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tv   Washington Journal Douglas Brinkley Edna Medford Richard Norton Smith  CSPAN  April 24, 2019 4:01pm-5:07pm EDT

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the nomination, held a town hall out dartmouth college in new hampshire, we will have that for you at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. you can also find our political coverage online at or listen on the pre-c-span radio app. ♪ announcer: c-span's newest book "the presidents" rating the best and worst chief executives, providing insight into the lives of the presidents through stories gathered by interviews with noted historians. shaped the live that our leaders and the legacies of a have left behind. order your copy today. it is now available as a hardcover or e-book at presidents. ♪ host: coming up, a discussion on presidential rankings, part of c-span's latest book.
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-- swain isi is a a co-author and talked about it last night. >> we have worked on nine of these, collective works of his interviews, and this when we decided to actually bring two resources into play. brian has been doing an interview program for 30 years and we have an archive full of his interviews. the odometer on the archives is about to hit 250,000 hours this month, not all brian's, but -- [applause] >> but among the people of that he has interviewed are these three people who've become great friends of ours over the past quarter century. some of the countries leading contemporary presidential historians. in addition to having this vast archive of this collected work, about 20 years ago, exactly 20
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years ago in 1999, we had done a year-long project which eight of these folks -- each of these folks were involved in. i have some colleagues thinking about what a big job this was. we took upon ourselves to go to live on location to a presidential history site associated with every president and do a two-hour live program on their lives. it must killed us, but we made it through. at the end of it, we got, we need to put a cap are on it. so we spoke to the three of them and decided, let's do a survey of historians and take all of this biographical material that is more anecdotal in nature and tried to put a little science behind it. science data behind it. we gathered them together, along with dr. robert browning, the head of our archives, and john's ande, teacher at maryland, we got into a wonderful debate, you all would have loved to have
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been there, about what the 10 qualities of leadership should be to do a survey of 100 presidential historians. so the idea for this book was actually to merge the survey work that we have done three times now as presidential historians with the collected content of presidential biographers. so the book that you are going to learn more about tonight was actually organized not chronologically, but where the presidents fell in line with that survey. so you are jumping to history but are also going through a best tom from the very the very worst rated leaders in our country. and you learn more about some of the characteristics and qualities that put them in that ranking. so, let me tell you about the qualities that we finally agreed on. the first is public persuasion. the second, crisis leadership. that can come in all sorts of forms. the third, economic management.
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the fourth quality was moral authority. international relations, which includes not only diplomacy, but also wore. administrative skills, including the assembly of a cabinet and your advisors around you. the next, the all-important relations with contra -- congress. you can have all of that and still not get a congress. this one reminds me of george h.w. bush, visions and sent -- setting agenda. one, performance within the context of their times. so, what we did was send a survey out to 100 historians, this was three times now, and we worked very hard to get people andifferent demographics political points on the spectrum so that we could represent lots of different points of view. this survey is now -- the first one was so successful, we know
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do it every time a president leaves office. to answer your question, president trump has not been rated and we will not formally rate him until he leaves office. and we are back with the three historians who have been contributors to the c-span survey of presidential leadership over the years and contributors to the new book, "the presidents." at our table,ey history professor. edna greene medford, dean at the college of arts and sciences. ,nd richard norton smith presidential historian and author. thank you all for being here. let's start with the rankings for the top five. you have a ramming and george washington, franklin roosevelt, ranking ofyou have a george washington, franklin roosevelt, theodore roosevelt,
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abraham lincoln, and white eisenhower. guest: eisenhower has moved up. he was always around eight or 10, now he has moved into the top five. why is he having a moment? part of it is that people are looking at his record. it was called the hidden handed presidency, when documents were opened in kansas, people seeing that eisenhower really was engaged in the hands-on. he had one or two terms. he was a fiscal conservative. he did many innovative things, like the eisenhower interstate highway system, which we'll benefit from. nasa,. lawrence seaway, and having earl warren on the supreme court, for assuring in the beginning of the death of jim crow. the sending of federal troops to little rock. he got, the fact that out of the korean war and didn't get us into a major war. 1961 he gave the farewell
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address where he warned about the industrial military complex in america. like bigat don't government, libertarians, and people on the left, they loved his farewell address. we pulled together a coalition to make the top five and on the top of your list is abraham lincoln. lincoln is always really number one. just because, you know, he came into office as -- at such a dangerous time, winning in 1860. he wasn't even on the ballot in seven states. he was there at the executive mansion. didn't get named the white house until theodore roosevelt called it there. the battle of bull run virginia, where the confederates were close to washington. you are watching a president having to navigate himself through these dangerous times and in the end he won another second term.
