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tv   Q A  CSPAN  November 23, 2014 11:06pm-12:00am EST

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chattering class. those who are in the know politically, often political operatives, members of congress, politicians, influencers. they tend to ride these pricier trains between new york and washington dc. sometimes it is just do do "a hit" on television, as it is called. you might go up for the day and come back to d.c. >> you know the trip from here to new york is about 2:45 -- the regular train is a half hour longer. but half as expensive. >> i think it is a status thing. to be able to say, i got there quicker. also, it is left unsaid by many of the people who take it but it is a more elite way of traveling. this is portrayed particularly by critics, republicans certainly, who say, the media,
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the politicians, they are all working together for the good of the democratic party. this is the criticism you get from the conservative side. >> right under that is "the american people." >> this might come in second to "my good friend" on the house floor. if you did a word search, it might even come in first. you hear this from members of both sides of the aisle. the american people, one side wants tax cuts. the other side wants more
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spending. the american people want this, they want that. when it comes to house members, they represent about 700,000 people. they do not represent the american people. >> what is a real american? >> this is a variation of american people. it is when officials refer to their constituents to say, they are not of washington. they don't spend time watching the halls of congress. they have "real jobs." sometimes this could be a pejorative. you are suggesting somebody's ethnicity is not a real american. usually, it is used as a positive. >> what is in the national interest? >> it is a similar type notion, to say my ideas are in the national interest. suggesting that the opponents are not in the national interest. i don't find that to be true. you get people of different persuasions who get elected to congress with all different ideas. i don't know too many who have actually not acted in the national interest. just a small handful who were convicted for corruption.
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>> what do you think of politicians? >> for the most part, they mean well. they are trying to do the best as they see fit. i think the longer they get into office, the higher they rise in the leadership, the more protected they get. i remember when i was covering congress on the house side in the last decade, folks who were freshmen there who now are governors -- i used to be able to interview them all the time. they would speak pretty candidly. they come out of a party caucus meeting and they tell you what went on. now you have to go through layers of press secretaries just to get the same cliches and overused statements. >> what jobs have you had?
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>> i have been a political journalist in one form or another for most of my career. i started as a local reporter in southern california. i worked on the pasadena star news. i worked on the ap for a short time. i came to washington dc and cover the house for a congressional quarterly in the early part of the last decade. i was in the house hall on september 11. i saw all of that up close. a day i will never forget. i moved on after that the magazine campaigns and elections, which covers politics, how campaigns are run, the consulting class, the business angle of politics. then i moved on to a start up which turned into politico. a dominant washington dc news organization. i was there for just about six years or so. a couple years ago, i got approached about a position in silicon valley and decided to try my luck at that. now i'm editor of an online site called politix, which is a news and discussion site.
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>> at politico, what was your job? >> i had a couple different roles. i handled the opinion section. i oversaw a opinion pieces from members of congress, from think tanks, consultants, occasionally entertainers. we had a piece by barbra streisand at one point and steven van zandt from bruce springsteen's band.
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it was fun to be able to do a variety of pieces and get different thought leaders in there. the second half of my tenure, i ran something called "arena," kind of a cousin of the op-ed space. it was real-time opinions from political consultants, sometimes sitting members of congress. we would send out a question and get their response, just a couple paragraphs, post it, and there was a long string of opinion there. >> what do you remember being the strangest request you had? >> there are so many of them. >> when they call up and want to get their words in a publication like politico? >> this is a variation of one of the terms in our title, washington handshake. the technical meaning of that is where you are shaking somebody's hand and looking over their shoulder to see if there is somebody more important in the room. we meant it as something larger. operators, people who want to be friends with you, our seemingly buddy-body when it seems like you can do something for them. once you are not in that position, you don't hear from them as much. fortunately i have not experienced that all that much. it is part of what you get in a position like that. you get all kinds of requests.
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you get requests for press releases. members of congress -- i got this from higher-ups on capitol hill and we weren't going to do this. i think the most common form is from lobbyists who are trying to use opinion pieces to push their special interest. you didn't have to read very far into it to realize this was not in the "national interest." >> let's watch another video clip for some of the words. [video clip] >> what i hope to do is have a conversation with all of you. i want to have a conversation with you. i am happy to have a conversation about how we reduce our deficits. a conversation with the american people. >> this is one of the favorite terms of elected officials. president obama is particularly fond of it. i don't know that he uses it more than others, but he has the loudest megaphone so we hear it most from him.
