Skip to main content

tv   Charlie Rose  Bloomberg  February 18, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm EST

10:00 pm
10:01 pm
♪ >> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." >> we have got to do a better job of getting across that america is freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of religion,
10:02 pm
freedom of enterprise, and freedom is special and rare. it is fragile. it needs protection. >> on this presidents' day, we celebrate george washington's birthday and u.s. presidents past and present. here are some enduring words from our country's leaders through history. >> the great, fundamental issue now before us, are the american people fit to govern themselves, to rule themselves, to control themselves? i believe they are. my opponents do not. >> well, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. >> and so, my fellow americans, ask not what your country can do for you. ask what you can do for your country. >> now, our generation of americans has been called on to
10:03 pm
continue the unending search for justice within our own borders. >> there is nothing wrong with america that cannot be cured by what is right with america. >> there is not a liberal america and a conservative america. there is the united states of america. there is not a black america and a white america, a latino america, an asian america. there is the united states of america. >> let me begin by introducing you to a distinguished group of historians. kenneth mack is a professor of law at harvard. he is the author of "representing the race: the creation of the civil rights lawyer." jon meacham is executive editor and vice president of random house. he is the author of "thomas jefferson: the art of power" and
10:04 pm
other books. robert caro, the author of "the passage of power," the fourth volume of his series "the years of lyndon johnson," and michael beschloss, the author of "presidential courage: brave leaders and how they changed america" and other books. doris kearns goodwin will join us later in the program from san francisco. she is the author of "the bully pulpit: theodore roosevelt, william howard taft, and the golden age of journalism" and other books. i am pleased to have all of them here as we talk about the presidency, who has inhabited that office, what it means, what it takes, what is the toll, and how do we measure greatness? i begin with michael beschloss. what kind of person is attracted to the presidency? >> nowadays, it is a shrinking number and someone who is willing to go through, in many ways, a torturous experience that was not the case for most of american histories. the first thing i think to say is we are not opening this office to as many people who would be great presidents as we used to earlier. you know, it is now 24 hours a day. you are expected to be on all the time. john kennedy, in the summer of 1961, was on vacation at
10:05 pm
hyannisport. the berlin wall went up. there was an inquiry at the press office, you know, about what does the president think about the berlin wall going up in spite of the fact americans said that it would not happen. a week was allowed to go by before kennedy had to give a response to that. now you are on 24 hours a day. you have to have responses to almost everything. it just takes a very different kind of personality from what it used to. >> jon, what do you think? you were just working on a book on george bush 41, thomas jefferson, andrew jackson, and others. >> i think that to state that ambitious people want to be president is at the risk of being totally obvious. >> that was always true. >> always. i think that there is always a spectrum with the people we have written about. they require -- they have appetites for the affection and respect of other people.
10:06 pm
the basic unit of commerce in politics is i want to make you trust me just enough to get a vote so that i have your proxy until the next election or until the next issue, so it's -- everything is transactional, and i think that takes a toll on people. if you are even a remotely normal human being, having every exchange in your life be transactional is debilitating in some ways. some people find it enervating. i think bill clinton finds it quite thrilling. >> would go back in a second. >> and lyndon johnson probably did. >> and they even did not feel alive unless they were doing it. >> so i think there has to be people who i would argue are missing something that the public arena fills. >> it is very different, obviously, with each president. you think of richard nixon, a very private man essentially. bill clinton, a very public person. >> well, there is a great
10:07 pm
dissertation to be done or perhaps has already been done on why introverts do as well as they do in american politics. you think recently, you have richard nixon, jimmy carter -- >> what about woodrow wilson? >> president obama. >> wilson was more of a missionary too, driven by his zeal. >> someone also once said that anyone who wants to be president and is prepared to go through what it takes to be president is not qualified to be president. [laughter] >> right. >> bob, what do you think in terms of one man who lived with a giant ambition to be president? >> well, you know, lyndon johnson, sort of asked questions himself. three nights after he became president after kennedy's assassination, his advisers were writing his first speech, and they advised him not to take on civil rights because it was a lost cause, a noble cause but a lost cause. you know what he said? he said, "what the hell is the presidency for then?" you know? and he took on that cause. so i think you have, you know, basically there is a spectrum. you have some presidents who want to be president so they can say they were president.
