tv The Presidency Pat Oliphants Political Cartoons - Bush to Obama CSPAN November 30, 2019 12:00pm-1:19pm EST
presidency,he former white house administration staff members analyze the work of political cartoonists pat oliphant. they focus on george h.w. the university of virginia's miller center hosted the event. >> we are going to get started presidents on of whom oliphant was able to bestow his gift. on a country who is able to combat his gift visually with presidents. i am mike nelson. i am i am the guy you put up with during the first panel.
we have a new cast of people to add their voices to the wonderful voices you heard from the scholars who are on the first panel. once again, we have miller center people here. the miller center, one of its main fscs is the focus on studying the presidencies in depth, historical depth with objectivity. we are all on the business of doing stuff that in editorial cartoonists is not in the business of doing, which is reacting to events on a day-to-day basis. which pat oliphant did more than 10,000 times in his 60 plus years as a newspaper cartoonist. whereas we all strive to be as objective as we can, the job of the editorial cartoonist and pat oliphant, as well as anybody who has ever done that, to provide,, opinion and something to provoke discussion rather than aspire to settle discussion. the panel today, this afternoon, which will cover the presidents from george bush.
i don't use the h w. he was george bush when he was president. when john quincy adams became president, john adams did not have to change his name, so i am sticking with george bush and his immediate successor, bill clinton. and george w. bush, the one who came next, then finally, we sort of get our toe into the obama presidency. part of which pat oliphant was able to capture in his cartoons. we will also see at least one example of pat oliphant's great gift as a sculptor. unfortunately we only get to see it in two dimensions. it is an extraordinary work. one of our panelists, mary kay carey, can tell us something
about that sculpture and the president who it portrays. mary cate is a senior fellow at the miller center. she has been teaching this year and the politics department of the university. she was a speechwriter and communication specialist of all sorts in the bush/quayle campaign in 1988, and during the george bush presidency. philip, former director of the miller center, and a member of the history department here held prominent positions in both bushes administrations. both george and george w administrations, and probably did other things that i am not even aware of that are worth noting.
and then chris low, a senior fellow. the miller center has worked over the years and all three branches of government. i don't know how many people get to say that truthfully. including seven years in the obama administration. what we are going to do is a same thing we did the first time around. we will take cartoons from each one of these presidencies in sequence. all of them oliphant -- all of them oliphant creations that are part of the university of virginia special collection library and are available in many cases for you to go see either there or over at the miller center were there are some others. let's start with that first cartoon. >> for those of you who cannot read that far back, because i know it is a little difficult,
you have george bush on the top, what they tried to sell, then as he is perceived, than dukakis, what they tried to sell and as he is perceived. then it is altered egos, i cannot read. can anybody else read that? here you go. >> altered egos or how we think of them on we think of them only to give them at all. >> there you go. i was on the 1988 bush/dukakis campaign. i would say the top half is exactly not true, not how he was perceived. the bottom half is exactly how he was perceived from our point of view. and i remember having a t-shirt that said, beware of greeks wearing lifts.
and there was a lot of joking about the difference in height between governor dukakis and president bush. president bush was 6'2" or 6'3". there was a saturday night live skit called dukakis after dark. it played upon this that there was another side to michael dukakis. on the top side i would say, the left side of what they tried to sell is exactly what we all perceived in george bush. a war hero, 58 combat missions, and a lifelong public servant. i met david mccullough when i made the documentary. david said to me it takes about 50 years for historians to render judgment on a president, and how glad he was to see that historians had come around on
george bush and had given him the credit he truly deserved and that george bush was alive to see it. i do think that he was admired widely, especially by the time he died. i do think the time of this is not accurate, but i am a little biased. >> so what is being portrayed here, one of the challenges for the panel is, for many of you, we don't need to explain what the references are in these cartoons. many of you probably remember they are talking about the wind factor. they are talking about bush as a wimp. for young people nowadays, they thought george bush was a wimp. why did they think he was a wimp? that is a really good question. the origin of the wimp factor label was a newsweek magazine
cover that actually had a picture of book -- of bush under the wimp factor. at the time i was a career foreign service officer. i was not on the campaign trail and had no declared political affiliation. i would go into the administration as a detail you from the state department to work in the bush white house from the beginning of 1989. it may seem like 1949 now as i age, and it all looks misty. but the question is, why did -- first, why was he labeled a wimp, and why did the label stick? even if you are a bush partisan, and thankfully everyone who worked for bush became one if they had not been before.
as a sidebar, you do learn a lot about these leaders by looking at the attitudes of the people in the circle around them. he commanded a lot of loyalty among the people around him. but why? there is something about the thin reedy voice having been a second banana to reagan for eight years. the sense that, on the campaign trail he was actually not, in my view, if forceful and charismatic speaker. johnson had a little bit of this as well. came across much better in private than public. a sense that on the campaign trail he which is kind of spout conventional pablum. people asked him to say to different audiences.
