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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 16, 2011 9:00am-9:38am EST

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>> richard ravitch, lieutenant governor of new york, and new york senator charles schumer. it's about an hour, 40 minutes. the editorial directer and public
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policy fellow at the peterson institute for international economics and previously was chief international economics correspondent for "the new york times." he was a journalist with the times for many years, first becoming acquainted with senator moynihan when he was reporting on new york politics and later as a correspondent in washington d.c. steve also served as the bureau chief for the times in new delhi, india, where he coveredded ambassador moynihan. steve hess is a presidential historenior fellow emeritus in governance studies at the brookings institution which he joined in 1972. he served on the white house staff of presidents dwight eisenhower and richard nixon, and he was an adviser to presidents jimmy carter and gerald ford. of his experience in nixon's white house as deputy assistant to the president for urban
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affairs, he once said, basically, i was the chief of staff to daniel patrick moynihan. [laughter] peter galbraith is senior diplomatic fellow at the center for arms control. from 1979 to 1993, peter was a seep staff member of the senate foreign relations committee where he worked directly with senator moynihan. in 1993 peter was appointed the very first u.s. ambassador to croatia by president bill clinton. for 2003 to 2005, he advised the kurds on t iraqi constitution, and his father, john kenneth galbraith, also served as ambassador to india and was a colleague of senator moynihan at harvard. richard vavitch is the 75th
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lieutenant governor of new york state, and he got to know -- [applause] and he got to know daniel path rib moynihan in the -- patrick moynihan in the 170s when he played a very key role in senator moynihan's future. in those days he was chairman of new york's urban development corporation under hugh l. kerry and later served as chairman of the metropolitan transportation authority, the mta, where he recapitalized the system and created the metro north railroad. he is, and he is the staunchest advocate for moynihan station, and he's been very -- [applause] and he's been very dogged on this subject, thank heavens and thank you very much, lieutenant governor.
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lawrence o'donnell jr. is a political analyst, emmy-award winning writer and producer and is now host of msnbc's "the last word." for his association with the tv drama, "the west wing." but from 1989 to 1995 he worked with senator moynihan a serving as the taffe directer of the -- staff directer of the united states senate committee on the environment and public works and the united states senate committee on finance, both of which were chaired by senator moynihan. richard eaton is my husband, and he is -- [laughter] a federal judge on the u.s. court of international trade. he served in many capacities in senator moynihan's office including two stints as chief of staff. now, senator charles schumer is our keynote speaker. he's down at the end of this panel. [laughter] he is the senior senator for new
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york state, and his is a remarkable career of public service. he first ran for public office upon graduating from harvard law school at the age of 23. he has never lost an election. [applause] [laughter] he was elected to the u.s. senate in 1998 where he worked side by side nator moynihan. he has been and is an advocate for moynihan station, and he will report, i am sure, on today's groundbreaking which was made possible with federal stimulus funding that senator schumer helped direct towards this project.
