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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  July 15, 2014 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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>> charlie: welcome to the program. there are many people who say that american foreign policy is at a critical moment. there is an interesting article in the "wall street journal" today written by carol lee and jay solomon and they talk about something called the arc of instability. he set these red lines in syria last summer. he said repeatedly if assad gassed his people we would react and everyone was gearing up for some sort of military action last summer and it didn't happen. i know he's talked to a number of our allies in the gulf and even in asia, they look at this stuff and say, god, if the chinese made a major grab on some of the islands that are disputed, would or could we react if the iranians did something -- they have been doing a lot of things -- but if they did something that
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challenge our allies more, would we react? >> charlie: we continue as one of obama's fiercest defenders, david plouffe, former senior advisor to the president and his campaign manager. >> he's awfully off the charts intelligent. he's a competent person. he has a sense of the direction the country needs to. go he's a very good decision-maker. we spent a lot of time making good decisions, then you have to move on. there's not a lot of navel gazing with him. >> charlie: we conclude with an appreciation of lorin maazel, the conductor, who died over the weekend. we look back at some offour conversations. >> when you get to be my age and have had the fortune of growing older in a mellow way, it's just fun. i just love it. i'm not trying to prove anything or achieve anything. i'm not trying.
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>> charlie: jay solomon, carol lee, david plouffe and lorin maazel, when we continue. >> there's a saying around here: you stand behind what you say. around here, we don't make excuses, we make commitments. and when you can't live up to them, you own up and make it right. some people think the kind of accountability that thrives on so many streets in this country has gone missing in the places where it's needed most. but i know you'll still find it, when you know where to look. >> and by bloomberg. a provider of multimedia news
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and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> charlie: from east ukraine to the middle east to the south china sea, serious foreign policy challenges beset the white house. the front page of today's "wall street journal" described the situation as an arc of instability unseen since the 1970s. joining me from washington, two authors of that piece, jay solomon covers foreign affairs and national security for the journal and carol lee is the paper's white house correspondent. i am pleased to have both of them. welcome. >> thanks for having us. you. >> charlie: let me begin with the question. tell me, where did the idea come from? did you simply see a lot of dots that were connected and said, wait a minute, what's going on here? after looking at the dots, tell us what you mean by an arc of
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instability. >> i think, for me, i was traveling a lot with secretary kerry over the past few months and it was just kind of every week there was another crisis. ukraine, iraq, syria, now the middle east, it's just this kind of continued crises and trying to figure out what pulls them together, what is the unifying theme, and it was difficult, and i think what kind of struck me was the sense that we're at a time when the u.s. is kind of pulling back. you know, a lot of voters wanted that. they wanted us to get less engaged. but at the same time, there are all these different challengers coming tchallengerscome fore wh, chinese and all the non-state actors. to me, it was why is all this happening at the same time and what is kind of the unifying factor and to me it was this moment in time when we are
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pulling back, you know, at least for the time being military, and all of these other players are coming into this vacuum or this kind of area of instability and that's why it seems like it's such a chaotic time and it's really a scary time in a lot of ways when you see what's going on in iraq and syria and in the ukraine now. >> charlie: before i go to control, why did you pick the 1970s as a reference point? clearly that was a time of afghanistan and what else? >> i guess there are some readers of the article said, oh, you know, why wasn't it the breakup of the soviet union or some other point? for m me, it was, like, when you see the different challengers and how chaotic whether i.s.i.s. or hesbollah or the chinese or the russians, to me, it was looking back at the '70s when you have a crazy constellation of different actors who are in there. i remember a lot of the middle east stuff, you had the p.l.o. cooperating with the japanese
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red army, kind of has the feeling of chaos in a lot of ways of a lot of different actors which makes it very dangerous and i think at the end of the cold war it was still a bipolar world and it seems a lilt more manageable than it does now and that's why it seemed like the '70s was better analogy. >> charlie: carol, when you look at the white house, do they recognize this and do they have a strategy to meet the challenge of this arc of instability? >> well, i would say on your first point, yes, they do recognize this, and it's something that they're increasingly concerned about and also disappointed about just given the fact that you have a president who wanted to pursue a pro active foreign policy agenda like middle east peace and getting a deal with iran over its nuclear program and is now
