it wasn't that great. we were only two years from the brown decision. if you were a woman, your professional opportunities to make a living and support your family were quite circumscribed. jim crowe was prevalent both by law and by custom. so, i think that it is a nastalgic past that did not
exist as many people as they think it did, and it's a powerful narcotic. unquestionably. it's not ultimately, i would argue in terms of political history, it's not ultimately a sustainabsprz strategy. people want to know what you're going to do for them tomorrow. not that you are going to restore something that was a dimly remembered past. there has to be a concrete promise about how you will proceed. what you will give the american people at that particular moment. and so campaigns of nastalgia, maybe a good starter, but it's not necessarily a good finisher. >> the soul of america, the battle for our better angels. jon meacham is with us on the washington journal, taking your
calls. republicans, 202-748-8001. independents, 202-748-8002. we'll start with independents, good morning. >> yes, good morning. thank you c-span. thank you mr. meacham. i'm a big fan of yours. i am a retired teacher, i spent 30 years teaching junior high school students. and my first comment is about our congress. if i were to compare this congress to the worst class of students i had, would be an insult to the worst class that i have ever had. that's what i think of the congress. as far as president trump, i have a short poem for him. it goes like this. 16 months and what have we got? a leader who needs a big swat. next time, stormy, give it all you got, in court, of course. >> dayton, ohio. >> i didn't know poetry was alive and well in the midwest, but that's a good thing.
you know, we're in a place where virtually everyone in the country has an incredibly strong opinion about both the president and the congress. and if you're for the president, you think that -- if you're against it, i think rightly, defending the honor of your junior high school students. my sense of congress, you would know this better, is i believe that the constitutions will prevail. i think we're going to run it close. we can sit back and let it unfold. there's a determined strategy from the white house. we have seen it already this morning, to continue a campaign of pressure to take on those who are investigating him. muddy the waters to undermind the authority of the institutions that might either
discover damaging information or report it. whether there's damaging information or not. and so it's a very con contensious time. the teaching enough people, or armed historically, to engage the battles of the president and preserve the institution. i'm confident the constitution will prevail. the human document. it takes into account the sinfulness, the appetites, ambitions of the institution of the people themselves. it assumes we are frail. it assumes we are greedy. it assumes that we will try to reach for more power no matter where we are, than we should have. and i think it would have stunned the framers to say it would take until 2016 for a demagogue to become president. they would have thought it was
a good batting average. >> the book is a history of the darker moments in american history. what was the darkest moment? >> oh, i think into the civil war of the 1850s, because you had a society where virtually half the country was willing to shed their blood for a system of human slavery. and i'm a native southerner, grew up on a civil war battlefield. but it's inarguable, if you read the record, the civil war was about slavery, it was about protecting human beings. and the fact that you had so many people who were willing to die and did die to defend something that is beyond our moral imagination now, as being acceptable. we can't even put yourself in those shoes. you can do it intellectually,
but not emotionally. that's the darkest hour. and the war in many ways was the irrepressible conflict. it was the great. we thought it was the -- african american slavery. we learned through our pain, that it would require another century or more to genuinely overcome the institutionalized rationism, legalized racism. strife, vision, and happiness, spiritness, is a word we use. more often the rule than the exception in american life. and i think sometimes in the president, we tend to think that the world fundamentally changed on election day 2016. the question i get asked all
the time. has it ever been like this? well yeah, it has. and if we have been sitting here 50 years ago today, 1968, 46 american servicemen would have died in vietnam. that was the average casualty. death rate in vietnam. the year began when johnson gets out of the race in late march. dr. king is assassinated the first week of april. the country erupts in riot. senator kennedy is murdered in june. democratic national convention descends into chaos and violence in august. in november, george wallace carries the popular vote. and that moment where everything seemed to be coming apart. this hour is -- my hope by remembering within the living memory of most of the folks we know, that was the reality.