10:08 pm
you have some presidents who want to change the world. and i think in the last 100 years, we have seen that whole range of presidents. >> exactly right. because for some people, it is just the next step in their ambition. >> but the ambition cannot be entirely on display. i once in public -- i said something about lyndon johnson wanting to always be president, which i got to some extent from bob's great biography, and i saw the lady bird johnson not long after that, and she said, "you're absolutely wrong. he never wanted to be president." she knew that was not true, but so much -- that is what you do. you are ambitious as hell, but at the same time, you have got to deny it. >> somebody else once said, "every senator gets up in the morning and looks in the mirror and sees a president." you knew someone at an early age, barack obama, as a student at harvard law school. did anybody in the class say, "among us is a future president"? >> no one said, "among us is a future president," but many
10:09 pm
people said, "among us is a future public figure." you could see it. >> what could you see? >> you could see his effect on people. it was very different than other people. harvard law school is a very competitive place, bright individuals, ambitious individuals, individuals with large personalities, but there was something different about obama, and everybody could see it. >> but could you define what was different about him? >> people listened to him. >> he listened to them. >> he listened to them, and he had a way of restating their own views and restating the views of their opponents and bringing people together, but he also had a way of seeming i think wiser than others. >> wiser but not necessarily smarter? >> yes, both, but more wise than smart. >> and he was older, at least the impression was that he was older. >> the impression was, because he was only two years older than i was and most of us, but he
10:10 pm
seemed 10 years older, and that is the way in which he was regarded. >> i have spoken to people who say that maybe that was because he gave off a sense of leadership. this was true about bill bradley, writing about bill clinton at an early age, that there was a person that the sensibilities of being president if he wants to, but no one said, not just that he has the ability, but that he wants it. >> it was hard to know for him what he wanted. it was hard for anyone to know what he wanted. he wanted to go back to chicago, and he wanted to be a public figure. beyond that -- >> a little bit too much. >> with lyndon johnson, he told everybody. i am going to be president of the united states. he was working on that at the age of 16 or 17, and breaking for lunch, in the texas hill country, this band of seven guys
10:11 pm
building the road, and he would say, i am going to be president of the united states someday. >> there is also a sense of people who have a great need for affection. i think doris said about lyndon johnson, at one point, his lyrical ideas were a sense of love. >> i think that is really right. you see the vietnam criticism, and you see how incredible sensitivity is. you listen to the tapes. they criticize me for listing my beagles up by the ears. they do not understand it does not hurt them. he talks to the prime minister, and he says, "you know what they are on me for? lifting my dog up by the ears," so every criticism hurts. >> and that is a perennial force, because over 100 years before, thomas jefferson was as anguished over criticism as any
10:12 pm
modern president, and it was as vicious if not more so. and i totally agree with michael about the 24-hour cycle. it is also true that the rapidity of communications then seemed rapid because there had not been newspapers before, so the institutional part of newspapers were, it in fact, and advance at that time. >> what can you say about -- you take george bush 41. he had a great resume for being a president. war hero, leader of the party, vice president, congressman. un ambassador rice. i mean, that is like a resume -- >> he was the first sitting vice president since martin van buren to succeed president, and he
10:13 pm
actually said when he won, sorry, marty, we broke the curse. he is, in fact, the only man to address martin van buren as marty. it is true. but i think george herbert walker bush in many ways embodies what we are talking about. deeply competitive. his mother expected them to climb all of the trees in the yard and grow in greenwich, and that was the expectation. >> you could not not do it. >> you could not not do it, so he was driven at once by this ambition to do well, but then not to talk about it and get not to talk about himself, so he had this somewhat dissonant tradition banging around in his head, which was to be number one, but when you get to be number one, don't tell anyone
10:14 pm
you are number one. talk about the other guy, and i would argue that his charisma in many ways, which is often not a word we associate with george h w bush, he became president one thank you note at a time, one personal connection at a time, over that long. people. he only won three elections, two house races in houston, texas, and president of the united states. >> but he had 1000 friends read >> just endless, and that was his days. the bush base was personal. >> there is no particular training to be president. we saw president obama had difficult problems with the economy, which he wanted to be a domestic president, it seems to me, but did not say most of his objectives in foreign policy. >> yes. >> and the previous president had a ton of experience, including cheney. >> one of the things facing the presidency is the unexpected.