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consistently and repeatedly to react to events. so he's taken what he hoped would be a very active second term and is now a kind of reactive second term. as far as whether or not he has a strategy to tea deal with it,i think that's what all the events happening at one particular time has reignited the debate over the obama foreign policy doctrine. you saw the president trying to explain that in his speech at west point in may and all of a sudden it was as if this white house was planning on going on a campaign to lay out the details of the foreign policy and all the events happened, one after another. russia continued to be aggressive in the middle east. in syria, that civil war continued. iraq, you know, the u.s. is going back into iraq. then you've seen what's happened in the last week in the middle east. so, now, the white house is trying to sort of manage all of these things while still add hearing to the president's
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foreign policy doctrine, which is that the u.s. takes a multi-lateral approach and tries to not get as involved as it could militarily and that's raise add whole host of questions over whether, you know, how much of this is the president's doing, meaning there's various u.s. -- traditionally u.s. allies that are quite nervous about his approach to foreign policy and how much of this would have happened anyway and is also a result, perhaps, for policy before he came and took office. >> charlie: can you make the case, jay, as carol was talking about, that presidential policies, the decision in syria not to try to arm the mod rats, the decision to draw a red line, then, you know, you had the agreement with russia and assad, which a lot of people say, well, that worked out to be a good thing, can you make the point that it was a reading of the president and the way he saw the world was the stimulus to people
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to be more aggressive? >> i think there is definitely some truth to that. i think he set these red lines in syria last summer. he said repeatedly if assad gassed his people, we would react, and everyone was gearing up for some sort of military action last summer and it didn't happen. i know he's talked to a number of our allies in the gulf and in asia. they looked at this stuff and said, gosh, the chinese made -- if the chinese made a major grab on some of the islands disputed, would or could we react? if the iranians do some things that challenge our allies even more, would we react? and they look at the negotiations with the iranians on the nuclear issue right now, is this a sign of u.s. engagement or is the u.s. basically pulling out? so i do think both the syrian example, some of his rhetoric, it has made allies nervous and i think some of the positions the
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president took are totally understandable. i still think it's really debatable how much of an impact the u.s. could have had in syria or if you would want to get sucked into that conflict. but saying you're setting red lines and not acting definitely has been seen as probably our allies and probably our nemesis in a sense that he might not be there, he might not live up to what he's saying. >> charlie: you cover the secretary of state and carol covers the president of the united states. do they see eye to eye or does john kerry want to engage a more bold foreign policy and use of american force? >> i think kerry is more forceful. in syria he was talking more aggressive of the army and opposition. he gave the speech when the u.s.
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looked like it was going to take action in syria and got left out on the limb. that's the sense i get. i think on iraq, too, he probably seemed to be much more willing to take just a push for action that didn't happen. so i think that's a fair analysis is kerry is more hawkish than president obama. >> charlie: what do they say at the white house and the security council. >> they see it as the president campaigned on a certain foreign policy strategy widely supported among the american public and he's sticking to it for better or worse. you've seen it for the worse his foreign policy standing among the american public is at its lowest it's been in his presidency in the poll last month. part of the frustration on the side of the white house is he's doing exactly what he said he would do and, yet, that doesn't seem to be exactly what people
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want. we've even talked to european diplomats that said they thought they wanted what obama is doing and now are feeling a little bit like he's taking it too far, like perhaps he's overcorrected for what he perceived as some of president george w. bush's foreign policy mistakes. >> charlie: the president did that and then john kerry goes to yale and makes the commencement or founders day speech or something like that in which he basically said we have to be careful we didn't swing too far to the other side following what president bush had done and get into a kind of extreme isolation. >> right. that's right. that's the big question, and i think that, right now, what's happening is that, individually, any of these crises could be managed by the white house in a way that maybe wouldn't raise those questions, but when you have this numbero of very high stakes with hugely consequential
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events taking place, it really puts the pressure on the white house to explain and how they're not overcorrecting for this and, as john kerry said, swinging too far the other way, and how they're going to manage it all because one of the criticisms is maybe these things would have happened anyway, but when you take something like the president's decision to set a red line in syria and then you walk up to the red line and then, at the last minute, draw back -- i mean, i've traveled with the president since he came into office, i've covered him and i've never seen him have to go overseas in this way and repeatedly reassure allies that are usually on our side that he's going to have their back, as he would say, if something were to happen in the region. he's had to do it in europe a number of times this year, he's had to do it in asia and he's going to continue to have to do that if he keeps -- if these type of things keep taking place and he's perceived as not necessarily being as aggressive as the situation calls for,