and richard goodwin just died. the great presidential speech writer. it's only been 53 years since he wrote a speech for an american president, arguing the now seemingly inarguable principle that human equality -- people died for that. in the last half century. so, it requires diligence. it requires an inassistance upon an american ideal that the best way to guarantee fair play for yourself is to guarantee it for others. >> you're a professor at vanderbilt. rose, good morning. >> good morning. mr. meacham, i hope my grandchildren -- i was alive in 1968. i was 18 years old.
i hope my grandchildren do not choose to go to vanderbilt, because i can see where you would be indoctrinating them toward your liberal viewpoint. i wanted to take issue with you over make america great again. your interpretation of make america great again is not what donald trump meant. when he talked about making america great again, he was referring to things such as both sides of the aisle, republican and democrat congresses selling the american worker down the tubes on trade issues and all the large trade deficits and the jobs disappearing from this country. where working men and women saw their factories and their businesses close down, going overseas. that was one thing. donald trump, when he talked about make america great again, was talking about the people that don't live in the
washington, d.c. bubble and on the east coast and the west coast. he was talking about fly overcountry. and he related to us in language that we understood. he wasn't high and mighty, like nearly every politician is. and i voted for donald trump and proud to say that i did, because even though he is a man of wealth, he understood the average american person. the average american that was struggling to put food on the table. the average american that couldn't find a job. and this man has done more in the short time that he's been president than any president that i've ever seen in my lifetime. and also, he was talking about making america great again, we had a president for eight years that would go overseas and bash america when he was on foreign
shores and before that, we had a republican president that got us involved in iraq. a war that we shouldn't have ever been in. >> thanks for the call from nashville. i want to give jon meacham a chance to respond. >> that's a prevailing view among about 45% of the country. very well or articulated. a lot of people disagree. i don't think what i'm saying falls neatly into a liberal or conservative category. it's a sign of the reflects of triablism of the hours that there's a tendency to want to talk at each other as opposed to each other. my old friend and editor, charlie peters, founder of the washington monthly, he has something we used to call his gospel. and one of them still do.
and one of the rules was, you have to be willing to say something bad about the good guys and good about the bad guys. that's the price of intellectual honesty. really the price of working sensibly in a public way, because this is not a country, the system was not set up for one side to win 100% all the time. maybe the entire checks and balances was one that a given solution would try to achieve the majority view for a certain period of time. and so i think that we need to somehow or another find a place where if the president does something successful, people on the left should be able to admit that. if the president does something beyond, folks on the right should be able to admit that. the callers central point, which is this was an economic
election. i think is largely true. and dismiss the cares and concerns for people who voted for president trump, as somehow left them worthy, is a huge mistake, not just politically, but ultimately. the prosperity of the country is essential to the health of this democracy. no mistake that 1965 was the moment where we ended jim crowe. i think, because that was the point at which wealth was more broadly distributed and there was greater wealth. that's the kind of moment the caller is talking about, in the mid 60s. and people felt comfortable enough to be generous. and that is simply the nature of history. democracy requires a thriving and prosperous middle class. that's a historical point. hope we can get there. >> back to ohio, jean is
waiting live for democrat. good morning. >> hello, i would like to say i'm a democrat. i'm a very blue liberal. i certainly did not vote for trump. but i just wondered if you covered in your book at all about the corporate soul of america. when you have corporate tax evasion hiding billions offshore like google has approximately $10 billion hidden offshore, the destruction of unions, moving manufacturing overseas to avoid fair wages and environmental regulations, on and on and on. that is what i see as the tribal. the haves and the have notes. i wondered if you addressed the corporate soul. i don't think it's the people. i think you're wrong. >> wrong on? we lost her, sorry. well, i'm often wrong. so you're probably on strong
