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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  February 15, 2010 4:45pm-6:00pm EST

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professor at went to university. he is the editor of oxford university press is of the "the american presidents." in addition to his contribution of the series, andrew jackson, he's the author of the dirt a previous books, including the magisterial chants democratic and equally distinguished the rise of the american democracy. he's also written on contemporary politics and history for "the new york times," "the los angeles times," the new republic and other publications. where specially grateful to dr. wilentz for being here. he was here a month ago to moderate a conversation with george mcgovern on abraham lincoln aboard alighted to happen back here at these join me in welcoming professor wilentz in our distinguished guests. caught back [applause]
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>> thank you a must-see for that wonderful introduction and happy presidents' day, everybody. i guess one of our chores tonight is to show that there have been presidents as the united states other than abraham lincoln. maybe no greater than abraham lincoln, but different than abraham lincoln. and i'm very, very happy to be introducing and moderating this conversation is such a story that we have here tonight. i'm going to introduce them for my far left, that's purely geographical. not politically. but in order of the presidents upon about to rather they have written. gary may is professor of history at the university of delaware. professor made specializes in diplomatic history since 1945.
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he is the author china scapegoat, the diplomatic ordeal of john carter vinson published in 1979, he was awarded the other networks. while researching his next work, titled un-american activities, the trials of william remington published in 1994, professor made successfully contested against ben rudolph giuliani for records thereby setting a precedent for the unveiling of records connected throughout his case and the rosenberg cases. he has made history as well as written about it here at in 2005, professor made published the informant, the fbi ku klux klan and the murder of viola minnesota. and to show that he's at least a double threat, moving into the 19th century, most recently he published last year the volume on john tyler in the american presidents series. william d. leuchtenburg at the
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university of term north carolina will retort after long missing was teaching career at columbia university. professor leuchtenburg is the author of more than a dozen books on 20th century american history including the perils of prosperity, 1914 and tell 1932, published 1958 in the shadow left tr for them. your mentor while greg and originally published in 1983 that outdated on several occasions. most recently i believe in 2001 with a subtitle from harry truman to george w. bush. so he keeps at it. and franklin d. roosevelt, an absolute cossack. he wrote the new deal in 1932 intel 1940, which received both the bangkok and the france's parking prices and which is now about to appear in a new addition and he made out from his publisher, harpercollins i think so, but harper company. what the new cover i gather
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which is shocking to me because i cover again as a classic, too. mr. leuchtenburg is a past president of the american historical association, american historian society and the american historians and is undeniably wanted to mention for this evening event. in 2008, the same society the american historians may professor jan knight of the first recipient of the arthur m. junior award for distinguished writing in american history of enduring public significant. [applause] i'll be saying a little bit more about her past their leuchtenburg and a little bit. he is the author of the just published american presidents series volume on herbert hoover. he has been working with ken burns for many years and they have a new pbs series on national parks that will be up on pbs in september. to come a series on prohibition, not a subject of all of our
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pleasure. but nevertheless an important period in american history. and one called the 10th inning, which is a sequel to the series on baseball college among other things look at the world championship to the boston red sox. last night he has also been commissioned to write a volume covering all of the presidents of the united states thereby making our series redundant. no, i don't mean that. thereby, using all distilling all the genius of our series for public consumption until do a great job. timothy naftali is the director of the richard nixon presidential library and museum and nor belinda, california. having served as director of the presidential materials staff after the national archives from october 2006 until the nixon labor and to the federal system of presidential libraries and july 2007. before he joined the national archives, timothy naftali tied
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history at the universities of virginia, where he also served as director of the presidential recordings program at the miller center of public affairs. his books include a night said that the last time introduced in a fit again. one of my favorite titles of any history book, one hell of a gamble. published in 1997. written with alexander versant go. blind spot, the secret history of american counterterrorism, 2005. and then also written with% go, crews have cold war of an american adversary 2006, which received the duke of westminster's bubble for literature. he has just finished. he and his about to announce i gather an exhibit on watergate, which as he is curated it at the nixon museum, which will be on intense interest. and they will all be there and i hope you would get a chance to
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see the exhibit. he will be much discussed. in 2007, his volume on george h. debbie bush appeared in the american president. so i've asked east of our distinguished historians to cite a few minutes just discussing their particular president, their particular volume, what led them to write it, what was interesting about it, anything you'd like to save for the next five minutes or so starting with you, jerry. >> most of us can go a whole week -- [inaudible] i forgive you because i too for a long time shared not a disinterest but you know, there were certainly more exciting people that i wanted to write about. it's not exactly every historians trained to be invited to write about john tyler. although in this case.
