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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  May 26, 2012 1:30pm-2:45pm EDT

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a lot of strength that night was snowing blacks before me went through this in slavery and up to this day i said to myself it was just moments, this is what people really went through back in the days and still going through if they don't get caught. i said i have got to survive this. my brothers and sisters survived the same thing. just got to stay alive. you don't have time to think of that because you are being beaten by people not of your color. my hole instinct is i cannot buy out here. i cannot let these guys kill me. >> you can watch this and other programs online at
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up next on booktv amy gutmann and dennis thompson discuss what compromise is so difficult in today's political world. the authors of "the spirit of compromise" argue constant campaigning has produced the current discord. this is about an hour. [applause] >> thank you so much. it is a great pleasure and privilege for me to be back at the constitution center with so many friends and philadelphia in this, extended family and especially to be here for the launch of this book. i cover politics which means i cover a lot of conferences but not much compromise.
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coming from washington to philadelphia where there were so many historic compromises is a perfect setting for in treating. those getting it tonight, but that is the advance plug. it really is that good. i relive and learn things over compromises over many years. i want to ask dr. gutmann and dr. thompson to talk about how do you govern without compromise? it was suggested in your book you talk about bowls simpson sir you can't legislate without compromise. might as well go home. how do we get past the gridlock and what inspired you to
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collaborate on this? i assume there were a lot of compromises along the way. >> compromise has seen better days in this country and not surprisingly, government has seen better days in this country and it is not surprising at the same time when compromise is that it's ab the popularity of ourat it's ab the popularity of our congress is in single digits barely 10% and that accounts for the film -- families and relatives of congress men. >> we are not sure of that. >> seriously. our diagnosis is we're living in a permanent campaign where every day is effectively
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election day and compromise doesn't fit elections very well. you stand on principle and stand up for your principles and don't do anything about them but stand up for them verbally and defeat your opponents in a campaign. when a campaign lasts essentially forever there is no room for governing. that is the problem and you say how does democracy do without governing? not very well is the answer. we are looking to get people, both politicians and pundits and citizens to recognize it is important to free your mind from the notion that all you do is campaign all the time and stand on principle. >> one of the things about the book is you suggest reforms and new ideas for dealing with some of the more pernicious problems
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that cause this mind set. we can talk about that in a moment. this has been very revelatory for me and it is the money. >> campaigns require mutual mistrust. that requires an uncompromising line sets. how do you break out of those boundaries? >> obviously we have to think more carefully. she has all sorts of ways. my students haven't read it. one of the important points is we are not against being uncompromising. we think in campaigns you really do have to defeat your opponent.
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it is a 0 sum game. somebody is going to win and somebody is going to lose. we don't imagine -- we don't want to turn campaigns into a compromising climb much. how do you switched? they used to be able to do that. it used to do that more even though it was campaigning. the campaign wasn't permanent. to give space for governing -- >> the uncompromising mindsets. most recently in 2010 midterms which collected tea party
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supported republicans and enormous conflicts in the caucus. and putting john boehner on top, best illustrated as recounted in your book by lesley stahl's interview on 60 minutes with the speaker. >> he is going to be john boehner. i will be lesley stahl. we are just reading this. [talking over each other] >> you girls first. aren't you lucky. this is serious. >> i will try. the interview, obama said when john boehner becomes speaker he is going to have to govern. he can't stand on the sidelines and throw bombs. we have to govern. that is what we were elected to
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do. >> but governing means compromising. >> it means working together. >> it also means compromising. >> finding common ground. >> okay. doesn't that mean compromising? >> i am clear i am not going to compromise on my principles nor am i going to compromise the will of the american people. >> so you are saying i want common ground but i am not going to compromise. i don't understand that. i really don't. >> when you say the word compromise a lot of americans look up and say oh oh, they are going to sell me out. so finding common ground makes more sense. >> so -- you try to make all the bush tax cuts permanent sir you did compromise. >> we found common ground. >> y won't you say -- you are afraid of the word.