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those are great examples of the president talking about issues that maybe he didn't want to be on the front table. in the book, we talk about a few ones that are unpalatable. among them, when edward snowden leaked information about the nsa, etc. president obama said, we need to have a conversation about the trade-off between civil liberties and protecting the homeland. or, when the states of colorado and washington legalized marijuana, he said, we need to have a conversation about it. tragically, after the newtown, connecticut massacre in december of 2012, the issue of gun control came up.
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knowing it was unlikely to pass, which it did not, the president said, we need to have a conversation about it. i'm paraphrasing. it is a way of deflecting something you don't really want to be discussing. >> the one thing that i hear all the time, people say, we must have a conversation on race. my reaction is, we talk about race all the time. what would the conversation be like? >> that is the reaction that you often get. when eric holder, the attorney general first took office, he made that statement about the u.s. being a "nation of cowards." people were afraid to talk about race. i think that brings up some very important points. what would there be to discuss about it? also, a conversation doesn't mean action. it doesn't mean passing a bill. a conversation can mean any number of things.
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>> "throw under the bus." >> this is a term in washington, finance, hollywood, when somebody is no longer of use to you. they are an easy scapegoat, to throw under the bus, when they can no longer help you. people get fired, this is what they sometimes say. you hear this on capitol hill when somebody loses a leadership election and they were told the votes will be there. that was one of the more challenging terms because it is fairly common. we have to find a new way to get at it. it took some thought and effort. >> how about "strawman?" >> this is when you create a false image of something.
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when you say, my opponents say x, y, z, but they are not actually saying this. you get elected officials from both sides of the aisle who do this all the time. president obama has done it, george bush triggered an entire associated press story about all the strawmen he was setting up. what i think was a sign of progress in politics, when you have more women involved, you have straw women as well. there were some accusations about hillary clinton telling stories about sarah palin that didn't exactly check out. it seemed like she was sort of setting up a straw woman. it is now expanding across genders as well. >> do you have advice for people when they watch politics? should they have this book sitting by their side? >> that would be one option. i would say, put together a mental word cloud or start writing down the terms and see how often they say the same things over and over. then you can discount a lot of that. watch what they do, not what they say. you have all kinds of highfalutin political rhetoric.
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not often what they do is what they say. >> chuck mccutcheon does what? >> he is a longtime washington dc journalist who has been the co-editor of the almanac of american politics, the co-editor of congressional quarterly politics in america. he has written several other books on his own. he wrote a book called "nuclear waste disposal in new mexico." he wrote a middle school book on climate change and how to teach it. he has some other works as well. we are longtime friends. we worked on the hill together. staking out meetings, covering news conferences, trying to piece together what happened. that is how we have known each other. >> where did you learn how to write?
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>> i was always interested in reading, not just at the content of how stories or articles were written, but the form they took. i was one of those kids who actually read the encyclopedia. i would look up old politicians or cities, or whatever it might be. when the internet really blossomed, this is a cliche in and of itself, but it was like a light went off in my head. i didn't have to lug around books or go to libraries. i could find much of the same information. that really informed how i wrote. it led me to watch certain styles of writing. i never wanted to imitate anybody but i would take a piece of this, a piece of that. i was a politics major in college, where you had to put together different articles, papers, etc.
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>> what is "the ask"? >> when you are a lobbyist, somebody in a suffocated -- supplicated position, you have to ask for something. politicians who ask for money, some are better than others at this. if you are a sitting member of congress, you have to raise thousands of dollars a day just to stay competitive. even if you have a seemingly safe district, a challenger can, along and tell their potential supporters, this man or woman is vulnerable. it is part of the job. many of them don't like to do it, but if you don't you are probably in the long line of work. >> what is the alternative pronunciation of the word " washington?" >> what is "warshington." this is something you hear from people who grew up in mid-atlantic states in the 1930's, 1940's, 1950's. it may have to do with a speech affectation.