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.. but i did have something of an interest in tyler because he was the first vice president to become president and i wanted to find out more about that, i
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wanted to try to understand what it was like to be awakened at 5:00 o'clock in the morning by two couriers from the state department being informed that you work now possibly president of the united states, that wasn't quite clear. so on the one hand at tyler begins his life very prominently extraordinary background as a virginia aristocrat, a member of the virginia house of delegates, the u.s. congress, governor of virginia, united states senate, and then vice president, and president, but tragically he ended his life as a member of the confederate congress. so he is according to his biographer edward crapo, perhaps the first president to really
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betray america. so we might think this is a dull guy, why bother? i discovered that he was much more interesting than most people think. not a great president, been a very interesting tumultuous dramatic presidency. and i enjoyed every minute of it. >> the answer to your question about why because i read about herbert hoover because i was asked to do so. [laughter] it is not something that i was especially eager to do. i wasn't writing after it. in one day our third schlesinger two near called me up and asked me to write the hoover book. we have been friends for 50 years briefly colleagues at
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harvard. he said there's been a lot of revisionism about hoover lately. see if you can't straighten out. [laughter] so i agreed and when i hung up the phone i said, all my god, what have i done? [laughter] to buy really want to live with hoover for the next several years? and for a time i thought the answer was no, but then i became fascinated with him. and i suppose because i've been fascinated him for quite some time he was the first president i ever knew. i was six years old when he was elected so i heard a also -- all years i was growing up that this man was an older. i've written a number of books on the 1950's, i knew better than that and knew he was not responsible for the wall street crash, he was not responsible
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for the depression and, nonetheless whatever temptation i might have had to create a sensation by claiming that herbert hoover was a successful president, was not one i chose to latch onto. even almost all of the revisionist historians regard him as a failed president. nonetheless he was not a mailman. he was one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th century. when he died in someone said herbert hoover save more lives than anyone else in the history of the world. then they seem like hyperbole but it isn't. one of the large questions i faced was how was it that a man who did that too, who was the owner of belgium, who was the
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great humanitarian and, who was even described as anti bolshevik use saw that the billions of people in soviet russia were fed in the 1920's, how was it that this man was if not indifferent to starvation and when he became president, unable to recognize how great the suffering was and bring to bear the force of the federal government to come to their aid? >> i remember talking to arthur schlesinger jr. about this book and he said to me, tim, are you sure you want to ride at about george bush? he still boring. [laughter] and the reason i wanted to write about bush the father was that it was after the election of pushed the sun -- bush, his son,
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and i was already interested in interested about how the cold war had ended and had seen people advocating that gorbachev deserves the credit and a lot of people in the u.s. argued that reagan deserve the credit and i had -- i witnessed we've had a soft landing and i thought the father bush played a role. i was watching the difference between the actions of george w. bush and what i could remember having been the actions of the father and thought would not be a wonderful time to read a small book that explained the presidential decision making in terms of the life of george h. w. bush. so that's what i did and i have to say that if i am critical of some aspects of george bush, but i really get to him high marks for the tough decisions he made as president and i hope of course, and our discussion when we talk about presidential leadership and decision making
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that you'll see what i mean when i say that there was a moment when george bush was actually a great president, not a long time mind you, but -- and there was a time for about a. a half when he makes the kinds of tough calls the to expect of a fine president. and that's worth knowing about and i think that when we think about presidents on a day like today we should actually consider the role that to the individual place because frankly all presidential advisers disagree. there is rarely if ever a consensus in the white house which means that time and time again your president, our president has to decide, has to make up his end sunday her mind. that means the individual managers and will discuss for about two years george bush a man of his generation, a man of his background was just about the right person it could have
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had in the job. >> well, great. i think we've had everybody sort of an ascending order of likelihood of presidential ratings to rise over time. [laughter] actually the new polls out, george h. w. bush does pretty well, not quite the same for are others, but -- >> with eminent. [laughter] the. >> there is still a chance. we do have a wide variety of presidents represented here on today's panel. not a likely trio. but watch. to republicans, and one democrat to disguise as a whig. from different regions of the country and, in fact, in the case of both george h. w. bush and herbert hoover they both come from two regions of the country in a fact. we get for the price of three presidents, we get to new england, iowa, california, texas and virginia. but it's pretty scattered. each comes from a different era
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and the nation's history, the pre civil war 1840's, 1920's and '30's and 80's and 90's. my thing that they did all have in common was that they each failed to win either renomination and reelection. as presidents of the united states which marks them if not outright failures not the most successful presidents. so the question and, looking back over your works on these prospective people, what was the most underappreciated virtue or virtues of your president? and what was his signal shortcoming or shortcomings? gary. >> i think determination when andrew jackson and learned that tyler had become president t said, god, that imbecile. he's now president. one journalist described tyler as a weeping willow as a
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character. henry clay said that he -- his greatest shortcoming was he lacked the moral character. it's hard to contest jackson -- >> the one thing that jackson and clay agreed about. >> these people in american history. but tyler timberwolves faced crises that were in some ways unique in presidential history. lehder rivas talk about the politics of a the tyler presidency, but i would just like at this point to say something about the personal crises that he faced. which were also quite unusual. death was an ever-present reality for john tyler. there were probably more funerals in the east room in that for your time than ever before or since in american history.
