tv Charlie Rose PBS November 17, 2014 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight two perspectives on the presidency. we begin with chuck todd, the anchor of meet the press. his new book is you will cad the stranger, barack obama in the white house. >> where he lacked the experience was being a politician. that is to me the lacking of experience. not executive leadership, it's not experience on the issues. it really is experience on the -- i had a senator describe it to me, a senator who was a big supporter of his and regrets it. and said i didn't realize he didn't have the experience of climbing the greasey pole of politicsment and that's something that at the end of the day in bastion you need to have. >> rose: we conclude this evening with al hunt on the story of john podesta, counseler to president obama. >> the chain ease side has said that it would peak around 2030 but with try to do it earlier.
and every senior chinese official we met with up and through the president said that they would try to go earlier. we think they can go earlier than that. but i think as significant was the other number in that agreement which is that they've committed to build 20% of their electricity sector with clean either renewable or nuclear energy, zero carbon energy. that is a huge amount. >> rose: chuck todd, al hunt and john podesta when we continue. >> funding for charlie rose is provided by the following >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information worldwide.
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> chuck todd is here. his passion for politics has earned him a label of the ultimate political junkie am he took over in september as host of nbc's sunday morning talk program meet the press. he also served as nbc news's political director. he was previously the net work's chief white house correspondent and host of msnbc the daily rundown. his new book is called the stranger. barack obama in the white house. i'm pleased to have chuck todd back on this program. welcome. >> always great to be here, charlie. >> rose: tell me why the stranger? why that, the title that you thought most appropriate to describe barack obama in the white house? >> i think that that is-- it sort of is-- i what like to think it encapsulates the challenge he had with
washington am and that's really what this book is about. it's about his attempt to change or fail to change washington. his battles with washington institutions whether it's the pentagon, us and the media, congressional democrats, congressional republicans. and in many ways, i think some of what got him elected is that he was a stranger to it all. some of the struggles that he had managing washington is because he's a stranger to it all. so that was sort of the point. >> so if he had had more experience he wouldn't have had the mistakes. >> experience is funny. experience, depends on your definition of experience. i always thought the experience argument, i want to be nuanced. i think where he lacked the experience is being a politician. that is to me the lacking of experience. not executive leadership. it's not experience on the issues. it really is experience on the-- i had a senator describe it to me, a senator who was a big supporter of his and regrets it. and said i didn't realize he didn't have the experience
of climbing the greasey pole of politics. and that's something at the end of the day in washington you need to have. >> rose: and he says when asked by bob schieffer, did you like politicians? do you like politic sfs. >> this is the rap he's getting. its with a very -- i thought its with a fair question. >> rose: obviously a question. because the rap that he didn't do more reaching out, because he didn't really like it. >> you know what, it's because he doesn't need it. it is sort of, he's a different type-- he's sort of the unclinton. clinton goes into a room, and i mean bill clinton, and can go into a room of tea partiers. and he wants to come out of there getting everybody there liking him. that's a big deal to 4i78. >> rose: i can tell you something about him. es goes into the room and he knows there is one person without doesn't like him, he goes right to that person, so they will be part. >> barack obama is in many ways very rational about it. he thinks well, they're pot going it like me. there's not a lot i can do about it. i'm just going to move on. he doesn't need people
telling him he's great. i mean again, some of the stuff, i say this, it will sound like praise and why are you criticizing him. but it's the skill-- it's skills he's lacking as a president. in that washington sometimes is a town of glad handing. washington is-- he admitted it to me in the most revealing statement he said to me in the interview i did with him in september. is i don't get the threat at ricks right. i don't do that very well. at the time it had to do with the foley beheading and suddenly going golfing and not sort of realizinging that sometimes thee at riblings matter because it buys you time and space to do what you want to do and your agenda. i think that has been-- because he doesn't need the glad handing or the back slapping or the favors, he doesn't understand-- i think he thinks some polltitions are weak because they need it i wonder. >> rose: i'm sure he does. buts that for me that is not simply getting the theatrics, that's having a tin ear to the obvious. you don't go talk about a
beheading and then be photographed right after that laughing on a golf course. >> right. >> rose: remember george w. bush had that moment and he topped golfing forever. talked about nain nine and said watch this drive. and it became this horrible moment for him that had played over and over again. and guess what bush stopped doing. stopped golfing. >> rose: he says if i didn't like politics and politicians, i wouldn't be where i am. >> look, he ran and lost. he wanted to be a member for congress so fwadly he challenged bobby russ. >> rose: pretty popular in chicago. and lost. >> that's right. and went about a senate campaign that a bunch of us thought was-- what in your name is what? and you're doing what? threeiers after 9/11 and your name sounds like osama, what are you doing? every political strategist in washington thought well that's-- so i think he loves the campaign. don't get me wrong. but there's --. >> rose: that is conventional wisdom. >> right, it's the art of politics, the behind the