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>> i reject the word. [applause] >> what they see about that was people in the house caucus, some of the freshman thought he was too conciliatory and were afraid john boehner quince showing too much flexibility and waswas sho much flexibility and w'showing much flexibility and was punished within the caucus. sir >> i am sympathetic to john boehner partly for the reason you suggested. he was sort of trying. the other reason is not well known. i was born and raised in hamilton, ohio. the principal city if i could stay there and raise myself he would be my representative now. >> here is --
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>> why my imitation was so -- >> here is the reason -- let me give you the reason not to be too sympathetic. [laughter] >> i am lesley stahl. here is the reason not to be too sympathetic. even though we know john boehner lost tea party representatives who were elected on a very uncompromising platform, poll after poll as the crisis in years show that even a majority of tea party supporters wanted their own representatives to compromise yet the people they voted for refused to do it. there was and there is a real room for political leadership married with courage if you are willing to actually go out a little bit on a limb which john
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boehner was not able to do. >> look at a number of case studies and some from not such distant history that i have uncovered. the 1986 tax reform act ronald reagan was president, tip o'neill was speaker and there was a critical point where o'neal could have let it go down. the president's signature initiative and bill bradley was working on it and bipartisan in both houses and if you like, the republican finance share in the senate became so pragmatic and knowing that it could help him with his free election with his constituency if he signed on for this. at one point tip o'neill could have gone the other way and let it go down but he trusted the fact that ronald reagan could deliver enough republican votes
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to make a bipartisan bill. there are levels of this. stick to the good old days 1986 -- hard to say. personal relationships that after hours o'neal and reagan got together and as we were discussing earlier, new the leadership and legislative status from the reagan white house from trips to the hill. he knew they could deliver the vote. >> this is why it is great to have you as moderator. you tell the story for us. personal relationships and trust developed only over time if people stay in washington. newt gingrich comes in and says take your family's home three
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days 0 week. that is important but also notice which i don't have to tell you, these were partisan. tip o'neill and ronald reagan were not particularly close friends. they respected one another. they knew one another's political integrity. but they were not moderates. this should be a lesson by polarization and extremism makes compromise possible. even today ted kennedy and orrin hatch, these are not moderate people. they knew how to compromise. that is a key lesson.
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>> the health care. the health care act, and a lot to do with the distrust that poisoned the atmosphere. the seeds of this eventual lack of political support was built in to the way it was legislated. >> it was really interesting to compare the tax reform act with the health care act why we do it as a book but it was really interesting. here's what i find most interesting. as part of the was -- the major tax reform of the century. it was just as hard to get health care through in one party and there was a lot of
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compromise within the party and almost no possibility of bipartisanship. it was a game of chicken both parties were playing. i know people depending on whether u.s. republicans or democrats, blame the other party. absolutely true that the republican party is the third to the right and democrats to the left and republicans more to the right proportionately but it is also true the democrats didn't seriously entertain for reform for example. they both felt it was to their political advantage not to come together and i go back to what you said about the tax reform. the principal members -- it is not surprising when the debt ceiling crisis, joe biden and mitch mcconnell had known each
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other two decades. that wasn't true in health care reform. >> this was a crisis there was no reason to become a priceless. this is normally routine legislation. that incentive, all sides -- >> it should have been routine. and raised without as many people getting upset. two things. they got an agreement but it was under gone and a real crisis everybody recognized. a personal relationship with joe biden but also a success story in this end, it averted a crisis
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but kicked the can down the road. the supercommittee didn't use the superpowers and failed and interestingly, when do you think we will face this again? no one thinks we will face this and sequester mr chamber for the election which is one of our points. you can't govern if you're thinking about the election all the time. >> let's go back because of where we are. the investments we can learn from history. you talk about the grand compromise and constitutional convention 1787, slavery compromise, unequal representation compromise which were not necessarily that brand. also you cite some of the rules that helped achieve the compromise, one of which was mutual respect. no walking around or talking.
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translate that to the current house floor on any given day or the senate and you could almost say no talking. [talking over each other] >> little things can make a big difference. there were some small rules of respect and when of the features of the compromise mindsets was mutual respect and you don't have to agree with people to respect them. tip o'neill and ronald reagan were fierce opponents but when it came to governing the respected each other and the constitutional convention the founders were very clever about small rules. it also helped that they did it in secret. they weren't -- there weren't cameras there. but there was a lot at stake and the compromises that they made.
