tv QA with Anthony Clark CSPAN September 4, 2017 6:00am-7:01am EDT
and drone technology and new security features -- features for cell phones. >> we want to see life-changing innovation, whether it is car navigation our health and safety. so they understand the decisions they make have a real consequences. watch the communicators, tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span two. ♪ announcer: this week on "q&a," author and former congressional staffer anthony clark. he discusses his book, "the last campaign: how presidents rewrite history, run for prosperity, and enshrine their legacies." brian: anthony clark, i want you to see some video before we talk
about your book from october 31st, 1996. >> you know, this is my last campaign and maybe i will run for school board someday. [laughter] brian: your book is called the last campaign. you say in the book that moment got you the title. why? anthony: i saw that moment in a political science budget class in 2003 and decided to write my thesis for that semester on that idea that a presidential library is the president last campaign, not the final electoral contest. and when i finished that paper, my professor said this is a book, you should consider making this into a book. a week later, i got into an rv i had and traveled to all the presidential libraries in six weeks, the once i had not been to yet. i came back convinced that maybe there was more than a book in
it. for me, going to the presidential libraries was only the beginning of the journey. because seeing the libraries as a tourist was different from researching in the records and going to the national archives and seeing how the libraries developed. it was because of what i found and what i couldn't find that it changed from a simple, almost a travelogue on what the presidential libraries are and what they mean to the people, into an examination of the process in which they are created and funded and administered and it became a whole different book. brian: how many presidential libraries are there? anthony: there are technically 13, there will be 14 maybe or maybe not, depending on how the national archives or obama foundation work out the arrangement. it looks like from this point, the obama foundation will not donate like their 13 present predecessors a building to house
the exhibits of the obama presidency. there might be 13. brian: we will come back to that, but in the interim he said he got into an rv. did you have your family with you? anthony: i was married at the time and my wife was a physician at the time. brian: what year? anthony: 2003. brian: what was the first thing you noticed in where did you go first? anthony: i noticed people were gathering around one particular exhibit, a letter someone had written to president truman returning his son's purple heart. and the letter was angry and the letter said that he wished margaret truman was a man so that president truman should experience what he experienced in the loss of his son. the reason why that is an exhibit at the library is that when president truman died, they went through his office at the library and that letter and purple heart were still in the office 20 years later. and i see it as an understanding that the president had of the response ability of his office
and when president truman kind -- planned at the library, he didn't want to memorialize himself, he wanted people to know with the presidency was like. to me come up more than any other exhibit at that library, that letter and that metal demonstrate that. brian: when you talk to the staff there, what did you notice with them? anthony: the staff, one of the staff members was there when president truman was still alive. she did confirm that the folklore he did occasionally greet visitors and it did -- and it did mingle -- and did mingle. but she also said that his focus was really on the archives rather than the exhibits. and the folks who were there worked on the records a long time were open for decades and were knowledgeable about what was there and what was not there, what i could see and what i could not see. you don't get that with the newer records.
i really felt like they knew maybe the most about the records there. brian: when did you write your thesis? anthony: 2003. brian: before or after your rv trip? anthony: after. presidents have to go out. they have to build their legacy. that was the notion. i had no idea to what extent they really did that. i do not have access to the records of how they planned it, the relationship between the national archives and the private foundations that built the libraries. that came later. brian: how do you explain to the average person this story and how do we fit in all the players, including the national archives, records administration? anthony: it's great to start with the beginning. the beginning was president roosevelt wanted a bomb-proof
structure to store his recordds. so he created a structure on his property. during world war ii, there was serious consideration that the records of the new deal and his personal collection will be lost. so he created a modest structure on his state. for many many months, trucks estate.s for many many months, trucks went back and forth between washington and hyde park and they created this library. from the beginning, the idea was to create a place to store has until records for prosperity. almost as an afterthought, president roosevelt crated a small exhibit space where he could show people the gifts he got from the american people. he called it the oddities room. also a place to display his naval prints and naval memorabilia. at the time, he had the largest collection of stamps in the world, i think 1.2 million stamps. he wanted those preserved and a shona. shown.