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and we are all so grateful to you, senator schumer, for this. and one quick aside, i also ife, iris, who i think is here. she is a wonderful friend of the museum, and now i would like to ask senator schumer to come and just give him the biggest round of applause. [applause] for moynihan station. >> well, thank you. thank you, susan, and thank you for the great job you do as directer of the museum. i want to thank my fellow panelists. to have such a distinguished group of panelists and such a distinguished audience is one of so many tributes one can give to senator moynihan and thank them all for being here. i want to particularly thank my friend of over 35 years, steve weisman who, you know, this --
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putting together these letters took a tremendous amount of intelligence, acuity, hard workt those of us who love senator steve took on this project, moynihan, so thank you for the great job you have done. [applause] and last but not least, two strong and invaluable women, strong and invaluable in pat's life and in our society in if general, and that is liz and moira. thank you both for everything you have done. [applause] it is great to be here. i thought i'd begin by telling a story about strong women because two of -- this actually happened this morning. two strong women in my life are in the audience. my wife, iris, as susan mentioned, and my daughter, jessica. [applause] and here's the story. i'm not very good at dressing. and so i usually ask who's ever in the house does this look all
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right, does that look all right? and this morning i thought in the shower, i had this brilliant idea. i'll wear -- i have one nice tweed sport jacket. [laughter] and i said, i'll wear that today in honor of of senator moynihan. so i came out of the shower, and i said, iris, i have a great idea. i'll wear that tweed jacket. she said, that idea's beyond stupid. [laughter] meaning it wasn't even debatable, how stupid it was. [laughter] and be -- i figured she meant, you know, that there'd be some reporter, some smart alecky reporter who would say, oh, schumer thinks he's the next moynihan which, frankly, i know i could never be as much as i would aspire to be because of his greatness. so i was put this my place, but jessica had the final cue degrass. she said, dad, do you wear one of those chinese jackets when you speak about chinese
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currency? this. [laughter] so here i am in a gray flannel suit. [laughter] it was a ridiculous idea, it was beyond stupid, but it points out that senator moynihan was suis generous. he was one of a kind. and i think all of us who represent p in new york and try to follow in his footsteps can never duplicate what he brought to public life, but he's a great thing to aspire to. maybe first and foremost pat was a teacher. that was my first experience with him. i audited his government class when i was a freshman at harvard. i would have wanted to take it. they didn't allow freshman to take it, and then he was whisked off in the winter of 1968 and went to the white house. once i entered congress i remember as a young congressman i got a call from senator
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moynihan. and he said, why don't you come over to my office, later his hideaway. i didn't know my way around congress, let alone washington, and there he was inviting me for a chat. he asked me what i thought of the house, gave me the first of many tutorials on congress and the many summits that would -- subjects that would be before us, about legislation, about history, and that continued every couple of months for my entire 18 years in the house. every few months i'd get a call, i'd head over, and over a glass of wine i'd learn a whole bunch of new, different thicks. in 1997 it was in one of those tutorials that start moynihan urged me to run for the senate, not for governor which i was thinking of doing. [laughter] his encouragement was a very important part of my decision to run for the senate.
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and then just a final moment on his teaching and a little bit personal. so i was running in 1998, etch knows it was -- everyone knows it was a tough campaign against senator d'amato. pat had a d'amato. they were different, obviously. [laughter] but they got along well for the good of new york. but he was still a full-throated supporter of mine, and the race was close, as you know. so we requested that in the last week of the campaign pat go on a bus tour across the state with us. and he was in great pain at that time, as you remember, liz. his back was acting up. but he said of course he'd do it. and he got on a plane. he was in pay, but he did a -- pain, but he did a great job at each of those stops. but what i remember most is while we're on the bus he sat
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with my then-15-year-old daughter jessica, a student at stuyvesant, and gave her a two-hour tutorial on the erie canal. [laughter] and he was so happy just doing that. he was a great teacher. and that was him. he was a teacher for not just me and my family, but for all of america. we have a great tradition in new york of senators who have not just been forceful advocates for new york, but truly national figures. in the 20th century we had robert wagner sr. and jack javits whose seat i now occupy, hillary clinton, robert kennedy and, of course, pat. and it says something about this state and this city that an irish kid from hell's kitchen whose father left the family when he was 10, who would work as a stevedore on thely great senators the nation has ever known. i think the work steve's done in putting together the book serves
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pat and his legacy so well. and shows us how he game the man i got to -- how he became the senator the world got to know. e couldn't be a better night for this event. we didn't plan it that way. maybe dick had something to do with it knowing of both events, but as susan mentioned, we broke ground -- at least ceremonious ceremoniously -- on moynihan station which means that in the not-so-distant future pat's vision -- and it was his vision -- for a new, truly grand penn station and the farley post office will become reality. it's one of the projects i've been proud to be part of in my time in the senate, and i'm glad that when we're done there's going to be a honest-to-goodness monument to senator daniel patrick moynihan. now, reviving penn station and giving it a home that was worthy