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in 1864 he won an election in the middle of the civil war as a victorious commander in chief. some of the things that he wrote are almost like foundational texts, emancipation proclamation, gettysburg address, and both of his inaugurals. so together there really is nobody like lincoln. the only person knitting on his heels is george washington -- nipping on his heels is george washington. host: what do you think of the top five, dean medford? guest: they are able to rise to the occasion in moments of crisis. they had great vision for the country and were able to that thete in ways guys at the bottom were not able to. guest: yeah, lincoln had that marvelous line at a particularly critical juncture in the war where he said that the occasion
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is piled high with difficulty and we must rise to the occasion . that's as good a yardstick as i know for measuring presidential performance. five, look at those first actively four of them were crisis managers. would have liked to be and supposedly lamented the fact that there wasn't a war during his presidency that would have guaranteed him the opportunity to be with the immortals, the , whose identity never really changes. the other thing, thinking of some mixes, the first four are all activists. and they are all centralized. they all personalize power in the presidency during times of crisis. eisenhower really is, in some ways, these are almost 19th-century, kind of a whigish
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president. he wasn't comfortable with the bully pulpit. he thought that people exaggerated the impact of a presidents words. he said that if his words with a measure of presidential leadership, the american people ernest hemingway. he really is kind of an odd man out. finally, though, to show you how fluid the rankings are, the first time that ike was ranked , he came in 22nd, behind chester arthur. and here he is, fifth. so there's hope for fill in the blank. james buchanan. [laughter] host: to each of you, does dwight eisenhower or anyone else on this list move up into the top five or beat out abraham lincoln, george washington, etc.? guest: no one is going to beat abraham lincoln or george washington eight -- anytime
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soon. and franklin is quite remarkable. times,t that he won four 32, 30 6, 40, and 44, that he guided us through the great depression with his new deal programs, you know, social , we all now live in a social security america of franklin. and being the commander in chief for world war ii, facing off against not see germany and many of theing so top generals and admirals, putting them in the top slot, there's a group of books from nigel hamilton about fdr pointing out how he is the mastermind of d-day, not winston churchill or someone else. he is very secure at number three. there are people who think he should be number one because of thelong we have lived in
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shadow of fdr, all the way from 1945 to 1980, when reagan gets elected and starts saying that that's enough of federal government overreach. even though reagan actually continued to do big federal programs, he was starting to say that we need to cut taxes, dialback government, because he was a post-vietnam president and the vietnam war made many people think that the government lies to us. mcnamara, kissinger, johnson, lying. i'm interested to keep watching the rise of lyndon johnson because of the unum, which was closer to the time such a detriment to johnson, but more and more people are recognizing the civil rights acts of lbj as being very significant and when it comes to issues of race relations, lbj is dominant right there with abraham lincoln. when you look at the
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next five in the rankings, lyndon johnson at number 10, number five, harry truman, excuse me, never six harry truman, john kennedy, ronald reagan and lyndon johnson. dean, go ahead and answer that question. we tend to interpret these administrations based on our own flexibilities. one of the things that we considered in the survey was how well they did during their times and in the context of their times. shelvestill cannot just our own beliefs about how they should have behaved based on our time. , botht you see occurring in terms of people moving up and people moving down is how we are viewing ourselves, our times, and what's important to us through our prism. it's absolutely right that some of these people are moving up in terms of what's happened with civil rights.
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you will see someone like grant rising as a confluence of that. conversely, tumbling. andrew jackson, i'm amazed, he always -- in the school of presidential leadership, jackson was knocking at the door of the immortals. he was sixth or seventh, a near great. but because he was seen as the a champion of frontier democracy that was interpreted more generously 30 or 40 years ago as democracy. the irony is, the more genuinely inclusive our democracy becomes, the more we tend to question the notion of jacksonian democracy, which goes to edna's point. but above all, jackson was admired for the enemies he made. the bank of the united states, the perfect symbol of aristocratic rule, corruption, where is he was on the side of the little man.
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that seems to have been swept and today it's jackson the slaveholder, jackson the indian killer and jackson, some people .hink, the economic illiterate and there's a final factor that must be said, kind of guilt by association, the timing of this survey, right after the election, the fact that donald trump has chosen to embrace andrew jackson, to put his portrait in the oval office, to visit the hermitage on his 250th birthday, clearly it's the one president he has kind of reached out and publicly identified with and i suspect that has cut andrew jackson support in the academic community. calling all history junkies this morning. we want to get your thoughts on the best and worst residence, in your opinion. republicans, (202) 748-8001.