he figured people would pay a nickel and see it and that would help defray the cost. over time, the emphasis on those exhibits far exceeded the emphasis of the records. so now we have a situation where president obama is planning to build a so-called presidential library that won't have presidential records and won't be administered by the national archives like his predecessors. brian: i want to share some video about president obama describing what his facility is going to be like in chicago. [begin video clip] pres. obama: as we envision it, it is not just a building. we are looking at transforming jackson park so that it once again becomes a people's park. the ability to use these amazing lagoons and wooden island so that people are actually enjoying the park and the activities in the park and a
sledding hill because because michelle always told me she was mad during the winter when she couldn't sled because there was no hill down here. it's about hope. [end video clip] brian: your reaction? anthony: not a presidential library in terms of the model fdr created. he's talking about historians coming to access records to write the history of the obama administration. the first time president obama made a comment about his presents a library, he was quoted in a book called "the promise," where he said he would not build a traditional presidential library. he would just digitize the records. it looks like that what he -- that is what he is going to do. they will pay for the archives to digitize the records and get them out perhaps sooner. he is focusing more on what his institution can do for the future rather than looking back to the past. brian: go back to the fdr
library which you say it was the first year. what year? anthony: 1941. brian: how much did that cost than compared to what obama is planning to spend? anthony: i think he spent $350,000 to build the fdr library and the estimate varies between $500 million and $1.5 billion for the obama foundation. this was before president obama announced he would not be donating the museum. if you are president who has left office and you raise money and build a library and you donated to the government, according to law, you have to give the government 60% of the cost of building the library as an endowment to help defray the cost. 60% of $1.5 billion is an awful lot of money and personally, i think that may have laid a role -- played a role in the foundation's decision not to donate. because they can build a library, or museum, they can build the obama center, they don't give it to the government, they don't have to give the government any money.
brian: where can we find research being done in the future on president obama? anthony: it's unclear. all the archives have said so far is that records will be housed in existing archives facilities. that was plural. one of the best benefits of the presidential library act for the initial archives is that you don't have to find space in existing locations to store and preserve and make them available. that might be a difficult thing for researchers because if it is multiple facilities, does that mean maybe the national archives in chicago plus the national archives in d.c. and college park, maryland? we don't know yet. brian: back in your trip, you visited the truman library. where did you go next? anthony: the dwight eisenhower library about two hours away. brian: what was your memory of that? anthony: big campus, multiple buildings on-site, large chapel where he and mamie and his son are buried.
i had read that the year after he died, 750,000 people came to visit his grave, 1969-1970. that remains the high water mark of any 12 month. for any presidential library. it felt most like a military base in terms of neatly laid out design of the campus. there was a military monument to him, a large statue. i also felt like it was geared towards his whole career, rather than just his presidency. there was far more about his time in the army as a general, which is often borne out by people who say he preferred to be called general. especially post-presidency. that was the first notion i had that presidential libraries might look at things from the life perspective rather than the presidency. president clinton's library is
focused on the eight years of his presidency. it does not go into his previous time as lieutenant governor or governor or his previous bid for congress and it doesn't talk about his post-presidency. it focused on those eight years. brian: go back to eisenhower campus. his childhood home is on the property. you said the chapel there and two or three other buildings. what was your sense of value of the archive and how often has it been used? anthony: i was working mostly with records about the building of the presidential library. i was one of the first researchers to work on them. i got the sense that it was not as well utilized as some of the newer libraries. although the catch-22, the eisenhower library has far more records open. the reagan, bush libraries have far fewer records open but it seems to be more inches in the -- interest in the newer libraries in general.
that's a problem i think happens with presidential libraries. if you look at something that happened during an administration, like the cold war, you can't just go to kansas to research the cold war. you have to go to missouri and you have to go to dorchester, massachusetts, austin, texas, because these records are not in a central location. while they might not be utilized on any given day, i think that the 400 plus million records that make up the presidential library archives i would say the , libraries as a whole unit are the single greatest source of american history over the last 80 years. brian: go back to the number. 400 million. what? anthony: pages of records throughout the residential libraries. brian: how much of that is digitized today? anthony: probably less than one million pages, maybe a little bit more. digitization is not a popular topic right now because of the cost. who is going to bear it? the kennedy foundation credit a
-- did it creates a fund to digitize 400,000 pages of records. there is a lot of records in the nixon library. when the nixon library was created, it was private initially. all the president of records were held at national archives. all the personal records were given back to the foundation, the nixon. when nixon became part of the national archives, they were joined. all the personal records brought back into the national archives were digitized and made online. brian: where did you go after the eisenhower library? anthony: west branch, iowa to see the herbert hoover presidential library. brian: how long was a drive from that? anthony: more than a day because it was up to iowa. west branch has the national park service as well. there is the national park service and hoover site. there is a blacksmith shop, a
quaker meeting house as well. he only lived there for a short period of time. he left when he was eight. he and henry hoover are buried there, as well. at the first three libraries, the archivist set a high bar because they were interested in helping, but they were also interested in someone coming to ask about their history as opposed to policy they have gone over. they were inordinately hopeful, -- helpful, not just in saying, you should look at this film will look at the series, but talk on breaks. i was able to interview most of that staff at the libraries, sometimes staying late afterwards. i got to speak to the director and they were helpful in making sure i had what i needed to tell the story. brian: how long would you stay at each of these libraries? anthony: first time was probably four or five days. over the 12-year period i took to write the book, i spent a month in each of the libraries except george w. bush, which opened right before
i finish the book. brian: so if we followed you around, what would we see you doing? anthony: the first thing i do would spend a day as a tourist and i tried not to read too much about the exhibits. the second day, i would go back and watch people. maybe talk to people as they came out and some people would picnic outside and i would approach them and say, you might talking to me for a few minutes? the third day i would spend taking photographs. i learned the hard way you have to tell people you are going to take 1000 photographs of your museum. brian: what did you do for all your photographs? anthony: i use them to make sure i had a good record of the new zealand. i initially thought i would be critiquing the history. i thought that i would make an effort to say, this is what historians agree happened with this particular issue.