therefore people had trouble getting a firm sense of him. the right wanted to be a more muscular conservative and one image of him. he did not fit that. but there is something to this that you just have to recognize. there is something in the image of him that people are perceiving. i don't think by 19 -- i am not sure that by 1992 stroller vote would have drawn bush the same way after the cold war. you will see he sticks with this image for a while in the early bush time. frankly because the caricature seems to capture something that
is resonating with a lot of the american people. you just have to face up to that and understand it. this is a final comment. this is one of the reasons these cartoons are so valuable. they capture something about the way people are perceived in their generation that will then be lost 30 years later. and that by looking at the cartoon you can recover. >> what i have found interesting about these cartoons is how ingrained these public perceptions get in people's minds. at us -- as someone who has spent a lot of my life working on campaign, it recognizes your liabilities and tries to push back against that. you have tried to push back against the unforced errors. the most famous unforced era was michael dukakis riding around in a tank within ill fitting helmet. no candidate would ever do that
now. this could have been the perception of dukakis the important moments of george bush 41. whether it is unfair, i would say the grocery scanner thing, he did not know how it worked. with a 1992 debate where he looked at his watched seeming to be bored. whenever we prep a candidate for debate, we take their watches off or tell them never ever look at your watch. when i worked for john kerry, he was doing presidential debate prep and we wanted him to break debate camp to do public events. gas prices were high. we wanted to highlight how gas prices were high. we wanted to send them out to fill up a gas tank. to avoid the dukakis moments or the george bush moment, we actually check do you know how
to fill up a gas tank? it's not that we were never sure that senator kerry ever filled up a gas tank, but it's one of those moments you did not want to happen. in part because of these moments, you double and triple check every time you put your candidate in public because you don't want these visual images to stick in the people's brain. >> one thing we have not noted yet, which has been a presence in every cartoon we have seen and we will see, is the presence of that little character down in the lower right quadrant. the pigeon -- not a pigeon, a penguin that pat oliphant included in all of his cartoons to provide an additional dollop of commentary.
the joy of these cartoons is that they are a snapshot of the moment. on the other hand they are windows into a time. i think what we start seeing in 1988 in this cartoon is, the departure from the era in which we regarded guarded presidential elections as contests between giants. think of theodore white's the making of a president, 1960. it was an achilles and they were meeting on the field of battles. two titanic figures. either one of them was worthy of trotting on a heroic stage. now i think we see by 1988, we are looking at presidential candidates as diminished and even comic figures it has become a default setting ever since. >> this is george bush entered washington walking down pennsylvania avenue on inauguration day in 1989.
that was the 200 anniversary, not to the day, but to the year of george washington being sworn in the same time george bush was sworn in. president bush was actually very honored by that. he got sworn in using two bibles. one stacked on top of the other. one was the bush family bible and one was george washington's bible. he started his inaugural address by pointing that out because he was so honored by that one thing that was brought to mind was that david macola believes that george bush was the most qualified person to run for president since the founders. did not say it at the time, but said it afterwards. that brought it to mind as well. all the jobs that president bush
had done in service to our country before he came just before he became president repaired him for that moment and it's the reason we got through the cold war without a single shot fired. so that is what jumped out at me. he was very proud of that moment. >> the only thing i thought was amusing at this point was the building on the right-hand side is the old post office, which is now the trump hotel. and what is interesting about this without talking about the current president. presidents, i don't think, i think it is seen as bad form for previous presidents. while it was perfectly appropriate for president bush
to pay homage to george washington of the bible. it is not the classiest thing to say i am the greatest president since so-and-so. simply to say that there are subtle ways that it references back to previous presidents. everybody wants to seem kennedy-esque without saying i am being like john kennedy. that is one of the interesting things i sign this cartoon. you cannot see what punk is saying, but it says beautiful george. the second george is written in a different font. >> it has come down to us largely because of the pictures we have as the planned and boring figure. solid and virtuous of every way. just take out your dollar bill
and look at that. i don't think any american in history has been a figure of such excitement and adoration in his own generation as george washington was in his. i think washington has always been the plan figured -- plan figured that his portrait per trade him as. -- portrayed him as. >> here is, apparently dan quayle in the baby carriage saying mccarthyism. george bush saying, listen to that little first word.
and then punk saying you must be so proud. they were engaging in mccarthyism. i found this very unfair. there is a little bit of background which is george bush first met john tower in 1961 when george bush was harris county republican chair. it was quite a big deal. john tower decided to run for lyndon johnson's senate seat in a special election once johnson left to become vice president. that's when the two of them first became friends. at this point they have been friends for almost 40 years.