scenes. and i tell you, the thing that-- one of the things that i think we all thought, well, no, he must get politics. we hear about these poker games in springfield. what poker game has happened in washington. >> it is these little things that he doesn't use the power of the presidency in ways that could be potentially productive at building coalitions. maybe not for today, maybe in the for tomorrow, but may be for two years down the road. >> rose: but i do believe that he doesn't think it's productive. he doesn't get that it is, in fact, productive. and i've talked to some hardened people in washington. and they said, you know, i once asked rich armitaj, tough guy, deputy secretary of state, remarkable, with colin powell. very tough guy. i said to him once after he had been deputy secretary of state, i said what's the most important thing you've learned. he said it's about people. it's about people. even in terms of the relationship with foreign leaders. >> right. >> rose: it's about people. >> it's funny you say that with foreign leaders. this has been one of the the frustrations of some of his
team. that his relationships with foreign-- basically the one person he has bonded with the most is merkel. and that, angela merkel of germany and that relationship got frayed after nsa. >> rose: you talk-- talked to him recently when you took over "meet the press" what is it you think we don't foe about this man? >> i think we know everything about him on that front. but i think we're-- i think it is -- he's more cautious than we thought. i think the country gravitated toward him in '07 and '08 because they were frustrated with washington and they wanted a green break from the past. and they wanted, that whole turn the page, they wanted somebody to go in there and change something. >> rose: that's exactly what the most recent election was about. >> again. here we are again. and what is funny about it, i remember i had robert gibbs one time said to me, and it is in the book. he said, i don't know if the country was ready to elect a black president but i do know the country was so frustrated, maybe there were
people who said i don't know if i'm ready to lkt a black president but we need a change and i want in to send a message a little bit. that they needed, there were people in that administration that first year kept reminding them, remember why you won. you won because the country wanted you to change the way business was done in washington. and i think that-- and that respect, he's always been more cautious, a lot of people gravitated toward him because they thought he was goinging it to be this change agent and a little bit risk-taking. one thing about barack obama, he is not a risk-taker. he is a cautious individual. and i think sometimes he gets-- the right characterizes him as some sort of radical. when you look at him, he is a very, very cautious guy. >> rose: essentially a september rest guy? >> i think he is a centrist temperment. i think he has a progressive idealism in him. >> rose: he believes in -- progressive politics. >> right. i think that -- the question always is, is bill clinton-- i think they both get to the same place on policiment but they get there very differently. >> rose: how is that?
>> because i think bill clinton starts in the center. ultimately he is a centrist. and he goes maybe,he ranlteds to-- wants to straddle that fence a little more. i think ultimately he is i think more of a center left guy. now barack obama would say he's center left. i think he comes at a topic from a progressive point of view and then-- . >> rose: -- makes him more centrist. >> i think that's right. >> rose: and politics may have made bill clinton september rest because he had to get re-elected in arkansas. >> it is. and it's possible that barack obama because his experience was in an easier state, maybe that is something that shifted to the left. >> i have to say, i think one of the we've all in washington have hit him on this issue of he did a poor job of reaching out to help cansment one of the handi caps he had was $crats were too successful in 2008. -- democrats were too successful in 2008. imagine if he had 52 rather
than 59 and then 60 with arleck-- arlen speblingter. it is a different ball game when you have to find 8 or 9 republican senators and create this coalition that you always have to be thinking about, versus you reached out per funk tory. when things went sour, you go it at the end of the day, i don't need them because i have the vote was him. >> rose: when you suggest he is not a risk-taker, things people point to is what he did with respect to osama bin laden. >> that's right. >> rose: it was a huge risk. >> it was. >> rose: based on hard-nosed analysis in terms of pem saying we can do this opinions that's right. and it was calculated-- you foe, this is something-- he focused on this during his transition. i have an interesting little nugget in here about how he gets-- he gets the first briefing. his first briefing of president, intelligence briefing about everything that is going on. and there was no update on bin laden, on the search for bin laden. he said what about bin laden. the direct are of the cia,
they start looking at each other. we really haven't focused on that. so they demanded, there, it was right there, he and rahm emmanuel demanded a monthly update. and that was a case where he went in there with a clear objective. he got-- he focused the intelligence community and they got the results. >> rose: i also think that in terms of when he put together the government, the fact that he chose rahm emmanuel with rahm's experience and reputation, he wanted, quote, an enforcer. and he wanted someone who worked with the congress. >> true. and i think that that was ultimately potentially a mistake. rahm i think would have been a more effective chief of staff when republicans were in charge of the house. i think rahm emmanuel and john boehner would have gotten things done. i really do, i always thought that. i thought that, it is easy to be a chief of staff when you have all-- when your party controls everything. you can get some things done. but to go back to rahm, you know, he was-- you say he
was supposed to be an enforcerment but he never felt like he had the power that he wanted. an i think all the chiefs of staff in some way-- he wanted a tough guy, he wanted somebody that understood washington. >> rose: because he didn't want to do that. >> well, that's true. but he didn't necessarily gif rahm the authority that i think rahm wanted. >> rose: when you look at his confidence, david brooks and i have ongoing serious conversations about this president and david says he's probably the most confident man i have ever, in politic, dealt with. >> what presidents aren't confident. i have to say, when you get that far. there is something different about guys that actually become president. >> rose: do you think he has the same confidence that george bush has? >> yes, i definitely do. you know, he is one of the things, and you hear this from staff.