here is how the presidential library describes it. that got sidetracked when i got into records and looking at the process of how they were built. but it also helps to refer back and say, that decision point theater, they can blend together. brian: in that time, who did you want to read it? what impact did you want it to have? anthony: initially i wanted the general public to get a sense of what they are. as time went on, i got closer to what the book became, i went to wanting policymakers to have a good understanding of what goes on and what maybe needs to be changed. brian: robert caro in 2003, was at the lbj library. i want you to hear what he was saying and the program we did with them. [begin video clip] >> it is just baloney to say you can come in here as a historian
and the work without their help. there is no way anybody can know what is in these files. for all these it years, they have been directing me to the right places. so when you say these administrations in this library has not looked in favor on my books -- >> why would that be? >> you have to ask them. that is quite an understatement. i will leave it like that. i think the archives here has never stopped helping me. [end video clip] brian: a couple things. at that time, you cannot buy one of his books at the library. i want to show you a picture recently taken at the lbj library and there you see his books in the shop being sold. what do you think happened to change that and what does that say to you as you are doing the research that they didn't use to sell them? anthony: harry middleton was hand-chosen by president johnson, friend of the family,
worked for president johnson. generally, people believed harry was the reason why robert caro's books were not sold and why he was not asked to come and speak. one of the first things he did was invite robert caro to speak and put his books in that. i saw it as a break from the first foundation, the first director, maybe more protective of the foundation. these positions running the libraries are federal positions. one of the problems i talk about in the book is that the national archives allows the private foundations to veto their choice of the federal employee who runs the library. there is a precedence in the law that says in 1986, because there is going to be a new process by which these records are evaluated and opened to the public, sitting president can
have consultation rights on the first director because they are administrating a 12 year period after the president's office with a president can hold records. so i have confidence the records would uphold the document the president could consult. that has been extended to former presidents and their second and third directors. it's been extended to family members and foundations. again, getting back to betty sue flowers, i think she was making it clear that there was a new administration that there was going to be more equitable in terms of who should speak. robert caro is the prime biographer of lyndon johnson and , he never spoke at the library. brian: he has since then, though? anthony: i believe so. brian: we have a photograph of some things you can buy there. anthony: this again goes back to the idea that if there is a
serious research facility or tourist attraction or both. some of the libraries actually have more bipartisan products. the nixon library, this is the animatronic lbj. this is the second incarnation of this. in the second one, he was standing in a field and wearing a cowboy hat and telling jokes. the jokes were recorded jokes from his speeches. lbj would move in a stiff way. it was one of the more-photographed exhibits in that library. brian: what was your reaction to the shops versus the research versus the museums? anthony: the shops are interesting because some are run to foundations and some were run by the national archives. the foundations, you would have less books, fewer touristy
totchkes, whereas the foundations that run the gift shops tend to push maybe their political bent. brian: how do people find out who is running those shops? anthony: you have to ask. one of the other problems is, the way the national archives works with the foundation, some of the libraries have been donated to the government. some of them are under a memorandum of understanding and agreement. some of them are co-run. the reagan library, you pay a $26 fee but more than half of that does not go to the national archives, which is ostensibly running the library. the rest of it goes to the foundation. brian: there is one in ohio that came along before that. . hayes.rd b did you go to that? anthony: i didn't. the first one i want to was franklin d.