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former house speaker newt gingrich sort of pronounced it that way. even though he represented georgia in congress, he grew up in pennsylvania. not quite mid-atlantic, but same region generally. some people have ascribed other motives, to put the war in washington, some alternate meeting. like a lot of terms in the book, you can't nail down precisely where it came from. >> do you ever catch a politician using it on purpose? >> i'm sure it has happened before. i see it mostly as a speech affectation. others, you get saying it on purpose. >> or democrat? >> this is what republicans do to pretty much insult the other
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side. this goes back to the mccarthy era or so. he would say, the democrat senator alleges this or that. some people think it means the democratic party doesn't actually represent democratic principles. other people think it is because it has the word "rat." all that matters is it offends sitting democratic members of congress. >> what is the best book you've ever read about politics? >> there are so many. that is another cliche. one that i would prefer to, that i would love to do something like this but probably never will would be, "what it takes" by richard kramer. he spent years on the campaign trail leading up to the 1988 presidential election. you had a wide open field on both sides. on the republicans, you had george h.w. bush, bob dole and several others. on the democratic side you had jesse jackson, joe biden, others. he followed them around for years. he realized he didn't work for the new york times or the wall street journal. he took a back door to get to know who these people were.
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he started talking to their friends from elementary school, middle school, folks they had worked with in their careers, to find out who these people actually were. a wonderful piece of reportage that i can't imagine having the time to do or the resources. maybe someday. >> about 1000 pages? >> it takes a lot of reading, it is like a doorstop. >> what are some of the other books you have read that you really like?
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>> again, so many of them. one i would say was -- the biography of president obama by david remnick, the new yorker editor which came out around the time of his election. i think it was the fall of 2008. it was i think called "the bridge." it wasn't about the presidency, which hadn't even started yet. it was a similar approach where he went back and interviewed all these different people that had been part of obama's life and came up with some really striking revelations. another one that i would add, a memoir which i don't usually put in categories of books that i find useful, at least by politicians. this was by robert novak, the conservative columnist. i don't necessarily agree with all his ideas, but he wrote about how he got access to politicians. he wrote about how much money he made in various television gigs. it was fascinating to hear that candor. it is not something you usually get. >> i might have some more questions about your favorite books but right now, let's have
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some more archive video. [video clip] >> we try to remain as happy of warriors for each other as we can. >> happy warrior, that is one that you get from both sides of the aisle. house speaker john boehner is particularly fond of that. we quote him using that same term in another context, during the partial government shutdown in fall of 2013 when he was asked about the solution. he didn't want to talk to the press, just said, i'm a happy warrior. it is often ascribed to hubert humphrey, the former senator from minnesota who was known to be jovial, amicable, wasn't a mean guy. he seemed to actually enjoy the art of politics, meeting voters and giving the same speech repeatedly. i think he's a good model for that.
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>> what is a washington handshake? >> again, when you are acting insincerely. you are shaking somebody's hand, looking over their shoulder to see somebody more important in the room, somebody who can help my career, somebody who can give me money. it is a form of insincerity. the opposite is when somebody like former president bill clinton looks you in the eye, clutches your shoulder or elbow, makes you feel like the most important person in the room, and then goes down the line and does the same thing to the next person. a washington handshake is somebody who is not very good at feigning sincerity. >> have you ever done that yourself? >> i'm certain that i have. since writing this book, i try to be much more careful about that. not just shaking somebody's
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hand, even in conversation, not looking at my cell phone, etc. not saying i'm perfect but i have become more conscious. >> where did the term "waste, fraud and abuse" come from? >> it is one of those terms that picked up in the early 1990's. when you start getting stories about taxpayer-funded agencies going on lavish vacations, when you have members of congress going on junkets, it is shorthand for bureaucracies in washington that don't act in the taxpayer interest efficiently. they are paying loaded salaries, wasting money. oftentimes, this is overblown. usually, when you say this, they are not pointing directly, just sort of generalizing. it is one that i tune out. it has gotten so overused at this point that i think it is
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devoid of meaning. >> borking? >> this goes back 27 years to the failed supreme court nomination of robert bork, federal judge, by then president ronald reagan. it is the notion of going up against a judicial nominee or anybody else who has to go through the nomination process simply for their ideological beliefs. not because they are unqualified. judge bork had been a yell law professor. -- yale law professor. he was a sitting federal judge. he had sterling academic credentials. a few republicans who opposed him just didn't agree with his ideology. a lot of people say that really set the tone for what has come after. >> this video archive is not in your book, but i want to ask you about this. [video clip]
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>> thank you for your service. >> thank you for your service. >> we thank you for your service to our country. >> thank you for your service. >> thank you for your service. semper fi. >> where did this start? this didn't used to be a term that was used. >> i think this is largely a post-9/11 concoction. maybe that is a bad word because you are talking about the military, who do deserve our gratitude. i found it funny that one politician is thanking another for their service. it is like telling a colleague, thanks for coming in today. it is a way of making you sound sincere and flattering and humble.