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of the original was something pat deeply cared about. you can read about it in many of the letters that steve's put in the book, and i think in many ways it truly represents so much of what he fought for through the years of his career. it's a vital project for new york and for theut and one of the things that pat understood was the need for new york to keep importance of continuing to build infrastructure that would sustain growth. it's been the history of our state and city whether it's the building of the erie canal which pat regaled jessica about, the building of the brooklyn bridge or creating the elaborate reservoir system that still quenches our huge city's thirst that new york haswelways built e future, and no one was more aware of that than senator moynihan. at the same time, the building rights a historical wrong. the destruction of the old penn
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station, and will be a great public work, a new landmark for the city and the region, to quote pat directly. it also represents the sort of thing that government does well; public works projects. and this is a moment when it's helpful to be reminded of exactly that. something pat understood and argued for almost better than anybody else. but above all what i think makes moynihan station so aptly named is that the project really serves as a metaphor for pat like him, it was a truly grand project. [laughter] it's big in its thinking and in its construction. the original david chileses' vision, for those of you who have seen it, was spectacular. if it didn't make up for the destruction of the old penn station, it came pretty close. unfortunately, i had to scale
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that back, and if i had to be ct that we're cutsinghat would a new -- discussing a new penn station at all is testament to pat's grand thinking in the first place. and it's that grand thinking that, above all else, is in any mind pat's biggest legacy and something we'll sorely miss in public life today. if you haven't had a chance to read steve's book, you should. you get a real sense for the breadth and the depth of senator moynihan's intellect and the ways in which he was able to bring his intellectual interests into the public arena. i don't know anyone who has done that. and then use them for the public good, anyone who's done that so spectacularly. his focus on penn station, for example, was the culmination of a lifelong concern with not just architecture, but with the value of great public architecture. he spent years agitating for the renovation of pennsylvania avenue in washington because of its importance as a national symbol.
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and it was thanks to him that it was final hi renovated. he was -- finally renovated. he was the driving force behind the restoration and preservation of buildings throughout this state from the customs house to the creation of a new peace bridge in buffalo e which we are working towards and making progress on. he saw these spaces, he saw these as spaces that represented the public and can fought to preserve them for the public because he believed that grand spaces matter. this was equally true of his legislative policy, his legislative proposals and policy concerns. he was always thinking grandly he came to politics with an academic perspective, brought with him the belief that ideas, used wisely, matter. whether he was trying to push back against the culture of secrecy that had sprupg up during the cold war or fighting to defend public welfare programs against cutbacks or arguing for the importance of stable families, he brought with
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him a wealth of knowledge and a concern with the ideas themselves. more than anyone else i've ever met in philosopher/statesman ine true sense of both words and the phrase. and i think that's what we're going to miss -- that's what we miss above all today. as i was preparing for tonight, i kept coming back to the question, is that sort of grand thinking really possible anymore in the political lean that? arena? and what have we lost as a result? our politics are far more partisan even today than they were seven years ago. far more petty where theomate ts cycle. we're confronting real problems, and we don't seem to have a public dialogue that anymore matches the seriousness of the issues that confront us.
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i was struck, for example, by how prescient some of those regularring letters pat sent to his constituents in the late '70s and 1980s when he was worried about the difficulties we'd face with competition from the developing world. our declining savings rate and the danger of an excess of fiscal austerity in the face of economic crisis. sound familiar? now, as we face many of those same problems, we could use more of that thoughtfulness. and instead we seem to have more advantage cushionness. i wonder what pat would make of the political world today, so different than it was even seven years ago since his passing? what would he make of the rise of the tea party and a media absurdly dominated by blogs and insider gossip? masquerading as sophisticated analysis? i have no doubt that he would have figured out a way to rise above it.
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but i can also see him eloquently railing against it. and we could use that eloquence today. too much of what we talk about is an inch deep and a blowing. one of the things you get a real sense for in the letters is how more than anything pat staked out his position on what he firmly believed in this, his knowledge of history regardless of where that, where that meant he might get pigeon holed on the ideological spectrum. i describe it sometimes for myself as having an internal gyroscope. it's not an easy thing to maintain in washington. but his career was a testament to the fact that it's not only possible, it's vitally important in the '60s and attacked from the left even though as anyone who knows him could have testified there were probably few members of congress who cared more about the plight of the poor in america than pat.