roosevelt. brian: the hayes library is a state-supported. anthony: just like the abraham lincoln one. brian: i want to show you some more video of a guy named allen weinstein, who tried to put this together and who was the archivist during what president? anthony: during the george w. bush administration, 2000-2009. brian: let's watch. >> i think basically we follow the laws. the freedom of information act. it provides procedures and resources and we have a backlog of presidential libraries, a significant backlog to get everything out. that's because we don't have the funding to have a trained archivist to help the process. anthony: i agree. except there is a secondary point to be made. there are not enough archivist
s to process these records, but they begins do not employ people. they work on the public side. they work on sometimes the gift shop, sometimes the educational program given school judge in coming to learn about the president. the work on exhibits, traveling exhibits, public programming. some libraries can have wine tastings and hayrides and dancing lessons. the national archives has the funds to employ those people. maybe they need to shift the funds from that public legacy towards archiving. brian: how much money is given to the national archives to function with the whole process, including the presidential libraries? anthony: just under $400 million, and $100 million goes to the presidential libraries. brian: how is the archivist chosen? anthony: nominated by the president and confirmed by the senate.
brian: allen weinstein was the archivist. he is deceased. what would be the difference between harry middleton and betty sue flowers and there were others since then that have been a head of that library. what is the real difference? anthony: the emphasis the director places on the employee employed by the national archives. directors that function more as an employee of the foundation that creates it. now, up until a few years ago when david became the federal employee that directs the library and the executive rector -- executive director of the foundation that supports the library at the same time. he saw that as a conflict of interest which i agree. brian: how big are these foundations? anthony: up until a few years ago, the eisenhower foundation
had a goal of raising $400,000 a year and they give all of it to -- gave all of it to the national archives to use however the archive wishes. in several years in the past 15, the reagan library foundation has raised more than $50 million a year. that is the scope between the size of the foundation. brian: what does the reagan foundation do with their money? anthony: they operate a portion of the library that they did not deed over to the government so they can use it for political purposes. you can't use government buildings or government land under the hatch act for bipartisan political purpose. the air force one pavilion is the air force one that serves the president has a marine one helicopter. an irish pub that reagan visited in ireland. that was not deeded to the government. so every four years, the foundation hosts the primary
debates from the candidates in the republican parties, speakers series and events. you can even rent, if you want to have an event and rent that part of it. brian: how much money comes from the national archives on the federal side of it to each of the libraries? anthony: it is around $2 million for each one, i think. sometimes three or four, i'm not current on specifics. between funding of each presidential libraries and the capital fund that improves the buildings as they get older, it is about $100 million total. brian: back to your trip. we have been to truman, eisenhower, hoover, who is next? anthony: texas.
lyndon johnson, george h.w. bush. i want to the austin one first and i have seen that as a change, the break in the modest, simple structures that house records and allow space for public exhibits. this is an eight-story building on the campus of university of texas austin. like president roosevelt, it was during president johnson's term in office and has raised the bar significantly for future presidential libraries. brian: i remember when it opened it was free. -- free on the university of texas austin campus. i want to go over some of the numbers what it cost to get in these libraries now. lbj is now up to $10. anthony: that was just the past three or four years. brian: why did they change it? anthony: cost and differing the cost. they completed a $10 million renovation of the exhibits and that was one of the ways to defray the costs.
brian: want to talk about some i of the list, bill clinton $10, fdr $18, george w. bush $19, herbert hoover $10, george herbert walker bush $9, which turns out to be the lowest. abraham lincoln, which is not part of the federal system harry , $15. truman is the lowest at $8. the highest is reagan, $29. some of the non-government places like mount vernon house is $18. james madison is $22. what you think of a $29 entrance fee per person? anthony: the money is primarily going to the foundation, the -- not to the national archives, number one. some folks in the national archives they say, well, our , role is to preserve and make available the records and we have appropriated funds for that. the foundations get to charge
their portion of admission to help defray their costs. most of the exhibits are, the stuff of the exhibit, right, physical, the screens and the printed materials and the cases, those are paid for by the foundation. the people who work on the exhibits, who help curate are a mix. there is a mix of federal and private dollars. they believe the foundations are meant to help support the ongoing efforts at public programming and exhibits at speaker series and educational programming, so they, they tend to acquiesce to the foundation's wishes. brian: i want to show you a photo of a statue of lbj and the -- in the library that you went to and the museum and ask you who would have paid for this? anthony: that was most likely the foundation, the lbj foundation. it wouldn't have been the national archives. brian: the public wouldn't know that? anthony: the public wouldn't know how much of their money is going to the foundation as opposed to the national archives