ground there. is there corporate complicity in the issues of the time? absolutely. of course. i don't think i'm wrong in arguing that, of course i wouldn't, in arguing that the country is an arena in which all of these interests play out. so there's the corporate world. there's the working class world, so my point is, america at its best has managed to have a kind of symphony of the clash of interest. but we have gone from strength to strength. to the point where our immigration question is that people want to come here, not leave. people on the upper west side say they want to leave, but they don't. my own view is that there is a
remarkable capacity for goodness, for prosperity, and i'm not talking about equality of outcome. i don't like paying taxes. and again, i live in tennessee. so we don't. what i do believe, though, is that we are stronger the more widely we embrace the diversity, in the sense of free throw of people and ideas. and this is not an ideological point. look at the country. look at periods of prosperity, and you realize that those are periods where we've been more open, more competitive. if you are an economic conservative today, you believe in the virtues of competition. and the story of the modern era is that the free flow of people, ideas, and goods
ultimately lead to a stronger nation. >> about a half hour left with jon meacham. the soul of america, the battle for a better angel. democrats, 202-748-8000. republicans, 202-748-8001, independents, 202-748-8002. you mention it as genesis for this book. i want to go back to august 17, 2017. this is president trump speaking about the violence after the white supremacyst rally in charleston. here's what the president had to say. >> i'm not putting anybody on a moral plane. what i'm saying is this. you had a group on one side and you had a group on the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible. and it was a horrible thing to watch. there is another side. there was a group on this side. you can call them the left. you just called them the left. other group. you can say what you want, but
that's the way it is. said there was hatred, violence. i think there's blame on both sides. you look at both sides. i think there's blame on both sides. i have no doubt about it, and you don't have any doubt about it either. and if you reported it accurately, you would say. excuse me. you have some bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people. on both sides. >> jon meacham, your reaction to that moment. >> a failure of presidential leadership to take the side of our better angels against our worst. that was a rally of neonazis
over the fate of a statue of robert e. lee. it was a complicated moment. because of the different forces of history and culture. what is not complicated is that the president of the united states should stand against neonazis, and the fact we have to say that sentence in this particular moment is a bad sign. >> lisa is in louisville, kentucky, good morning. >> hello. hello mr. meacham, i watch you all the time. i will enjoy your book as soon as i buy it. my comment is one is to rose in asheville. i want her to know that hairly davidson left yesterday after huge tax break. they still left and going to thailand. that's not making america great again. but my scenario is, the d.o.j. say he destroys the d.o.j.
they don't impeach donald trump. where is the d.o.j. and what is it after that? to go attack people that he once prosecuted after he was too big, to be investigated or prosecuted. this really concerns me. >> there's an enormous amount of concern fueled this morning, about the rule of law and the institutions and how the president interacts with all those things. i don't know what's going to happen. i'm also someone that didn't think donald trump would be president. what the hell do i know? whenever you ask for a prediction, you should know i was wrong about that. this is a stress test for citizens. it's a very difficult moment, institutions that other presidents have acknowledged comply beyond influence, are in
play suddenly. is going to require incredible vigilance. it is tiring to do, i know, but people who are truly concerned about these issues, on either side, are going to need to stay in the arena and hopefully, this will be my plea for the morning, hopefully actually listen to each other a little bit and 99 times out of 100, you're going to disagree with the other person. but maybe on that 100th time, they'll have a point. and i'm not arguing that therefore everything is a solution, that's not my point at all. the more we argue with each other, as opposed to listen to each other and reflect on what the other arguments are, the less true we're being to the core of the american revolution. the american revolution is the political embodiment of the