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democrats, (202) 748-8000. independents, (202) 748-8002. you call these folks the presidential losers, franklin pierce, warren harding, john tyler? guest: those are the bottom. we asked over 100 top presidential scholars to participate and i don't think we missed a beat picking those as the bottom five. buchanan's inaction action during his presidency when the country was starting to become unraveled? where he did nothing? paving the way for the civil war? it's really going to be hard to juggle them all, but that bottom perch, someone might be worse than buchanan, but all of those people that you mentioned, all the presidents -- above that, william henry harrison, he was only president for one month and
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he died of pneumonia after giving a long-winded inauguration to. to be ranked below someone who was only president for a month gives you an idea that there is a net negative with those five, they actually did damage to the institution of the presidency. for different reasons, warren harding has come into the news because of the ohio gang, the corruption, the teapot dome scandal, where his secretary of the interior was doing a land deal in wyoming. guy,ame somebody, a fall that comes out of the teapot dome scandal, secretary fall. william henry harrison, even someone like him, one month, why even rate him? fascinating life, william henry harrison. whereis election, that's the word ok comes from. , itody using the term ok
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comes out of in 1840 election because he signed a document ok van buren, meaning he read it at his old kinderhook home. and the term booze comes out of booze rallies in philadelphia. he would give you liquor if you got a political -- went to one of his political events. and they rolled the ball of twine in ohio, where he claimed a home all the way to washington, saying keep the ball rolling. here's a president of only one month, but the lore is quite great. some of those bottom ranked presidents, it's quite wonderful to reason -- to read the essays. those are as good as the lincoln or jefferson essays. what's happening with harrison's it's a part of that new popular culture that has been ushered in with andrew jackson, the populist movement than. i agree, what's happening with harrison is phenomenal in terms
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of the electorate and how to use the electorate. how to get them to vote for you. if for no other reason than that , he is considered to be at least in the rankings. mr. smith, your thoughts on the bottom five? guest: i once got a letter when i was looking at the herbert hoover library. he has his own flirtation with the lower ranks of presidents. i got a letter from the director of the james buchanan memorial foundation because on c-span i had said some unflattering things about his namesake and he told me i had better be careful. the implicit threat was that herbert hoover is at least as vulnerable as james buchanan. it's interesting that those names are as in some ways protectable, are as fixed. both ends of the game are locked in.
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true, it may but we, we, there's a consensus on who the most successful and least successful presidents are, and that's interesting, that should tell you something. host: does it tell you something about legacy? this is what you write in the book, that legacy matters? matters.gacy but legacy, it's funny, there has been revisionism since george washington left office. but it is of two schools. there is a revisionist history about what we discussed. johnson tapes become available. when the eisenhower papers are open, we then have primary source material on which we base a revised estimate. and then there is revisionism that -- it's almost like a carousel.
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like an escalator. it goes up. it isn't new information, another generation has a different set of conventions. a different way of seeing the same information. that, as you referred to, after the 1960's we discovered millions of americans who had been left out of our history story and, disproportionately, they were the americans that andrew jackson in effect made war on. let's get our viewers involved. kathleen, dayton, ohio, you are first. caller: great show. i'm interested if we can read the survey. i believe that one of your guests said there were 100 scholars and historians that the survey is based on, the rankings. can we go read why these scholars ranked the way they did? fascinating. i'm hanging out with a lot of 90-year-olds, i've been taking
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care of my 92-year-old mom for the last x years. it is amazing. my mother jumps up when she sees sanders on the screen and the same comment is always -- he reminds me of franklin roosevelt. [laughter] then the love that these 90 some murals -- 90 some , sheolds have for franklin remembers him coming into the coal mining town and standing up for the union members. i'm fascinated with that love of franklin. i do want to ask c-span 2 do a program on the greatest crimes committed allegedly by regards to like, say, nixon, impeachment, clinton, and now we jump over iraq and we know pelosi didn't want to hold the bush administration accountable, and we jump to trump. the degree of severity of the
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crimes, i would love to see a program like that. for the suggestion, kathleen. i would tell kathleen and others to go to /thepresidents to learn more about the book and the survey, that is where you can read through the results. fdr? let's start with that. guest: fdr, like andrew jackson and ronald reagan, is a transformational president. he arrived at a time of great crisis, great testing. he famously said to a friend -- if i fail, i will be the last president of the united states. not an extreme statement at the time. he not only succeeded in the contemporary context, but the sack -- the fact that 60, 70 years later there are people that still feel this bond tells you how profound the change was in the prevailing political consensus.