and how much is going towards preserving records as opposed to creating new exhibits. brian coleman we go back to a point you just made. brian: let's me go back to a point you just made. can you today be the director of the foundation and run the library at the same time? anthony: not the way the current archivist has made the decision but that's not set in stone. just like an executive order a new one can come in and change that back. brian: i'll show you a picture of another famous founder. his name is james madison. there is a library of congress building named after him and this is a statue there. he does not have a library. he does have a home down in montpellier where you can go through and it's quite expensive to go through there. it's $22. why doesn't a man like james madison have a library? anthony: one of the things that's happened over the past few decades is that hometown boosters of earlier presidents have tried to lobby the national archives to say can you please include us in the federal system. i know there was a push a few years ago under don wilson to have the woodrow wilson presidential library in stanton, virginia, included in the
federal system, and even though roosevelt was the first, technically, the earliest president to have a federal library is hoover, he funded his 20 years later but there is a general acceptance between national archives and congress that hoover is the earliest president who will have a federal presidential library. brian: when you went on your trip in 2003 did you go to every library on the same trip? anthony: i went to all the libraries i hadn't visited, as a tourist, prior to that the kennedy, carter and roosevelt libraries so i didn't include those in that trip. brian: how many times have you been back to all of these libraries? anthony: at least three times to all of them except george bush. i've been there once. brian: what did you see, this is -- the george w. bush one is a newer one. what did you see in the george w. bush library and museum compared to his father's, and one is in dallas and the other one is over in college station,
texas. anthony: there is one similarity. they both created a significant -- they both dedicated a significant part of their exhibit to iraq. i would say inordinately so for the scope of their careers and for their presidencies. there are just room after room of 9/11, war on terror, iraq and afghanistan. a 6.5 foot panel to discuss both the financial crisis and hurricane katrina. in terms of balance, it is heavily balanced toward the same general topic. what george w. bush's library has is something called the decision points theater. in truman, you can sit in a small theater and be presented with decisions that president truman had been offered, and the audience gets to vote on what decision they would have made. that has been replicated at the ford library, at the clinton library and generally speaking, they have information after you
choose to say, well, thank you for making your choice but the president made this choice and this is why. at the decision points theater, at the george bush museum, the president comes out afterwards and tells you kind of why you were wrong. and especially if you choose the path that the president didn't choose and you can choose between the surge, whether you send federal troops into new orleans during hurricane katrina, whether you intervene in the financial crisis, and you get -- it's very slickly done. there is a lot of video, you can call up two competing advisers who argue about what's best to do, there is breaking news that might influence your decision and actually during the process, which takes about four minutes, you're asked to continually press a button to tell the system whether or not you're leaning towards what the president did or maybe some other decision. kind of like live polling during a debate. at the end, the audience votes and then the president himself comes out in a pre-recorded
statement. now, the number of pre-recorded statements for the library that president bush has made far exceeds the total sum of all the other ones together. that's not only because it's the newest one, but because they have learned from other foundations and other presidential libraries what seems to work. brian: how many of the 13 existing libraries have an oval office? >> let's see, so there is truman, johnson, nixon, ford, carter, reagan, there is a half exhibit, kind of a half an oval office at the george bush library, clinton and bush. they have kind of a set that has his desk and his chair but it's not a full scale replica. brian: what do you think of it? anthony: that first day i would spend as a tourist, i tried to stop any kind of thoughts of criticism or, you know, how much is this costing the taxpayers,
most of the libraries frankly are really thrilling. my two favorite oval offices are clinton and george w. bush. the clinton library was the first to use natural light to bring into -- so you're not looking at, let's say a fake backdrop behind the president's desk and you can walk around it. since the last time i visited , you can walk into it now. and be in there. and the george w. bush library created in the corner of the building and outside is a replica of the rose garden so there is the portico, walkway and they call it the texas rose garden. it gives visitors a much better understanding of kind of what the place looks like, what it feels like, i have been, as a tourist, i have been to the real oval office a couple of times, and both of those libraries really capture the feeling and spirit of what it's like to be there. brian this book came out in what : year? anthony: 2015. brian: the paperback -- did you have a hardback version?
anthony i did not. : brian: who published it? anthony: i self-published it, i got turned down by 29 publishers. i got one offer from one publisher, well respected academic publisher but they wanted to hold the copyright in perpetuity and i was advised, i had spent so much time and effort on it, that was bad idea. brian: how did you self-publish? anthony: i used create space, an amazon company, and produced it through there. brian: how did it sell? anthony: moderately. i think more people in media and journalism bought it but what's interesting is that every single comment i've received has been one of either two topics. how angry people are to learn what's happening, or how flabbergasted they are to learn what's happening. i haven't received any kind of mild, oh, i read it and it was okay. brian: why are they angry? anthony: they are angry about the fact we have these presidential libraries that are created to house records, especially for the most recent ones, the records won't be open for a hundred years and instead we're paying for celebration and legacy building. brian: you said you had been to the jfk library.