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but then going off in some cases and sticking a knife in the back of the person you are doing this too. >> it is an all volunteer military now. what do you think it sounds like to the military, when everybody says, thank you for your service? >> you really wonder about that. i think they find it very frustrating having to deal with elected officials. in the military, you do what you are told. there is a mission, you carry it out, no questions asked. in congress, it is much messier. at best, you can try to cajole your colleagues. you can't compel anybody to do anything. i talk to military folks about how frustrating they find it. it is a different way of going about it but of course they are not going to say that out loud. "politix.
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-- >> you are the editor-in-chief of something called "politix." >> it is -- the parent company is a company called topix, where people go and talk about city council or local police forces. the idea was they wanted to start a discussion forum about national politics. they wanted somebody from the d.c. beltway and that is how they found me. >> where is it headquartered. >> in palo alto, california. >> and that is where you live? >> i live a little bit north of there on san francisco peninsula. it is a very nice, temperate part of the world. i am fortunate to be able to go back and forth to washington and elsewhere. >> what do you say to the conservatives watching that say, he couldn't be in a worse place, out there on the left? >> i find it not as monolithic as people think. in silicon valley generally, there is a lot of libertarians. a lot of people there just want to do their business. they want to get funding, they want to grow their idea.
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they are not the least bit interested in government bureaucracies. military folks, the culture there often clashes with the legislative process. it is very much the same in silicon valley, in the tech world, also in san francisco. it is strongly democratic but it is also one of the capital centers of the country to get major financial institutions. the federal reserve still has an arm there. the prices to read our skyhigh. it is a mecca of capitalism. >> what is the atmosphere for somebody that loves politics between washington and san francisco? >> the biggest difference is, people in california are not discussing politics day in and day out.
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on the weekends, they are not talking about fundraisers or what member of congress, they are talking about going skiing in lake tahoe or whatever. that is not to say they don't work as hard. in some cases, even more so. they just have a different work relationship. they are not as enthralled about seeing elected officials. about six or seven months ago, i was on a flight from los angeles to san francisco and i saw a prominent senator. i think i was the only one on the plane who even noticed him. >> topix is owned by who?
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>> it is 75% owned by an investment poll, and then some private investment as well. >> how does that work? when did they come together? >> they come together a few times a few times a year --it is all automated. it is people coming in, saying what they think, then you get discussion threads going on for days, months, even years at a time. the idea with politix was to have actual humans there, writing the stories, editing them. i certainly learned a lot. not just about waiting, but putting together headlines that are going to sell. the way journalism is now, you really have to be able to push out your own content. it is not enough just to write a good story. sometimes it has to a shorter, life-sized conservation i am seeing as how even in organizations like the new york times. the video will term. [video clip] >> mr. president, the honeymoon is over. >> the honeymoon is over. he will no longer get what he wants. >> we are going to take the president head on. the honeymoon is over. [applause]
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>> this is one of those cliches that goes back at least decades, the whole notion of a honeymoon for a new presidential administration. this one goes back about 80 years or so to when fdr took office. he had his 100 days. he was working with an overwhelmingly democratic \congress. it was easier to push through his proposals. there has been this notion that when a new president is in office, they get a honeymoon. i'm not sure that has really been true. it certainly hasn't been for the presidents i watch. when i started watching politics in the early 1990's, when bill clinton took office, he didn't get much of a honeymoon from the republicans even though they were in the minority.