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people's attitude in the 20's was to let egg business sort of run government. well that obviously changed with the depression. but nothing's permanent. in 1980, is that ronald reagan, who voted four ,imes for fdr as a young man and who never quite accepted that he was reversing the roosevelt revolution, he just said he was as pragmatic as fdr was. but arguably, and as they said, there was a reagan revolution, there was a transformation in our attitudes towards government . to we keep waiting for that reverse itself. we thought maybe it would happen with barack obama. it hasn't happened yet. with roosevelt it's both what he did and how he did it. he understood that communicating with the electorate, with the
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population in general, was extremely important. he had a vision but he had to share it with the country and he was able to do it in ways that he could really identify with. he had those fireside chats. but thewas paralyzed, populism, they weren't aware of that. it was extraordinary, one of our presidents who is most challenge physically came across as a very firm personality. that made a world of difference to the american people. could take the comparison between fdr and bernie sanders question mark what would you make of that? guest: bernie would agree, he loves, absolutely adores fdr. says that he's saying what fdr said, i'm the
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reincarnation of him. fdr was much shrewder in many ways than bernie sanders. after all, he had been an assistant secretary of the navy in world war i and in many ways ran the navy. secretary daniels was more of a figurehead. fdr was part military policy background early in his career, which sanders has not had. also being a governor of a state like new york is different than vermont. the big thing about fdr, people saying he got out there. he was always visiting. go try the local foodstuffs, fish at a local lake. to migrant workers, dustbowl farmers, people that were squeaking out a living in the world. he circulated. he traveled a lot, met the american people, always a good thing for an american president to do. don't stay sequestered in the
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white house. get out there among the voters. host: tom, republican line, colorado. caller: good morning. i was curious to get your guest's thoughts on the changing media landscape and how it their insight and ability to influence the population as we went from print media to radio and tv and how the criterion seems to have changed. the want to take issue with idea that in the 20's it was assumed big business would run the government. i believe the thought was that the state and local governments were seen as more relevant and less the federal government. at least, my favorite president, calvin coolidge, certainly thought that. i thought that his policies proved helpful.
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of course, monetary issues leading up to the great depression were, were difficult. yeah, so -- we will take it. dean medford, if you would like to start? american started to believe that the federal government really did have a prominent hand in making people's lives different. before that time there was a great deal of discussion about limited government, with some theicans believing that government had no role or very little role to play. what with roosevelt, that all changes. that's my perspective on it. remember, the 20's was a reaction to the extraordinary centralization of power world war i. the government exploded in size and authority.
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it ran the railroads. it ran a draft. it sent 2 million americans overseas. it broke with tradition in a whole series of ways. theafter the war there was red scare, there was the economic crisis. it's not surprising that there was a swing. the pendulum swung away from washington centric to harding, coolidge, hoover. but you know, the hero's in the 20's were big businessmen. or hasord, about whom been written than anyone else here. and hoover himself, a mining engineer, not a politician. the biggest change to the media, i think -- i mean i grew up at a time when the oval office address was something that everyone talked about the next day at the water cooler. today i don't know if we have water coolers, but we don't have
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oval office addresses in the sense that the president of either party could have a move theudience and numbers. richard nixon, at the time of the silent majority speech coming goes in -- on to tv in november of 69 and by some polls he moved the numbers 10 or 11 points with one speech. that era is behind us. i guess twitter is taking its place. let me just say, calvin coolidge does pretty well in the polling. he has his fan base. it's not just our caller. coolidge wrote one of the better autobiographies of any president. but what he didn't do, silent he, they called him, what couldn't do was what fdr could do, use radio to go right up to people with the fireside chats, talking to the american people,
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he was a media maestro on radio, fdr. and eleanor roosevelt, what an myet, the first lady writing day columns and literally voicing her opinions as she traveled around. she eventually becomes called the first lady of the world and after her husband's death rites the united nations declaration of human rights. her name is synonymous with human rights. a team of president and first lady, franklin and eleanor roosevelt are the gold standard of how much they accomplished together. changeshough technology , and it does shape how presidents interact with the american people, we should hasmber that the press always been at the center of presidential interactions with the people. in the 19th century, for instance, you had americans reading newspapers because that
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is where they are getting their information from, from their presidents and from the candidates as well. the papers are very partisan during this time. so people who are interested would have to read two or three or more to really get the full story. grayson, tuscaloosa, alabama. your question or comment? my favorite president's harry truman, but i called to bring up john f. kennedy. it seems to me that kennedy is always judged differently from other people. judged differently about his sexual habits. i guess he would come close to the bottom today on moral authority, although when he was president everybody thought that he was a model family man. this keeps coming up in different issues. kennedy was certainly part of the beginning of the vietnam or.