i want to show some pictures around that. the one is the corridor with the red carpeting, it looks a little bit like the white house itself. what did you see in the jfk library that you hadn't seen anywhere else? anthony: yeah, that was the first kind of feeling that you get, that you're in the white house. it is also the first that's monumental. i don't see the lbj library as specifically monumental to the president. when the foundation was created, the john f. kennedy memorial library foundation was created on december 6, 1963, in the wake of the assassination and the goal of the library was not just to build the presidential library but a nation's monument to the slain president, this photograph here as you walk out is one of the most inspiring vistas at any of the presidential libraries. brian: from the 1960 debates with richard nixon, you have as you know, one of the podiums and
a picture of richard nixon. anthony: yes. brian: how do they treat the substance at the jfk library? anthony: i think they treat the substance less than the nixon library does about the same topic. there is this apocryphal tale that people who watch the debate on television think jfk won and people who listen think richard nixon won -- the kennedy library exhibit is geared towards that tale. just look at the two, you get a sense of the man and you can judge for yourself. brian: so after, you were in texas, before the g.w. bush library, where did you go on your 2003 tour? anthony: california. i went out to the reagan and nixon libraries, which, going to those two at the same time was one of two things, one of two episodes that changed the course of the book. i was at the reagan library, and there was -- most of the libraries have exhibits on the
campaigns, and they will have the standard electoral map. at the time, blue was for republicans and red was for democrats and they had a 1984, little plastic sign. it was small, about this big, electoral map, and the entire map was blue except for minnesota. which wasn't red. you couldn't see minnesota. so many people had touched it, in reaction to the fact that reagan had won 49 states, and clearly, i watched people touch it and say, look at this to their friends and families, that they had worn off the color and that little map told me, that kind of reaction that people were astonished, that people that came to the library mostly to see someone they admired like ronald reagan maybe didn't know that or remember and were so taken by just that one little fact that they touched it, that i thought, professor sutton is right, there is a book in here.
brian: why is the ronald reagan library and museum so much bigger than all the rest? i think, did you say something like 200,000 feet? anthony: it was 150,000 before they built the extension for air force one. which is 90,000. the short answer is they had the money and the long answer, i think, is by that time, by the late 1980's, the idea of monumentally commemorating a president and making sure that the history is written by the family and by the foundation and quickly, really had taken hold. and the eight years of the reagan administration are not nearly as much the focus of the library as is his prior career as an actor. they downplay the fact that he was a spokesman and president of the screen actors guild but you can go in and act in a movie with ronald reagan on a blue screen and give a talk at a
teleprompter and get photographed there and you can see a lot -- you can play an economic game where you can change the course of the benefits and have a positive impact on the economy. brian: what do you make of the fact for years now, chairman of the foundation that ronald reagan, a guy named fred ryan, he's also the c.e.o. and publisher of the "washington post," and for a very long time, the chairman of the foundation at lbj was tom johnson who ran cnn and l.a. times. here are two media people running the foundation. does it make a difference? anthony: making a difference to what's inside? brian: does it matter who runs those foundations and are you surprised that the post c.e.o. would be running the reagan foundation? anthony: fred ryan was ronald reagan's chief-of-staff in retirement and he actually founded the foundation and
founded the presidential library. he's the longest serving of any presidential library foundation director so that came first. you're right that he was one of the co-founders and ran politico and then the "washington post." i would argue that the coverage of the reagan library and the -- in the "washington post" is maybe not as -- for example, i don't remember ever rreading an article in the post that mentions that. i think it changes a couple of things. anthony: you know, when presidents leave office they immediately start losing their ability to raise as much money as they could while they were in office. so you need someone with connections and reach and clout to be able to continue that high fundraising and the reagan foundation continues to be the highest fundraising of all. brian: one of the things tim, the first federal director of the nixon library and museum
wanted to do was change the watergate exhibit. i have a picture of the watergate exhibit during his time and some things that were on the wall there. what's the background on this story and how well did he, who i assume is not a republican, we've had him here and he's not, what impact did that have and, again, you talk about your own partisan situation. so how much impact does being partisan have on this story? anthony: his first act as director was to dismantle the watergate exhibit even before they had a plan to replace it because he said it was fundamentally inaccurate, and i think most historians agreed. tim is a historian by training and by practice. i think that while no one can completely remove partisan tendencies, i think historians strive more than many.