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president george w. bush didn't get one from the opposition democrats. president obama didn't get one in 2009. i think it is more of a fanciful notion. even somebody like president ford, when he came in under unusual circumstances, he was facing an overwhelmingly democratic congress and immediately started fighting and pushing back. >> they were mostly men back then. what is your favorite thing to read on a day-to-day basis? besides politics. >> [laughter] sometimes sports. particularly in the latter part of the year, the baseball playoff is fun to say. >> i mean, what do you read to keep up? >> there is no one source. when i speak to college students and others, there is no one source. you can't really believe any one source.
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not that the facts aren't right, but each place has its own angle. having grown up with print newspapers, i'm still a subscriber, read the new york times while i'm breaking my coffee in the morning, then i log on to read the washington post, politico, i look at that regularly, my own site, politix. i like to go to sites like political wire, which is a compendium of various viewpoints. i read liberal leaning sites like daily kos politics. not that i agree with it ideologically, but they do a good job of analyzing races in a fairly ideologically blind way. they want to win but they are still pretty clear eyed about who they think will win. then i will read something like jennifer rubin's blog of the washington post, which is a more conservative angle. i will read rough-and-tumble, which is about california politics. probably nine or 10 different sites. >> if you were advising a politician today to get a message out, he or she wants to
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get a message out, what would be the number one place people could get a message out and get to the rest of the media? >> at this point, twitter. that has one of the more viral effects. of course you are limited to 140 characters. you have to be clear, short and concise about what you say. that is where i think it will get retweeted the most. i am finding facebook to be a pretty good tool. members of congress are going that route more. there was this really strange post from a member of congress, mark sanford of south carolina, who famously had that hike on the appalachian trail, that was actually in argentina.
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he announced recently on facebook that he wasn't going through his engagement, wasn't getting married. he wrote a 2000-word plus missive. that was interesting. more substantially, there was a post from another member of congress, jeff duncan, who after the disturbances in ferguson, missouri, wrote about how he was wrong to fund programs to give military surplus equipment to local police departments. it was very thoughtful. he at least said, i'm going to reconsider this. i found that pretty useful. >> here is another term, gang. >> this is a term that con oats members of congress, usually from both parties, teaming up. at one point there was a gang of six on capitol hill that was dealing with entitlement reform, maybe it was health care. there was also a gang of 14, which in a chamber of 100 senators is a lot of people. this was to ease the block of judicial confirmations. we talk about opposing somebody
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ideologically. in the 1990's, during the second term of george w. bush, democrats were filibustering, blocking judicial nominees, just as republicans have done. it became a romeo and juliet type situation. it is hard to know who did it first. they just kept going back and forth. this gang of 14 came together to say that members of the minority party or anybody could not filibuster judicial nominees. >> more archived video. [video clip] >> let me be clear here. >> let me be clear. >> let me be clear about this.
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>> when members of congress and the president of the united states use that phrase, let me be clear, in some ways it sounds like a parent talking to their child. let me be clear, you are grounded. lawmakers, for the most part, don't have that kind of power. in many ways it is an insincere way of talking. it makes you wonder, what are they doing the rest of the time?
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>> what is the "gephardt rule"? >> something that a small number of political junkies around capitol hill know. it refers to handling the debt ceiling, which is the accumulation of all the deficits over the years. it is now to $17 trillion, maybe $18 trillion at this point. now, congress has to go through the painful exercise of voting to raise the debt ceiling. after 1995, there was a rule in place that whenever a certain piece of legislation was passed, the debt ceiling would just get raised automatically. it is like raising the spending limit on your credit card. it was named after dick gephardt, a rising star of congress. he went on to become a house minority leader and democratic presidential candidate.
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>> what is the -- rule? >> something that came about during the speakership of a republican from illinois who served eight years. a few years into his speakership, it was deemed that he and his leadership team were only going to push through pieces of legislation that had the support of a majority of the majority. only if a majority of republicans supported a bill, would it get past or even come up for a vote. democrats cried out over this. they said it was cutting them out of the legislative process, which in many ways is true. there is some debate about how formalized the rule really was. there were cases i remember covering where variations of that were used. there were other times where democratic votes were brought along. interestingly, his successor, john boehner, who came after nancy pelosi, he has violated the rule a few times. he doesn't like to make a big deal out of it but when it came to ending the government shutdown or a fiscal bill, he just told his republican troops, this is it. we are putting it on the floor.
