tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg May 2, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT
announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: we begin this evening with our ongoing coverage of the middle east. vice president joe biden hiseled to iraq yesterday, first trip to the country in five years. the surprise visit comes at a moment of vertical turmoil in baghdad where prime minister haider al-abadi is struggling to stay in office. it also raises concerns in the fight about isis. burns, aicholas professor at the harvard kennedy school, previously under secretary of state for political affairs. in new york, jonathan tepperman,
managing editor of "foreign affairs" magazine, and upcoming author of -- and author of the upcoming "the fix." o'hanlon, a senior fellow from the brookings institution. what's happening in iraq? is it of such concern that the vice president had to make a surprise visit? >> charlie, iraq is a country in deep political, economic, and military crisis. the fact that the vice president made his first trip in five years -- the fact that that follows on recent visits from secretary of state john kerry and secretary of carter shows the obama administration is acutely concerned about -- and secretary of defense ash carter shows the obama administration is acutely concerned. they have not been able to appoint cabinet ministers because the parliament disagrees. this is due to some of the
sectarian and political rivalries in the country. there is absolute gridlock in baghdad. the government grinding to a halt. second, the ongoing fight against the islamic, which still occupies most of -- occupies mosul, the second largest city in the country -- second, the ongoing fight against isil, which still occupies mosul, the second largest city in the country. third, i think a lot of iraqis perhapsn we left that they would be able to stitch together the elements of an economy with high oil prices. they are anywhere but high. they are in a' $30s and -- they are in the $30's and $40's. those of elements have all been negative for iraq. in a wider sense, you will remember colin powell citing the
pottery barn rule. if you break it, you own it. we took down the government. for a while, we literally occupied the country. we no longer occupy the country. so we have to have some sense of responsibility for what happens there. we were a big part of making iraq what it is today with all of its weaknesses and some of its strengths, and i think that's why the vice president felt he had to go there, to try to give solid political support to the prime minister and see what we can do to help them through a very tough time. charlie: where are the arabians in all of this? -- the iranians in all of this? nicholas: in my mind, the iranians are playing a very nefarious role. don't break up into three separate parts. the iranians are seeking advantage for themselves. they are promoting a shia-led iraq. they are not the friends of the kurds or the sunnis. i think they are a divisive force in this and they will continue to be divisive.
and -- has never left the scene. nicholas: he is the one who, as shiaeld leader -- a leader, could not get along with the kurdish and sunni leadership. he is still technically the vice president. he says he does not want to come back to power your a lot of people don't -- power. a lot of people don't believe him. has been leading street protests against him. the kurds have been talking about, if not full-fledged economy, independence. you have a country that is breaking apart at the seams. it is not in interest, i think, of the united states to promote a partition of iraq into two or three states. if we did that, it would be a major role of the dice. what would be the impact -- major roll of the dice.
what would be the impact on the syrians? what would be the impact on lebanon? these countries were put together a century ago by the british and french with the collapse of the ottoman empire. some of these borders are indeed artificial. but if you begin to partition these countries, i think it is leadtain if that will just to further warfare and furthered avenging -- division. charlie: -- jonathan: i think it's very interesting that this u.s. president, president obama, is much less interested, in domestic developments in these countries than say his predecessors. iraq, most of all. one of obama's big goals -- charlie: you mean about the nationbuilding and all of that? jonathan: all of that. one of his key priorities has been to get the united states out of iraq, yet there we are
again with 4000 troops on the ground. we had just sent apache helicopters and more special operations. we have had three of the top four u.s. officials visiting the country in the past month. what's the reason for this re-engagement with iraqi politics? it's all about isis. the purpose of biden strip is too short -- biden's trick is to tore up -- biden's trip is shore up iraqi politicians, to get them focused on fighting isis and not each other, and trying to make sure the battlefield gains are held. what we've seen over the last eight years and more, the iraqis, with american help, are pretty good at taking territory, but they are terrible at holding territory. whenever they do make gains, the governance -- and politics that follow are terrible. .ectarian tensions intensify
shiite militias, as they have taken sunni areas that from isis, have conducted ethnic cleansing -- taken sunni areas conductedisis, have ethnic cleansing. mosul is the next target in the campaign against isis, but it is multi-sectarian city. everybody wants mosul. one of the things the americans, i think, this administration is very frightened of, is that, once the campaign begins, everybody is going to rush in in uncoordinated fashion and try to take the city for themselves. charlie: michael o'hanlon, you have listened to what has been said. what is the danger right now to the dissension in iraq of being able to advance forward, coming at a time in which, my impression was, that the
president and ask carter were thinking -- and ash carter were thinking seriously about, how do we improve the campaign to retake mosul? you were to imagine partitioning iraq or syria formally into a separate country or two separate countries, you have essentially created a big sunni-arab ghetto with no substantial resources in either country. that's not where iraq's oil is, in these western and northwestern parts of iraq. it's not where syria's historical strengths of its great cities are. now you have a sunni-arab state that is economically destitute and dysfunctional. that can only be a recipe for more violence down the road. that's my practical reason against partition. i can still imagine confederation working through that gets to the mosul -- confederation working. that gets to the mosul question.