idea that reason has a role to play in the arena. against passion. what has been going on the two or three centuries running into thomas jefferson. you had the translation. you had the reformation, the scientific resolution, information flowing from the hands of the few to the hands of the many. the digital revolution is in fact not a news story, it's a chapter in an unfolding story. the flow of power from the few to the many. and too much is given, much is expected. and so at this fascinating moment where we have some character as the president of the united states, we've had arguably ever, a culturally dominant force, we also have the most empowered public. and so it's a fascinating moment historically. we're going to be writing about this and talking about it for
ever. because more people have more information with which to form their opinion if they actually think about it as opposed to accepting their opinion from somebody else. we have a president who is determined to govern exactly the way he wants to. without much reference to how people have done in the past. so, it's a rivetting moment. the stress test for citizenship, and a crash course in popular politics. >> what would you say to stella who writes, this free flow of diversity has brought down american ideology, traditions, and way of life. >> what does that even american? american ideology, what is that? >> higher taxes to support the foreign invaders, taking away from my family's needs and dreams. >> that's why i wrote the book. that kind of sentiment should at least be informed by facts. and in a historical
perspective. the nation itself has become more economically viable, stronger on the world stage, because we have embraced this changing world around us. the american ideology, if we have a controlling idea, is that we're all created equal and we should have equality of opportunity. we should rise or fall on our merit. wealth of nation. published in 1976. and to me, america is at its best when it has intelligently
engaged with the future. and not resisted change. destiny. and i worry that there's a reflective, there's a fear that somehow or another, demographic change is going to erode america. >> good morning. thank you for taking my call. i was just listening in and i heard your reaction to when president trump reacted to the charlottesville, some people lost their lives, unfortunately. i can tell you, sir, that i voted for donald trump. i'm happy with my vote.
and i felt as if he was defending a good group of people, because for one, i think it's absolutely ridiculous that people are so offended by statues. especially when they think certain ways about a war that happened, that they really don't really understand. robert e. lee was not a bad person. anyway, regardless of what the statues represent, i'm not a neonazi. i have two catholic children. i'm proud to say i'm their father. i'm also one of my closest siblings, i'm not going to say his name, because he is not out of the closet, he's a homosexual, and i love him very much. but i'm not a neonazi, and i embrace my country's history, and i was violently attacked one time when i was at a rally minding my own business.
i was not there to cause any problems, but i had kids that was dressed from bandannas and looked like a ninja attacked me for no reason whatsoever. and i have friends that are democrats, i have a friend that is very, very radical left wing. and we have conversations all the time. we don't hate each other. we can go downtown baltimore and drink a beer together, that's absolutely fine. but the trouble -- i think we have a serious media problem in this country, because what was spun out of something that was nothing, it's just crazy. >> jon meacham. >> well, i hope you drink a will the of beer with him. and try to figure out whether there are places where you can compromise and meet each other
half a way, or whatever the right distance is, in order to try to create a moment that we will look back on as a time where the country grew stronger. where we pursued happiness more enthusiastically, and captured some of it. we forget that part of the decloration sometimes. but the idea of happiness is jefferson, the founder was an idea that was not just about personal fulfillment, but it was about a kind of physic engagement. it was about a rising tide lifting all boat. i don't think we pursue that kind of happiness enough. if the beer in baltimore will do that, go for it. >> bloomington, line from democrats, go ahead. >> i had a question. the way that the house
republicans are trying to stop this investigation, do you think that they are also involved with what the president has supposedly done? that's my question. >> you mean the house republicans somehow colluding with russians? >> i believe that's what she was saying. >> well, as secretary rum sfeld said, i don't think the house republicans have done that. that's a personal view. i have no idea what is the truth about the trump campaign. that's why director mueller is doing his investigation and then we'll see what those results are. it is unfortunate, a, that