10:15 pm
you do not know the context. when obama first came to prominence, it did not seem as though things that were going to face them were the things that actually did face him. no one knew that was going to happen when he began his campaign, but suddenly, he is president, and it is his job to solve it. >> the experience and different types of backgrounds, what qualities make a great president, from all of the presidents you guys have known or studied, what makes a great president? >> i would have to say compassion, because this is a country where it is not a country of complete justice. it is a country where there has been a large measure of injustice, which exists today, so you have a lyndon johnson
10:16 pm
saying, poverty, i grew up in poverty. i am going to make war on poverty. when he was a boy. you feel him saying, "i always wanted the ham and eggs sandwich, which was a dime, but i always took the egg sandwich. that was a nickel." saying the war on poverty, that is too strong, but he said he knew what his enemies were and that war was a way to destroy it, so it is important to understand what a country needs in terms of justice. i think that is really vital. you also need to know what it needs in terms of leadership. if you want to be president -- it is easy to enunciate, to make great speeches. it is a lot harder to fight for the things. i would say that is what differentiates and scales presidents. >> i think if there is one theme, i would argue, compare and contrast, great residents know how to make virtues of
10:17 pm
their vices. either intuitively or consciously aware. the bank war of the united states. andrew jackson is trying to destroy the second bank, and he vetoes the re-charter. the head of the bank goes to war with jackson, unwisely, and financial crisis is going on and unfolding in the country. jackson is seen as a crazy dualist, which he was, a virtue of being true, but he was hot tempered, and he was, and that is a personal vice. what does he do? a delegation comes into his office there on the second floor of the white house, and he pounds the table. he says, why did you come here for money? nicholas biddle has the money. go to him. >> and the moment the door
10:18 pm
shuts, he turns to his functional chief of staff and said, didn't we manage him well? he knew they thought he was a madman, so he laid that part to send them away fearful of him. he knew what he was doing, and i think throughout, people who make virtues of their vices -- franklin roosevelt was not the most straightforward of human beings. i never let my right hand know what the right is doing. it did not work out well in his marriage, but it worked out very well -- >> roosevelt, i think somebody else said about second-class intellect. but holmes said it first. >> that is right. i do not think many of us would disagree with that. one thing roosevelt had, to get to your question as well, psychological self-confidence, because if you have a person who becomes president, and everything that happens to him or her, it takes away from your
10:19 pm
sense of self and self-esteem or adds to it, then you are on a situational like nixon, where you are compelled to fight your enemies because you think they are enemies. almost like lbj in the late 1960's. there was his strength of feeling to escalate in vietnam having enough to do with not giving his enemies a victory, and that came from that sensitivity, so if you have someone like roosevelt and for all sorts of reasons was a very self-confident person, that is helpful. you also saw it with dwight eisenhower and with george h.w. bush, and i think that element you also see in president obama. i think he is not emotionally swept up in the personal consequences of every political battle. >> if you read any political profile, including the most recent, you see that temperament thing and patience and detachment. >> yes, and thinking in the long
10:20 pm
term. i mean, right now, we are having a debate about a bunch of things, gun control, immigration, and he is someone who thinks in the long term. he wants to get legislation out of congress this year, that he might not. maybe he can do it by administrative action. he is thinking it that way. >> he has the oar in the water, and everybody has to pass it off to someone else. in the beginning of a difficult second term, 2013 was a very tough year for the president, as he acknowledges. he is now getting to, this job is a lot different than i thought it was, and all you can do is take the handoff and put the oar in the water while you are there. is that the recognition? maybe people think there is more to do then you end up being able
10:21 pm
to do. >> sometimes, and sometimes it is the opposite. i would say with fdr, it is more of the opposite. somebody who was seen as a little bit of a dilettante before he was elected, and suddenly, he becomes this figure of world historical importance, so i think it is a matter of context. >> who is the most highly rated president who did not have a war or a great depression to define them? >> i would argue jackson. a two-term, non-war president. >> it would have the level of what? >> it would not surprise you that my view of jackson is precisely that. i would think near great. >> washington and lincoln. >> without slavery and the removal of native americans, besides saying, mrs. lincoln,