it has been held by the bad guys for a long time, so a lot of damage has been done. apew more months prison -- few more months resumable he won't change that much. after isis -- a few more months presumably won't change that much. i don't think we have a really good answer to this. we have been foundering between, should we help the iraqis create a national guard that could be locally recruited and stabilize a place like mosul, should we strengthen the police force, should we divide the city into quadrants. even our advice has not been consistent. i think the only realistic hope is to have these notions of confederation on the table, but to understand, whether it is confederation or the current arrangement, it's going to require collaboration among these groups. that means the united states has to be a big part of this.
we, for all of our flaws and historical mistakes, we are the only trusted, relatively neutral outside party. i commend president obama for recognizing he had to send forces back. i commend vice president biden for traveling there. we have to stay with this. charlie: in order to retake mosul and shut off the route to raqqa, we have to perhaps enhance the number of troops we have on the ground in iraq? you are saying, going back to iraq, perhaps that will be necessary to add more there if you want to stop the issues that are prevailing today? michael: right. i would consider adding more forces for the thumb pain more generally, i think we need a stronger long-term -- for the campaign. more generally, i think we need a stronger long-term -- low oil suffering from
prices. we ought to incentivize better behavior from iraqi politicians. to provide economic and security aide, offering to give them several hundred dollars more than we already are, maybe even up to a couple billion at this crucial juncture, not as a permanent entitlement, and make that conditional on good cooperation across sectarian lines. obviously, much easier to say than to do, but those are the kinds of tools i think we need in our arsenal. charlie: if the same question that has been here all along, -- it is the same question that has been here all along, since the united states left. nicholas: so much attention has been given to our military intervention. michael o'hanlon has put his finger on our political role. despite the fact that we have largely left militarily in 2011, we are back in now with special forces.