i think he did an excellent job for what had been for 17 years a private organization that could do whatever they want into a federal system, which, not everyone in the nixon camp wanted to have someone like tim to be there because he was administering, in my opinion, in a nonpartisan governmental way rather than as a legacy burnishing -- brian: they thought the opposite. anthony: there was a point at which the foundation went to sharon faucette, and said -- you have to fire tim, we just can't work with him anymore. this was not because of anything, i believe that he was doing that was inappropriate, it's that he was producing accurate fact-based history rather than celebratory legacy, and so sharon and duke, who was
then and still is the director of the reagan library, he was also at the time, he was also the executive director of the foundation of the presidential library at reagan, they went to tim and said, we'll let you put the watergate exhibit in that you want to, without any interference from the nixon folks, but you have to resign. and they gave him that choice and he refused to resign. he got the watergate exhibit installed as he wanted, and several months later then on his own terms left. brian: you tell a story in your book about richard nixon that has never been told before. what is it? anthony: richard nixon stole 4,000 acres from the united states marine corps to build his presidential library in what would have been the most inspiring area. brian: how did he do it? anthony: you're not allowed to transfer, two things, you're not allowed to build presidential libraries on federal property. he had to find a way to take the property away from the u.s. marine corps, department of the
navy and the general services administration and put it into either private or state hands. so he, against the objection of those organizations, the marine corps said it was vitally important to use that particular property, this is during vietnam, they were training, all the west coast marines to go out to vietnam, usually when a department declares a federal property excess, it goes to the general services administration and they offer it to all the other agencies and they have to turn it down so there is a lengthy prescribed legal process to transfer records and richard nixon went around that process to lease the land to the state of california and the governor at the time was ronald reagan and he signed a long term lease, which is up in just a few years, by the way, to allow those 4,000 acres to be transferred to the state of california and then the plan was to have the nixon foundation work with the state of california to take about 167 acres in the middle of that 4,000 acres to build the library. brian: camp pendleton right next to where richard nixon had a home in san clemente.
why didn't it happen because that library museum is in a neighborhood -- yorba linda. anthony: it didn't happen primarily because he resigned from office. the point person on this was john dean and there were a lot of memos back and forth between john dean and the president saying we need to lay off the plans for the library in anticipation of the 1972 election. we don't want congress to get wind of the plan. this was kind of a very secret plan, if you will and then by , the time he left office, they did affect that lease and when the lease was announced it was announced it would be a state beach and park, and the big push was, that the federal government is giving back this unnecessary, unused property to the people and they can use it for recreation. brian: how can someone buy your book? anthony: through amazon, barnes & noble. brian: was it worth it, all the time you spent on putting this book out? anthony: i think so. it changed my life a little bit. i went back to work for congress
as a result of the book. and was actually spent time working on the subcommittee that overseas presidential libraries. brian: i want to show you a picture of a building that sits right next to the jfk library. it's called the emk institute. and this is what it looks like. it's a picture there of a replica of the senate, and the senate and the house passed a bill that put a lot of money into this thing. it's right next to jfk, what do you think of that? anthony: i've not yet been to the new exhibit. i understand they use it not just for tourists but there is an education program that they use it for which is clearly the most aggressive and largest of these kinds put in the place of the president or a the member of -- or as a member of congress, the library has a process where they bring kids in and even adults in and they have role playing, eisenhower library has the same thing. the reagan library has the same thing but it's a higher level of
academic and policy making. brian: is it worth several million taxpayer dollars to put this right next to the jfk library? anthony: i don't think so. i think the kennedy foundation could well have raised the money for that on their own. brian: the only thing in there that's really ted kennedy is the replica of his office? anthony: yes. brian: that he had. anthony: named for him as opposed to celebrating him. brian: i want to show you some video of james billington who used to be the secretary of the library of congress. we did a tour, you may have seen it, where they put 22 or 23 president's papers, we did a live show there years ago, and, as a matter of fact, it goes back to 1999. here is jim billington. >> we ordinarily don't go in here. i don't think we've ever done this before but we're anxious to show your readers at the end of the long consideration of the presidency how we know things about our past leaders. >> how are they housed as we go down? >> you will find they are housed in different ways.
many of them are bound. that was the approved method of conservation until really just after the second world war. we then began putting them in acid free boxes, and within those boxes, individually in some cases, in mylar containers. the jefferson papers. >> you'll be able to see what he's talking about. >> you almost see a history of conservation as we walk through or concentration theories and philosophies as we walk through the division. you will see things inbound volumes. you'll see things in boxes. and even in some other forms. [end video clip] brian: if it was good enough for george washington then why isn't it good enough for presidents today? anthony: that's a question we should ask the congress. the congress has not revisited the idea of presidential libraries and what the focus should be. whether the money should be going towards the exhibits as opposed to the records and how quickly the records should be coming out.