10:22 pm
how was the play? he was the architect of a kind of american populism that ultimately expand the definition of what it meant to be american. >> you look at the great presidents in lincoln, washington, fdr, and they all had a war. >> eisenhower -- also, this is what historians should do, and we do not do it enough, which is to give ready to presidents who prevent crises as much as those who meet them. in retrospect, we now know something we could not have known at the time. we did not have the hindsight or the sources at the time, which is on about three occasions, eisenhower prevented wars in vietnam, as collations in korea, even a nuclear confrontation a few times, but that is something people did not know at the time and could not credit. truman was the author of the
10:23 pm
korean war, which we do not look well on, and history does not account well for him. luckily for him, we always look at it in a larger sense. some say what is more important to know about truman and national security is that this is the god who was architect of a strategy that led about 12 presidents to win the cold war under george bush 41. we knew what the policies were in 1953, but here we are 61 years later, and we know with total hindsight that america one. >> the thing not to be denied, the military. >> desegregation of the military, appoints the civil rights commission, ambiguous about excepting its recommendations, but he is the first president to come out openly for civil rights. fdr -- >> the anti-lynching bill. >> yes, he would not have
10:24 pm
supported the anti-lynching bill. he supported civil rights. >> despite a confederate mother who refused to sleep in lincoln's bed when she came to the white house. >> and truman also gave one of the great definitions of the presidency. he left notes of other presidents, and one was, when he was talking about jackson, he said jackson looked after the little guy who has no pull, and that is what the president is supposed to do, looking after the little guy who has no pull. >> just what it says about the office and about them, ronald reagan. >> ronald reagan, in retrospect, i think we have to say that if ronald reagan were not resident in the 1980's, the cold war would not have ended when it did, and it certainly would not have ended under those circumstances, a circumstance that only harry truman harry truman could only dream of. and that it's back to what i was
10:25 pm
saying about self-confidence. reagan was -- we were talking about introverts. he did not seem that way, one of the most introverted people to become resident, but he did not get emotionally engaged, so once he became president, he can say, a lot of people may think i am a war monger, and this is dangerous, but i think we can end the cold war in this generation. even in the republican party. yet, he had the self-confidence, but that kind of courage led him to succeed. >> you know, when reagan became president, everyone in new york had dinner parties and were making fun. they had been to the white house. so i was trying to write something about the state of the union speech. i had never seen a state of the union speech, so i got tickets to the gallery, and it is so dramatic. the supreme court justices come
10:26 pm
in, the ambassadors, the joint chiefs, and all of a sudden, they say, mr. president, the president of the united states, and this figure comes through the door with this air of command, and i said, everyone in new york has this guy wrong. >> he also benefited from being mis-underestimated by new york. >> when he first got elected. he said the best thing you can have is for your opponent to underestimate your abilities. >> and the other great skill, which we did not talk about, is his theatricality. he once said, people say how can you be an actor and do these jobs, and i do not know how you can not be an actor. >> he called it the role of a lifetime. >> the two greatest actors in america. not so important in the age when there was not television or even photography, but now there is,
10:27 pm
and that is one problem for a president like lbj has. lbj would have given anything to have that kind of presence and ability to give a speech. sometimes, like on voting rights in 1965 -- i remember watching lbj as a child. i was about nine years old, and it was a face that almost never moved. it reminded me of a cartoon character, and as johnson and others have shown, he sort of had it in his mind that he wanted to look almost like a 19th-century idea of a president. >> this president, barack obama, seeing the presidency today, in terms of a conversation with you -- i know he meets with historians, and that is one thing, but to be a friend -- >> i think he sees the presidency as an incredibly hard job.