russia did this. interfered with the election. as dick cheney says, it's an act of war against our democracy and our institutions. and we simply have to wait and see what is proven or not proven from the investigation. >> mike, south carolina, vying for republicans, go ahead. >> yes, mr. meacham. i have a couple questions. i see you on the other talk shows in the morning, talking about uneducated trump voters and racist trump voters. you all have a plan to divide america, but what is your plan to unite america? and another thing, you talked about civil war a few minutes ago. did you answer why north carolina was kicked out of the union? i'll be waiting on your response. thank you. >> no, i am a tennesseean, so
we took our state from north carolina. i don't know that particular question. uneducated and racist, i'm not sure what you mean. there is a great divide in the country. and i hope that we can talk more and listen to each other more. not that we will come to some position, that we are all agree on, we never will. at best, this is a 60/40 country. at best. if we can get to 51/49 now, that's a remarkable number. i was talking to someone the other day, can you imagine the day in the country, a result like the 1984 election, where
ronald reagan carried 49 states. it's just so removed from where we are. and one of the things we have to figure out, how did we get from a 49 state country to one that is so divided? and you're right, the partisan media has a great deal to do with that. is it a cause or an effect? is one of those things we have to work out in time. in the mccarthy era, in the 1930s, in the 1920s, in reconstruction, in the 1850s, in the 1790s, when john adams found the act, enabling him to deport people in closing down newspapers he didn't like. woodrow wilson, backing down on 400 newspapers. mitchell palmer, a raid on an
alleged anarchist. there have been these moments. at some point, we have gotten out of them. some combination of the presidency, the congress, the court, the press, and the people have determined the shape of a given era, and that's what we are trying to do now. >> in these dark moments, you highlight, was there ever a president unredeemable? >> andrew johnson is pretty close. i hate to say that as a tennesseean. but he opposed significant civil rights legislation. he opposed the 14th and 15th amendments. congress and the forces of the day overcame that. the andrew johnson, whatever you think about the justice or injustice, his views on fulfilling the racial verdict of the civil war, i think, i'm not in the business of
redeeming or condemning, but i suspect you'll have a hard time. >> you have a lot of praise in the book for franklin roosevelt during the times that he faced these dark moments. but he didn't rise to the occasion at times and you mentioned specifically japanese camp. >> executive order, issued with the attorney general from california named earl warrant. which was interesting. yes, it was a submission to a bit of wartime hysteria. president reagan and president clinton ultimately apologized for it. another sign that even our great heros are capable of moral failing. and you know, if you're looking for perfection, this is the wrong business, the wrong place. our job is not to be perfect. our job is to be more perfect.
and one of the most interesting things of the book, was a speech that frederic douglas gave. not far from here, at the dedication of a monument to lincoln in 1876. in which he said, the best meditation on the nature of history and the reality of it. he is praising lincoln, but he says lincoln, it was preeminently the white man's president. we were at best stepchildren, his children by adoption. yet, this is a man who had delivered us from bondage. and he says, interesting as, this is the scene of the end of the -- having to move forward and life and death. this is the very start and uncompromising view that the best we can hope for is somebody doing the right thing
just more than half the time. and i think as bad as a guiding principle, i think that gives us a better sense of proportion about the problems of our own time. >> a lot of criticism for that moment on august 17 of last year. the president's comments about the violence. do you think donald trump is redeemable? >> absolutely. you can't hold out hope and then say, but not for him. i think, of course. there's not a ton of evidence, but intellectual honesty requires you to say, we all learn. we are all informed by experience. and our hope has to be that he decides that if i had five minutes with him, i would say we know you care enormously about ratings and success.