there was a discussion about nixon's short list for vice president for. nixon short list for vp was john tower, george bush and one more, ronald reagan. one of them have been something. former chair of the armed services committee in the senate. as was put, his love of women and booze. there was a conflict of interest in the investigation. the senate at that point was 45 republicans, 55, democrats. the vote went down 40 -- 47-53. i believe it means to democrats crossed over. due to the fact that the democrats were in the senate. the larger point to make here though is, george bush felt very strongly that it could go down as well as up and was tremendously loyal to john tower, despite all the flaws
that were exposed. in his book he tearfully says to john tower, i will not pull the rug out from under my friend and stuck with him. also, i think it set the stage for wide he was so tremendously loyal to clarence thomas is nomination as well. i believe he in accurately is depicted here as treating dan quayle as some kind of baby. that could not be further from the truth. he went against the advice of everyone to let all kinds of people on the short list for vice president, went with quayle in a surprise move, and really treated has -- really treated him as an equal.
>> this is about a speech that quayle gave after the nomination. i take a more sympathetic view perhaps in mary cate does. i do not join the dan quayle rehabilitation movie. i agree with what mary cate said, bush tried to treat quayle the way he thought a vice president should be treated and with the appropriate dignity. do not think that dan quell was one of the key insiders of the bush administration. though you was in a lot of meetings, and bush treated him appropriately, but he was not a very influential person in the senior ranks of the administration. this is early in 1989. the tower has gone up and been
defeated. quayle gave a really nasty speech. basically saying he was defeated because of mccarthyism. the investigation of tower had been run by samnite, who is the chairman of the armed services committee. for not knowing anything about this panel last month i was with him. basically, for some reason reminiscing about the tower font. to this day he feels it was the hardest thing he ever had to do in the senate. he has known tower a long time. he had worked with him on armed services for many years.
a lot of this investigation was done extremely confidentially. very little of the detail was ever made public. to accuse basically sam of being the wider version of joe mccarthy was not a wise thing to say, and it was not -- it was not a prudent thing to say. bush was going to be depending on people like sam as an absolutely central partner and anything he was going to try to get done on national security issues for the next four years. including the handling of the confirmation of the person who was nominated to take the plate of the tower. this is dan quayle making his political debut in a certain way. he was very mild-mannered and here he is making his debut in early 1989 in a hitman role. people have used to associate mike agnew had done for nixon or
gore would later do a little bit of this for clinton. it was not an attractive role for quayle and not an attractive role for bush to have quayle play. i think pat oliphant is basically calling him on it. >> whether one thinks that dan quayle was underrated, or for the first time tonight, overrated, this to me is a brilliant example of the caricatures. we have seen cartoon after cartoon where noses and chains -- chins and eyes were treated in typical caricature fashion. exaggerated. here we don't even see dan quayle. the impression that he is an infant, and therefore of no significance at all.
but to not show a character as a form of caricature is really interesting. >> the baby carriage had that fancy monogrammed initial queue. it is a super fancy baby carriage from a really wealthy family. that is a nice little touch. mary kate: i forgot to say earlier, the little bubbles, or whatever signifying dan quayle, invisible dan quayle, reminds me of doonesbury at the time. it would only show president bush as skip be the evil twin. he was an asterisk, feather or little bubble. that became a huge joke in the white house. president bush got a huge kick
out of it. there were many prank photos taken of johnson and new and bob gauge and dick cheney talking to an empty chair, talking to a podium. then they would sign it and send it to the president. it would be this big joke. you may recall dana carvey doing a hilarious impersonation of the president. after he lost the election, he invited dana carvey to the white house and laughed at himself tremendously and did impersonations with them. it was the beginning of a great friendship. some of the cartoons and dana carvey stuff was such a big part of his time in office and his self-deprecating humor. michael: let's move on to the clinton years.
well it's not move on to the clinton years. mary kate: in one week, after we left office, there was a funeral. president ford with at the national cathedral. there was a tremendous number of boy scouts that were the archers for the service because jerry ford was an eagle scout. my children went to the cathedral schools and knew some of the choirboys who saying at the state funeral. president bush gave a eulogy for president ford amongst other presidents speaking. the choirboys said, we want you to know we had a vote. president bush gave the best eulogy of all of the eula just. i said, oh my gosh, boys, i will tell the president, he would love to know that.