brian: i want to show you a video of a hearing you had something to do with from 2010. the hearing when they got together and you were working, you were working for lacy clay? anthony: is this the one in 2011? brian: yes. anthony: you want the quick back story on that? brian: quick. because i want to show some video. anthony: this was after the house looked in 2011. in 2010, we tried to schedule a number of hearings on the subcommittee about the relationship between the foundations and presidential libraries. and not everyone is comfortable, not every private organization is comfortable with congressional scrutiny and there were requests made through channels to have those hearings canceled. the hearings were canceled. brian: which party was in charge? anthony: the democrats were in charge at the time and when the house flipped the republicans and the leadership of the committees changed, one of the first acts of the committee was to hold a very celebratory
hearing and then a symposium later that day and at the hearing one of the two -- it was a co-led hearing, one of the two chairmen had said i want to make it clear from the outset we're not here to investigate the presidential libraries or the foundations. we're here to celebrate them. brian: i want to give folks a flavor. we carry this on the network. janet, withrson up, calvin coolidge, who does not have a library. you can get the forbes library at smith college has some stuff but here we go. [begin video clip] >> it seems to me that there should be more oversight for important historical papers than this. that papers that are so important to the history of this country. >> but to in effect fund these projects as worthy as they are, we'll have to raise somewhere in the neighborhood of $9 million, a project that would be unprecedented in the history of the hoover presidential library. >> in terms of the endowment
now, and tell me if i'm incorrect it's now at 60% , for the obama library which is a significant amount of money. >> let me address a point that came up in the discussion earlier today and that was the consternation that the foundations might be in place simply to polish the halos of the presidents that they represent. >> i don't get private funds. 98% of my budget is salaries. making sure we don't have leaks in the building and security. >> many kansas school districts and also some school districts in colorado, oklahoma, and nebraska, are saying that they can't afford to come to abilene. >> i would like to bring us back to the digitization topic that was discussed a while back, in that we're not, most of us, able to do things thus far on the scale that the kennedy library has. [end video clip] brian: that was six years ago. what are you hearing that you want to comment on? anthony: the national archives
asked the directors to increase attendance, in any way they can, and the directors report, quarterly, to the archives saying, here's how many people came in, and it doesn't matter whether it's researchers or it's tourists. they get those numbers because the numbers help defend the budget, which helps to promote the numbers and it becomes this kind of circle. and so the idea that you would digitize records has for decades been a problem for some in the archives because they believe if you digitize records people won't come. they won't have the attendance figures. they won't get the budget. >> i'm looking at some figures of attendance. herbert hoover, in 2014, 43,000 for the year. 140 for fdr. 59,000 for truman. 186,000 for eisenhower. 296 for john f. kennedy. lyndon johnson, 139,000. richard nixon, 85,000. gerald ford, 158, jimmy carter, 52. ronald reagan -- george w. bush was 491,000 because it just opened.
william clinton was at 334. ronald reagan, 383,000 and george h.w. bush 136,000. enough people? anthony: it depends on what you want to do. certainly not enough people in the research rooms. it was difficult for me to self-fund all of these trips and to spend time in the research rooms. but it also depends on what -- as a system what do we want the system to do? do we want it to be a place to attract tourists or a place 20 -- place to preserve and make available the records of the presidency. brian: are these funds tax deductible? anthony: they are not. brian: why not? anthony: as far as donations? it would depend on how they set it up, if it's a nonprofit, then yes. brian: and how much do we know about who contributes? anthony: we only know what's voluntarily disclosed by some of the foundations. there is no law that requires disclosure and there is no law that prohibits donations.
brian: why do foreign governments give to these presidential libraries, saudi arabia, koreans, kuwaitis, you can go down the list, japan. anthony: i think the former presidents either through their , own acts, through the administration, through their family members, exert an inordinate influence on governmental policy and procedure, and they also want to be seen. just like any other stakeholder, whether you're a person who is boosting the hometown or whether you're a former cabinet official who wants to see your record, you know, seen as positive in terms of the administration, there are a lot of stake holders who want to give money to promote the legacy of the president. brian: the name of the book is "the last campaign: how presidents rewrite history, run for posterity, and enshrine their legacies." as our guest said, it's self-published. our guest is anthony clark. and we thank you very much. anthony thank you, brian. :[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its
caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪ announcer: for free transcripts, visit us at q&a.org. "q&a" programs are also available as c-span podcasts. ♪ announcer: if you enjoyed this week's "q&a" interview, here are some other programs you might like. the work on the reagan museum in california. historian allen weinstein, who served as archivist for united states. and paul spero in hyde park, in new york.
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