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which is what some of even his allies are saying at this point. >> charlie: i talked to some leaders in one of the gulf kingdoms and they said to me specifically about we think we know where the president stands and we think he has our back, but we're not quite sure. i said, but he made speech at west point and was clear in terms of how the united states will stand where he cities it's important in -- where he thinks it's important in the security of his allies, and they said, yes, it's one thing to make is a speech and another to look us in the eye and tell us that. >> i've traveled with the president a number of times just this year where he's had to go somewhere and look them in the eye and try to convince them he will be there. saudi arabia is very nervous with the u.s.'s engagement with iran, for example, and the president had a trip to europe earlier this year and had to tack on a stop in riyadh to sit face to face with the king to
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say i will be there and i will do x, y and z, and he's repeatedly having to do that. part of the frustration if you talk to the people in the white house is, yes, the president gives a lot of speeches, but aside from syria which i think turned out to be a pretty consequential decision in terms of the perception of this president and the united states on the world stage, besides that they've really done everything they said they will do, but they still continue to battle this perception, and perception is something, particularly when you're dealing with foreign policy and different actors. >> i think with the arab states, the arab leaders have been particularly interesting as far as managing allies because there are really a string of decisions going back to the arab string in 2010 and 2011 that made arab leaders nervous. one was the ditching of mubarak which was a close ally and then showed him the door.
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everyone said if you kick him out, it will be that much more unstable. then there was the decision to not go into syria after setting the ride lines which infuriated the saudis in particular. then the iran negotiations which most countries in the region say they're supportive of, but most of the negotiations in iran were happening in secret behind the saudis and even the israelis and that has fueled the sense of can we trust obama? is he going to cut a deal with the iranians that will have a much broader impact than just on the weapons issue but, you know, is it going to impact our interest in levant, in iraq, in the persian gulf? so it has been more than one issue going back for more than a few years that has created unease among our allies particularly in the middle east. >> charlie: you do get the sense the president has said he worries about making a mistake. he worries, most of all, about doing something stupid. i don't know quite what he means
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by that, but i think he means by that at least getting sucked into a war like afghanistan or iraq that takes a terrible toll not only in terms of the most important consequences of human lives but also treasure and also it means that there is an omission of something you might have done otherwise, some other thing in terms of, say, developing a better relationship with china or a better relationship with people in asia, right? >> i mean, if you look at iraq right now, you can see why. i mean, bush made that decision and it's still something the country is grappling with. people in washington, as you know, there's a constant blame game, but there's no doubt we unleashed something in iraq that we're still dealing with, and it seems to be getting uglier over time, so you can understand the hesitancy, i certainly can. >> we talked to foreign policy observers and one described the president as a look before you leap kind of guy and he definitely is. every big decision he's had to
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make, there's a big study group. he remembers before his afghanistan decision, he really sifted through and went through that, but also, you know, when the president was trying to sum up his foreign policy and his advisors in the last few months would, they would privately say, essentially, don't do something stupid -- for your pg audience -- stuff. and that was his approach on the world stage. that might make sense to him, but it's clear to people domestically and overseas what that means. >> charlie: let me make two points. the president might say ben rhodes is a better spokesman than anybody here. number one, sanctions, iran is at the table because of sng sanctions and they put together the sanctions and that's the foreign policy the president believes in. two, looking at russia, it is perhaps true that sanctions caused russia to pause for a
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moment in terms of what it's prepared to do. does the administration have a good point? >> sanctions is one of the policies everyone is claiming credit for. they started under the bush administration. the congress really drove, in many ways, the sanctions on iran as being this destructive to the iranian economy, and we did get a lot of buy-in from the europeans on this, and it's been very successful. i mean, i think it's still going to be up to debate. the negotiations are going on in vienna right now and it's hard to tell if the iranians are going to go, you know, to the levels that are needed to get an agreement. the deadline's next sunday and i don't think anyone really nose. but, yeah, i think the sanctions have been effective but there is still a sense, particularly in the russian situation, has it gone enough and is it putin really -- you know, they're still sending arms in there, they're still sending in intel guys and the situation in ukraine is still pretty unstable. so it's not a clear picture, i