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but he was also always concerned, rightly, with the danger of overrea cannot expect government to do everything to solve every problem. then in the '80s he was one of the few people in our party who really stood up to reagan in thoughtful ways and ended up being attacked from the right. i think at one point he was rated one of the most liberal members of the senate. that was, obviously, partly because he was standing up for new york and trying to make sure we were getting our fair share of tax dollars. but it was also because he believed in the portion of government -- importance of government, in the power of government to do good. and he stood up for that in the face of oversimplified arguments against it. goes to the core of who he is. he thought deeply about things, and those thoughts motivated his actions. today our political society desperately needs a few or at
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least one pat moynihan, someone propelled by a knowledge of history and a faith in reason sailing strongly or herself; that's who i want to be. we'd all be better off for itment. [applause] >> don't forget your speech. well, thank you, chuck. thank you, senator schumer, and thank you all for being here to honor senator moynihan and to honor this book. you know, i'm just not going to be able to improve on what senator schumer said, and i just wanted to offer a few perm thoughts -- personal thoughts before we open it up to this
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wonderful panel and to your questions. and have a conversation. but first, of course, i want to thank the sponsors of this evening, especially susan jones who has been such a tower of strength and a brilliant organizer in bringing, getting the word out and having all of you come here. and, of course, like the others i want to pay tribute to moira and liz without whom this book wouldn't have happened. it was moira's idea, it was liz's confidence in me and assistance, it was the help of the moynihan family friends who helped me shape this book and helped me to a better understanding of pat moynihan's life and times. you know, writing and even editing a book, as many of you in this audience know, can be a
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very solitary experience. and there were many time when i was and the fact that it now is a book and that it has brought such an amazing, for me, outpouring of warm support for the way the letters reflect his life and times is profoundly moving to me. liz, at one point when it was over said to me, i'm so glad you were able to spend so much time getting to know pat. at another point we were talking about his amazing life, and she said to me, oh, i'm so glad i wasn't awed by him when he was alive. [laughter] this was a journey for me through his words and thoughts that was unlike one i've ever taken and ever will take. and i'm often asked, okay, we
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have this beautiful tapestry that senator schumer just laid out of his career and of the issues, the incredible, disparate array of issues that he stood for. whatit we learn from these -- wt is it we learn from these letters? i'll offer a i few thoughts. the first is that the moynihan that emerges from these letters is not a different pat moynihan, but as i tried to say in the introduction, he's somebody who -- although he talked spas o establish -- lived in his own interior space of his anguish, his vulnerability, his intimacy, his combativeness, his passion and his, yes, a self-absorption. we learn from his early diaries
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how some, about his troubled childhood, that it was painful. that his anguish over his mother and father, his disappointments. his talk that grew out of ha of speaking -- that of seeking father substitutes as he at one point put it. and this, i think, we get clues that the other side of the great intellect is pat moynihan which we pay tribute to was also a man of genuine emotion andrt rock-solid commitment to family stability. and can also i think his commitment to the strength of institutions and the strength of government and the importance of bringing people together in accommodation. his passion for the presidency when he served presidents -- four presidents; two democrats and two republicans -- is
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wondrous to behold. but he believed in government. he wanted people to believe in government even though he was one of the greatest skeptics sometimes of government. the second thing i wanted to do with this book was to create a theirtive of his life --is life. i am sorry he never wrote his memoirs. he would h and other things and composed a narrative of his own life. but i guess he wasn't interested. in that. so i wanted to, this book to be anarrative of of the 40 or 50 years that he lived through. and what i found in thinking about those years was something we say today what would pat moynihan make of today's tea party and economic struggles. i think it would be very interesting to ask him and
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wonder about that period that was so formative for him of the '60s and '70s and into the '80s and these issues of culture wars where he was on the ramparts with nixon, sometimes encouraging nixon to be better than himself, sometimes fighting with him against what he viewed to be the liberal butin reading these letters, these anguished letters to nixon and to others and to friends that pd was so toxic and that we actually can thank ourselves that we've grown out of a lot of the culture wars from the '60s and '70s. and although this may seem counterintuitive or a strange thing, you can throe tomatoes -- throw tomatoes at me, we're back in the funny, sort of familiar ground of the economic bat forme