and the thing to remember, it seems to me, that history lasts for ever. and your ratings and success for ever are going to be determined to some extent by the number of times you reach beyond your base and bring more people on board where you govern more holy. it's not a partisan point. it's the presidents that trip off the tongue are ones who either stood up to their core supporters or reached out beyond them. and whether ronald reagan in the cold war, the right wing did not want him talking to the soviets. whether it's lyndon johnson from a segregated state, doing the work of civil rights. whether it's harry truman from a border state, comes from a family who is confederates, integrating the military. whether it's abraham lincoln who started out his presidency,
saying slavery could remain where it was in the country, getting to emancipation. as a matter of military necessity. those are presidents who change their minds or did things that their core supporters would have opposed. and so i call it sometimes the oil portrait test. what do you want us to think about when we look at the oil portrait of you? it works, because none of them can imagine a world where we're not gazing at their oil portrait. >> ten minutes left with jon meacham, the book, the soul of america, we'll get to as many calls as we can. sarah, thanks for waiting. >> i would like to bring um some things in history. unfortunately, the president of the united states does not take the time to read and i don't know what kind of education he
had. but i grew up in the shadow of the u.s. capital. and you kind of absorb all the history. and i can remember a neighbor, because washington was considered a southern city. a neighbor of ours coming out every friday night in his kkk outfit, scaring the children. and i can remember the fact that we were not allowed to vote in washington, d.c. we were not allowed to control our government in washington, d.c. but i also remember the fact that with joe mccarthy, it took a long time before the congress and the president eisenhower, to denounce him and go after him and i see the same thing happening now with this congress who just sits in the corner and just allows all these things to happen, especially with these, i want to call them idiots, nunez and
jordan and meadows, allowing them to, you know, lasso the d.o.j. and use them as a whipping post, which is unfortunate. >> jon meacham. >> the mccarthy example is right on. it took four years for the mccarthy phenomenon to burn out. it started on lincoln's birthday in wheeling, west virginia, 1915. he was not -- the hero of that story to some extent is margaret j. smith. who in 1950, gave a speech called the decloration. laying out really the entire case against mccarthy, as it ultimately would become, coherently held and more widely held. got six cosigners, so she was dismissed. ultimately, the country came to
her point of view. cohn wrote an interesting book. represented donald trump, about mccarthy, in which he said that mccarthy bought anticommunism the way other people might buy a car. secondly, that mccarthy fell not least because he overstayed his welcome. he demanded ultimately too much attention. and that the audience got tired of the show. i think that's a cautionary lesson. >> greg in illinois, line for republicans. go ahead. >> yeah, i would like to talk about the fact that we're looking backwards so much, and we seem to be talking about the fact that trump is so bad. and that he's really not doing us any good. with all of the problems we
have today, what can we look forward to, that would make things better for us. you called a demagogue, and just a lot of things. now there has to be something that looks toward the future that would be better for us. >> what do you think that thing would be, craig? >> well, i think trump has done a lot of good things as far as -- well, the best thing he is doing is jobs, the interest rate, the business structure. corporations do have an awful lot to do with what's going on right now. and for some reason, they would rather put business towards china than here.
i think that he's trying to bring jobs to the corporations, but there's always somebody to work for less. so, i think he's going in the right direction. >> you know, i think the big issue of our time is how do we continue to have a thriving middle class. every great society has had one. achievement of that and the post war era, post world war ii era, one of the great achievements of human history. you ask about hope and what we should be hoping for, you're exactly on the right path, it seems to me. we need to figure out a way, in a globalized world, to have a sustainable and thriving economic future for ourselves, because that creates all sorts
of other political benefits. and that's the great question of the age. president trump offers one answer, which is a kind of, using maximum pressure. you apply maximum pressure to caterpillar, you use that. and to go to your question a moment ago, here's hoping it works, absolutely. the issues of the era are about ultimately, what the country is. and are we a country that welcomes people who will work and do well and will help us rise economically and culturally. or are we one that talks about building walls and keeping people out? and everything is not about immigration. i don't mean to make it that
way. it is, i think that's not a bad way to think about the central question of the time. it's globalization and it's implication. what does it mean to be competing with these big economies around the world? and how do we do that? >> five minutes left with jon meacham, to talk about him with his book. john, go ahead, an independent. >> yes, i'll make this quick. jon, thanks for taking my call. wouldn't you say, looking back at the jfk, i would say the presidency as a whole has been in decline, especially after nixon, and from there on in. and then obviously, in regards to you say the middle class. the middle class has been truly
declining. we had the 70s, which we had in place, we had reagan, the reagan economic plan. the cutting of the taxes. and then from there on in, you can see there are no starts that you can monitor. we have seen this constantly decrease and flat line. nothing improving. >> jon meacham. >> i think to build on that, two numbers explain why we're where we are politically. one is 17%. that's the percentage of americans who say they trust the federal government to do the right thing, some or most of the time. down from 77% in 1965. so we have gone for more than 3 out of 4 americans, fewer than 1 in 5. the other number, 130,000, which is a figure that economists believe a family of
four required to leave what we would think is a classic world war ii middle class life. income, as you know, has gone up recently. 57, 500. so in that missing $70,000, you have the missing 60 points, you had the almosts for this unconventional election, which sent an unconventional man to the power. the presidency, as woodrow wilson once said, enables a man to be as big as he can. i would add, or as small. the office is elastic. it was bounded at the wager on human character. they left a lot unclear in the constitution, in part, because they all believe they were looking at the first president. they were looking at george washington. they trusted him. he had given up power when he returned the army to the congress after the revolution. they trusted him to set precedence instead of tone.