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guess. i think it has been successful. it's been revolutionary in a lot of ways, the ways they've used these financial sanctions and a lot of people have been a part of it. >> charlie: can you make the case in all of this that people were more aggressive than they would have been otherwise because they doubted the fact that the united states would respond? >> certainly there are foreign leaders who would make that case, and that's part of the concern that is driving them to need the kind of reassurance that president obama has been having to give all of them on a regular basis. i mean, if you look at ukraine, and you can take it on the flip side which is that if you're the white house you're privately really frustrated that these allies who may be criticizing you for not going far enough won't go as far as you want them to go, meaning that the president has tried to get countries like germany to go much further on sanctions
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against russia to try and contain this, and he's traded his want of cohesion among europe and the u.s. for what could be a stronger package if the u.s. moved a little further. however, he's also, you know, battling the fact that, no matter what the u.s. does, it's really not going to be much of anything if you don't have the europeans on board. >> charlie: thank you very much. an arc of instability, unseen since the 1970s, it's a fascinating piece looking at america's role around the world and how it is being exercised. i compliment you and the "wall street journal" because there was another piece over the weekend about jihad, and if you really want to go understand i.s.i.s. or i.s.i.l., however it is now being termed, and its beginnings and understanding sunni-shia and all those in the middle east especially among jihaddest forces, that's a good
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place to start, piece over the weekend about jihad in the middle east and other places. my thanks to you, jay and carol. >> thank you. >> charlie: back in a moment. stay with us. >> charlie: david plouffe is here. he was the campaign manager for president obama's 2008 presidential campaign from 2011 to 2013 he served as senior advisor to the president. former white house chief of staff bill bailey said the president probably took david's opinion with more certitude than anybody else. if david said x, i can the president would more often believe x than challenge it i am pleased to have david plouffe at this table for the first time. welcome. >> great to be here, charlie. >> charlie: i'm interestin inten what you do. we can talk about many things. i intended to talk about foreign policy, but in this limited time, what interests me is america, you know, and you've done something remarkable, been part of two great experiences,
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winning presidential campaigns and going to the public at different times. on the one hand, you had the magic of a narrative that was overwhelming -- first african-american man who brought great pride to people because of who he was and his background. a second time, it was a different kind of campaign. >> more of a grind. >> charlie: more of a grind. but in the end, you're going to the people and saying, you know, support us. and you have to understand america, i think, to be elect ed by americans. tell me how you see the country and it's influence in the country. >> you're absolutely right. no one's going to succeed in a campaign no matter the locale but especially the presidential election without understanding the country and where they want to go, their fears and hopes. i think barack obama did that well. it's an interesting place. you have people whose household income $75,000 or above have
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bounced back from the great recession, but people below $50,000 haven't. they're struggling. >> charlie: they feel they're losing. >> they feel more security about their job situation and it's great. but the definition of security is different, it's less about going on vacation or buying a new car, and then having a repair bill for an appliance. our country is changing from a diversity standpoint. the middle part of the century, states will be unrecognizable compared to today in terms of percentage of the latino vote, asian-american vote. technology playing a huge role. although you have a little bit of divide there. you still have people like me and you spend all our time every day on mobile phones. >> charlie: right. that's not how a lot of people, particularly younger people are, but not everybody across the country does. but what i'm struck by is their optimism, even during the recession, their resilience. there is more that -- you have
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to always have to remember, the president spoke a lot about this, washington looks like democrats, republicans can't agree on anything, anytime, anywhere. you put most americans around the table like this and they would figure out a way. >> charlie: why can't washington do it? >> we're in a very tough place now and i think the republicans bear most of the -- >> charlie: it's the biggest challenge. >> yes, it is. i think we're at a time where the base of the republican party cannot be more disconnected from the middle of the electorate. the loudest voices get the most attention. it's much worse in the republican party but when a member of the republican or democrat party reaches out to do something that the base disagrees with, they get smacked down pretty quickly. it's what senator marchen and toomey did on gun violence after new tune.