if the political influence of , as a meetingtes point, as a party that can bring together in conversation the sunni, shia, and kurdish leaders, which is very important in this equation. the second thing i think the administration is trying to do -- you see more activity now in syria. as to make sure we have a combined strategy for syria and -- is to make sure we have a combined strategy for syria and iraq. it will be difficult to see both countries reemerge as unitary nationstates. the battle against the islamic state has to take place in both countries. where seeing more american attention to iraq because we have more historic -- you are seeing more american attention to iraq because we have more historic influence there and, friendly, because we are more welcome to support the iraqi ankly, because we are more welcome there to
support the iraqi army. you have to watch the metastasis metastasization of the islamic state. this will be handed off by president obama and vice president biden to the next american president. it will be something that is with us for a long time to come. this will be a long conflict with the islamic state and a long effort to peace stuck together an independent syria and independent iraq. charlie: let me move to syria and aleppo. you had interviewed bashar al-assad. how strong is he today? his forces are trying to retake aleppo. crucial effort for them. we look at the human destruction, the effort -- the pictures every day. who is helping him? who is tired of the fight that is -- who is in charge of the fight taking place there now? whensad is stronger than i spoke to him and when you
spoke to him a few years ago. the russians have stepped in. the russians have supposedly ended or reduced their -- theynt, but very few have withdrawn very little of their agreement and material -- their equipment and material. their troops and, more importantly, their planes are still engaged. the last few days, reports from aleppo are that the rebel held mostlyre being hit, civilian areas, i should say, are being hit not just by helicopters and barrel bombs, which typically means aside forces, but -- means assad forces, but by fighter planes and missiles, which strongly suggests russian forces, not assad. charlie: will the cease-fire hold or not? are we looking at the unraveling of it? >> we are not even supposed to
call it a "cease-fire." di mistura, the u.s. representative, says the process -- the u.n. representative, says the process is still continuing. it is hard to imagine any good faith negotiation between the parties or any substantial negotiation between parties, because there is no good faith to begin with. werlie: michael and nick, have had some hope of u.s.-russian cooperation. at times, it has risen to a certain level. at times, it aims to fall back -- it seems to fall back. where does it stand in terms of the united states and russia doing something to bring about at least negotiations? >> the main hope for u.s.-russian collaboration is if we redefined the vision for what we are trying to call bush in syria -- trying to accomplish in syria. not a strong central government.
instead, the confederation. we were seeking the idea of partition, formal -- we were critiquing the idea of partition moment ago. the idea of autonomous zones and a central government allows assad to remain in one sector. create a new central government. assad is not in charge of that or the other autonomous sectors. then we can perhaps work towards a compromise. even that is not achievable right now, but i think that is the most practical thing over the next couple years. we cans: i'm not sure rely on the russian government here. i think secretary kerry was right to try diplomacy with certain lavrov and -- with lavr ov and putin. but the russians have lots of advisors on the ground with the iranian hezbollah forces assisting the syrian government. that has been the critical s.fference in boosting assad'
-- assad's forces. i don't know how many times we go back to the well and think the russians can assist in creating a diplomatic process. that has broken down several times. ssad government has not stopped its bombing activities. i think we are seeing an end to the dramatic process. -- to the diplomatic process. what should we do? this is about the most difficult problem in american foreign-policy right now. 7 million homeless inside the country, 5 million syrian refugees outside the country. we are the largest contributor efugee relief, in terms of dollars spent, and we should continue that. i don't think we should give up on the idea that, at some point, the united states, turkey, and the sunni arab states should create safe havens, no-fly zones, perhaps on the jordanian and turkish borders.
very difficult to do, but the consequence of not doing that might contribute to further erosion of the refugee crisis. i still think that we should be, of course, trying to support moderate syrian rebel groups, so that we have some weight and leverage when those political negotiations,. and i think, the next in ministration, whomever we elect, next, for one, hope -- the administration, whomever we elect, and i, for one, hope it is not going to be donald trump -- we should not want to leave this to the russians and the arabians. >-- the iranians. fromere is broad consensus outside of the united states and the political establishment -- secretary clinton supports the idea of safe havens or no-fly zones. the administration has shown no interest in that. obama reinforced that last week when he was speaking to germany's angela merkel. charlie: the difference between
the two of them is not as large as we thought. >> correct. but obama is determined not to do anything that is going to draw the united states deeper into the conflict in a way that it then cannot get out of, and he has consistently held that line and will, i think, continue to. that's why you see a small number of special forces being sent in, but not much more. charlie: thank you, jonathan, nick, michael. we will be right back. stay with us. ♪
charlie: moving from foreign policy to the economy, the recovery from the great recession is one area the president feels he does not get enough credit. that's the take away from andrew ross sorkin's cover story in this weekend's "new york times magazine." he's a friend of the program. everybody in journalism is jealous of you. andrew: no. they are jealous of you, charlie. charlie: you had a chance to talk about the economy. how did that come about? andrew: late last year, i started thinking somebody needs to do an assessment of the past eight years and obama's tenure as president, what's happened in the economy. i went to the white house and said, somebody should do this -- i should do this.