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we and henry harrison, april and 1841, making him president. 1842 tyler's 11 why am with whom he had eight children. i don't think there's any connection but she passed away in 1842. his close friend attorney-general dieted appendicitis in 1843. in 1844 an incredible event occurred in a board of the uss princeton, a new naval vessel, and an outing with the president and many distinguished washingtonians aboard, they were going to see a demonstration and, the firing at a peacemaker, the most powerful cannon. they saw one demonstration. everyone was stunned by the power of this new cannon and
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then later they ask to have another demonstration. president tyler was about to descend to the deck when he was momentarily delay the. others went taut ship. the cannon blew up. killing the secretary of state, the secretary of the navy, the fiancee who rather the fatherhood of a woman that tyler wanted to make his fiancee, and several other government dignitaries. so tyler then had a certain near-death experience followed soon after by another coming back from the funeral of those individuals, the carriage in which he was writing, the horses went wild and tore through the streets of washington until a an unknown man stepped into the street and somehow got the reins and held a would have collapsed
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and yet john tyler and missed these personal crises in the political ones who will discuss later soldiered on. his greatest shortcoming that he was a slave owner. he had 40 slaves. they say that he was ambivalent about the institution, that the slave market in washington and physically sickened him who during one visit but slaves as was true where so many of the other founding fathers were essential two their livelihood. so tyler was a supporter of slavery and that does play an important role in that texas affair which we will talk about in a bit to. >> been i think what is so
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underappreciated about mayor herbert hoover had is the extent of his progressivism. both his critics and that as admirers think of him as being an apostle of lassiez-fare. a tool of wall street. in fact, he was critical about of a speculator some in the 1920's, repeatedly sought to have the government curb them, i can't think of another public figure in the 1920's to less deserves blame for the wall street crash than herbert hoover. moreover, although he started out as a man who more reactionary than contemporary tories when he was in the minefield of australia. he was opposed to the minimum wage, took pride in firing people, was in different to the
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kind of damage that he caused, he gradually went to the extensive in he said that he was submitting the brightest reputation of anybody coming out of world war iguana. and another man said that he hoped that he would be drafted for the democratic presidential nomination in 1920. in a man who said that it was franklin delano roosevelt. similarly eleanor roosevelt thought a very highly of herbert hoover, who worked with the leader of the american federation of labor tell us daniel roberts, and one who had advocated a whole series of progressive ideas when u.s. secretary of commerce. all of this adding to the puzzle about how a man who was so
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progressive for so many years has such an idea that when he ran for president in 1928 he was supported if by people such as jane addams of the whole house, how he could have turned out to hold such right wing views when he became president and even more so after he left the white house. i would say with respect to his greatest shortcoming, that there adulate to that bring together. one was that simpson -- that he could not relate to people. he could not as president of the united states understand that he was the head of state and that he had to give it the american people even if they couldn't do much about it a feeling that he cared. the sculptor whom of mount
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rushmore said that if you put a rose in hoover's hand it would wealth. [laughter] this i think grew out of this terrible experience of losing both his mother and father at an early age and being shuttled from relative to relative, something led em to move inside himself and not be able to move out. the other aspect, the other shortcoming is that though he was a great humanitarian, even suggested the greatest ever humanitarian in this or any other country time he constantly misinterpreted what his experience had been. so that he said it promised that time in belgium who through world war i into the 1920's that each of these efforts at bringing aid to those who were
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suffering, with a result of the the volunteer is some of the american people, denying when, in fact, was true and that he was able to sustain one program after another because of government money. and so when he became a president of the united states some he group, that to think that voluntariness alone wasn't going to succeed in bringing the country through the great depression. unable to recognize that in a city like toledo where 80 percent of the workforce was unemployed in you could simply not turn to neighbors to help our neighbors. and that some accommodation, of not being able how to convince the american people that he cared for them, that he understood what they were going through, ended his refusal to
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recognize how great the suffering was, those to fuse to to make one inevitable who the failure of the hoover presidency. >> as an individual, by his great strengths was bush's credit strength is that he is a kind and courtly man by all descriptions. adversaries, france, all seem to say the same thing about george herbert walker bush and that had an effect on how he acts as president because i like many presidents he didn't have a as fractious in inner circle. there were disagreements and john sununu was a lightning rod for many, but if you compare his inner circle to reagan's inner circle for example and the books written about reagan after the crash, or any other president for the most part, you'll find that the bush team was