i told the story years later at his funeral. i think president bush knew there would be boy scouts in the aisles. so the tone of the eulogy is what young people could learn from jerry ford. sure enough there were choirboys there that got the message and loved it. so the same week i go to the national portrait gallery. it just opened a new presidential portrait. this sculpture by pat oliphant is right in front of the official portraits of president bush, 40 one and 43, still there. i thought it was funny and a captured his love of poor shoes and athleticism. i wrote him a note, i wrote a lot of notes to president bush. we were penpals. i have this binder of personal notes from 41. i brought it with me. i wrote him this note and i said, you won the choirboys vote. second of all, you have to go to
the national portrait gallery and see this thing. so he wrote me back. i thought i would read it to you. it is, dear mary cate, overwhelmed m.r.i., imagine, a guy like me winning the vote of the national cathedral choirboys regarding my eulogy. yes, i would love to go see the newly opened portrait gallery some day with my new hip in place. i have got to go out now and kick some serious but. thanks for writing, love gb. he did not come to washington to see it, he saw images of it. the bush library had a second one purchase. there is one at the national gallery of art and one at the bush library. it was one of his favorites. he really enjoyed that sculpture. i want to say thank you to mr. oliphant for creating it. michael: any other comments on
this marvelous sculpture? >> i love this cartoon. let me try to describe it to you. it is depicting a couple of used car salesman. on the left it says conservative. there is a sign that says all i can knew, runs room eyes, needs cosmetic. many have bill clinton. says, imagine your new car here. clinton health-care coming soon. then, clinton, we finance. then punk in the middle says, who do you fancy we should buy a used car from? the reason i love this cartoon is that it is incredibly timeless. this is from the 1993
health-care fight. you could fast-forward and you could basically take the affordable care act, obamacare, put it where conservative health care is. you could put in the clinton health care, whatever donald trump has proposed, you could put medicare for all there. the refinance his purpose -- is perfect because that is the critic of the progressive health-care plans like medicare for all. how do you pay for it? it really depicts the challenge we have with health care in the system. we don't have -- we have a series of not. appealing options that are presented by politicians. a lot of it is simply imagining what something could look like if you could finance it in some way. a lot of the cartoons will be looking at this particularly timely. >> the republican car is an old gt. i just think this is the best cartoon i have ever seen about the clinton administration.
that image of clinton and the whole way it is portrayed capture something deep about clinton and a lot of things that i think really only a picture like this in this way could do >>. one of the things that is interesting about the oral histories that has been conducted, is reading through the ones that have been released. you may recall that it worked its way into the popular memory of the election. that james famously wrote on a wall at the headquarters in little rock, change versus more of the same. it's the economy, stupid. don't forget health care. a lot of people concluded that one of the issues when he ran for president in 1992 was health
care. it comes through loud and clear in these oral history interviews in which you can access through the miller website. he did not talk free much about health care. touch about welfare reform and other issues. when he became president he had this impression that health care was going to be a major part of his agenda. he bought into that. it turned out to be the biggest political failure of his first term. >> let me lead off on this. the date is important. it's october of 1993. to help you remember, late october of 1993. this was the month of black hawk down. this is a really bad month. the haiti mess also. what you've got here is blind man clinton in the darkening
park. this is the best of foreign policy, christopher? he seeing-eye dog, who is also blind says, yes sir, i believe it is. christopher is born christopher, his secretary of state. then you have them knowing the bus is coming. next stop, bosnia. they are in the dark and they are blind as to what they are doing and where they are going. they are looking for that bus to foreign policy. for that particular moment in october of 1993 it just kind of catches it. >> one of the things that clinton learned by virtually
being president on the job was that he could make unpopular decisions on foreign policy in matters like haiti and bosnia and mexico and so on. he can make decisions in the short term he knew would be unpopular. yet to arrive benefit of being admired as a president who is willing to make tough decisions. clinton's own way of making sense of the fact that by the first term, people thought of them with high regard in foreign policy. he said it's like taking your kids to the dentist. they never want to go, but they appreciate the fact that you took them there when they were kids. i think you and something about foreign policy by having a
president oversee foreign policy. >> i will start with this one. incredibly timely. february 11, 1999, this is after bill clinton is acquitted after impeachment. he is dancing on the left, playing bongo's smoking a cigar saying, free at last, free at last, break out the broad's, i'm free at last. you have history writing in the book in the upper right. punk is saying the moving finger right moves on. this is the part where punk may be wrong in the sense that, if people will remember post-impeachment, clinton was fairly popular. he actually left office fairly popular. history does not just write once. we have seen the way that history has continued to reevaluate bill clinton and his
perceptions of change over the last couple of years. but it does short -- it does sort of show that even in impeachment effort that sales still leaves a mark in history. that is something that is not to be underestimated in 1999 or 2019. philip: contrast this with the cartoons of 1993. both those cartoons you looked at, clinton is portrayed -- they are poking fun of him but there are sides of the cartoons that are affectionate. this strikes me as a bitter cartoon. the view of clinton has soured in some deep way. the way he is portrayed, even down to the imagery of the bongo drums, the indoors -- irresponsible beatnik side of it. this is an angry cartoon. the contrast between that, even that health care cartoon, which is really so affectionate.