that has generally worked. and i think it's going to continue to work. i think we are stronger than any passion of a given moment. >> before we go, a couple minutes left. some c-span viewers might remember you speaking at barbara bush's funeral. what was that experience like for you? >> it was a great honor. honor of a lifetime, really. mrs. bush called two years ago, and asked if i would speak at her memorial. i said well, ma'am, you'll probably be burying me. and she said well, that's the plan, but just in case, be ready, which is a classic way. she is and was a remarkable american figure. i called her the first lady of the greatest generation. she fell in love with george herbert walker bush during
pearl harbor. she had every expectation her husband would die in world war ii. went to texas, her mother, when they moved to new haven, to texas, her mother would send her boxes of soap, because she didn't think they had those things in texas. they lost a daughter to leukemia, she raised five great children. one became president, one became governor. the other three are wonderful people. and you always hesitate to say, we shall not see their like again, but i give them money, we will see her like again. >> the washington times review of your new book, they write, maybe what is needed as well as a historian to advise president and national leaders.
if such a position was created, jon meacham would be a great choice. would you like it? >> that would be the final nail in the coffin of the american experiment. but it's very generous. >> i'll leave you with this, whatever you quote, it's a good day. churchill once wrote, the future is unknowable, but the passion gives us hope. >> jon meacham, the battle for a better angel. thanks so much for your time. >> secretary of state, mike p, o ompeo is back in the morning. we have a live meeting at 10:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span 3. in testimony wednesday on the house side of the capital, secretary pompeo was asked by representative ted of california about a presidential tweet referring to a criminal
deep state. >> thank you mr. chair, and thank you secretary of state pompeo for your military service and i appreciate you being here today and agreeing to testify. i would like to ask you about the conflict in yemen. but before that, i need to ask you a few questions about official statements the president of the united states made this morning on his twitter account. he said there is a criminal deep state. as you know, he is also going to investigate the state department. do you believe there is a criminal deep space at the state department? >> i haven't seen the comments from the president. i don't believe there's a deep state at the state department. >> thank you. >> you formally served as cia director, do you believe your colleagues of the cia are part of the criminal deep state? >> no. this term has been thrown around. i'll say the employees that work for me nearly uniformly were aimed at achieving the
president's objective in america's objective. >> thank you. that's your experience also when you interact with colleagues at the fbi and department of justice as well? >> yeah. there are always exceptions for every rule. i never led an organization that didn't have -- i don't think any government organization is exempt at having it as well. >> in general, you are confident that the members of various agencies are honoring their oath of the united states constitution? >> yeah. in general, yes, sir. >> thank you. that was secretary pompeo. he appears before the senate foreign relations committee, live at 10:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span 3. grand strategist, was that he knew the shock and awe.
0. >> several members of the house oversight and government reform committee asked assistant attorney general for civil rights john gore testified before the house oversight committee. this is about an hour and 15 minutes. >> presiding members authorized to declare a recess at any time. this is a continuation of a hearing we began last week for reasons that still confound me. today's witness was not here last week, i think it would have been more convenient for you, and i know it would have been more convenient for the members, but you weren't here last week, you're here this week, with that, i'm going to have to administer an oath because that