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some people like to say that he butd have fit with -- nobody knows that. recently when people were talking about how awful it was that attorney general barr might be an advocate for the president , well john f. kennedy nominated his own brother, his former campaign manager. yet people don't judge him harshly about those things the way they do other presidents. doing my question is -- people stay on the top 10 -- will he stay on the top 10 or move down in the future? guest: kennedy, it's high where he's at right now, but it's for reasons. i just finished writing about nasa going to the moon. we had the 50th anniversary of neil armstrong and buzz aldrin for filling kennedy's moonshot ambition. putting his may 25, 1961 challenge to a joint session of
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congress, going to the moon by the end of the decorate -- decade, bringing and asked not home alive. we did it. kennedy gets credit for that. and listening to his leadership style, from the cuban missile crisis, the fact that at american university he gave one of the great piece speeches and did the limited test ban treaty. nobody could handle the press that of an kennedy. and you get things like the ,eace corps, the green beret the berlin wall crisis were he that great speech. when it comes to oratory and communications, kennedy was top. but in the end, the killing in presidents grow older, but he will always be the young, gallant president gunned down in his prime. the public has an enduring fascination with him and i think you will always -- you will
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never be in the bottom rung of presidents. he will always be of not in a great category of the top five, he will be in the top 10 for the foreseeable future. still, thererats, are no such things as carter democrats. there is still currency to jfk. host: we are talking about c-span's latest book, "the presidents." the historians at our table have been contributing to a presidential survey and to this book as well. based on their interviews over the years, they wrote chapters on the presidents they have written about. showed you, the top five includes abraham lincoln. from our "q&a" program in november of 2008, we had an author that talk about the uncertainty that surrounded the election of abraham lincoln, the
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man that historians now considered to be america's greatest president. [video clip] got under 40% of the popular vote and of that vote, almost all of it came from the northern states. he won every northern electoral vote, save for the votes of new jersey. he won no electoral votes in the south and in the few southern states where he was on the ballot, because most of the deep south states didn't even give 3% a valid place, he won 2%, , he was the most -- it was the most lopsided victory in american history. moreike bush v gore, even nerve-racking for lincoln, he wasn't sure that he was actually going to be a -- that there would be a normal succession. he had to actually undergo two more elections. not just the casting of the electoral votes in february that he was uncertain about, but the casting of the state's electoral
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votes individual state capital. lincoln was worried that some southern states would simply fail to ratify their votes, even know they were for someone else, failed to send the electoral results to washington, were destined to be open by the vice president, a southerner running against lincoln for president. it was not a done deal in november. find more on that harold holder interview if you pick up a copy of "the presidents" and you can learn more if you go to /thepresidents. bill, colorado, democratic caller. good morning to you. caller: morning. i would like to comment on lbj. it's fresh these days to raise his status because of the supposedly good things he did in civil rights, but you have to point out that the war he started killed one million or more vietnamese. that's not civil rights, that's just brutality.
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five -- the bottom five, i don't see how anyone could put nixon anywhere but the very last place in there. host: d medford, would you like to take up those comments? -- dean medford, would you like to take up those comments question mark -- comments? questionout johnson mark i have to disagree. i think he will remain near the top always because of what he did during his presidency in terms of civil rights. kennedy gets a lot of credit for it but it's actually johnson that pushes it through. the vietnam war is a tragedy in american history. but johnson cannot be blamed for that alone. there are partners in all of this. all presidents have those downsides. i think that in the end we have and, at therything moment, because we care so much
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about inclusiveness, at least i hope we do, if we do, then we are going to have to acknowledge what johnson did as president in that regard. johnson illustrates, almost better than anyone else, i think you could say nixon or wilson -- there are presidents who have or example great successes. wilson had great legislative in his first term, creating the federal reserve, the federal trade commission, the eight hour day in the workplace. a progressive agenda. but that's not really what we remember him for today. it's his racial animosity, his reintroduction of segregation into the federal workforce and the fact that at the versailles peace conference, things went terribly awry here at home. indeed, there are people who think that he strangled his baby , the league of nations, in its cradle. how do you rank johnson, a man
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on the one hand who is lightly lionized for the courageous leadership that he demonstrated. a southerner who, in congress, did not have much of a civil rights record, but who stood there after selma and said -- we shall overcome. and yet the man who really gave us the credibility gap. who really began this long process that i would argue is with us to this day, where people intrinsically suspect the honesty of their government. it really started with johnson in the unum. how do you weigh those competing legacies shall mark host: let's go to hear -- legacies? to pierre. go republican line, washington. caller: good morning. i'm not a real big history student. most of you people are professors and that and know