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remarkably cohesive and there were implications for what i have to say from that. the second saint the course is one that we all laugh about, to a member of george herbert walker bush speeches, his prison. beforehand burdensome was in something that your grandmother gave you with tea in the afternoon. prudence was actually what i would describe as reluctant to realism. he was quite realistic about the world and he was especially realistic about the limits on presidential power. he makes choices in 1989 and 1990 and 1991 that always reflect a grown-up view of what a president can do. when i say a grown-up of view i mean personal understanding that you need allies when you go to war, you need the support of the american people when you go to war, you have to pay your bills
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when you are the united states government and you can't keep pretending that something called supply-side economics will actually get to have a budget deficit. and even though you promised the american people is not going to raise taxes when push comes to shove its more important to be pragmatic and than ideological. all of these decisions would have cost which you may talk about later. i think the greatest cost was he wasn't elected but they were a sign of his prudence and his. were coming -- his ambition. one of the reasons why george bush was not as beloved and around the country as he might otherwise have been given his prudence was that he would make these decisions when running for office that gave people who uncertainty, created uncertainty that to this man was. some of you may remember the doonesbury cartoons about him that he doesn't exist. the sense was there is no core, the way he presented himself as a political figure gave the
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impression that actually he would do anything. which meant that people -- who did not support him when he was elected worried that he was putting his finger in the air and that's how he would decide of politics, what he actually did into but by analyzing his political campaign one really couldn't tell what kind of president he would be. with his campaigns. he comes from a liberal republican family. a good government family, connecticut family that was one of the leaders of been the campaign for birth control, family planning in connecticut. one he runs for office in texas and it runs generally speaking right of everyone who barry goldwater. [laughter] he is against the test ban treaty which is a minor importance staff in u.s.-soviet relations with john kennedy
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achieving. he's against that. he's against most federal participation in the economy. he is against taxes. he's also against it seems to be family planning. well, he loses in the senate race, decides to attack laughed. runs a more moderate campaign and is elected as a congressman and then considered mr. roberts because he's so in favor of family planning. in washington. well then we almost happened, he goes and serbs and government in an elected positions after he runs for second time and this is to the senate and he becomes a candidate in 1980. he again is a moderate. he seems to be pro-choice. he doesn't win, ronald reagan asks if he wants him to be his running mate and suddenly pro-choice is thrown out the window, he is now firmly committed to the reagan social
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conservative agenda and for eight years he seems to disappear into break in land. who is this man? so for many i think is weakness was that given his lack of work as a president and over arching ambition he never let himself come forward in the election campaign and thus he embraced many ideas to win that in the end he did in implement because he didn't believe. >> morale, one of the things actually thinking about what you just said of president bush, he also understood and that you don't go to war unless you've got -- you had a full debate in congress and the support of the congress, something i think all three presidents would have understood and that gets me to the next question. in the oath of office for the presidency is fairly simple. the chief justice might have --.
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[laughter] >> is just a joke mr. chief justice, just a joke. [laughter] it's really simple the. to swear or affirm a faithful execution of the office and preserve and protect and defend the constitution and. i got it right. [laughter] yet virtually every president, some more than others and tim has a great deal about all of that, have been accused of misconduct and didn't want -- i was wondering how you each would richard preston's along those lines and an added question with congress and war. what was the major constitutional issue or what were the major constitutional issues that your president confronted during his term in the white house? >> well, for tyler it was obvious from the second that he learned that henry had -- william henry harrison died, this never happened before it in a sitting president dying.
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in the constitution invent was someone confusing and that article to section one said that in the advanced of a death or resignation ability in the inability of the president to discharge the duties and powers of his office, the same we shall devolve upon the vice president. the problem was two what did those words the same refer? the office? were the powers and duties which it vice president would temporarily discharge until another election. contemporaries did not have the nose in the constitutional convention, but what the founders seem to have thought and every 20th-century historian it was incorrect interpreting
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this please tell me here, the founders did not conceive of the vice president becoming president. they wanted someone who dashed this was before us presidents and presidential candidates were clearly a separated. arthur schlesinger says that tyler was guilty of a coup-detat by believing that u.s. president. in fact, tyler felt so strongly that he did not think it necessary to take the oath of office. he thought his vice-presidential of was sufficient. with secretary of state daniel webster persuaded him it would be prudent. [laughter] two possibly do that. and tyler agreed to do it although he actually wrote to a paper stating that he was doing this but didn't think he was
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required to do it. so one could argue that tyler broke the law or violated the constitution the second that he became president. we will be talking later about foreign-policy and it appears hazmat tyler some accuse him of violating law or coming very close to it. during that time in the united states who wanted to or some in the united states wanted to enact taxes, tyler and his secretaries of state engaged in secret diplomacy and the texans are very worried about an attack, that mexicans. tyler on his own home send the mexican government assurances that they would be protected by the united states, he moved army troops to the southwestern border, naval vessels to the