to do this, i needed to have an opportunity to spend some time with the president and really tried to get his thoughts and -- really try to get his thoughts and understandings of what worked and what didn't and what the challenges were. we hear from him all the time, but i don't think we get to really hear about the different now,ions throughout and looking back, how he felt about them. i thought the opportunity to educate the public was important and, happily, they agreed. charlie: here's what you say, "over a series of conversations on air force one, in the oval office, and in florida, obama answered with startling frankness." when i talked to him about looking at his legacy, he always says that saving the country from financial disaster was the most port and aspect of his presidency -- the most important aspect of his presidency and goes on to talk about health care and foreign-policy.
but it was, in fact, saving the economy. andrew: the great challenge for him today is, if you listen to all of the folks trying to get elected, or just about anybody else, you could be convinced that we are either living in some kind of great depression -- you will hear donald trump tell us we are in a third world nation. evencertain democrats, hillary clinton has made certain comments. bill clinton has made comments about the economy. that is in the context of wages. me to really measure the man's legacy and to measure this past eight years, the only way to do it meaningfully is to compare it both to history and to where we came from. and, to me, that is the missing piece. and it's very hard for people probably feel that. -- people palpably to feel that. nobody thinks of being -- life
ative like that. people complain. they have every right to complain -- charlie: and there was near panic. andrew: absolutely. literally. when i say panic, i don't want to suggest we were close to bread lines, but we could have been. yet i -- the idea what the other side of the cliff looked like, people don't think about that. i was talking to barney frank, and he was talking about this bumper sticker that was made for him in 2010, that could well be applied to obama. "without me, it would have suc ked worse." it's not a great slogan. it's very hard to sell. that's the great challenge the president has today. 15, 20, 30 years from now, people might appreciate it. charlie: hank paulson said, "i had the hardest time saying to people, 'it could have been
worse.'" andrew: and he deserves an enormous amount of credit for trying to stabilize things and setting so much of what ended up happening over the past eight years -- i give him an enormous amount of credit, too. charlie: an ben bernanke, too. -- and ben bernanke, too. here is what i learned from your peace among many things -- your piece, among other things. it was -- it turns out they got a lot more, in terms of most $1.2 trillion. trillion, actually. it wasn't just republicans who were against the original stimulus. there were democrats who did not want to go that large either. people forget there was a big move afoot, especially among republicans, to lower the debt.
they wanted to cut, cut, cut. you have these two very conflict and ideas taking -- there he conflicted ideas taking place -- conflictedery ideas taking place at the same time. .4 trillion is a lot more than people can conceive of. charlie: if you ask most people about the deficit, they think it has gotten worse. in fact, it has gone down. andrew: in truth come the deficit has absolutely gone down. -- in truth, the deficit has absolutely gone down. there is, of course, the issue that our overall debt has gone up, and that's the real issue. but at the same time, i had some but he sent me an e-mail that said, "-- i had somebody send me
an e-mail that said, "but what about the debt?" if we tried to make the debt not sure that unemployment would be where it is today. you think about all these things that took place under obama's tenure and their impact on the economy. there have been so many competing ideas that have never been put together. that's what we try to do in this. charlie: he also speaks about whileotion that unemployment is down to 5%, overall financial performance, the dow jones, has been way up, all of that, there are so many people who feel like they are left out and that it is not working for them. and when they look at statistics, they are right. andrew: there is empirical basis for the frustration in this country. in real dollars, the median american family today is about oorer than they
would have been when clinton left office. that's absolutely true. i thought this was the most insightful thing i heard the president tell me about. we were in florida at the time. his understanding and appreciation of the financial crisis, which we always go back to and we think about wall street, which as much about wall street as it was about unearthing and unmasking much larger structural problems in our economy than we ever imagined. maskedeffectively had been by all this debt. there were people who lost their jobs in manufacturing, but then they got jobs in construction because of all the debt and because of the housing boom. so, they didn't feel it. they didn't really see it. all of a sudden, we have this crisis. now we are dealing with much larger issues. we just started to stagnate -- 1979. that's a much larger challenge.