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>> what is the bradley effect? >> one of these terms that goes back decades, referring to the 1982 california gubernatorial race between los angeles mayor tom bradley and a republican candidate. according to public opinion polls, then mayor bradley was shown to be in the lead. he was thought to be on the road to being elected governor. on election day, it didn't turn out that way. he came up short. there was some thinking among political analysts that people said they were willing to vote for an african-american candidate, but when in the privacy of the voting booth, did not do that. there is some debate. some people say it didn't exist, that he was going to lose anyway. we see it and off in cases where that was prevalent. one thing, a really fortunate term in american politics, is the inverse of that. we didn't see that with barack obama. the polls show it in leading and he won.
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>> what are some other books? >> [laughter] again, so many of them. generally, i like to read political biographies of members of congress. i read one recently, jonathan allen, another former colleague, that was an interesting -- it was interesting to see that time at the state department. they had very good access. >> you have the term in here, "game changer." that is also the name of a couple of books. did you ever read the books?
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>> absolutely. i devoured them. the first one, game change, the next one, double down. they really got inside the campaigns and told what really went on, the drama behind the selection of sarah palin. and then in 2012, how mitt romney's people thought he was going to be elected president. if i could throw in a couple more of my favorite books, one recent one by rick perlstein about the ronald reagan years, the invisible bridge. the one about barry goldwater -- i really love that trilogy. he is an interesting author. a man of the left, but i think he writes -- he is fairly evenhanded. his views come out more in the
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second couple books but it is still a good bit of reportage. some of the books i have enjoyed on the other side of the aisle are craig shirley's books about ronald reagan. he wrote one about the 1976 campaign, where the former california governor challenged gerald ford for the republican nomination and almost won. he is on the conservative side but he really got inside and had really deep information. >> was there a presidential biography or autobiography or memoir that you think got beyond the obvious? >> certainly, the robert caro lbj books. >> and you read them all? >> i did. it has been a few years.
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i certainly read the one that came out in 2012. i remember the main points of it. i read that on a trip to europe. i got some funny stairs on the train, but nonetheless, reading about american politics -- those are just wonderful. it really defines what political biography should be. like richard ben cramer, robert caro would spend years. he lived in texas to discover where lbj came from. he lived in washington dc, all over the place. he uncovered fascinating information. >> there is one more to go. >> this will be about the johnson presidency. it is amazing that he has spent 30, 40 years, researching these books. he has just barely got into the presidency. the last book was really the first six weeks or so of the lbj presidency after the jfk assassination. speaking of which, one other book, about the jfk assassination. larry sabato's book which came out last fall. he didn't just recount the events, which has been done
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countless times. he looked at all the subsequent presidents and saw how the jfk legacy affected their governance and how they tried to present themselves to the public. >> we have 11 seconds of archive. [video clip] >> i don't want to offend anyone here. >> i don't mean to offend anyone. >> i don't want to offend anybody. >> [laughter] they say, i don't want to offend anybody, and they go on to do precisely that. it is almost a heat shield, a way of preventing yourself from looking mean. and then going out and really sticking the knife in their back. >> what is astroturfing? >> astroturfing is when a member of congress receives all kinds of correspondence from the public about the same very specific issue. it is supposed to be spontaneous. when you start hearing the same
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message repeatedly, you know it is artificial, kind of like astroturf. basically means something artificially created. >> dark money? >> dark money is an age-old idea in politics. it means going around campaign-finance rules and trying to give to candidates in ways that might be under the table, trying to hide it, trying to shield who the donors are. it happens more in state races, where you don't have direct campaign contribution limits. it does have been in federal races as well. >> who starts this? the media or the politicians or
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both? >> sometimes it is the media that will come up with a term. they start saying the same thing over and over again. >> honeymoon. >> honeymoon, and the latter stages of the barack obama presidency, they say "obama fatigue." we heard about bush fatigue, clinton fatigue. i don't know that voters have used that phrase but it is something you hear in the media. also, in the twitter age where you can put hash tags in, that bubbles up as well. that gets brought up by members of congress who want to look hip. >> don't let perfect be the enemy of good. >> that is an age-old term discussing the art of compromise in the legislative arena. a version of it is often ascribed to president ronald reagan, who said something along the lines of, i'd rather have 80% of what i want than go for 100% and get nothing. it is a shorthanded way of saying, you are not going to get everything you want. you have to pick your fights and know when to push forward and when to accept compromise.