he is usually understands the issue than the staffer that wrote the memo. it's one of those things. >> rose: bob gates will tell you that. bob gates will tell you he's in a meeting with him, and he's not only can-- asking him, bob. bush would pretty much stop and maybe his deputy. he said president obama will be in the third row, fourth row and say what do you think. and there with be a profess orial experience. >> one of the things you have to understand to understand barack obama. remember he was raised by an an though poll test. >> rose: his mother. >> that's righ right-- anthropologist. he is a keen observer. and in that standoffish way, sometimes. an anthropologist is to the-- when you are observing a society, you are not supposed to get involved in the society sometimes. are you supposed to be an observer. and i think that that still-- people need to under tan that about him. i think it's what makes him understand political constituency so well. but then sometimes look like he's being condescendinging to them when he talks about
them. >> rose: he is very comfortable being alone, an attribute that actually is the opposite of successful politicians in the modern era, think bill clinton who seem to crave public affection and the company of others, this is an asset and liability for obama in washington because the town is filled with people he just doesn't get. being the son of an anthropologist gave him observational skills that allow him to read and understand people better than most politicians who usually need polls to understand people who grew up dinly than they did. of course growing up biracial and specifically being raised by white grandparents who were a constant reminder that he was different from others infused in him the temperment and patience that have marked his presidency, both positively and negatively. >> yeah. i mean, look, i think the tempment issue is sort of one that is an underrated characteristic for any president. >> rose: underrated what -- >> i think the public, if you think about it, the public usually picks the most even keeled guy.
you know, the moment you talk to obama, folks and mccain folks, the moment obama won the white house, some will say he won the white house the minute the thing crashed. but the real moment de it is when john mccain abruptly ended his campaign. that it was soft, and this is-- and this is a-- you know, and that serves you well in a moment of crisis as a president. but i think sometimes it hasn't served him well in washington. >> rose: an there are those people who say that the best presidents have had, quote, a second-class intellect and first class tempment. >> reagan had an incredible temperment. gerald ford. >> rose: eisenhower. reagan had an incredible tempment. >> it is interesting you bring in eisenhower. i think obama is the most-- funny, he is sort of the most awkward politician since eisenhower in some ways. meaning, he wasn't a natural politician of the washington set. you know, bush, george w had, you know, he-- he sort of enjoyed the game. >> rose: right.
>> obviously we know bill clinton did. but even hw bush had his own way of doing it and understood how to massage an ego and what you had to do. >> rose: how about five letters. writing a thank you note to everybody. >> everybody. and you know, it's different with obama. and again, i think it is an an mirable quality. but i think it hasn't served him well. >> there is the politician and chief. >> here's what-- said, the chief book review editor for "the new york times" said if the president read mrs. todd's if you book the stranger, it's hard to imagine him wantinging to return to the program any time soon. >> if he reads the book within the book delivers a stinging indictment of his presidency. i mean, did you think d -- >> funny. >> here is what i think it is. i think it is a sober account. i think it's not meant to be a liberal defense or conservative attack. but a realistic portrait of what i saw. and i think, and again, from the point of view of
washington, because some of the critiques i've gotten with the book, basically i feel like our sense of oh you washington people don't understand it. okay, but his basic promise was to change the way washington works. and at the end of the day we are going to be 24 years of polarization in this country. clinton to bush to obama. the great promise of obama was to end that. and he didn't. and i'm trying to explore why. >> rose: and you feel because? >> i think he failed because-- . >> rose: the things we said plus. >> look, some of it is circumstances. is he doing the presidency he wanted? it not coming in with an economic crisis. i think he capitulated to congressional democrats too much at the beginning. i think he deferred to them too often. just did it in this recent election. he has deferred to them time and again all in the name of protecting house majority or -- >> or in terms of writing the health care legislation. >> that's right. he did it on health care. >> and stimulus and i have an early moment we are didn't. he said no earmarks. anybody that sends me a spending bill with earmarks, that is going to be grounds
for veto. democrats had a spending bill held over from bush to obama. it was a sort of leftover bill that pelosi and reid essentially were saving to let the democratic president sign. filled with earmarks. there was a debate in the white house. the sort of the axelrod gibbs, the people that were on the campaign said mr. president, you made this promise. you got to veto this bill. then you had the old washington hands that said, no, you can't mess with david ony. don't make them mad. you are about to ask them to do health care. don't pick this fight. it is an unnecessary fight. but you know what, i think in hindsight it was a moment for him to set the marker. new sheriff in town. i will go after my own party if i have to on these things. but he signed it. and then he lectured them. i think sends the message of, you know, maybe, maybe congressional democrats can roll over. >> rose: the thing i haven't understood about his rise was the thing that really was transform difficult was that convention speech. >> that's right. >> rose: how did he get that assignment? >> well, he got it, he was