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better, i guess, with bias. i would say that johnson, to an extent, but i'm thinking -- you can tell me, because of what --pened in the vietnam war and i remember a thing called a guns and butter. i don't think that that worked too good. who is the president that resided -- was president when the venereal disease experiments were done on black men? i'll take your answer over the air because my phone is dying. thank you. guest: talking about tuskegee? guest: syphilis. guest: you want to question mark guest: go ahead -- want to question mark want to? guest: go ahead. johnson, vietnam war, big mistake, wounded
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warriors that we have to deal with, as the previous caller said. just destroying the nation of the. so johnson is never going to escape that vietnam problem. that is why he is not among these top 10 in the poll. but he has inched up because people are looking at things like medicaid, medicare, creating pbs, npr, clean rivers, combating -- clean air, saving -- creating national lakeshore's in the great lakes or hiking -- national hiking trails. one can go on and on and look at the legislative compliments of lbj. so in a poll where he gets low , hes in foreign affairs kind of gets back up into the middle when it comes to his relations with congress. he becomes very top because he .as -- he got so much past
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that is how they rise into that middle. and as we have been intimating, the times matter. johnson has been of this -- beneficiary of robert caro's best-selling biographies. there was a giant play on lbj. president barack obama embraced the lyndon johnson went to austin texas presidential library. rights leaders like john lewis and andrew young are saying that johnson deserves credit for a lot of what he did and he is tied to the story of martin luther king jr., which after all is the only person we have a national holiday for. so it's just right at this moment in time, johnson's civil rights have moved to the forefront where the trail of tears slaughter of andrew jackson has sent jackson down and woodrow wilson's bigotry has shot him down. it tells us that race has become a much more important issue in a way to how one works as
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president, even to the point where george washington doesn't get hit as badly for being a slave owner because he freed his slaves upon his death, while jefferson didn't do that. if you go micro in the numbers, you see that jefferson is punished more for slavery than george washington is, even though they were both slaveowners of the era. syphilis terms of the scandal, we need to remember that that is unfolding during several administrations. so it has less to do with individual presidential administrations than it does about how americans in general looked at african-americans. how much or how little african-americans lives were valued. these men could have been treated once there was a successful treatment available and they were not. it was ok to use them as guinea pigs just to see how their lives
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unfolded without being treated. so, that's something that is a blot on the american people in general throughout the decades, not just these presidents. -- guest: and ray quickly, look at the different impacts, both public response and scholarly interpretations of the tapes of lyndon johnson and rate -- and richard nixon. as a significant factor in shaping their posthumous , for then, johnson most part, johnson was not a television president. johnson's autobiography is not that bland book that he put out called the vantage point. it's the tapes. if you want to know lyndon johnson. and for the most part, you know, the reviews have been favorable for his mastery of the political process and for the instincts for the things he wanted to do.
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on the otheres hand, thus far at least, have had i would argue a very different response, reflecting the different flavor, the different atmosphere of the nixon oval office. a note about the book for our viewers, these surveys by presidential historians look at presidents after they have left office. so this book includes up to president obama. again, you can find this book if you go to /thepresidents. all processes go to our nonprofit education foundation. taking a look at where these presidents ranked by historian. number 12, barack obama. george bush comes in at three thirds. at number nine in this survey.
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marie's, east dublin, georgia. independent. caller: i would be a bit more circumspect and discerning than mr. smith and as much as i would say that fdr was transformational societally and reagan was maybe transformational politically. i would never forget that reagan campaigned in philadelphia, mississippi, asserting states rights, harkening back to the segregationist era in his campaign. to ourectively played better angels. reagan played to our worst instincts. beyond that, two questions. number one, and i asked this before, why is there not a push to get fdr on mount rushmore? miss green, what do you think about the current situation that is occurring at howard where
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these individuals moving into the neighborhood are using the yard as a dog park and allowing their dogs to defecate on the art itself and how that plays into the diminution of black people and black culture? harkening back to the teske experiment and how far we haven't come. d medford, do you want to go first? guest: when we are dealing with host: -- host: -- host: dean medford, do you want to go first question mark -- first? thet: when dealing with community we have a responsibility to communicate what we hold sacred but at the same time the community has the responsibility to respond to what that history is. so, i am hopeful that once we aboutxpressed how we feel the yard, as we call it, being made into a dog park, people
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will understand that that may not be the ideal place to walk their dog. but i also would like to express what i heard from our president recently. his comment was that we should be equally concerned about what's happening with young people, especially young people of color, especially, in the city who are dying every day. we need to keep in perspective what is happening while there is much concern about our green space. we are very much concerned about the concerns around the lives of black men and women. guest: if only we could put him on route -- mount rushmore, we could that should put him there fdr is number three in our poll of scholars.