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for pat moynihan especially in the 1940s and 1950s. that was a period when people wanted to repeal the new deal just as they now want to repeal a lot of the obama programs. hoover called, was still calling the new deal a communist program. so in a funny way we're back to the future, and i would love to know what pat moynihan thinks about the tea party, but i would wonder how familiar it would seem to him from the earliest battles that he fought. and finally, i think this book is a presidency. he had a close relationship with almost, really with eight presidents. from are kennedy to -- from kennedy to president clinton. and i think that what you see, again, here is a man who wants presidents to succeed no matter
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what party, who wants to give them the best advice that he can even if it's in disagreement. there's that great moment when prime minister, the first president bush -- president, the first president bush lets him know, i know you disagree with me, but come around anyway, i want to see if i can persuade you. of and, of course, pat tries to persuade the first president bush why he was wrong to wage the first gulf war. that reminds you that it was, as senator schumer said, not so long ago a period of civility, of conversation, of comity, of dialogue, of integrity to the public debate that these letters in his career signal to us that we have to try and restore. and i think that's why this book has struck such a chord. i must say i'm quite amazed by it, but i think that must be why. it's because of what we are
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yearning to recover. so with that brief, i hope, introduction i would like to call on our panel each to make a few comments, and i'll sit here. first, let me introduce lieutenant governor dick ravitch who told me that his first meeting with pat moynihan was when he ran for city council president in 1935, a little -- 1965, a little-known or little-remembered episode of his political career, probably something he would be happy shot to remember. [laughter] but, dick, tell us about the 1976 campaign where you were so instrumental in his running for senate. and reminding that he had earlier announced that his interest in that job.>> well, o. first of all, steve, i think on behalf of everybody here you are to be con dprach canlated for an -- congratulated for an
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extraordinarily prodigious effort that was immensely successful. [applause] what i remember about 1965 was that that was a point in if time when the so-called movement wasy rigorous in new york. and pat had nothing but disdain for the elitists who were trying to throw out all the irish district leaders in many manhattan at the time. and i have to say though i could never prove this, carmike would have been one of the first stops on the march to the senate. i appreciate the references and
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moira's essay suggesting that i had some unique responsibility for pat's decision to run. i think i was one of many voices who urged him to do it, but to give you all a little context you may remember, some of you might remember -- most of you are too young to remember that after the mcgovern debacle of 1972 there was a great deal of intellectual ferment in the democratic party constituencies about which direction the democratic party was going to go in the. was it going to go in the isolationist direction that people thought that george mcgovern espoused, or was it going to be the strong anti-communist force that people felt it had traditionally been? and there was formed right after the mcgovern debacle a coalition
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for democratic majority. pat, scoop jackson, ben wattenberg, tom foley, a group of people in politics, a group of people in the, in the right, irving chris call ban to -- crystal began to publish the public interest in those days, and there was sort of a common view i amongst a group of people the democratic party could end up being a perpetual loser in thatompetition of american context that many people urged pat to think about running for the senate in this 1976. the incumbent senator was viewed as being an extremely right-wing republican, and though there were a number of other people who ended up running in the democratic primary in '76 in the senate, the name that was perceived to be the most populaa
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symbol of the new left, if you will, of the very forces in the democratic party that pat and others felt were putting the democratic party in jeopardy. there were many conversations with pat, i remember their elegant suite at the waldorf when pat was still ambassador to the u.n. which is the first time i think i raised the question with him. and he told me that he had outrageous conversation to him. at the time. but nonetheless, suggested i might want to talk to them. and, the exact day, steve, when he began to change
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his mind. i do remember several visits to the madison pub on 80th street and madison avenue in which we discussed the subject. and when he ultimately decided to do it, he did ittics that bef his sort of intellectual academic, and as in this society. and he was really unique. he didn't fit conveniently into any of the molds that people were used to talking about in u.s. politics at that point in time. and just one other incident and then a conclusion. at one point he received a letter, if i remember correctly, moira, correct me if i'm wrong, but he was notified that his tenure at harvard would, might
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be in jeopardy if he were to run the race, that he had to make a decision by a date prior to the primary as to whether or not he was going to return to harvard. and there was when he said it isn't worth it for me to risk my tenure at harvard to pursue this silly course of action. the polls showed bela


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