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gulf of mexico, and again and where is the constitution in all of this? or the congress can declare war, raise an army so in the area of foreign policy in that tyler also some believe and came close to being a lawbreaker who. >> their are a few presidents and all of american history who have been denounced so bitterly as herbert hoover. he has been a standing example of what you don't want to be ever since he left the white house. just a few weeks ago when a the sans or running out on the second george bush presidency, if he was asked was he afraid that heat would go down in the history books as another herbert hoover. and yet for all of this
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denunciation i don't know of anyone who has ever suggested that if the hoover violated the oath of office. or was anything but a man of integrity, of property. the main unconstitutional matter that developed in of the hoover presidency was that unlike what jerry was saying about john tyler involving tyler's own performance because hoover was never involved in that kind of thing, but rather that there were three vacancies on the supreme court. two -- for two of them a he named charles evans hughes who became chief justice of the united states and one robertson. the most dramatic vacancy that developed was the decision of their revered, mitchell homes to
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step down and who was there in of the united states who could possibly with phil homes shoes? the legal community was almost one in saying that there was only one man who could conceivably do dads and this was a man of of the highest court in new york state, benjamin cardozo. given the the practices of the day, but of the hoover facing a difficulty with cardozo of. you are supposed to have a geographical balance on in the courts and you're already to new yorkers on the court. to name cardoso would be two have three of the nine one-third of support from new york. there was an even more awkward
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problem with and that is that cardoso was a jew. and when louis brandeis became the first jew on the supreme court in 1916 there was a hideous way of anti-semitism and. cardoso would mean it that there were two issues on the court at a time when and anti-semitism was all to write, bon coup rick setback, would he be willing to their that? and the fact is that whoever chose some reluctance in appointing cardozo, but the pressure from the legal community was so great that he probably had no choice but to do so. in any event, the hoover didn't bite the bullet, he did name cardozo, and cardoso who in the brief time that was still left
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to him was one of of of the great luminaries on the high court to. >> george bush actually faces to constitutional challenges before he ever becomes president. the first is he is the chair of republican national committee, during watergate. and it takes him a while but he ultimately aim one stands up and tells richard nixon that he should resign in a tortuous meeting at the cabinet. it was very difficult for him to do. again of was the struggle between his ambition and his purvis because he had to richard nixon as a mentor of sorts and certainly someone who could be helpful to him in public life. his second great constitutional challenge was the iran-contra affair. there he did not acquit himself as well have. there's no reason to believe he was involved in any great extent
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on the contreras side. there's a debate there but really the evidence doesn't. but he's very much involved and the iran side of men he was one of those advocated dealing with the iranians and covering it up. and so again in this complex past made it difficult to predict what he would be like in the oval office and in the oval office to pass the test, and to pass because of the objection of most of his advisers to says we need to go to the congress to get to the support to go into kuwait, to liberate kuwait. dick cheney was against it. brent scowcroft was against a common national security adviser. james baker was for it, but baker and bush were alone the power of the administration. that was a great constitutional test team, he passed it, he predicted that he would win, it wasn't an easy fight but in the end he got a majority support
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going to war. and guess what he did was in the sense he recognized the consequences of the 1970's. bush's of that generation, they were really stunned and, maybe started as a better way of putting it by vietnam and watergate. sama of the politicians of that era responded to those two events by becoming the shell is a imperil president advocates were the unitary theory of the presidency. bush did not. bush, in fact, took the lessons he took that will make a mistake if you do not involve the people and the congress in this season's of great national moment and that is the great constitutional test that he passed and all better for it. >> these guys are looking better and better. [laughter] with one exception may be. but it's true, getting onto bush
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again, it was politics. if you're going to war you better make sure there are some democrats steny have to go to work as well and you don't want to be carved out politically. so what's good for the nation also happens to be good politics and maybe that's my next question. let's talk about politics. now, each one of your presidency had is someone to the nationalist relationship to the party which elected them. and would john tyler was even awake, he was really a democrat who is broken with injured jackson and then nominated by the way to give balance to harrison to bring all democrats a lot. the dash in 1920i think woodrow wilson also was touting hoover -- early on. and so he was a great man, the
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democrats would have liked to have had it dwight d. eisenhower in 1950 they would have loved to have had herbert hoover are many would have in 1920. so the relationship with republican party wasn't always so clear. in bush's case he certainly is a lifelong republican what was born to a position connecticut new england party, he then moves to west and south with his party. he never really becomes a post cold water reagan republican and the soul of seoul. so his relationship to the party of his time was rather curious. ..