10:28 pm
things that present obstacles that you just never anticipated. he did not anticipate he was going to have the kind of year he just had, but he had it, and he has got to respond, just kind of day today, and he set his clock, his equilibrium. i think that is how he sees it. it is just a series of unexpected crises that you have got to negotiate while at the same time thinking about your long-term object does and how do you make progress towards them. >> jimmy carter. courageous decisions having to do with camp david, having to do with the panama canal area he took on what many people said, wait until the second term. >> and i think we have to give carter credit for that, and as time goes on, i think we will. it is a little bit like what happened to john kennedy. in 1960 one, privately people said to kennedy, you should do civil rights and the nuclear
10:29 pm
test ban treaty, and thinking, i cannot do it until my second term. there are too many in servitudes from the south in the senate and the house, and by 1963, the political environment had changed and allowed him to do that. had that not had happened, he would have been assassinated in 1963 without two of his main accomplishments because he would have been dealing them until 1965. >> jimmy carter. let me come back to jimmy carter. jon? >> jimmy carter, remarkable victory, when you look back on it, the changing democratic party. >> for southerners to be president? >> for a generation, only southern baptists were elected as democratic presidents. north carolina. have we had a president from your crowd? >> is there any water? >> president carter, the classic
10:30 pm
thing to say, the post-presidency. >> he hates that. he thinks that is the biggest insult. you are the greatest post president in history. >> and he should. he was rationally responding to data, and i think that is something. and i think one of the things about president obama that makes me a little nervous is it is a rational response to find this incredibly difficult, nearly impossible job, but that is what you are paid for, and the great presidents are the ones who actually enjoy being president, and my own sense of president carter is that he did not enjoy the job. >> he did not enjoy politics. >> yes, which is a strange career choice when you think about it. >> this goes back to my initial inquiry. wars, we are talking about the presidency.
10:31 pm
how are you? >> i am good. >> you are in california, so we are catching you a little bit later, but we are talking about, before you arrived, the idea about what kind of qualities serve a president, what kind of experience serves a president, what kind of temperament serves the president, and who had these in the best combination. talk about this, because your most recent book is about theodore roosevelt and william howard taft. not taft, but what theodore roosevelt had, and his personality, that made him want to be the kind of president that he was. >> well, i think just to follow-up what was just said, i think he loved every moment of the presidency with every fiber of his being. he loved being in the center of action. his daughter alice said he would like to be at the funeral, the baby at the baptism, and the broad, but he said every day, he could not wait to go on the job.
10:32 pm
he loved connecting with people. on those train trips, and he would stop at stations, and they would give him all sorts of gifts, and he would say, i love this, and he would wave at people continually. in contrast, taft had almost every other polity. he was loyal. he was decent. he gave a reasonable explanation for what he did, but he did not love politics, and he felt nervous giving speeches, and when they were on trains, they had to remind him, go wave to the people now. it was not an instinctual thing. loving the presidency, it is such a tough job, but if you can't, like fdr, why would not everyone want to be president, then you are in trouble. and absolutely bill clinton. >> his last weeks in office, he said he literally slept as little as possible so he could have the maximum number of hours being president. >> and there is also this about president obama, the criticism that he does not do enough associating with members of
10:33 pm
congress and his own party, as well as the republican party. his argument has always been, i do enough of it, and you cannot convince me that one more dinner or playing one more round of golf with somebody would have made a difference in the vote that took place. >> yes, i am probably more in agreement with him on that one. putting in substantial effort to cultivate john boehner, and he did, and john boehner and he had a budget is agreement, and boehner goes back to his caucus and cannot sell them on it. >> the same thing with immigration reform. >> yes, so as much effort as he can put in, it is hard to identify being productive when the other side cannot bring its caucus along. >> i think the other thing you have to say, i think he would make this argument, although i have not heard him make it, is