the star of-- when he won that primary it was sort of out of nowhere. he was the-- he was this rising star and everybody was wondering, you got to give him a role in the speech. he was clearly going to be this next generation. and it had been a long time, you know, yes, i will il had elected an african-american senator in the '90s. but there was this feeling barack obama was different. he was about to win. and look. >> rose: because his -- >> his opponents totally meltdown, explosion, implosion at the time i know kerry said they went and found him. but i think there was a sense of who was the best rising star in the party. and i think at the time it was clearly him. and then he ended up writing a speech that tapped into the frustration in america that we had had for ten years which is enough of this polarization. and that's why i think when you said that the hardest part of judging this presidency is that you say the promise of barack obama was what? the guy i covered, i felt
like the promise that most of the public was rallying around was this idea he was going to change this polarized, divisive politics in america. and it didn't happen. >> rose: how much of the responsibility is his? >> look, i think a lot of it belongs to republicans. but i think he owns more of it than he would like to admit. and that's, you know, again, one of the hits i get from the left and from his supporters for saying well, he's tried all of these things. you know what, no. there are more he could have done. >> rose: -- >> a lot more. look, you don't deal with leadership. >> rose: on domestic issues. >> right, you don't deal with leadership. you know all those bills that the house republicans say harry reid is holding up. imagine if the white house said there are ten we like and they told harry reid we want to pass these ten. there are 400, i'm sure there are maybe, you say, any bill that has 50 democrats supporting that you pass, because there were some that did that. the united states senate should consider. the president could have put himself in sort of forced reid's hand. democrats have to look in
the mirror and say how did they become the party of gridlock for 20914 elections. how did they happen? they were fighting fire with fire. there is no doubt the republicans were definitely started this fight. sort of grinding things to a halt. so the democrats were quote, unquote, fighting fire with fire. but they didn't-- you know, i guess i keep using a phrase in the book, he didn't get caught trying, right. which is they may continue to push your hand away. keep reaching out. >> rose: what would-- this is one of those great what if questions. suppose that he could have said to the democrats, i mean, i hear you too. and i think that's right and i thought this election was an indictment of all politics. and that's exactly what they felt it was. that they don't want to see themselves suffering. and politicians to the being able to agree. >> barack obama set himself as the adult in the room. so when he started basically letting democrats play the role, play this role too, i think people were disappointed.
>> rose: because they think it should work. >> uh-huh. >> the other thing that is interesting about him, is, is one of his principles principals said he is really a writer. he's a writer. didn't say a professor but writer. >> no, he's a writer first. that is what he cares about. >> rose: that's what he cares about. >> i think so. >> rose: and he reads. >> big reader. >> rose: and you know, and he has conversation with a whole strain of things that are part of the fabric of who we are both culturally and politically. >> i'm convinced he's going to become a columnist. >> rose: you said he wants to be david brooks. because brooks is analytical, cares about things other than the day-to-day political game in washington. >> sort of the cultural impact of how maybe how the demographics are kong chaing, the way we raise our kids, all sorts of things. and i do think that's why david brooks had been his favorite columnist for so long. here was somebody who was kind of a center right guy. >> rose: right. >> conservatives, never like you to say, david brooks is not a conservative,
whatever. the point is he is obviously a center right guy. and i think-- i think actually that that is how barack obama spent some of his post presidency. i can picture him. >> rose: writing. >> writing a column. >> rose: you write a book first and then find a place. >> i wouldn't be surprised if he is as prolific as nixon in the post presidency of writing books. nixon just kept churning them out. wouldn't shock me. >> rose: not bad books too. >> if obama-- but i definitely can picture him becoming at least a monthly columnist. >> rose: where do you think he will live? >> new york city. >> rose: that's what i think. >> ive have talked to people close to him about this. i think he would like to go back to chicago. i think he's been the few times he's gone back to his house, he realized he's created such a disturbance, just his entourage. >> rose: he is to the going back to save his neighborhood. >> he knows it's unfair to his neighbors. there is a feeling in new york that you can disappear better than most places. and they have watched-- . >> rose: there is a collection-of-people he