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right now it's policed by the entertainment in both parties. >> charlie: at the same time the president has terrible numbers. you think that's because of gridlock in washington? or because of what? >> well, you know, i think he's probably in the mid 40s right now, and, you know, that's kind of been our range. i think as the economy improves, i think you will see the numbers bump up. >> charlie: the economy is improving. >> it will take a while for that to catch up. a few things are going on. second terms are difficult, obviously. we have right now the attention span of a gnat in the country. news cycles are 15 minutes at most now. you have been around seven years, a long time on the stage. washington remains highly dysfunctional. most voters don't blame the president with that but he is the one in charge so they're
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dissatisfied. there's no doubt the shutdown and theatrics in congress, that bothered a lot of people. >> charlie: there seemed to be a plague on all the houses for the gridlock, not just the republicans. >> right. what they say is you're dealing with a crowd of unreasonable, irresponsible dogmatic republicans and we get that but you're still the president. >> charlie: it happened on your watch and you're partly responsible. >> right. we know this well from research with voters, people think the president has tried over and over again, but they haven't seen the results. but, listen, what matters is what he's gotten done and i think he's going to go down as a great president in history. the economy bouncing back from historic recession, healthcare reform, a huge pivot to green energy, ending the iraq war, his torque leadership around gay and lesbian rights.
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the economy -- >> charlie: people at the white house don't think american people care. it is economic security and jobs and health but thinking of family issues most importantly. as you say, headlines. do you think that media is overemphasizing foreign policy? >> these are important issues for the globe, so, no. but you have to understand, the average american, the heroism of the troops who gave their lives, very important to them, critical, but they saw iraq and afghanistan also through the lens of the economy and one of the reasons they thought we're underinrested, our economy went off the rails, the infrastructure and education system is not what ought to be, they thought attention was turned elsewhere. it's hard to argue, given the results. before we get in the another engagement of a military nature,
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they're going to be highly skeptical of it and that's why ending the iraq war was essential to the commitment of the president and he delivered on it. >> charlie: now he's under attack because he failed to negotiate leaving troops there which might, some argue, have prevented some of the problems that maliki administration has and so it's under attack. >> i highly doubt a few thousand troops on the ground would have overcome centuries of sectarian -- >> charlie: but the argument made is not so much that, but if the u.s. was there they would have had more influence on maliki and maliki would have been perhaps encouraged to be more open and tolerant about sunnis because what's happening is those people who felt like they were shut out by the maliki government are in many cases supporting i.s.i.s. >> again, i think, from my viewpoint, i don't think decision to leave troops there -- and again the maliki government was resistant -- would have made a difference.
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there's no question the original sip was the invasion in the first place and a lack of clear strategy after that mistake to make sure we left the country in a strong position to govern itself. the whole region is obviously unstable as it's been in a long time. >> charlie: there is a piece today about paul crewingman in the "new york times" basically saying something that i know you like to read. "obamacare fails to fail." what's history's judgment on obamacare? >> i think it will be resoundingly positive. i will say there's no question that as the years go by there will be parts that we say, well, that's not working quite as well as it should be so there will have to be adjustments. but this is a very mainstream, moderate approach to healthcare. >> charlie: what do you mean moderate? >> yes. >> charlie: with no way he could achieve what he wanted to do without having to make the hard decisions he had to make? >> right, and when we ran for president, we didn't run on a
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single -- >> charlie: i know. so basically he signed and delivered healthcare. slowly, over time, what people like he say is going to be less important and what people like rick perry say will be less. everyone is a healthcare consumer and everyone will have conversations. they will say this wasn't a social it's plot to overtake the healthcare system, it's enabling the insurance companies to deliver coverage. >> charlie: but what about the small businesses crying the loudest? >> there's no doubt there will be some businesses -- >> charlie: in agony, is better thing to say than crying. >> you won't have 100% winners but the vast majority will be benefiting. businesses large and small,
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certainly entrepreneurs and innovators will have clarity. it's important tore people to have the knowledge that no matter what i do i will have affordable healthcare. so much of the law has been on coverage, but i think a lot of the technological advances will bring down healthcare costs. >> charlie: th in afghanistan, e have terrible things happening, a presidential election we don't know what the result of that will be and the question remains of how many american troops are there. if you look at where the president is today, is his mind and is his head always been primarily on domestic issues, because that is what shaped him? >> no, you can't be. i mean, that's the central challenge of his presidency was vote to recover from the recession, but also to lift more people in the middle class. that is the challenge of his presidency and the country. but having worked in the white