10:34 pm
that the presidency has changed in the last 20 years, and i think in an important way, where before, about 20 years ago, presidents were pretty influential for most of their term. now, i am almost at the point where i think that unless you are a president probably in your first term and controlling both houses of congress, your time is going to be fairly grim, and if that is true, then probably being around members of congress and twisting arms in the lbj or fdr fashion might help at the edges, but it is not likely. ♪
10:35 pm
10:36 pm
>> who do you think grew in office more than any other president? >> i think the qualities are always there in the person who is really going to grow in office, so the attributes have been there all along. we just may not have seen them because they did not have as much as experience as someone else. think about lincoln. he became such an extraordinary president, and yet the internal qualities, the willingness to forget hurt, the willingness to
10:37 pm
talk to people, those had always been part of his temperament, but we had never seen it because he was only in the state legislature for one term in congress, so i am not sure a person changes. it is just that they have been given a platform. as you say, truman was a good man before this, and he got the chance, and he beckoned and answered the call. >> he had the power to answer decisions. he was not afraid of decisions. >> i remember once lbj told me that he envied truman's ability to make decisions and then go to sleep that night knowing he had made a decision that could be wrong, but he had known as much as he could about it when you made it, whereas he over and over again, as bob so well knows, would think about the decisions that he made and would not be able to sleep at night. >> and then when he had to face down macarthur. he understood the two could go
10:38 pm
no further. >> i would argue that the greatest example of a growth curve unfolded between the spring of 1961 and october 1962, when john kennedy comes in and ruins -- the bay of pigs is a disaster. and then he comes into october 1962 with the possibility of armageddon, and he had not really had a meeting during the bay of pigs, so what does he do in october 1962? he convenes the longest meeting, 17 days, and i think to go to doris's point, the essential characteristic of kennedy were there. on a larger stage, he managed to get us out of the crisis. >> and had he not -- when he came into the presidency, jon, he was absolutely right. they have more expertise than me, bay of pigs was a good idea, who am i to differ with that,
10:39 pm
and he was shown they can all be really stupid, so by the time of the cuban crisis and later, he felt my judgment is actually better, and so is my brother's body's, and threw the missile crisis, you can hear on the tape is one of the most horrifying things is the second kennedy walked out of the room having said we are going to do a blockade, you hear these joint chiefs saying this is munich, this is chamberlain, he is selling us out, and you did not have a president willing to stand up to suppose that expertise, we would have had a disaster, which brings us to what might have happened at the time of vietnam. >> one of the greatest lines is, gentlemen, let's take a break for dinner. >> the cubans shoot down an
10:40 pm
american plane, and the united states has said if they do this, we are going to invade, we are going to om, and someone comes in enhance a note to mcnamara, and mcnamara says, they shot down a plane, and you hear around the table, we said we were going to invade, we said we were going to bomb, and now we have to do it, and there is this wave of we have to do this, and kennedy says, gentlemen, let's take a break for dinner and come back and talk about the missiles and turkey. >> what kennedy had read not long before the missile crisis. it basically says a war can escalate quickly if you make mistakes, and that was on his mind all the time. it was his personal experience. it means if we are looking at a president -- >> barbara tuchman and ian fleming. >> you know what kennedy says? he says during the 1080 missile crisis, if we do something wrong, do you know what the name
10:41 pm
of my administration is going to be? the missiles of october. >> the difference between the day of pigs and the cuban missile crisis is the ability to acknowledge errors and learn from your mistakes, and he changed the whole decision-making structure before the cuban missile crisis, and, again, lincoln, after the bull run incident when the troops ran away and more out was down, he stayed up all night knowing he had to figure out what had gone wrong with military policy. if you can learn, you can, indeed, grow. as long as you have that human quality to acknowledge you screwed up, and i am going to learn from it. >> why did it take so long to fire mcclellan? >> that was one of his weakness is that with the other side of his strengths. he kept wanting to give them another chance, until finally he realized the only way he could prevent giving him another chance is to make a pledge to god and himself that if mcclellan did not do the troops