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never discussed his view on any of the issues of president harris. well, tyler becomes president and suddenly finds himself confronted with a wade agenda which he doesn't fully subscribed to. so he begins to veto all of the bills won created by his arch
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rivals, senator henry clay of kentucky. when for the second time, tyler the toes, they called him mr. veto. [laughter] when he vetoed the bill to recharger i guess it is the third bank of the united states, every member of tyler's cabinet except the secretary of state, daniel webster, resigned and i think in just one day. they all went in, standard and john tyler, jr., his father's secretary had stock ploch recording what time each person came in to resign. henry clay then reads tyler out of the whig party. the first time a president has been ejected from the party that brought him to power. their work in nuclear
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impeachment in queries, an angry mob threw rocks out the white house and fired guns late one night. one day tyler was strolling in on the south lawn of the white house and a drunk hurdles rocks at him. tyler was obviously concerned about the health of his wife, so ask that there be a washington police force or other white house police force created to protect him. he tries to work with the whig on some issues and actually does -- is able to pass and sign into law in number of whig measures. but the whigs don't want anything to do them, the democrats don't want anything to do with him because of the car
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with william henry harrison. in the end tyler tries to form his own third party to win the election of 1844 and decides it's not going to work and makes a deal about the texas with the eckert james capel cut and eventually leave the white house. given the situation with fdr have done any better here? [laughter] >> fdr, maybe. he was given aces and eights. >> i think at the end of his presidency, hoover's position was not unlike the tyler you were describing so elegantly. certainly hoover was politically inept in good part because as you are suggesting he had such an ambivalent relationship to the republican party. it's not a surprise that
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franklin roosevelt thought that she might be the democratic candidate in 1920, and most of the republican leaders looked at him with suspicion all through the twenties. didn't think he was one of them. calvin coolidge, served as the secretary of commerce through all of the coolidge presidency said that man has been giving me advice for all these years all of the combatant. [laughter] and when he became president, he had very little use for the leadership in both houses of congress not only the democrats but of his own party and they return to this at the end of his presidency he said it is a
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route. we've come to the end of the string. there's almost nobody we can count on. and subsequently, not only was hoover a pariah to democrats, 82 democrats to this day are able to bring out as a warning to the american people at election time but by his own party, by the figures such as thomas dewey, and when finally his career was at long last resurrected was not by republican but a democratic president, harry truman who among other things this fall that he was asked to hit relief
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missions overseas. he became the head of a commission on the organization of the executive branch subsequently he had that same rule under president eisenhower who but he never liked eisenhower, never liked the republican leadership in the 1920's and incidentally his contempt for eisenhower was in part based on his belief that eisenhower was a terrible fly fisherman. [laughter] rather than because as he also said there were too many radicals around the eisenhower white house. [laughter] >> george bush was a spectator at the reagan revolution and it was ronald reagan's party that nominated him. and he was only vice president
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by accident. he was vice president because reasons i still find hard to understand. gerald ford and ronald reagan were discussing -- welcome a presidency, ronald would have called it a ticket. [laughter] the fact that these two unlikely twins were discussing it and it fell apart and in the 11th hour they had to find a vice presidential nominee, and push of course had been second to reagan in the primaries that year. reagan didn't like bush, reagan didn't want bush. you have to be persuaded to take bush so it was unlikely in the first part that ronald reagan's party and that is what the republican party had become by 1980, ronald reagan's party would nominee this man but did because he was vice president and served as vice president
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some 1988 it was his turn but if you look carefully at the primaries of 88, he almost lost. now it's true to go back to your guy, we have to go back to even before him, martin van buren to find a vice president who actually succeeds at the presidency but the fact was everyone assumed given reagan's popularity even with the iran contra, that a republican could be elected and george bush, the servant of ronald racket to the coverage and will be elected and he merely wasn't because his weakness as a politician, he made the "read my lips no new taxes" pledge. he made the pledge in new hampshire. people often remember he made in the summer convention. he wouldn't have made it to the convention if he hadn't made the pledge in new hampshire. that put him in a box and was the kind of box he had to be put in to be acceptable to the
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reagan party. now what happens to this man who? this man who violates that pledge and the party and leaves him. there is a very, very powerful moment that occurs when bush announces with the leadership of both sides of the aisle and announces the budget deal of 1990 and there is new gingrich standing with him in the oval office, and a walkout to the rose garden and new gingrich doesn't follow him. we eased smoking deck the oval office because he doesn't want his photograph taken with george bush because george bush violated the first tenant of the reaganite principal of government. and after that, new gingrich is a vocal opponent and a party splits. even before ross perot appears on the scene the party is broken
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and will not follow him into the next election. she didn't really have a party when he ran in 1992. in a sense he was like john tyler. and part of a days inn has a lot to do with the changes in our political environment in that period and a lot to do with him. he was not ideological by nature, that was an ideological time. he was a reaganite by convenience. he believed in service and as of the presidency as the apex of public service in america. did not see it as a crusade. he saw it as a calling and that was the era when people were looking for crusaders. >> maybe it doesn't look so good. when we talk about foreign policy i think but i think we ought to go for questions for the audience and there's a microphone right there and i ask
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you if any of you have questions for the distinguished panel please, come to the microphone. don't be shy. very good. please, come to the microphone because we really need to use it. and keep your questions brief to the plate and make them questions like on had jeopardy. [laughter] >> can everybody hear me? >> speak up a little bit louder. >> you are the one who writes the book on andrew jackson for the series, and dr. leuchtenbug commodores is on herbert hoover and he mentioned this evening herbert hoover was an orphan and that shaped his personality and so was jackson, yet they had different personalities. could either of you speak on how their backgrounds they were different but they were both orphans, and i realize there is no psychologist here tonight, but could either of you speak about how their experiences shape them as orphans and yet they were both very different.