charlie: the year before ronald reagan came into office. andrew: and people forget about this stuff. again, you have to put it in historical context. you have to put it in historical context. charlie: he says that he feels he does not communicate well. andrew: part of me agrees with him. is not known as a great communicator who can give inspiring speeches to hundreds of thousands of people. andrew: there are two mitigating factors. he had a hard time in 2009 and two dozen 10 telling the 2010can -- in 2009 and telling americans how terrible it was. it is a self-leveling prophecy. if he comes up -- self
fulfilling prophecy. if he comes out and says, the world is going to hell in a handbasket, it goes quicker. people have said over and over again, it is a copout. the idea that somehow he wasn't able to communicate it suggests that the american people were stupid. charlie: there is another idea. the business community, there was a great disconnect. if i hadays to you, not got into politics, i would have gone into business. andrew: most people probably would not create that now. like aks probably more venture capitalist. he would like to do a startup, i secretly wonder, when he leaves think it is possible. disconnecty the
between him and business? it includes silicon valley and a lot of sectors of the economy. andrew: early on, he made a political choice which is that he felt he needed to be committed -- critical of the business community. he absolutely did publicly. let's separate the business community from wall street. andrew: correct, but they often get conflated. people say, he hurt their feelings. he laughs about it at one point, croft,ed to steve talked about the hedge fund managers and called them fat cats, and one of their sons came home and said, daddy, are you a fat cat? doot of people say, boo hoo, we need to worry about their feelings? i do think there was a period of time -- despite all of the
complaining -- he would argue it is ideology. a tax story. charlie: here is a quote from a hedge fund manager who wrote a hedge fund -- a letter to obama saying, "the divisive tone of your rhetoric is creating a widening gulf, as much visceral as philosophical, between the downtrodden and those best decisions to help them. it is a golf it is counterproductive and freighted with dangerous historical precedent." that is harsh language. andrew: as you discuss class warfare, and the 99%, in the 1%, -- charlie: and the support for bernie sanders. andrew: you see it. it is absolutely real.
-- argue that he got these sides together. andrew what is the sorkin solution? andrew: i think we will look back at the context and say better -- we have done better than we almost deserved to. people will say, this guy is crazy to say this. there are parts of america -- there are some really -- there are places struggling. it has influenced the political debate of this campaign season. andrew: absolutely. charlie: the frustration has been tapped into by trump on the one hand and centers on the other. andrew: i like to say there are two american dreams. the mark zuckerberg american dream is alive and well. anyone can go from something and shoot the moon. charlie: and be worth $50
billion at 30. andrew: there is the other american dream which is the leave it to beaver american dream, if you try hard enough, it will work out. you'll get a job, a spouse, two kids, and a dog. that is what is challenged today. there are much larger global forces at stake. it's hard to say that one man, -- life is relative and the world is relative. automation, you talk a lot about technology on this show. there are a lot of things that make this a top job. charlie: because i like being in the company of andrew ross sorkin, here is what the president said to me in germany when he made a big speech about some of these themes, globalization, frustration, the fact that sometimes there is a turn to nationalistic politics. here is the president in hanover
talking about that subject. my thanks to andrew ross sorkin. read him in the magazine this weekend. pres. obama: the politics of it are tough and the reason is because the benefits of trade have often been diffuse. even well structured trade agreements create some destructions. it may be good for 90% of the economy. it may create all caps of jobs and export opportunities -- all types of jobs, and export opportunities, but people don't see it very much. the everett person working for a company that exports does not necessarily know that they are exporting. they know they are making a great product. if u.s. consumers benefit from lower cost goods that improve the quality of life and keep inflation down, that is not something they know. often times, if the plant has closed because of automation, as
opposed to trade, it is hard to make that distinction. part of our job is not to dismiss concerns about globalization. they are real and legitimate. et is to argue, how do we mak globalization, which will not be reversed anytime soon work for ordinary people. how do we make sure it is working for communities all across america or here in europ e. that is something i am convinced we can do. we have to get the facts on it.