would like to know. >> they've watched bill clinton be able to-- nobody is anonymous. if your last name is clinton but he's had some success at sort of-- of being able to fade a little bit when he wants to. >> rose: so what happens in the next two years? >> well, i think we find out in the next six weeks. if whether there is a productive two years. at the minimum i say productive six months am i think he has until the 4th of july to next year. i think republican does their-- their interests are aligning. i had somebody very close to the president remind me, you know, that there is one piece of good news about democrats losing control of the senate. not to say that he wanted it to happen. he doesn't feel as if he owes the congressional democrats anything. that he has a sense of freedom about himself. it is going to be interesting. he may buck members of his own party in ways. i think he is more willing to deal than maybe even republicans believe. we'll see. that's-- i'm told that is his mind-set right now. >> rose: could he have had this-- i started to ask this question, maybe i didn't. it is the idea that, you
know, michael lewis has written on this program, talking about how well he thought he had done. as president. thought he was a good president. paul crugman write columns about what a good president and a piece in "rolling stone" magazine saying he was a good president. is it possible that he could, did he have the ability, you know, to give him hell harry, harry trueman to run against the congress, you know, he's not-- he's not up for office so he's running on behalf of a congress and not running for congress. so it's a difficult stretch because truman was trying to get elected. >> yeah. >> in 2014. >> rose: yeah, in 2014, was there a case to be made that a barack obama could have made, or asked another way, was there a case to be made that someone with bill clinton's talents could have made? >> i guess i would argue that i think the mistake democrats made is this idea you can localize anything. that you can somehow hide from the national conversation. >> rose: that's the point though. >> politics, we have
flattened it all. >> rose: that is why they made a mistake doing that. >> correct. >> rose: i'm saying, clearly they made a mistake doing that. would the-- alternative make if all local, going full in. >> yes. >> rose: in terms of being aggressive and offensive. >> i believe the lesson to be learned by both parties of this election should be, and frankly a little bit of 2010, all politics is that national. if you are running for congress in stockton california, mclean, virginia, west chest err new york. >> rose: tip o'neill is turning over in his grave. >> all politics is now national when it comes to the house and senate races. frankly even some of these gubernatorial races had that feel. and when one party creeds the national stage and the democrats in this stage said we're going to let the republicans have the national argument, we will have the local arguments and win that way, it doesn't work if i more. i think that we're-- you know, the media is flat. to borrow a phrase from tom friedman. the media is flat. everything is covered from
the-- politically. >> some say that sunday programs, the sunday shows don't have the impact they did. >> what am i supposed to answer that. of course they do. >> no, are you supposed to tell me what the evidence is, that's not true. >> well, you know, i still think it's an important conversation that washington, that people are having, that lawmakers are having with washington. i think that we in the sunday show need to expand our aperture a little bit. so for instance, this past week i had a focus on sort of, because you have a whole bunch of liberals are wondering, the economic statistics are great. how did the democrats lose on the economy. well, let me explain. let's go to rural america where the economy is not, and where wagers are soft. and i had howard schultz on, c.e.o. of starbucks. i think having-- i think now the role of the sunday show sometimes needs to also be to bring other people into the washington conversation
so that washington people can understand what's going on in the rest of the world. >> i means that's what we try to do. >> this is what you do a great job at. be pr like charlie rose, that is the mantra. >> rose: right, right. there is this too. the trayvon martin experience was a turning point for obama. >> uh-huh. he had avoided race discussions. >> rose: after having dealt with it in his campaign. >> dealt with it a little bit in his campaign. they really almost ran from it sometimes. i think he views-- he found his voice on race, on what his job was on the race issue during the trayvon martin thing. because he was able to be, i think he personalized it i think he vahs his role on these race discussions now as a calming voice toafter kwan americans, and as an interpreter to white americans.
and letting, you know, having basically saying, you know, he's a man in both worlds. he has one foot in both worlds, half black, half while. he is in a unique position to be that. i think he saw that that is, i don't know if the country is mature enough to have race conversations right now. i don't know if we are, but i think on these specific topics he found a new voice. >> rose: you don't know if the country is mature enough to have a conversation about race. >> our politics are. i think the country is. i mean our political system. because we turn it so quickly. look at the way media-- oh pie god, ferguson. it becomes, its he so easy. and i-- i say we, look in the mirror. >> rose: your response and mine is to do as much as we can in a sense to engage that. that's not the politics but it is. >> i think we need to do more it of. look, race, you can't say race hasn't had some impact on the president. and i think that that's part of a conversation.