this image is powerful to me. mary kate: my reaction -- the previous panel there was a lot of discussion of noses. clinton's nose has of all since 1993. the cigar, he kind of looks like he is naked to me and only wearing socks. as a mother i am like, ew. i think the fence of disappointment and how bill clinton and it is term with history looking over him like that is palpable. i agree that the sentiment of when he left office is very different to know than in the opposite of way of how it was with george bush. >> this incident of bill clinton in post-acquittal revelry, going to africa and playing the bongo
drums and smoking the big cigar, that actually happened. there is something about being gracious in victory that i think is appealing to americans and not being gracious in victory. not dancing on the berlin wall for example. in george bush's case, it's offputting. i think pat oliphant capture that. yes, we did not force him out of office, yes we think he is doing a good job as president, but, come on. mary kate: i will take this one. this is george w. bush surrounded by republican saying, i am going to have to reposition myself away from you guys, i am a compassionate conservative. one of them says, what the hell is that gw? and one says, i that you said
you will need all the help you can get? this was before the 2000 election. this was october of 1999. i remember at the time when he labeled his -- himself a compassionate conservative, there were many of us on the right who said, wait a minute, are you saying the rest of us are not compassionate? it was a real sticking point that arthur brooks wrote this. it was not helpful that you did that. i can see why it was fodder for humor. it did step on it a lot of people's toes. it does make a good point. philip: you will see he will use this motif again. at this time the white house seems roughly appropriate to bush. i would just stop there. >> this is october of 1999 when he is running for office.
in interesting dynamic when presidential candidates run against washington or their own party. he is saying i'm not like these other people in washington, this is not inconsistent with when bill clinton ran for office and barack obama ran. they all would have the same color again whether it's white or black. the president learns we may run against these people. they are going to protect you. they will help fight your battle. >> s captured here, he defined himself in distinction from the
prevailing image of congressional republicans who are seen as hard edged and callous, and not as all -- not at all captured by the word compassionate. years running for president by running against his party. while he is president after he wins and is reelected. he is a true incarnation of ronald reagan. since then, with the rise of donald trump, george w. bush is essentially an outlier once again. i remember seeing bush quoted one time on the issue of immigrants crossing the border without documentation. his comment was, if they are
willing to cross the big end, we want them. and you and them -- can you imagine a republican saying anything like that today? bush is a president who often said, i am not going to try to valuate my performance in office, i will leave that to history. history will have an interesting time with this change and reputation within his own party. >> incidentally, if you're interested in how they are trying to reconcile, carl cannon wrote a terrific book on all of that. i will give a shout out to carl. it is trying to come to grips with what you just raised. i think it may be named reagan and bush in the title. michael: that is your homework. >> this a six days after 9/11.
if you cannot read, the little boy is reading a teacher called civil liberties. there is no punk, there is no comment. and the cartoon means. little comment from me. it is an ambivalent cartoon. you see, there was a way this could have been done in which uncle sam as per trade as being overbearing and to muscular. uncle sam in a cartoon is per trade as a noble heroic figure. but, watch out for the back spring. >> uncle sam looks a lot like abraham lincoln. which then goes back to suspending the civil war.
that may have been me reading too much into it. mary kate: i thought the same thing. it looks like lincoln. it goes to the continuing debate between privacy and security. this sums it up perfectly. michael: it is interesting that six days after 9/11, pat oliphant would realize that civil liberties are going to be part of what we are going to end up having to be concerned about an hour understandable and immediate desire for safety and security and order. if you recall that time, it was not just the actual events, but there was the almost predictable -- we were all predicting that 9/11 would be the first of a
series of attacks. that was the beginning routed in the end of a series of similar attacks coming out of nowhere and even worse, coming out from within the united states. and saying, don't forget civil liberties and uncle sam being -- telling civil liberties to watch out for the consequences. i think that is an extraordinary timely, at a time when most people are not thinking about that. >> ok, all right. now we have our act together. this cartoon requires a little bit of explanation. i do know how will you remember this episode, mary cate.
the u.s. attorneys and 2006 and 2007. mary kate: i remember. you go first. philip: in the winter of 2006-2007, the white house and the new attorney general had come up with the scathingly brilliant idea that the patriot act at the time had been passed in a way that allowed u.s. attorneys to be appointed without u.s. senate if needed. someone had the idea. let's fire several of them that are obnoxious to us for one reason or another. let's put together a list of them and throw appointees into their place without having to go through senate confirmation quickly. they actually begin this process
with eight of them. and then defending them, there was talk of firing all 93 of them. as presidents do, always at the beginning of their first term. this was not the beginning of the first term. this was not even the beginning of the second term. this is well into the second term. there is an outcry going on for a couple of months by the time this cartoon is written. investigations -- a first for -- at first various people of the justice department said the white house had nothing to do with all of this. all of the staffers would later have to resign. one of those staffers had come straight from the white house and had become gonzalez chief of staff. he had to resign. another woman at the justice department also had to resign because emails emerged and it turned out the white house was
involved. there were political issues. karl rove was putting heat on the white house counsel. here you have this cartoon. as all the females were coming out and it was clear that the white house was involved to some degree in the so-called nonpartisan ideas about the u.s. attorneys -- you see dr. strange rove. you see another brilliant idea. then you have dick cheney. notice bush per trade -- portrayed as -- you can barely see him in his seat. he has a brilliant idea. one of the interesting thing to me as i read this and march of 07 -- 2007, cheney's power is actually really waning a lot of the second term.