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>> we were talking about washington earlier. san francisco values, that is one of your terms. >> that is something you often hear from republican candidates, talking about estranged liberals. those on the far left of the spectrum. it is often used as code for, those who use illicit drugs, or hippies who are dancing around in golden gate park. something of that nature. i find it is not all that representative of san francisco. you get nancy pelosi, the democratic minority leader, former house speaker, who is often viewed as the emblem of this. she is actually a fairly traditional, conservative individual who has been married to the same man for decades and has a large family. much about politics isn't really fair.
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>> overton window? >> this is one term that was brand-new to me in researching this book. i found it used repeatedly once i started to dig into the research. it refers to the acceptable range of political ideas. a conservative think tank in michigan -- it is meant to denote those ideas that are kind of within the mainstream. then you get those individuals who are deemed to be outside the mainstream. they are not part of the acceptable political discussion. ron paul, the former congressman from texas, was viewed as being outside the overton window. in his time, he was advocating auditing the federal reserve, which is becoming more mainstream.
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on the left, you get somebody like barbara lee of oakland, from the berkeley area. she was the only member of congress to vote against the use of force resolution after 9/11. that was an extremely unpopular position. those are usually more on the fringes. if you want to rise in the party leadership, you are better off staying within that 40 yard line of politics. >> here is comedian will farrell saying something that you write about. [video clip] >> i will ask each candidate to sum up in a single word the best argument for his candidacy. >> strategery. [laughter] >> that is one of your terms. >> that has really come to be part of popular culture, where it has introduced new terms in the political discussion. that was will farrell. that must have been during the
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heat of the presidential race between bush and gore. george w. bush never used that term so it wasn't really fair. few things in comedy or politics are fair. it got ascribed to him. it was meant to represent inferior intellect. i didn't think that was a fair charge, but that is the case. that gets repeated endlessly. democrats use it sometimes. >> here is our last clip. >> there has been a lot of attention on dick cheney. what is your relationship like? >> it has been cordial. he lives in washington and we live in dallas. washington is that you miss your pals. a lot of people were there for all eight years.
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i became good friends with them. like vice president cheney. i don't see him much. >> that clip really sums up what the term cordial means in politics. you don't really get along with somebody that much. it is a funny construction by former president bush. he says he doesn't see him much. i'm sure cheney comes down to texas. not that hard to see somebody in this day and age if you really want to and you have means, which both of those men do. in political context, it is usually a way of saying, we got to a meeting, we can't stand each other, but we had to hash out a deal. we had a "cordial" conversation. >> what is the name nevil tamerlan in your book? >> it is an appeaser. somebody who is soft on -- it might be terrorism, in the isil debate. it got brought out a lot in the
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post-9/11 years. particularly right before the iraq invasion. those who opposed the war were seeing as being appeasers. that terminology, "neville chamberlain," being the british prime minister before world war ii, who granted nazi germany territory in europe that led them to get more aggressive. >> you named this book "dog whistles, walk-backs and washington handshakes." what is a dog whistle? >> a very direct piece of rhetoric aimed at a specific group of people, just like a dog whistle can only be picked up by canines. this is meant to go to a specific group. when president bush was in office, some of his speeches
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would be laced with references to evangelical hymns. senator rand paul, the senator from kentucky, probable presidential candidate in 2016, when he cites obscure economists, sometimes that is a dog whistle. democrats do this as well when they speak about protecting seniors, which nobody would be against. in this case, it has a specific meaning about not cutting social security or any other entitlement programs, which in their view, republicans want to do. >> obviously they can buy the book at a bookstore, but if they want to get involved with your website, politix, how do they find it? >> online, politix.topix.com. very easy to find if you google it. give your views and have your say.
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it is a discussion with lots of other folks. >> our guest has been david mark. he co-authored "dog whistles, walk-backs and washington handshakes," with chuck mccutcheon. thanks very much for joining us. >> thanks for having me. ♪ >> for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q-and-a.org. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] this thanksgiving week, c-span is featuring interviews from retired members of congress. watch the inters

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