charlie: ben harper is here. he has been called a reluctant protest singer. his new album covers a wide range of topics including race in america and aging. it is called "call it what it is." this is the first record with his longtime band "the innocent criminals" in over seven years. ine is ben harper performing our studio. ♪
first time. a big welcome. ben: thank you. charlie: tell me about this song. some songs tap you on the shoulder and tell you it is time to get this done. some you have to cobble together, but that came out in one push. one sitting. charlie: what do you expect that people hearing the song will t hink. ben: i try not to be overly concerned about what they will think or how they react. otherwise, it consumes you in a way that is not productive. charlie: because it is a reflection of your own feelings, emotions, thoughts, and poetry. is writing easy for you? ben: it is natural for me. it is not easy, but it is a natural part of my day and my life and the way that i filter emotions and ideas. charlie: how often does it come
that the song chooses you? ben: for the most part, i'm consumed on a daily basis, all day, every day, in a way that almost inhibits other components of my life. you learn to compartmentalize it. if i didn't, i would hum into a tape recorder all day. charlie: in terms of your own obsessions and your own daily engagement, how much is running, how much is performing, how much is practicing? ben: writing and practicing are a huge part, because that is what precedes the performance. charlie: isn't as much fun to perform it? ben: it is. charlie: it really is? ben: i love every aspect of it. charlie: i feel the same way, getting prepared for an interview is as interesting as doing it. ben: i love that. that urgency of learning about
where music and take you. having done it so long, yet having it still reveal new aspects. charlie: why is this your proudest professional cop -- accomplishment? my: "call it what it is" is proudest musical a competent because i feel it is an arrival for myself and the band, the innocent criminals. charlie: an arrival at? ben: an arrival where no stone was left unturned. i said it the way that i wanted to say it. every sound, every note. it feels different, it feels special. you sound a little bit out of whack when you are critiquing your own art. it is not for me to say, it is for the fans to say, is for the time to say, but if i do have a
small boat, it is the best "innocent criminal" record. charlie: but you can look it in the eye and say that i gave it all i have? ben: like never before. there was a lot of laughter and celebration in this record. there were cameras all over the studio, so many that you forgot they were there. that is the truth in the tape. they have cut up documentary around this record and it shows us in our natural habitat, having a great time. people say, you have to have friction to make great art. you have to have a discord. there was some disagreement at times, but it was all in the name of progress. charlie: when "the atlantic" calls you a reluctant protest singer? ben: that's part of the article that i disagree on. because i am not. i am a protest singer,.
but charlie: i am not reluctant you charlie: -- i am not a reluctant protest singer. charlie: you and your bandmates have known each other 20 years? ben: it gives us a secret code. it comes up and a recipe, in a record like this, especially after this long. there is a certain amount of finishing each other's creative musical sentences on stage and on the record that makes it different. ben: there is a sense in talking to you that this record represents something really special in your own evolution. ben: thank you for hearing that. a sense of reaching a place you have been wanting to go. a sense of being able to give it everything you have had and putting it here and listening to it and saying, that is why the we wanted to go, there it is.
i hope you like it. ben: that is it. the emotional song, i wake up feeling like i have aged a year, i don't know how to say goodbye to you. that to, they shot him in the back, now it is a crime to be black, don't get surprised when it gets vandalized. call it what it is, murder. for the first time unable to balance them out in a way that one does not overshadow the other. i hope it doesn't. charlie: you suffer from digital saturation disorder? ben: yes. charlie: what is that? i was raised in a music store, the claremont music store. it is one of the most special musical environments and four walls. my grandparents started it in 1968 and it is still there today. we were too port to have
babysitters, and the music store was our babysitter. we were there every day after school. my grandfather put me to work, sorting screws and wood. themaple goes here, mahogany. in that music store, there is a lot going on, and that sound encoded me genetically that early on i would be sitting in school hearing that sort while trying to learn algebra. ben: it's like -- charlie: it is like that experience married your dna. ben: that's right. charlie: i know what you mean, because i grew up in a store with 100 people between the ages two and ten.ween that was my everything. it was demanded of me to be curious. ben: your family's country store? charlie: to be curious.