the public image has not caught up to that reality yet. actually, my view is actually waning. this particular episode did not help. bush himself had to go out and publicly state that he thought the firings have not been handled well. that famous expression was uttered, mistakes were made. no one involved in this did not go viral. mary kate: they were saying, how much do you love our president, please tell me. it was a loyalty question added to the job interview.
that hit the washington post and there were rogue line prosecutors who saw an opening because they felt that the justice department was on the rocks a little bit. they indicted senator ted stevens. that was the beginning of how that indictment got through because they thought nobody justice department was stop the indictment of a republican senator. as we all know, that was a completely mishandled prosecution and got later overturned by the obama attorney general once he got in office. there is a longer story with all of that. the thing that struck me from a comic point of view. i don't know if you saw that cheney film that came out, cheney has been completely vilified.
it is interesting to see cheney looking benign and karl rove looking so evil. nowadays it's sort of her first in pop culture. -- sort of reversed in pop culture. chris: if you ask most americans, at least at the time, karl rove is an evil genius. dick cheney is pulling all the strings. it will be interesting how history of value etc. relationship. if any of you have been to the george w. bush library, it's a wonderful place to visit. i think they tried very hard and felt it better than anybody to push back on this narrative that his decisions were controlled by other people. it will be interesting to see
how those public perceptions change as history goes on. philip: i recall one occasion where this played out. i was to -- i was the director of the 9/11 commission. we interviewed both of the relevant former presidents, bush and clinton, and the vice presidents, cheney and gore and our investigations. a raging -- arranging these into bruce were difficult. -- these interviews were difficult. bush and cheney had the interviews together in one lengthy session. we exceeded to that request. it was basically 10 commissioners and me. the president and vice president had their note takers. the democrats were very upset by these ground rules. cheney would dominate the conversation.
exactly the opposite happened. bush completely dominated the conversation and you had to work hard to actually get questions into cheney and get him to talk. afterwards, the democrats say, need i was cheney's plan all along. but -- by the way, people who knew bush knew it was not a surprise. this was in the spring of 2004. bush is quite articulate and he has a characteristic decisive style. his style is entirely different from clinton, who also fills up the room conversationally. but clinton is full of wandering digressions and speculations and just burns the clock up on you when you are questioning him, which i did. bush is not like this at all. bush is incredibly direct, to the point, this, this comic key point, boom, boom, next.
that was very much the pattern when we actually talked to him in 2004. here you are a few years later and you know why. michael: let me ask a question of all of you. there are certain presidents of whom the public perceptions forms that there must be somebody in their administration, or somebody in their white house who is really making things happen. for example, it arose for george w. bush. the perception of cheney, somebody is pulling the strings. president trump, steve been in. nobody ever says that about barack obama or bill clinton. is it a partisan thing? is it that the press thinks republicans are not smart enough to do it on their own and democrats are smart enough? chris: you just answer the question. [laughter] michael: my question is, don't you agree? chris: i did not work with bill clinton. barack obama has an honest face, very smart, very, very smart. clearly had his hands on anything. to his folly he probably had his hands on a lot of different
-- nobody ever said that about barack obama, nobody ever said that about bill clinton. -- is it theed press tends to think republicans aren't smart enough? >> you just answer the question. not grow up with bill clinton. barack obama you can say many things about. very smart. clearly had his hands on anything. part of it is the ether's of the white house. a mantra, no drama obama. we didn't write books after we left.
what was bestut for the president. it's not to say there weren't people who were strong advisors, but that may never have come out. this one is a little harsh. prof. zelikow: we are now going back in time. this is july of 2004. punk in the bottom right-hand corner has nothing to say. i think you can read the caption. in the upper right hand, it is bush who is wearing that white hat we saw in an earlier cartoon. he doesn't fit that white hat quite so well in this image. would it make you feel better to know we had inaccurate intelligence, he is saying to the dying soldier.