>> rose: what do you think she will do? mrs. obama. >> well, you know, it's funny. i think about this as a-- you know, she sacrificed her career for his career. it's not-- no, an that's-- she had a successful career. >> rose: she hasn't forgotten it. >> i don't know. look, i'm not going to try to get into that. but he is very sensitive to her needs. he is well aware that she sacrificed a lot. i know people are going to say, it is no sacrifice being first lady. it's different. i think-- i think-- look, she's to the going to be a political activist. i do think she is going to be a philanthropic activist. >> rose: she has-- i agree. it won't be going back to a law firm. >> no. >> rose: but i think-- i think the white house has brought them closer together. literally closer together because you are in the white house. they are living in the same place. >> he loves to talk about that. about the story. it's funny, about that vi o clock to 9:00 that is the very sacred time to him-- 6
to 9:00. that time with his family. and look, i think, i say this as a-- i think all sons in particular, you want to correct the mistakes of your father. his father wasn't there for him. he's going to make sure he's always there. you just, i think, i do things that way myself the way i raise my kids. it goes back to winston churchill. >> of course. but that time period is actually another important time period where he doesn't do the washington political scene. and that's always been a challenge. >> rose: and at the same time, though, that is when he becomes, that's also sol father time after that when the family goes to bed. >> he stays up, that's when he reads. >> rose: watches whatever he watches. and goes on-line. >> he's a big, he is our first internet president. because he does read on-line. >> rose: tell me about what you have learned about barack obama and war in the middle east. and the gulf. >> so i spend a lot of time in the book on afghanistan and the debate that was had
inside his administration on the afghan tan surge and the number of troops that was necessary and how many should he send over there and how long should it be. he of course eventually sent over a big chunk. 140,000, if you add in the nato troops. so basically the original. >> rose: that would be-- its surge early in his administration. >> right. >> rose: had will there be a surge. >> i hope to get him in a priv at moment after the presidency is moment and ask him. do you believe the surge was necessary and successful. i hear so many people around him tell me how he looks at the surge and yes, it did its job. and you certainly had to deal with the elections at the time. and they were looking for some stability. but did you need all of that? did you need all of those troops. and i tell you, it left some scar tissue with him. with the pentagon. he felt as if the expect gone, every time he wanted an alternative strategy, they come back with just another request for troops. >> rose: he asked for options and they were no
options. >> we got three options, 120,000 troops, 130,000 or 140,000. he wanted a different option. biden would be the one guy, he would be the one guy saying hey, what about a small foot print counterterrorism strategy that, you talked about 25,000 troops. and he was-- what i don't know the full answer to was he doing that as a-- as to help the president have another voice in the room or was that his position that something i think we'll never fully know. but it left scar tissue. and i think that the president is to you convinced, all of those troops were not necessary in afghanistan. i don't think he believes afghanistan would be any better today with-- than if they did 20,000 troops versus 140. and that's why he's been-- s this's why everything has been so others are hushing-- pushing hem to sen more troops. i done think-- i think he absolutely believes that. >> there are those also who
believe that they don't know who says no to him. >> there are times buyen has had that role. biden has that comfort level. you know, it's funny about bidenment i think he is sort of-- he is sort of the rodney danger field of the administration. he gets no respect. but the president values his advice more sometimes than the staff does. it's been-- he is an interesting role. and i think that biden has some ability to till the president things he doesn't want to hear. i think that's what you are asking. who tells him what he doesn't want to hear. >> does valerie tell him? >> oh, boy, there the debate about valerie. i think, i think she definitely protects him. i-- she doesn't stand in the way of people people telling him no. i think the issue with valerie is do presidents need a first friend in the west wing? if you believe that they do,
then that's an important role. and the president-- . >> a first friend isn't necessary about policy, it's -- >> about somebody that you feel like knows you since before. the president values val ree for a number of reasons but one big one is i think he believes that valley is somebody that the first lady trusts, and knows, and is comfortable with in the administration so that when she has questions, she feels like valley is there. so i think that that is where, that's why while there are other aide that have not liked val ree and tried to push her out, that's why it never happened. >> rose: here is the book you sudden read, the stranger barack obama. barack obama in the white house, chuck todd, moderator of "meet the press" thank you. good to have you. >> nice to be here. >> charlie, the united states and china chrunded an historic agreement this week. agreeing to cut back on greenhouse emissions. the chief negotiator for the united states and counselors
for the president was john podesta who also once was bill clinton's chief of staff. we are pleased to have you here today, john. >> great to be with you. >> tell us a little bit about how this deal finally emerged. >> the deal didn't finally close until monday night. and its president saw president xi jinping on tuesday night. and they kind of sealed the deal at that time. but by then we had had a text that both sides agreed to. and of course it was announced on wednesday. >> when you pet ins about ton with secretary kerry at that restaurant overlooking the boston harbor, did you get a sense then that they really wanted a deal seriously? ness well, before that lunch, at the u.n. climate summit in new york, in the previous month, the executive vice premier of the chinese government came and represented china at that summit. there was a private meeting between president obama
and-- and at that time they, the chinese side indicated that they would like to take the united states up on its offer to do a joint announcement of our post 2020 climate targets. the post 2020 period being important because that's what is really being negotiated in the international negotiations which will come in paris next year, about a year from now. and that we thought the united states thought that if the u.s. and china could come to an agreement, that we would both announce our national commitments in that process. but do it together on the same stage at the same time. fapd both sides were ambitious, that would really galvanize those talks, and you know, get other countries to step forward with ambitious agreements to really tackle the climate challenge. and so that has been in the
works for really the better part of this year. i met with my chinese counterparts this summer at the sned. the president met with john goldi. they got an indication they wanted to go forward. we had an important meeting with senator kerry ins about boston and then i went back to china. and we arm wrestled for a week. didn't reach agreement. but we came back to the united states. we made some final offers about the language that would go into the agreement. and then monday night we settled on it. >> how ambitious is this agreement. >> i think it's quite ambitious. >> you really do. >> yeah, i think on both sides, actually. the chinese side has said that it would speak around 20, 30 but try to do it earlier. and every senior is chinese official we met through the president said this at the would try to go earlier. we think they can go earlier than that.
but i think as significant was the other number in that agreement which is that they have committed to build 20% of their electricity sector with clean, either renewable or nuclear energy, zero carbon energy. that is a huge amount to give you some sense of the scale of that. it's about 900 gigawatts of new electricity from renewable sources. that's equivalent to what they burn today using coal firepower. >> they build a new china. >> they're building a new china through renewable and nuclear power. so that is a very, very significant commitment to clean po wir and i think every single person i met with, the president met with, up and through every member and leader in the chinese government has made that commitment. >> john, some skeptics worry about how permanent this may be, ephemeral.