and yours was a demand to absorb music. ben: yes. charlie: it certainly influenced you. when you look at the instrument that you play -- ♪ charlie: why is that right for you? ben: that instrument is right for me because, what calls to one's destiny is not to be denied. that sound, at the youngest of age, in an instrument store full with sitar's and every instrument, every type of guitar and electric instrument, there was the sound coming from the acoustic that pulled me in and would not let me go. charlie: grabbed you. ben: grabbed me in a way that is mysterious today as it will ever be. i often say why do people here the tuba for the first time and devote their life to the tuba. charlie: i used to keep an apartment in paris. ben: i don't blame you. [laughter]
charlie: to see you and talk to you -- if someone said to me that you are french, i would believe them. ben: right now, i may be. charlie: you spend a lot of time and you are known remarkably, you are known well there. there is a connection. ben: direct connection. charlie: what is it? ben: it was the first place en masse that received my music, word for word, note for note. charlie: do you know letter telling? ben: i have -- do you know leonard cohen? ben: i have met him. charlie: have always wanted to meet him. ben: he doesn't even touch the ground. charlie: i know it. ben: he comes into my family's music store on occasion. charlie: what is the hardest thing about this? ben: the hardest thing is now. be somewhatot to concerned about how it is received. -- want it to be heard, but
charlie: this is the truth, it really is. you have taken this from here, put it here, now you've given it out there. that is what you have done. ben: that's it. now it is up to you. youngster. make your way in the world, good luck. charlie: are you hopeful, or is it happening, that because of the success in places like france and australia, overseas, that experience is now being felt here? ben: that is a big point. what may limit record sales in this day and age may be recumbent said it, i'll be at -- albeit in ad, different form, that the world is connected and music spreads faster than word-of-mouth.
the press of a button. while sales may go and a different direction, awareness maybe at an all-time high. charlie: you said some in that fascinates me, skateboarding is the only thing that gives you the silences, and silences your thoughts. you are a skateboarder? ben: i am. rodney mullen is a skateboarder, i am a skate enthusiast. charlie: you travel with your board? ben: everywhere you go. it took everything not to throw it in the van and bring it today. charlie: what is it about the experience for you? ben: it is the first thing i found in my adult life that thoroughly and honestly clears my head. charlie: in terms of the themes, what does this country need to understand about race? in: before harper lee died, was in the privacy of her home.
the old-age home and monroeville. charlie: how did that happen? r friend of mine, an extraordinary writer, -- daniel's wife is cecelia peck, gregory's daughter. vera's met miss lee at home, gregory's wife. harper had just rolled in on the train, because she would not fly, she had her bits and pieces -- charlie: long ago when the book came out and the movie was main, their friendship continued into their old age? ben: yes. charlie: in a -- ben: yes, in a beautiful, rare and special way. the way that veranique and
harper got on, it was beautiful to watch. the way she got on with the grandkids, harper and ondine, it was something special to see. harper pulls in, and it is a celebration. everyone is around a table like this. veranique would hold these suppers that you couldn't believe it. you would be at the table with spike jones, sydni pontiac, -- sidney poitier. you can't imagine it. i worked with the blind boys of alabama, so we had an obama connection. she said, the next time that i see you, yoou have to sing for me. we made that pilgrimage to
alabama for me to sing. miss alice even showed up. she thought we were bible salesman and she was ready to chase us off fist and cane. charlie: [laughter] that is a day you do not forget. ben: no, but harper looked at us and said, you drove here tog ether? so are you staying the night? i said, no, we are driving to birmingham tomorrow to see the sights. she said, you two are driving to birmingham tonight? a black man and a white man? i need you to be in credibly careful. she said, just because the laws change, doesn't mean people change. and she was genuinely concerned. charlie: thank you for coming here, thank you for singing for me. friend and iyour hope to join your journey.