and of course, you have, look how big dick cheney is standing over -- he has nothing to say in this cartoon. again, the image does not require much commentary for me. six months after this was written, i was spending quite a lot of time in iraq. and did for the next couple of years after that. and so, a lot of these issues are very close for me. let's just say that, just to help you set the context, july of 2004 is really a point in which the war in iraq starts to really go south. things were not really going well. they had been kind of gradually unraveling. the u.n. envoy to iraq was killed in a truck bomb in august of 2003, and then things began to degrade, in kind of a slow, incremental way.
but really, the whole country burst into flames during the second half of 2004. and actually, things had gotten so bad that when it burst into flames, frankly, we had a very bloody fight in baghdad and the south of iraq. really just to hold the american position. we almost lost the war in the second half of 2004. the fighting was very bloody in the second half of 2004. and that is just getting going here. but in the beginning of 2005, they have stabilized a little bit and then start getting overly hopeful again. and we go through some more cycles like this. but here we are, this cartoon is really set as the country is really beginning to visibly explode. and oliphant thinks it is time to offer this image. mr. lu: for those that do not
know the reference, and i actually did not know the reference and had to look up the reference. it's a famous statue in vatican city where mary is holding jesus. and so, this is i think one of the most insightful, but perhaps one of the harshest of the cartoons we had a chance to look at. might be one of the truest, i guess. prof. zelikow: there's an irony here. you see president bush with i think an expression on his face of compassion holding this fallen soldier. the irony is since leaving office, this has been a major activity of former president bush, the wounded warriors program and so on. i am also struck in this picture, a totally different comment, but whenever cheney is
portrayed, there is no caricature at all. this is sort of a line drawing of vice president cheney. is it that you cannot caricature him, he is a caricature in and of itself? i don't know, but i think it is kind of interesting that cheney is always the way someone would draw cheney if they were not caricaturing him. mr. lu: as the resident obama one, i will take this one. this is from march of 2007, and -- a month after barack obama jumps into the race to run for president. it shows hillary clinton and barack obama wrestling over the black vote. and clinton is saying, the black vote is mine, obama. i pandered to it for years, i have taken a granted for years. it is mine. obama says it is mine, clinton. who has the greater right to it?
notably the punk in the lower left says, who asked me? punk says you will be told later. so, an amazingly harsh view about how democrats view the african-american vote as something that we fight over and it is a monolithic thing and someone owns it. the context for this cartoon was barack obama ran for president and obviously became the first african american president, but he was not necessarily seen as african-american candidate. when he started the race, he started as this post-racial candidate. he did not talk about race. the clintons had amazingly good will among african-americans from bill clinton's time in office. it was really not until after barack obama started winning races, particularly the iowa caucus, that the african-american votes came to him. then it became a really critical part of his political base.
at this point, it was a coin toss as to who would be able to win this critical voting block. yeah. ms. cary: the only thing i would add is this is exactly what republicans thought was going on at the time. and that whole perfectly captured sense of entitlement that seemed to pervade mrs. clinton for many years. i just think it is very funny from the other side of the aisle. prof. nelson: at this time, the battleearly in for the 2008 democratic nomination, which was 1.5 years yet to be decided, there was sort of uncertainty about obama among many african-americans. not so much about him per se, although he was a relatively new figure on the national stage,
but rather, could an african-american be elected president in the united states of america? and obama, as chris pointed out, did not run as jesse jackson had run, for example as essentially the candidate of black america. more transcendent way. but what was validated among many black americans, and you see this reflected in the polling over many months, is when he won the iowa caucuses. because then the message to african-american voters in states like south carolina was white people will vote for this guy, and he could actually win. and that i think had a lot to do with his winning this sort of tug-of-war with hillary clinton for the black vote, and then going on and getting the democratic nomination and then being elected and reelected as president. mr. lu: this one is dated 2008, but i am going to say it is
april because i know when the pennsylvania primary was. april of 2008. in the upper left, hillary instructs barack on the finer points of being a regular guy. it is hard to see the detail but she is wearing these low riding jeans, she has a tattoo on her right arm, and -- an anchor, right. she is saying beer and a shot, chase it down, and don't raise the pinky when you drink, that is elitist. obama is wearing a very out of place suit in a trucker bar. you can see the pinky is kind of out. punk is saying, not to mention dangerous. that is the pickup line. when you drink, that is elitist, and punk is saying not to mention dangerous. this is barack obama, so i will not dispute the characterization. he is not the person you hang out at the neighborhood bar with. it is the portrayal of hillary
clinton. you will recall as first lady that she was seen as out of touch. when she ran again in 2016, she was seen as not the choice of working-class voters. at this particular moment in the 2008 presidential primary, barack obama was winning a lot of young people, african-americans, was not winning that white, working-class voters that prolonged the primary contest. we went all the way until virtually the last presidential primary. after the initial victories obama won, he lost a huge number of states in the midwest. the irony is that at this moment of the campaign, clinton was seen as the champion of the white working class voter. ms. cary: this looks to me like harvard and yale law school at the bar trying to figure out how to drink a beer. it just made me laugh.