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if you think -- you don't pick the compromise you would least like to happen because of your politics, the compromise that happened to make the constitution possible just makes anything that we would object to look easy and it was because of these rules. let me give you an example. everybody -- one of the favorite institutions people would like to change to make compromise more likely is the filibuster. it is not going to happen with, compromise. you won't of polish the filibuster. one compromise would be you keep the filibuster, the senator has to be on the floor actually filibustering so this would be where the media would be on the right side. the media could show the american public do it is who is
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holding up these bills. that would help a small change. >> the secret hold senators keep that paralyzed the department and this happens in both parties. at the height of the financial crisis crisis department couldn't get anyone confirm the. nobody could run key divisions in the agency and it happened most memorably with the traditional white house. >> universities are so efficient. let me tell you. [talking over each other] >> they may not agree with us but they really are. >> you discuss confidentiality. are there times when confidentiality creates more
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mistrust? and other panels that do significant things. they can only do it outside the glare not only of people like me but their colleagues. it creates so much mistrust that eventually it becomes difficult. >> that is the problem. there is a balance at the constitutional convention. confidentiality was justified because they didn't make -- and recovered by you. people had a sense what the arguments were. contemporary cases are a little harder because you do want to have opportunities for maybe not to keep it secret from your
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colleagues which was part of the problem you mentioned but you need some space where you could exchange views without pretending you are in a campaign. you are in a democracy so that should eventually come out. the media's only hope for this. >> i do think the media has more forms and morphed into instantaneous twitter feeds. the news cycle is constant so there's no deliberative process
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involved. how do you think -- to say nothing outside of national newspapers which are challenge. public broadcasting is constantly under attack but what about the influence of cable talk radio television advocacy adversarial talk in the conversation. >> a 24-hour news cycle puts a premium threat of rhetoric because you can repeat it over and over again and it is titillating in its own way and it also took the premium on what is easy to do which is horse race coverage. so whatever you say it is not the content of what they say. they said it in order to get some political advantage. that goes over and over again
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and is pretty simple to do. we advocate for what we call horse race coverage and narrow political coverage. there is broader political coverage which is still strategic and exciting which something like meet the press and 60 minutes do and they sell, they get really good audiences. it is harder to do but so much better and would put journalists in a better light. it is not hopeless. the good thing is people are using the internet media in addition to network news and other things. i think it feeds into the campaign mentality to have a 24/7 news cycle. we still need the media to cover
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the issues for us. >> issues that gets so distorted by the process, immigration comes to mind. one thing to look at is the george bush effort to like senator simpson all the way back, there was a compromise. they paid for compromise on immigration and under president bush there was an attempt to update immigration reform and in the midst of a presidential campaign it went completely off track. john mccain was punished for his partnership with senator kennedy. >> a good example -- i will say something about that. one of the recommendations about the media that we suggest is there should be more rotations so that it isn't people who cover campaigns aren't just
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covering a campaign because they have been substantive so foreign correspondents might cover campaigns. it says something about you at the moment. on immigration, one of the features of a compromise that makes it difficult is usually the classic compromise includes conflicting principles. if immigration -- the later one that failed, amnesty was included with opportunities to become citizens. the two really competing principles people on each side really rejected wasn't that they found common ground, it is that they agreed to principal and piece of legislation that had their principle expressed but
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one they hated in the legislature. wasn't common ground. it was messy and unattractive and it succeeded in the early 80s with simpson and mazzoli because it wasn't what they trusted and these were two partisans who had credibility because they were partisan and could without losing their base compromise. it failed even though you have arlen specter and other respectable people on both sides. it failed to determine campaigns completely taking over. >> i don't think major immigration reform is possible in this country. in the context of the campaign. even though it makes so much sense, the passwords are amnesty and taking away jobs from