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a well-deserved top three president. the, mount rushmore, run by parks service, there isn't much more extra chiseling going on. if there was such a thing, franklin roosevelt to be on their areas and there is an argument to be made that fdr is the great american president, with lincoln in washington. wantingiate the caller to do more to memorialize fdr. we did add him to the national mall of a great memorial the walk-through part. is amorial that walk-through part. don't just go to the jefferson, lincoln, and washington memorials. also, visit his home and presidential library in hyde park, new york. guest: you do want to be
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careful. the factor of the matter is, drawing these artificial lines, we are still living in the country that franklin roosevelt created. indeed, in terms of federal programs and the like? i don't notice a lot of conservatives sending back their social security checks. thomas, maryland, democratic line. in, your'm interested verification of, but these -- don't take this the wrong way, these white supremacists. black men couldn't vote in so many of these elections. i don't even understand how that is not even mentioned in any of your reports. and also like -- as we were white supremacists, you can go from george washington and continue on and on and the treatment of black people, even
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going up to season 60, it was appalling. praising these men when they were only interested in almost like donald trump, a certain segment of white america. they were not interested in all americans. host: ok, thomas. of theone characteristics that we ranked was equal justice for all. we did that because we did understand that that should be one of the central features that determines true extraordinary leadership. so that's why someone like george washington, and other slaveholders, were not ranked quite as high as they might have been. it's also a reason why some people who may have had issues in other areas are ranked higher , because of that effort to make sure that all americans benefited from the nation's bounty.
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harold, new jersey, republican line. caller: my question is will the congress ever take the power away from the president to legislate? old veteran of world war ii, infantry division. we had 9000 casualties. also celebrating my 75th wedding anniversary on may 21 with a large family. i feel that the family right now is in danger because we have passed all of these laws to satisfy every need to where we have $22 trillion or whatever it is in debt. my question is -- will the congress ever take back its power according to article 10? all far succeeded and essentially all of them are dictators. ok, we'll take the point. caller: certainly in the 20th century. in the and 20th century it -- in
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the 20th century it was largely a administrative office. one of the hot debates was how much power the executive should have and there were debates about three people sharing the executive function, in effect splitting and diminishing the power. the 20th century, though, because of the nature of the events, america almost against its will became a world power, even before world war i. william mckinley is the first president not to go to congress and send 5000 troops to put down the boxer rebellion in china. that is a long time for the office. the great depression? no one expected the federal government to respond in times of economic distress. this is a part of the boom and bust cycle. certainly by the 1920's and 30's people had a very radically different -- government grew in
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to 20th century in response popular demand. and of course you had the cold war. so within a few years of the end of world war ii you had the cold war that fed a bipartisan that in effect ,entralized power in washington personalized power in the presidency, and the final fact, television. television made the president more central than any -- you at the time of birmingham, going on tv after george wallace stood at the courthouse door. or lbj at the time of selma. or ike sending troops to little rock. those are moments that we all remember. man,a lot easier for one the president, whatever his leave that imprint
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on our collective memory than it is for 535 representatives with wildly differing agendas and interests. 5 i completely -- guest: i completely agree with that. the beginning of the television age, crews used to be sent by cbs to cover martin luther king and people couldn't believe at the time how the civil rights southern leadership conference and the like are just marching. look at bull connor, look at the barking dogs. news of the 1965 helped our country to understand the civil rights flight. -- 1960's helped our country to understand the civil rights flight. -- plight. king it. he would let cbs was the time and the place and he would put
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it on television. but the media culture is, unfortunately we now have -- you have to be telegenic. that has been a problem with looking at presidents. kennedy is high because he will always be telegenic. reagan was always telegenic. have presidents like jimmy carter, gerald ford, carter, nixon, who were not naturals on tv and one way or the other they paid for that, that inability to break through the glass, as they say in the .elevision world, politically who can be the maestro of television? who can draw in the eyeballs? host: richard, verona, democrat, missouri. caller: i have a question and then i want to make a statement. we had one president that wasn't married and we have a gentleman today running for president that
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is a gay person. and remember, truman was communism. that was the big bugaboo of my generation. giving us medicare, i appreciate that. he reversed the political parties. the southern democrat, it's no longer a southern democrat. priorities took over the old southern democrat party. i believe that all here and let you talk. ?ost: richard norton smith guest: i do not know about the pete buttigieg campaign, but i don't think they are eager to connect themselves to james buchanan. [laughter] guest: that goes to everyone as well. the other question, not sure, lbj, the civil rights acts. guest: physically johnson said
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that there goes the south, recognizing that there used to be, when kennedy ran in 1960, it was blue. democratic. around, johnson benefited from that landslide, but by 65, 66, 67, you start seeing the south turning republican, george wallace running an independent party in 68 with richard nixon's silent majority strategy. territory,ce fdr what was once democratic it is republican and johnson signing that legislation was the major flip. the caller is right on. guest: it works the other way, though, vermont voting for the first time in history for lyndon johnson, democrat. looming -- new england, which
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used to be particularly republican. it shifts both ways. we are getting to the end of our time. from each of you, tell us what you hope a reader would get out of reading this book. it's not a work of political science, though there are certainly elements of academic interpretation here. this is the old phrase up close and personal. these are some of the best historians in the business, the best writers in the business. the best biographers. their take on these people as people, as well as leaders. guest: absolutely. the most impressed in reading the final version is that it is so personal. these men with leaders, there's a lot there about their foibles, about their weaknesses, about the struggles with themselves. it makes them so human.