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>> first of all yes i did from on andrew jackson. arthur schlesinger jr a few know schlesinger scholarship it's like being asked by the whole thing to write about the birth. this was a big deal and i was honored to get the request and this whole event is in some ways in great honor to arthur schlesinger her, jr.. it's quite true jackson's father died before he was born, killed by a tree falling on him and the circumstances of his mother's death and brother's death during the revolution i think were very particular. his mother died basically trying to nurse relatives and friends from the area of north carolina and south carolina charleston. she got the cholera and died and his brothers -- to both perished during the revolution so is entirely family was wiped out by the revolution over.
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and i think that to jackson there's been some psychologizing about jackson as well as his parents but more than anything else he was abandoned by his mother and all this mutual footing. be that as it made the only problem of that interpretation is there is no evident which is inconvenient for historians. but i do think that it burned into his soul a hatred of the british empire. he was very much a boy soldier of the revolution but i think the fact that his mother died in that kind of service only made it more -- was a personal matter with jackson and when jackson got his revenge in 1815 did he feel good about it. so i think to that extent, yes. but he didn't like the british very much. in part because i think they cost him what was left of his family. >> i think it is a terribly interesting question. it never occurred to me to compare hoover and jackson and i certainly wouldn't be determined sestak about this.
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i would never say that anyone who is orphaned at an early age and then shuttled to other people will inevitably not be able to relate well to other people. i would only say that is what happened to herbert hoover so by the time he enters the peculiar class at stanford at age 17, the youngest member of the first class at stanford. there is a testimony from any number of his classmates that this was a man who walked across the campus his head held down and grunting and responses, twirling her coins in his pockets trillion to one shrink into the ground and unable to be personable to get on the easily
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but other people. but i appreciate your question and allow me to make clear that this isn't a deterministic view of an inevitability of that circumstance for everyone. islamic if i may say obviously george bush was not in northen but it's important to look at the early years of presidency, you can learn a lot about them appear the fact he was shot down in world war ii left him with a deep, deep ambivalence towards the use of force. they knew it had to be done but he was very emotional while he ordered troops into the battle in the gulf war act because he has written because of his own experience losing one of his copilots' that day. >> anything about john tyler's use?
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>> he lost his mother when he was seven and brought in a sort of housekeeper and surrogate mother. he had sisters who were living and was close to his father who probably had the greatest influence, his father had been a member of the revolutionary generation. he studied law with thomas jefferson. they were close friends, former president jefferson came to dinner at governor tyler's home and it was young john in charge of the dinner preparing the dinner overseeing the preparation of the dinner so that no tyler i think was so influenced by his father and that generation grew up hearing stories about the revolution and i think it explains his ambition. he sees himself as part of the revolutionary generation as
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being one of the virginia dynasties of presidents, and i think that is fueled his ambition. >> thank you very much. great question. >> i'm sure i am one of the very many who are intrigued by the relationship between george herbert walker and his less prudent some. i've heard all be at third hand but credibly at least on one occasion he deplored the event of iraq, the invasion and perhaps others. can you give some insight as to that relationship and the week in which george herbert walker has dealt with the events of his sons presidency? >> and george bush lost both of his crew mates that day. you know, we don't really know about the relationship between the father and son.
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this is a very private family. i'm a big skeptic about what we know about their relationship. what we do know is that some of president bush's -- george herbert walker bush's closest associates felt uncomfortable with his son to. the evidence is clear about that. we do know that the sun made decisions that contradicted some of what the father had done but we don't know the relationship. i've read all kind of books about it. i don't know either but i will say this about the father and saddam hussein because i think that's always the one brought up as a perfect example how the son and father were different. the father had two goals and
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it's clear from the diary 1990 both wanted to liberate kuwait and he wanted saddam hussein to fall from power. he really did. he was like to believe that this could happen. he felt it could be done either through a coup or something that we helped, not necessarily by the invasion of iraq. in fact there were no plans for the invasion of baghdad. but george bush did want to see saddam hussein out of power and was very disappointing to him when he ended the war and so, was in power in fact he writes about our indolent he is that day. so part of george bush i sure the father was not happy that his son finished the job. that's not to say the father had any regrets about the decision made in 1991 because the decision was made on its merits really to understand why they ain't going to baghdad to have
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to understand in 1991 we had eight roosevelt moment when this country thought perhaps international organizations to help structure the international system. we had the soviets on our side in the gulf war. we had the era of world on our side. this was an unbelievable and unlikely coalition of countries. the term used in unfortunately was the new world order but there was a belief that these were men of a certain generation who believe that there could be some kind of international cooperation. going into baghdad would undermine that because it was beyond the scope of the united nations mandate for this war and the united states did not to be occupying iraq for reasons we all come to understand since. i'm also sure that offer and the sun disagreed and the passion about saddam hussein.