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american workers. when you meet -- we are nation of immigrants and will lease a great if we continue to be a nation of immigrants. one of the biggest travesties of the campaign is the failure of immigration reform. >> what is the role of money in this? i know from covering the senate in the past that sir really splendid senators in recent history in both parties who left the senate because they hated the money shane and in 92-94-96 spend a long time creating openings where house members moved up to the senate and brought a different culture of
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the house. less collegiality. and how has this money stayed? >> become free said the meetings were discussing. that a long time ago and it has gotten worse and worse because it is 24/7 and every day of the week is election day you can use money to buy media time. the supreme court hasn't helped on this lot. the root of the problem is not money. the root of the problem is the permanent campaign which money facilitates. it greases the wheel and it is not just what president obama or candidate mitt romney can raise
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but what the super pacs raise which is hundreds of millions of dollars. >> one of the suggestions is a time limit leader still many ban for a period. .. >> you've got to have the come propleasing mindset -- compromising mindset that will enable you to be compromised. we think there's a way out of that. there are others -- we do suggest banning, as other people
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have, banning in fundraising in congress outside of your district. banning leadership pacst which can become -- there are some grass roots fund be raising reform bees like the fair elections act now which we talk about. all of these are sort of trying to skirt around the position that the supreme court has put us in which we don't go into this in the book. i'll just express my opinion. the court has overinterrupted the first amendment in banning -- overinterpretted the first amendment. but we being reasonable people who try to compromise are trying to work around, and there are things that can be done within these constitutional constraints, and i think would
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help. but as amy said, we tried it, and we think we should keep focused on it. it's not only money. i mean, if you think money is the root of it, then it's going to be here for a long time, and that'll be another excuse not to compromise. >> are there examples that you can find where compromise is not a good thing? >> yeah. so the argument that i think you all could agree with is compromise isn't always a good thing. and, indeed, in campaigns you don't want -- whoever your candidate is, suppose, you know, you're a fan of president obama. you don't want him to go on the campaign trail saying i'm willing to compromise with my republican colleagues in the following ways. that would be -- i would go so far as that would actually be not the ethical thing to do because you're selling out your own side before the other sides
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has offered you anything. so compromise isn't the stance you should take when you're campaigning which means it's so much more important to make space for governing. and i would be in favor of congress agreeing that they would spend, you know, at least four days a week in washington governing and not out on the campaign trail raising money. and there are some compromises that are really bad come propoises, and the winning case is when one side capitulates to the other. so not all compromises are good. but we're living in an era where compromise is a dirty word. so it needs resuscitation. i don't think it's dead, but it's on life support, and we need to realize nobody likes to compromise. but the alternative of compromise in democracy is the death of democracy.
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>> i reject the word. [laughter] >> just parenthetically, dr. thompson, you mentioned earlier newt gingrich in the terms of -- >> i'm sorry. [laughter] >> who suspended his campaign officially today, you mentioned gingrich in the context -- >> probably could get applause for that. [laughter] >> the context of the not going home. when he became speaker, he said to his new members that he wanted them to go home and not make their homes in washington so they didn't know each other, their spouses didn't know each other. there wasn't any kind of community spirit, and it became known as the tuesday to thursday club. they were in town the tuesday, wednesday and thursday to raise money. they were, basically, meeting with fundraisers. it was really newt when he became speaker who made that the regiment. >> yes, you were there. and that was a turning point on,
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for a very important and unfortunate development. now, we tend to think that it would be good if our representatives went back home and and talked to their constituents. and it would. but as you suggested, they talk to their fundraisers, their bundlers. they talk to the same people who are encouraging them to be uncompromising. the same people who actually want them to compromise later they sort of forget, oh, gee, i did tell you not to compromise, but now there's this terrible crisis. so one of the things i think that would help -- when we did an op-ed piece in the times, we got some e-mail saying, great, this is a wonderful argument for term limits. because there are a lot -- you might, it's not unreasonable to think if you have term limits, then at least some people in congress will not be thinking about being reelected.