the guy with the hairy back and his pants falling down. the whole thing makes me laugh. it totally hits a nerve of what people perceive those two as, both elitists, one telling the a beer.w to drink prof. nelson: there are offhand comments that i think often stick with candidates for president. basket of deplorables. the 47%. thinking back to mitt romney in 2012. and it was about this time, obama trying to explain in an analytical way why it is so many white working-class people were drawn to his opponent and in some cases to republicans when he talked about, in their desperation they cling to their guns, they cling to religion. i don't even know what the context was for speaking that or how it came out, but it became sort of, see? this is what he really thinks
about the kind of people who were in this bar. mr. lu: i would also say in this point of the campaign, someone had the bright idea to send him bowling, and he bowled something like a 47. he goes back to don't put your candidate in a situation they are not comfortable in. ms. cary: there was a time in the 1980 primaries that candidate bush went bowling. and back in the late 1970's, bowling shoes had different soles on them so you could slide with one foot and put the brakes on with the other. and the secret service did not know he was left-handed, and therefore left-footed. so they gave him a regular pair of shoes and he went and he went flying as soon as he threw the ball. and he ended up in a heap on the bowling alley. he jumped up and he said, nobody said this was going to be easy, and nobody was right. i love that quote. [laughter]
mr. lu: so this is obviously a big statued head of barack obama. the masses are chanting, obama, you have come to save us all, please save us, all hail barack obama, o great messiah. the donkey on the left is saying -- punk is saying you could blow this yet. i am guessing this is 2008. again, this is the last one, and this is a good one to end on. i think you could probably do the same cartoon now about how democrats feel about barack obama. they have idolized him, probably outsized, fairly outsized, unrealistic expectations. i think this also plays on the critique of obama as a celebrity. this was a constant theme that came up earlier in the 2008 campaign.
you will remember sarah palin mocking him for that hopey, changey thing. the first campaign ad john mccain ran against barack obama was titled celebrity. and obama, when he accepted his nomination in denver, he did it with these giant greek columns behind him that made him look almost god-like. so i think this is a fairly mocking the passionate way that a lot of democrats look at obama, and probably unfairly the lionization of obama. prof. zelikow: i do want to note, among the different ways you could have portrayed obama on the pedestal, notice the easter island motif. it evokes that sense of pagans worshiping the idol.
of course, the pagans are going to be in a vanished civilization. and of course looking at this now in 2019, you wonder if this civilization has vanished. and it is being reborn on some other island in some other form. [laughter] prof. nelson: i look at this photo and the easter island imagery, to me, suggests that there was some mystery. we do not know what the easter island figures were about and i think a lot of people were having a hard time understanding, what does barack obama mean? what does it mean that we have elected someone president unlike anyone we have ever elected before? is he some magical figure? is he some god-like figure? and another way of looking at the crowd that is beneath him is that, in effect, that is the body politic, to the extent that this head has a body, it is that -- the people who have somehow folded their own identities into
his. and i think it captures something. if you think back to november of 2008 and the months that followed, i think it captures something of the sense of hope, of not knowing how high obama could lead us. and naturally, as happens with all presidents, but in his case to an exaggerated degree, the ensuing disappointment when you realize he is very smart, but he is a mortal man. i thought this was an astonishing cartoon. and it is the last of our astonishing cartoons, and you all have been wonderful to bear with us through all of this. let's thank our panel. [applause] and please, before we leave, another expression of gratitude
>> watch american history all week on c-span3. they were:00 eastern, held captive during the iran hostage crisis and talk about their experiences 40 years later. >> one of the marines said to me, why did you not ever say you were in solitary? he said, you keep saying i was alone. my mind did not work in those
connections of this is solitary imprisonment. my mind worked like i have been given an incredible gift of time. no appointments, no meetings, no plans. what can i do with it? >> sunday at 6:00 eastern, from the richard nixon presidential library, hillary rodham clinton and william wells on their experiences as house judiciary committee lawyers during the impeachment inquiry of president nixon. >> it does fall to you while you are in the house to examine presidentpower by the . be as circumspect and careful as john doerr was. yoursel from grandstanding and holding news conferences and playing to your base. this goes way beyond whose side
you are on or who is on your side. pastplore our nation's every weekend on c-span3. announcer: next on american history tv, air force veteran and former nasa flight director gene kranz discusses his life and career, culminating the with stories about apollo 11 and apollo 13. this talk marking the 50th anniversary of apollo 11 was part of the american veterans center annual conference in washington, d.c. rep. horn: it is now my pleasure -- i think he is here -- to introduce -- jared, are you still here? oh, he is behind me. i was waiting for you to come to the other side. from dallas, texas, by way of texas a&m univsi