10:42 pm
by a certain time, he would fire him. >> he said, my father always told me. >> and then you try to cover that by saying he was only referring to something. >> one of the great political pictures, i think, of the 20th century is a picture of eisenhower and kennedy taken from behind at camp david, after the bay of pigs. kennedy, who had not been particularly warm of outgoing president eisenhower, called him to talk about things, and he asked the critical war college question, did you have people in the room talking pros and cons, and kennedy said, well, there was a meeting, but -- the homework, mr. president, kind of answer, and reaching out to his predecessor was kind of an acknowledgment. >> there was obama's decision to escalate the troops in
10:43 pm
afghanistan. that was widely reported. all of the meetings and all the contemplation, because he does not want to repeat the mistakes of george bush, so each president is learning from what his predecessor did, both the good and the bad. >> lyndon johnson, it was reported at the time that he was reading about the escalation in vietnam. >> why did johnson have such a hard time coming to grips with vietnam, when he was saying and expressing all of his private doubts to people like richard russell? >> you know, part of it is something that doris -- that he could not stand to admit defeat. he had to win. all of his life. they said, and as far as i know, this is a true statement, when
10:44 pm
he was senate majority leader, he never lost an important vote, because he would not call that vote until he knew he had the necessary votes to win. all of his life, had to be the winner. it is a part of this terrible insecurity, which when you talk about johnson, and you talk about all of these presidential qualities, what really hurts if you do not have that self-confidence, if you do not have that security, then what do you do? that is a big part of vietnam. the other part of vietnam is that lyndon johnson did not read a lot of books. for domestic policy, that does not hurt, and he was good with domestic policy. he could see what is going on. how do you learn about the 3000 year of vietnam and all of the invaders? how do you do that if you do not read books? >> and with reagan, doing a movie.
10:45 pm
>> even at one point, he was talking about lincoln. he says, you do not want to be like old abe lincoln, when he retired and went back to his home in springfield, missouri, human really says that he knew more, but he was the architect of one of the worst historical -- i would not make this up, charlie. let me finish just one thing. one thing more consequential, and that is that he used history in a pretty negatively consequential way, which is to say the metaphor for vietnam is munich. we have to stand up to the communist bloc. it is a test. one thing a president learns from history is what metaphors are accurate and which ones are not. >> it was not just him. it was a whole generation that was thinking that way, but it is heartbreaking to go back to those tapes when he is talking
10:46 pm
to russell at the beginning, and instinctively, he has nothing desiring making him go into this war, and you think about all of the talents that he brought, and i really do think historians 50 to 100 years from now we'll look at all of those achievements, civil rights, education, medicare, his ability to deal with congress, his passion for making this country a better place, for dealing with poverty, and it will be put side by side with the scar that will always be there, the scar of vietnam. i think of myself in that anti-vietnam war movement, hey, hey, lbj, how many kids did you kill today, and it is so much more complicated than that. >> really working on this last volume, mentioning my own book, a heartbreaking thing. >> everyone should read your books. >> thanks. >> it is really poignant to see
10:47 pm
this man struggling with things inside himself. the lack of security, this worrying about the criticism. i mean, imagine what it is like. imagine waking up -- imagine waking up and picking up "the new york times" or "the washington post" and wondering what it is going to say about you. >> just cancel the subscription, as one president did, of the tribune. i want to make sure in this conversation, we have mentioned all of the obvious presidents, foreign and domestic policy, and the evolution and intelligence and everything. are we missing somebody who was really, really good that we do not talk much about and that history will come later to? doris? >> clearly millard fillmore. i talk about a resident.