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house and having spent a lot of time in the situation room, there are proactive things on the foreign policy stage but just a lot of reacting to events. so you have things you're trying to get done in the economy, social issues, education and i think the record will show he's tried to deliver on all of those effectively but foreign policy will be important no matter who the president is. this is a very eventful time. there's a notice in washington from the foreign policy crowd that the whole world is a chess board that americans move around. in many places we lead. countries are getting stronger and there are a lot of the factors. it's naive to say if the president had or had not done this thing -- >> charlie: the interesting question i often think about, too, has this president realized there are limits to american power more so than he even
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imagined? >> i don't think so because, you know, you look at all these situations, we're the only one in the centero of all of them. >> charlie: right. and, so, no, i think -- and, listen, i think it's clear, you know, the bush years were -- i think the rest of the world had a pretty negative reaction to them. i think it's clear people want us to lead but lead in the right way. i think each of these situations is complex. you can't link what's happening in ukraine necessarily to what's happening in the middle east or south america. at the end of the day, we are still the one indispensable nation and i think people look to us to heed and i think that's what the president is trying to do in very, very difficult circumstances. >> charlie: what's the difference between the indispensable nation and the exceptional nation? >> well, i happen to agree we're both. i think the indispensable is the role we've stayed on the world stage. our strengths, even at a time
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when we have all these foreign policy challenges, too many people are not feeling as economically strong as they'd like to, you look at our college system, the innovation that's happened here, the entrepreneurship, some of the great inventions are happening here, we have huge strengths. our energy story is changing, we will be energy independent before too long. we have all these strengths and anyone in the world would change places with us. given all the turmoil and the difficult times, we have huge strengths. you see the economy picking up steam. the energy situation changing, ending two wars, i think we have a huge and great period ahead of us. let's take dysfunction, the one thing congress could do is be a trifecta of power forces -- help the economy, lift gdp, reduce the deficit and w we're training all the people in colleges and sending them home to compete dpins. so it would be the most powerful
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thing we could do and a huge assist to the republicans politically, yet those stars aligned, the tea party faction is digging in their heels. what's left for washington to do to jump start the economy? immigration is one, infrastructure. >> charlie: benefit the economy? >> first of all, just help with growth and i think our workforce would be enhanced. we would have a lot more entrepreneurship happening here. it would help with the deficit. people would be paying fines and taxes. it would send a great signal around the world, off good idea, smart, innovative, come to the united states. now we're sending an intolerant signal. >> charlie: not only is it what america is stand for and because of the contributions immigrants made -- because people say it's illegal immigration that gets people at
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logger hloggerheads over policy. >> the law, fairkts business community, i haven't met a person yet who disagrees. >> charlie: you have faith and business community on the side of immigration reform and you're saying it's held hostage by the tea party? >> yes. >> charlie: does the business community have no influence on the tea party? is that the nature of the tea party? >> well, i think you're seeing what you might very main street republicans, business republicans -- the truth is we need a functioning republican party. you saw the op-ed with bill gates and warre warren buffett t immigration. the republicans have no chance of winning the white house if they get 20% of the latino vote. zero. they'll lose colorado, nevada, mexico, florida, they could even
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lose arizona. >> charlie: there are many subjects i could talk to you about that i can talk to other people about. one i can't talk to other people about because you have the expertise in this. it is this man who is president of the united states. you were, it is fair to say at the time you joined his senate campaign, a guy who loved politics and wanted to be involved in politics and had participated in campaigns. what drew you to barack obama in his senate campaign and was that initial impression not only the deepest impression but the impression that has continued? >> it was. my partner in crime david axlerod and barack obama were friends -- >> charlie: that was the chicago thing. >> right. and got us involved in the senate race when he started out in fifth place and no one gave him a chance to win, somewhat
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like the presidential race. >> charlie: and david axlerod joined you in chicago politics, it says he has confidence in you. >> right. i think if you look at when i worked with barack obama through that senate campaign, did i say this is a future president? of course not. that's what makes the story so improbable. four years laterrers he was elected president of the united states. but he was someone of high integrity. politics tend to attract people of high ego, people who aren't always consistent. day in, day out, same person, measured, normal human being. >> charlie: but reporter after reporter, people like david brooks say to me they've never met anybody in politics more confident of his own skills and his own intelligence. >> well, he's obviously got off the charts intelligence. he's a very competent person. he has a clear sense of the direction the country needs to.