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i think there's a lot to learn and it's a matter of time, perhaps a long time until we do. >> we have time for one more question. >> i want to thank all three of you for making all of these presidents very interesting. one question that kind of relates is to part. one is the impact of economics, because it seems like with former president bush he was hurt, i think the economy also turned kind of sour in the last two years and was living off the laws the first two years. herbert hoover was also hurt by that as well. i don't know about the tyler -- areas of the economic impact and then specifically with herbert hoover, was he also impacted? i thought up until that point it was up to the private charity. companies were not supposed to donate the money. it was supposed to be wealthy individuals. government was supposed play the role and it seemed to herbert hoover got caught in the whole quagmire of the time.
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>> if we can come by those two questions that would be great. >> and quickly. >> there had been a long tradition of private giving and there were organizations like the american red cross and community and chest so that hoover could well have thought he could at the outset rather that he could count on organizations of that sort his difficulty came in believing that long past the time where it was credible when his own advisers, the head of his own relief organization told him it wasn't working, that there were people suffering out there. on your other point with respect to the economic damage that was done to hoover, what happened in
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the 1932 election is that governments in power throughout the world are thrown out of office and this is true of the labor government in australia and it brings down a year early the ramsay macdonald labor government in great britain. so, anybody who is in power at a time of economic disaster, any party that is, any government that this is a vulnerable and likely to be blamed for the hard times. >> garrey? harrison and tyler came because the depression in part. they were the beneficiaries. >> one of the nice things about finishing the book was that i know longer had to write about tariffs, the abolition of the van buren subtreasury system and the read chartering of the bank of the united states.
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i can't balance my own checkbook, so that was the most worrisome thing for me was to try to make sense of this and if you really want to know about it you will have to read the book. but to get back to the personal economic question, john tyler was experiencing financial problems when he had been elected by the virginia legislature united states senator. in order to get the money to begin to live in washington, he sold a beloved house slave. so that to me was more important than the subtreasury system. spec the '91, '92, '93 recession turned out to be more shallow than people thought but george bush was running against one of the most empathetic politicians we've ever had when bill clinton said he felt european he believed him. was george bush never connected with the american people in that
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way, and that is where the site heard him. it didn't look like he understood how real americans were feeling during the recession. ironically part of the reason for the recession was that he had done the right thing in solving the snl crisis. it basically realized it was a real problem. they decided to jump many of the financial institutions, by the land, by the bad investments they had made and so there was a housing -- deep housing recession in the west that influenced the u.s. economy in the early 1990's that was the payment required to solve a problem that he had inherited. so in a sense doing those fleeing the lead car right thing cost him again politically. >> well, if nothing else our distinguished panelists on american history is interesting if in the hands of the right
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historians and we certainly learned a lot more tonight than i think we bargained for, so i thank you will, wonderful audience for your questions and attention and i thank my fellow panelists. [applause] >> we just saw a panel on the american presidency with gary may, author of william tyler, leuchtenbug and timothy, author of george h. w. bush. all three biographies are part of the american presidency republished by times books. for more information, visit former prosecutor william hildan jr. says thomas jefferson never ha an affair with solid innings or father her child.
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he presents his book of the colonial williamsburg center in virginia. >> let me first thank john and bob -- is that better? everyone has been very, very gracious to me and colonial williamsburg. so thank you for coming today. as john told you, i am a lawyer by trade but please do not hold that against me. in fact whenever i am in front of an audience, i reminded of a story about a lawyer called the smartest man in the world, will share that with you. this is called the smartest man in the world. a doctor, lawyer, little boy and
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a priest were out for a sunday afternoon flight on a small private plane. suddenly the plane developed plan engine and started to go down. in spite of the best efforts of the pilot, the plane started to go down and finally, the pilot grabbed a parachute and yelled to the passengers they better jump and baled out. unfortunately, there were only three parachutes remaining. the doctor grabbed one and sublime doctor, i save lives and so i must live, and jumped out. the lawyer then said i am a lawyer and lawyers are the smartest people in the world, so i must live and he jumped out. he grabbed the parachute and jumped. the priest looked at the little boy and said my son, i've lived a long and fruitful life, you are young and have all of your dreams ahead of you. take the parac a


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