they say the chinese could abrogate it. more over they might have done what they decide to do in 2030 anyway and the next u.s. president could undo what barack obama has done. >> skeptics, you know, all the time but let me say a couple things about china and then about the u.s. i think that china does not take these understaking-- undertaking os or commitments lightly. they don't announce them easily. so it's hard to sort of pulling teeth to get them to come this far. but once they make those commitments, the standing committee has to improve these targets of the chinese communist part. they will be put into law in china. and the commitment they made at copenhagen to increase the so-called carbon, to reduce the carbon intensity of their economy by 40 to 45% by 2020, they are on
tract to both meet and probably exceed. so i think again, it's hard to get them to make commitments. but once they make them they are pretty good at keeping them. and obviously, unlike our system, once the leadership in china decides they're going to do something they do it. >> in the u.s. situation. >> in the u.s., i think look, it's going to need-- it's going to need a president to follow president obama who is committed to tackling the climate challenge. but we built our number and very substantial reductions around authority we already have. and that already exist bylaws already passed by congress. principally the clean air act. but other laws that will help us increase the efficiency of appliances and, you know, the building sector that the department of energy controls. we have done a massive amount of work on transportation efficiency both by increasing fuel economy for cars and light
duty trucks app heave duty trucks. so that is already taking-- it's saving consumers money. it's increasing innovation in all those sectors. we've trimmed the amount of wind power in the united states since obama came into office. solar pober has gone up by more than a factor of ten. so this is setting off a cycle of real innovation and investment in america. so we can meet it as long as the next president doesn't reverse course. and throw the car into reverse. >> let me get you to discuss two more complaints. mitch mcconnell, the senate republican leader says it's a bad deal. china doesn't have to do anything, reallying until 2030. >> well, these guys say we're not scientists, evidently they're in the economists or they don't-- they can't make observations. if you were going to produce that much new clean power, zero carbon power from renewables and nuclear, you can't start in 2030.
and finish the job in a year. >> that is a boggus charge. >> that is a totally boggus charge. and i think they know it. i think they, like i said, they claim not to be scientists but i think they could at least observe the basic facts about an economy. that if you are going to begin to make those kinds of very substantial investments, that is really the equivalent of either producinging a nuclear power plant a week or putting 200,000 rooftop solar installations on a week, then you know you can't get started. like you got to do it right now. it's going to be in their five year plan, we'll be able to observe it. if they're not making those marks we'll know it and know it early. i think it's just one more excuse to do nothing. which the republican leadership in both husband and senate have been noted for on this issue of climate change. it's a very substantial threat to the american economy, to american security. and we got to get on with doing the job.
>> and john boehner, speaker of the house says this will be a job killer. >> far from it. i think it will be a job creator. because we're going to be investing in the industries of the future. building, building out our own clean tech sector. it's one of the-- one of the sectors in the economy that actually did well even during the recession. and so i think it is again, they talk down the economy, they talk down american innovation. i don't really get it they're supposed to be probusiness. well, businesses in this country are producing the new technology, levels of innovation. we've driven solar costs down by 75% just since president obama he been in office. i have already mentioned the transportation sector. america no-how, technology and the science enterprise can produce substantial benefits for the american people, from the public health perspective, for dealing with the extreme costs of climate change. and they'll do it wile building a great economy. >> john, but to achieve the
objectives, the targets, you have to continue with what you have been talking about. and as you know, elections have consequences. the republicans won big, just a week or so ago. and they say one of their properties will be to defund the epa regulations to scale back on greenhouse emissions. >> yeah, well, we got the pub look on our side on that regard. even republicans think that climate change is real and they want to invest in these new cleaner technologies. but pore broadly, the american public stands with two-third mass jority in favor of what we're trying to do. but it doesn't seem to translate to voters. in the recent election, it became an issue, only effective issue only when republicans campaigned against excessive environmental regulations. it seemed to only cut that way despite those polls. >> i think the new democratic senator from michigan ran explicitly with support for taking -- >> so many --
>> you know, i think that if you look overall defect of this election, you know, one-third of the people voted. they elected republicans. its with a very good night for republicans and for conservatives in this country. but i don't think that was because they ran against clean air and public health. >> no i don't either. i just wonder if there is a disconnect between what you rightfully say, support for climate change and how it translates to voters. >> i think we'll see that play out in 2016. you know, right now you have most of the people who are thinking about running for president on the republican side saying that, you know, they don't believe in the science. they are not scientists. they don't think climate change is happening. they're not sure it is caused by human action through the burning of fossil fuels. so you know, yeah, that side
of the line. and then i think on the democratic side, whoever runs is going to be a person who is going to champion cleaner air and better public health for our kids and dealing with climate change is so will you have the issue joined. and i think that if republican candidate runs as climate deny never 2016, the public will reject that and right now, most of the people who are out there are, you know, not all of them. jeb bush, for example, recognized that economy change is happening. -- climate change is happening. maybe because when he walks on the streets of miami on a sunny day there is stillwater coming up on the streets. but there will be a few, perhaps, individuals on the republican side who will say that we got to do something about this. senator mccain did in 2008. but for the most part, they're trying to deny the science,you know, ignore the science. hide the science. but i think that's going to be a losing issue with the american public. >> another issue is the