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go he's very good decision maker. we would spend a lot of time making sure we made good decisions but once you make them you have to move on, there's not a lot of navel gazing with him. >> charlie: how many times have you gone into the oval office and said to him, mr. president, you're getting ready to make a colossal mistake, don't go there? >> i'll keep any of those conversations private. >> charlie: but have you come out and said to him -- >> well, i think it's very important whether you're the head of a news organization, a company or the president, you have to have people around you who just aren't laying rose petals in front of your way. there are certain people he's worked with that he trusts who have his best interests at heart and you have to have the ability in private moments to express your opinion. but he's someone -- you're right. he is a very, very confident person. my sense is he believes that, you know, we were trying to change america, the trajectory of it, on the economy, on
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healthcare, social policy, foreign policy, it's a big cruise liner and happens slowly, but he's moving in the right direction. at this moment in time, you look at the republican versus the democratic argument on so many issues. it's not that the democratic argument enjoys public support, substantively it's hard to argue immigration reform and infrastructure and healthcare and trying to move to a balanced energy approach, these are the things that most economists and academics and business people would tell you are the right things to do. so i think his confidence is also based on facts and the conversations he's had -- >> charlie: i have to let you go and i hope you will come back and we'll continue this. >> of course. >> charlie: because some questions are raised. in the first term there were what were called team of rivals and secretary clinton and in this time, there are people
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whose close to the president and a shift in the way the white house operated because it's a different in the nature of the makeup. let's continue with that when you come back. >> part two. >> charlie: we'll be back. stay with us. ♪ >> charlie: lorin maazel, the create conductor died sunday after suffering from complications from pneumonia. he was 84. lorin maazel led some of the greatest orchestras including
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cleveland, paris, vienna and munich. served as music director of the new york philharmonic from 2002 to 2009 and described that job as the summit of his field. the "new york times" writes maazel was a study in contradictions, evoked strong feelings favorable and otherwise from musicians, administrators, critics and audiences. born in france in 1930 but raised in the united states. he stued the violin and pi chano and cello and emerged as a prodigy. he was invited to conduct the nbc symphony from a national broadcast at age 11. he would go on to conduct more than 150 orchestras, 5,000 recording5,000 --5,000 performa0 recordings. he said, i am never looking for a perfect performance but an impassioned performance.
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he is survived by seven children and four grandchildren. he is appeared on this program many, many times over the years. i enjoyed his friendship and looked to him for an understanding of the majesty of music. here is some of those conversations. >> charlie: if you look at this remarkable career, the diversity of your career and all the things i mentioned in the introduction, what is it that's most important to you? is it -- what? >> well, making the music really come alive and to do so in a frame one feels completely unstressed, not freaked out. a young musician making his way is freaked out, he's nervous, afraid, he's ambitious, he wants to make his mark. then you get older, middle-aged, you want to maintain your
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position, you feel as if you have to continue fighting. but when you get to be my age and have had the good fortune of growing older in a mellow way, it's just bloody fun. i just love making music, and i'm not trying to prove anything, not trying to achieve anything, i'm not trying. i just want to make music with people i admire like musicians from the philharmonic. this is a great time for classical music in the world today. >> charlie: why? because it's a transitional period. a whole generation of young artists who, despite or maybe because of the world they live in, are crazy about classical music, perform it beautifully. i've heard 13-year-old violinists play brahms really to die for. >> charlie: yes. fabulous stuff. and they care so much about music. obviously, if they come out of a
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society that can spawn a young artist at that level, that means there are lots of people there who can love classical music, especially when it's defended, represented, performed by people as young as they are. >> charlie: what is it about music that brings you the most satisfaction? >> people. >> charlie: people. i love to interact with humans. i remember as a youngster, a young conductor -- not a child, you know, a young conductor in my 20s -- i would accept engagement in very odd corners of the earth simply to be able to go to that corner and learn something about people i would have never had contact with otherwise, like villages in mexico. i used to go and conduct concerts in really lost places, meet wonderful people, learn
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something, had to, you know, my language facility, and just grow. >> charlie: what's the mission of an orchestra? >> the mission? in today's world or just -- >> charlie: in the philharmonic, what does the philharmonic owe us? what's its responsibility to this community and the larger community? >> well, it's an orchestra that was founded 150 years ago and more. it represents a classical tradition which has to be renewed, constantly renewed and there are several ways of renewing a tradition. firstly, you burnish the repertoire, you shine it up and present it. there are people who have never heard beethoven's fifth symphony. >> charlie: or if they have, they don't know it.