10:48 pm
>> did not ronald reagan like calvin coolidge a lot? >> he liked the fact that the budget was balanced. and the age of prosperity, so that one worked for him. i would probably put up james pohl. a lot of the territory that is now a part of the united states we would not have without him. in the same breath, and this gets into what we were saying about johnson, the two both sides, how did we get that territory? through a mexican-american war that was full of injustice and brutality. >> president obama and race. how has it affected his presidency? and his becoming president? >> well, i think both positively and negatively. >> that is what he says also. >> yes. without a doubt. to deny that race is still a large factor in perceptions of
10:49 pm
obama is to deny reality. people will deny objectively verifiable facts, like the fact that he was born in hawaii. there is something in him that raises the ire of certain blocks of americans. it is not just the fact that he is african-american. it is the name. it is that he is very much a world citizen. born in hawaii, lived in indonesia, spoke their native language in indonesia, goes back to hawaii, goes to chicago, invents himself really as an african american along the way. that is an uncomfortable story for americans to understand and to get their minds around. he confounds all of our stereotypes about race. >> a substantial minority of the country questions the legitimacy of becoming the president.
10:50 pm
it began with clinton and carried on with george w. bush and has carried on with president obama. >> it has almost become a standard weapon. >> and that is, for all the divisions of nixon, johnson, all of the way back to burr and hamilton, the legitimacy question feels new. it feels at least more urgent in recent years. >> i think it has got something to do with the media, with the partisan nature of the media, people contemplating their own little groups and not being willing to go over the side, but the animus towards our recent president, and you are right, there are swords or debates or duels act in the day, but there is something since clinton that is really scary, that if we cannot accept the person we have elected, given that chance to be president for a while, give him the chance, but not hate him, but we hate them now, and that is the scary thing with all of
10:51 pm
our recent presidents. >> there is no doubt that there are some folks who really dislike me because they do not like the idea of a black president, he said. but the flip side, there are some white folks or black folks who give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because i am black. >> both sides. >> that is the way of obama. he is both sides. race works in different ways, and people trying to sort this out, what is obama's electoral composition, and he turned out new voters in 2008, and that is how he got elected. they were very disproportionately black and very disproportionately young, and these are who he turns out. >> and, clearly, president obama had that notion of being the first african-american
10:52 pm
president, that this is about history. >> to go way back when harrison's grandson, benjamin harrison, was running, he did not want to have anything to do with his grandfather having been there, the song was, but then people song, ♪ and grandfathers hat was too big for his head, ♪ so we have that. >> this conversation. you do not talk that much about james buchanan. i would say something, since i did not like it, wasn't he the worst president? and my friend would say, have you forgotten about james buchanan? >> so as we close this down, i would like to go around and ask this question about the
10:53 pm
presidency. if you could give one quality to the next president, what would it be? if you could hope that he or she had that quality? >> get would be cuts. when you see a president saying, i am proud of the fact that when i left the presidency, i was as popular as i was when i came in, that is not -- that is not someone i would want to see as president. i would want to see someone who is not only willing to spend that capital -- >> president obama said that, and president bush said it also. i am here to do big things. i am not just here to fill the time. >> presidents learn from past presidents. obama thought of fdr and lbj and the abilities, the necessity to actually act boldly and act quickly, but i would actually say empathy. we are an incredibly divided country right now. the politics is gerrymandered. and at some point, this is what politics is about.
10:54 pm
it is about reconfiguring the landscape, and as the next president, they have to have that high on their agenda. >> will clinton wins that hands down. >> yes, and the question is, can hillary do it? >> doris? one trait? >> the ability to know your own strength and the ability to enjoy those strengths but at the same time to know those weaknesses and then to surround yourself with people who shore up your weaknesses, and then you get a team to run the nation. >> joy in the job. >> otherwise, it will wear you down. >> it will wear you down, and you will get tired. it has to be -- you have to enjoy this, and i think we want -- the way the office has developed over the last two quarter centuries, it is the point -- it is the vital center of action, as the phrase goes. >> i feel a desire to change the world and a willingness.
10:55 pm
>> thanks to you all. president's day. thank you for joining us. see you next time. ♪
10:56 pm
10:57 pm
10:58 pm
10:59 pm
11:00 pm
>> live from pier 3 in san francisco, welcome to "bloomberg west," where we cover the global technology and media companies that are reshaping our world. i'm emily chang. our focus is on innovation, technology, and the future of business. a few big stories we're following today. the new galaxy we are expecting later this month. we are getting new details of a bigger screen and a better battery. just how much better, we will talk about in the show. also, "house of cards" came out on friday.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on