keystone pipeline. you have opposed it. but you recused yourself when you went into the white house. congress is going to pass it and send it to the president next week, bipartisan support for it. the president has said that he thin the effects are exaggerated on both sides. he doesn't believe it will create the jobs that supporters say, nor will it do the environmental damage the critics worry about. that being the case, in this new climate with the election, wouldn't it be better just to say fine, i'll toss the republicans this one? >> well, i by the-- think the president spec to that while he was in asia. he said we ought to complete the analysis which seems sort of sensible to me. and the court in nebraska has the case in front of it which which raises the questions of routing in fairly sensitive environmental areas in nebraska. they will complete that decision. the state department can complete its environmental analysis and then make a
decision about whether it does or doesn't have a substantial affect on the climate. which is the standard the president has put out. >> but that means when it gets to his desk in a week or two he will veto it. >> in the past the senior advisors as you noted, i don't work on it but the senior advisors recommended a veto until those-- until those studies are completed. and we know really what the environmenta impact of building that pipe-line to bring canadian oil to gulf coast refineries so it can be exported to the world, is doing. till then, i think the better part of wisdom would be let the court conclude its deliberations. make a decision. and the president will make a decision on america. >> you've been very immersed in the china talks, climate change. but your port pot is broader than that. so let me ask you about immigration. the president has clearly indicated he plans to take executive action on immigration which would enable five million undocumented immigrants who are here to escape the
threat of deportation. some get work permits. republicans say that will poison the well for immigration or anything else. is that a concern? >> well, you know, i think it's an irresponsible position on their part to say that any one issue is going to block action on all other issues. i think the president was very clear with speaker boehner-of-speaker boehner said give me time. don't attack me. let me try to get this done in the republican house. comprehensive immigration reform already passed the senate. and we gave them time. the president didn't criticize them. the president told them, though, if you can't get anything done, i have authority to make this system better, to allocate our resources against a real problems, border security, deporting criminals. >> do i think it will hurt him? i think he has a responsibility to take action to improve the system. he told the speaker that
earlier this year, that if you can't act, i'm going to act by the end of the year. and if he does act, the i think the house and senate have-- they have a resource which is if they think they've got better ideas for presencive im gration reform, they ought to go to work, pass a bill. if it's agreeable to the president, the president will sign that bill and it will supersede whatever he does. >> john as we noted earlier, you were chief of staff to bill clinton. a number of congressional democrats lately, particularly since the election, have complained about the way they are treated or their relations with the obama white house. harry reid's chief of staff went public, presumably reflecting the leaders' point of view saying how bad relations were with the white house. i'm going to ask you, how different was it in the clinton years versus this as far as congress is concerned. and is this a fair rap and what can be done about it.
>> well, he did get impeached. >> that's true. >> but even after that we found a way and the republicans came back. and we got some things done in the last couple of years. and i hope that the republicans once again, once they stop holding their breath and turning blue over executive action on immigration reform, will come back and find places where we can work together on manufacturing, on exports, on trade, on a corporate tax reform bill that can be used to fund a massive investment in infrastructure. >> -- better in congress than the obama white house does? >> i think we had our difficulties, particularly with the republicans. and i think with the democrats, i think they were licking their wounds from a bad election, you know, so i think, you know, we have good relationships with the leader. and with the members. i talked to democratic members, as well as republican members. and i think we try to be
respectful and keep the lines of communications open. and hopefully we can get some stuff done in the lame duck from funding for ebola to a new aumf or what is going on in the middle east to passing a budget without a lot of threats to shut the government down as i saw in the paper this morning. >> john, everyone that i talk to seems, in clinton land, tells me that they are sure that you are going to be joining the clinton campaigns, such as it is, early next year to be chairman. they play a top role as hillary clinton plans whether to run. >> is that right? >> well, i said when i came to the white house a year ago that i would stay for a year and i tend to keep that time line. i'm going to probably, you know, might stay a little longer through the state of the union. but then i'm going to return to my prior life, if she runs as i hope she will, i will do whatever she asks me to do. but right now she hasn't made a decision to run.
and so i'm expecting her to return to what i was doing before which is teaching law at georgetown law school. >> have you had any conversations. >> working at a think tank. >> have you had any conversation with her about any role you might play. >> i talk to her from time to time. >> so you have had conversations. >> she hasn't made a decision, so she structured -- >> way take that as maybe look for john podesta maybe in february or march. >> maybe i will be going door-to-door. >> john podesta, thank you so much some of. >> for more about this program and early episodes visit us on-line at pbs.org and charlie rose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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