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that has other problems. but it sounds good. the problem is that if you have term limits, you don't build relationships over time. there are actually some studies of state legislatures like michigan, for example, that show when they put term limits into effect, there's -- people don't trust one another, there's -- the legislators don't trust one another, there's less compromising going on. so the term limits, there may be a case for term limits, but it's certainly t not a case that anybody who wants to have reasonable compromise would endorse. >> in the book you write about 2011 being the year of the pledge. dr. gutmann, talk about the year of the pledge and how that ties people's hands. >> so a majority of members of the house and 41 senators have taken the grover norquist pledge
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which is they will not support any tax increases. and somebody like alan simpson rightly says that that's crazy to do in politics, to promise that you're never going to do x and stand on principle. why is it? because you don't, you can't govern, you can't sit down at the table and make any deals. and i think you all remember when the republican primary candidates when there was still many be of them were asked, okay, would you agree to $1 in increased taxes for revenue for $10 of cuts in goth -- government spending, and not one of them would agree to that. they had all taken the norquist pledge, and that just really blocks not just compromise, it
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blocks governing. so why do they do it? well, the dream of every partisan, and democrats, imagine -- if you're a republican, imagine democrats taking the same pledge, we will not agree to $1 in, um, benefits cuts. not $1 to med care, medicaid -- medicare, medicaid, any entitlement cut. and why do they do it? because it really drives a stake in the ground, it's inspiring to the true believers, and it really caters to the base. so it's a great campaigning tactic, but i would go as far as saying it's lunacy. it's, it is -- if that continues, it would be the death of democracy. i don't think it could continue because even a majority of tea party support beers when asked directly, okay, your representative, the representative you a agree with most, would you be willing to
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your representative agreeing to tax increases in order to avert the debt ceiling crisis? and a majority of them said, yes. so it's not the american public that's drives this although sometimes they fuel it in elections. it's really the people taking these promises. and it sounds good. i will never compromise my principles. and -- >> and it's for fear that a group such as grover norquist will run against them, and the pledge was also on social issues, abortion, you know, on banning abortion in more extreme circumstances and also banning same-sex marriage. >> well, yeah. the marriage vow which is a little sticky, actually, that was a pledge taken in the primary that i'll be faithful to my wife or husband, better do
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that. i'll be against sharia law kind of taking over. well, that's a great threat. we've certainly got to -- [laughter] but then they sneak in same-sex marriage. so it wasn't this sort of harmless little pledge. >> but, you know, absolute promises are very good for marriages. they're very bad for governing. [laughter] and my husband's here, so i had to say the first part of it. [laughter] >> i want to bring everyone in with their questions as well. but one final thought was this is not your first book together, so it is a writing marriage of sorts. how do you compromise -- [laughter] and have there been times when you had to work out disagreements in creating the spirit of compromise? better not say? [laughter] >> no. >> go ahead. [laughter] when we wrote democracy and
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disagreement, i like to say i'm democracy, and he's disagreement. [laughter] and then, of course, he disagreed which just proved my point. [laughter] >> we sort of anticipated the question, and we were -- i was supposed to say, yes, and you're supposed to say, no, and so we couldn't even agree on who was going to say yes and who was going to say no. [laughter] one thing, look at the cover of the book. >> oh, better still, buy it. >> no, i'll give you a free -- if our editor is here, he knows how much time -- we maybe spent more time on the tonights on the word -- on the fonts on the word compromise. [laughter] see if you see how, this is a deep meaning, we -- the designers, it looks like there was six designers because there's six different kinds of fonts. >> the truth is, we had no disagreements of the content, the cover was -- [laughter] but we like the cover, don't we, dennis? >> yes. [laughter]
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>> just say yes. [laughter] >> but there is a serious point. >> there is? >> one of the messages of, which we alluded to before is that compromises in politics are messy. they're not always common ground, win/win situations. they're conflicting, messy, incoherent often if you look at it as a political philosopher would, who we are sometimes. we would like to think that the book isn't messy and -- [laughter] you'll judge that. but we also would like to think that you could write a book that's more or less coheermt that might actually have some effect on the messy and incoherent world of politics that we live in. >> yeah. >> so see if you agree. if you don't -- >> i certainly agree. we have some questions from the audience. one is, it seems that members of congress have gotten more
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extreme because of jerry handerring. >> uh-huh. >> how do we reform that without waiting another ten years? >> yeah. so, you know, it's interesting, um, that's a great question because it is commonly thought that congress has become more polarized and partisan because of gerrymandering, and there's actually not -- political scientists will tell you that there's not good evidence for that. however, we do argue and there is good evidence for the idea that it doesn't make sense for partisans in congress to decide on redistricting. there ought to be, and dennis has written an article on this there, ought to be independent commissions that decide how to redistrict because whatever the fact of the matter, polarization has many causes. but it doesn't inspire
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confidence in our political system to have the party in power be the one that decides on redistricting. >> now, there's a question, rather than compromising, isn't it better for kohl pigs -- poll poll -- politicians to take strong positions and win big so they won't have to compromise? [laughter] >> well, yes. nice work if you can get it. the problem, first of all, is that it's very unlikely that one party can gain complete control that is of the presidency, both houses of congress and a veto-proof or filly filibuster-proof majority in the senate. you can hope, some of us hope that it's the democrats, and some of us hope that it's the republicans. but notice even if that happens as we saw in the health care bill, it's still going to be hard, very hard to compromise.