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and i think that any reard will be able to connect to that in a way that they might not be able to just by looking at the person's leadership style. guest: presidents matter in the united states. we are very geographically diverse country but we all share the same president. i hope people don't just read the f.d.r. or lincoln but some of the lesser known presidents shed light into a particular period in american history like reading about zachary taylor who is underrated in the poll but you get to see why he's not on the bottom or why james k. polk, many consider one of the most successful first-term presidents and continue following us on c-span. for george herbert walker bush now and he passed and barbara bush died, there is new engagement with the bush 41 legacy and the old style
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gentleman leeway and break up of the sofe yen union and successfully ran his iraq war in 1991 and apprehended noriega. this came out before the bushes so it will be interesting to see how some of these presidents move in the rankings in our future polling and this is not a scientific poll but as richard said, we have participation from really the finest people we could find that spent their lives studying the institution of the presidency. host: this is the third survey c-span did. we did it in 2000, 2009 and again in 2017. you can learn more about the surveys. go to and also purchase the book there. all the profits goes to c-span's nonprofit education foundation. i want to thank professor brinkley, dean medford, and richard norton smith for the
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>> saturday at 2:30 p.m. eastern global tv has live coverage from a museum, talking about c-span's new book "the presidents." noted historians rank america's best and worst chief executive. saturday at 2:30 p.m. eastern on c-span2 from bell museum. congress is on the last week of its spring recess. members returned to capitol hill on monday. the senate continues confirmation of just for court justice and -- judges and high-level jobs in the trump administration. watch the house live on c-span and the senate live on c-span2. during the spring, some members of congress are on the campaign trail. democratic presidential candidate, congressman seth moulton of massachusetts, spoke at this morning's politics and express in bedford, and after--
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innd eggs breakfast bedford, new hampshire. here is some of what you will see when we air before tonight at 7:00 p.m. eastern. n: this is a part where i disagree with the party, because i voted with a more naughty of democrats minority of democrats to a start in the impeachment process. look, the mueller important through this investigation has already indicted over 30 of the president's close associates and friends. his campaign chairman is in prison right now while we are do not tellfast, so me there is not enough to discuss about impeachment. frankly, i think our party made a mistake by waiting until now, hoping for a smoking cannon or something in the mueller report before starting this debate. congress does two things -- we debate things, and we vote on
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them. the debate is important, and we should have started that of a a while ago. i do not think the time is now for a vote, because we still do not even have all of the evidence. we still do not have before mueller report, for example, but we should have started this debate a while ago, and that is why i call for it last year. >> democratic presidential candidate seth moulton spoke at this morning's politics and eggs breakfast in new hampshire. then, california senator, kamala harris held a town hall in dartmouth, new hampshire. we will have that for you at 8:00 eastern here on c-span. you can find all of our political covers online at, or listen on the free c-span radio app. attorney general william barr will testify before both the house and senate judiciary committees on the mueller report. and thursday, may
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1 and second, on c-span3,, or you can listen with the free c-span radio app. next, the founding editor of "quartz," kevin delaney, discusses the future of digital journalism, including the decline of facebook and google's dominance. he spoke recently with students at the university of california in berkeley. this is about an hour. dir. de monchaux: good evening, everyone. my name is nicholas de monchaux. i am the director of the berkeley center for new media. the host with the graduate school of journalism of our lecture here tonight. it is my great pleasure to welcome kevin delaney to the art and culture technology series, since its founding in 1997 by my colleague, this series and expansion has been part of the berkeley center for new media. in 2005, it s


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