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>> that's our job. everything is happening today. it's got its venues and support out there, lots of places where this music -- and it was written the day before yesterday -- is going to be heard irrespective of what we do there at avery fisher hall. having said that, they're the masterpieces, also, of the 20th century just down the pike. we all used to live in the 20th century. remember the good old days? >> charlie: right. there are the important pieces. and then there's the challenge of the future because a tradition is going to die if you don't renew it. >> charlie: it is often said composers can make great conductors. this is part of the conventional wisdom in the new world. but conductors don't necessarily make great composers. have you ever heard that? >> well, i don't know many composers who have been great
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conductors or the other way around. it is a separate talent, and certainly playing an instrument does not qualify one to conduct an orchestra at all. teaches you a great deal about music, but -- >> charlie: but you're a better conductor because you can play an instrument as well as you can play the violin? >> i believe so. i fancy i am and i would encourage people -- i'm always saying to young people, if you want to conduct, study all the instruments of the orchestra, learn how to write, find out how that ship is run. the captain of a ship who is admired and respected by his crews, one that worked his way through and knows it all. >> charlie: i want to say with this before i come back to the vienna philharmonic. you had to be interested if you wanted him to conduct your orchestra. age 9, began conducting. 9! what is that?
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(laughter) you know, explain it to me. what do you know about child prodigy? >> well, most of the child prodigies i have met and especially their parents are disasters in that these children haven't had a normal childhood, their parents have exploited them. i had a good fortune of having parents who were not only not interested in exploiting whatever talent i had, but refused a fee for the performance. i would go and conduct the new york philharmonic and they would make an agreement with the presenter that the travel expenses and the lodging would be made. they said it is not proper that a child receive a fee for the work he does, an and a much more important point, only five concerts a year when i wasn't going to school. when i went to school, i played
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baseball with the kids and i was center on the football team and i was kind of a stocky boy and pretty good at that stuff. so i had a good, normal, solid childhood. i went fishing -- >> charlie: so we don't have to worry about you not developing well because you were -- >> no. but the great thing for me is because of the music and my talent for it, i was able to meet the great masters. >> charlie: who was the most brilliant, bach, beethoven or mozart. >> they all are but bach is the great fountain from which all music in the west has sprung. having said that, i think mozart because of his personal genius -- >> charlie: personal genius. yeah, what other kind of
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genius can you have, you will say, but the kind of genius he had which was universal, effortlessly -- >> charlie: was he more precocious than the other two? >> yes, and he offered the world repertoire of music unparalleled in classical music. beethoven was a real struggler, he fought the demons within him and the world without him, outside his domain. he fought for every note and he struggled, and the result is an extraordinary reservoir of great music, but still you feel that struggle, and it's the struggle, of course, that gives vitality to his music. you feel that inner struggle and you feel the triumph that he had in putting it all together successfully. >> charlie: do you see it differently than, say, ten years ago simply because you thought
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more about it, you see it differently, your own experiences are different and you bring a different eye to the music? >> yes, one grows older, not necessarily in a positive way. in my particular case, as a composer who also conducts and a conductor who also composes, i see the music that i've inherited from the great classical tradition definitely as i move along. i feel much richer for having had that experience and i think that i communicate the joy of having understood, finally, how enriched i have been. i feel the same about the nukes music and -- i feel the same about the music and yet i don't. it is the same technically. the beethoven symphonies we performed with my own markings, that hasn't changed, but i think i infuse the music with a
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renewed passion that partially stems with the fact that i have fallen in love with the new york philharmonic. this is an extraordinary orchestra. i really adore them. i think that they make the music glow with a vib vibrancy of ther dedication. >> charlie: are you surprised you've fallen in love with them? >> absolutely. >> charlie: that you are or not surprised? >> i am surprised. >> charlie: why? it's a great orchestra and i have had the opportunity to conduct them. >> charlie: this relationship is unique? >> we just seem to understand each other. it just works. >> charlie: so beyond expectation. >> oh, yeah. i came with no expectations whatsoever to new york as music director. i thought, well, let's see what happens, but the chemistry has been just right and i -- well, i confess publicly i'm very, very happy and just in love with my
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orchestra! >> charlie: what do you want to be played at your funeral? >> at my funeral? well, i had thought as a younger man that i would enjoy hearing the love music from roa romeo ad juliet, incredible music. now i think that i would prefer perhaps something of verde (phonetic). i've become a great fan. one of the areas i could name, i would appreciate hearing, because i won't be around to hear it. >> charlie: lorin maazel, dead at 84. captioning sponsored by rose communications
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captioned by media access group at wgbh
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