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and the trouble with legislation that comes out of the one-party-dominated government which is going to be rare anyhow is that that's not sustainable. be because given the way american politics go, the next party will overturn it or won't implement it. so there really isn't e cape from -- isn't escape from compromise. a lot of our friends, you know, sort of are saying, well, just -- it's a good question. it sounds like some of my friends in cambridge say what's all this talk about compromise? let's just get out and get the democrats to control the senate and the house and reelect obama. and we'll forget about all this nonsense with boehner and the republicans. good luck. [laughter] >> and the republicans want to do the exact same thing, and neither in our system -- in a parliamentary system the
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government is the government in power. and in our electoral system for good and bad reasons, um, was set up so it would be very hard to have a party in power that didn't have to sit down and govern with the minority party. >> you've spoken about respect, and one of the questions is, could you address the issue of cordiality? we spoke about it just in passing, about some of the rules that the constitutional convention had. how important is it in creating the space for compromise if it's important, how can it be fostered on capitol hill and between the hill and the white house? >> yeah. so i think mutual respect is the coin of the realm of governing. and i think without it, as
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andrea has suggested in the what she's seen in 1986, there would not have been a tax reform act. and if you don't like the tax reform act, pick any other piece of legislation between kennedy and hatch, for example. you know, the americans for disabilities act, care for -- health care for children. kennedy and hatch had a respect for one another while they were wildly partisan. and really identified with the left and right wings of their party. so i think respect is incredibly important, and the question is how do you cultivate it in the era of a campaign, and i think there are some simple ways of doing it. and i would start with having congress spend more time with each other.
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and less time out there raising money. >> one thing comes to mind is that the primaries themselves have become so poisonous. next tuesday in indiana there's going to be a republican primary for the nomination for senate. and one of the great weapons that the challenger is using against dick lugar, a veteran republican and former chairman, now ranking member of the foreign relations committee, he co-sponsored non-lugar which was, i think most people would say, landmark legislation to control fissile material at the end, the collapse of the soviet union and bring it under the same management. so what do you do when you have primaries where your record of compromise and achievement is being used against you because of the throw the bums out, anti-washington, you know, anti-washington insider
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mentality? >> well, in the short run not too much. but i think that illustrates why it's so important that voters themselves and citizens begin to learn that if they want government rather than campaigning all the time they've got to support people like -- [inaudible] the other thing i say about primaries which we do say in the book is the primary system itself is not ideal. that is, i think we would favor open primaries, not necessarily like california had which was struck down by the supreme court, but something like the state of washington. the candidates declare their partisan affiliation, but you as a voter can choose whichever candidate that you prefer, and those, the two top candidates go on to the general election. so open primaries tend to produce more moderate
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candidates. and then we would be choosing not between extremes, but between people who were more likely to be able to compromise. so the system itself, you know, maybe you want it more extreme. but the system is designed to make that almost a certainty now in most states. >> one questioner was asking beyond domestic politics, can the spirit of compromise be applied to foreign affairs, and would a compromising america be disadvantaged in a seemingly uncompromising world? >> question for you, andrea. [laughter] >> yeah. so we write about compromise in democracy in part because you can compromise in democracy in a fairly safe space. internationally, when you're doing it between countries, often what's at stake is war or
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no war, maas slaughter or not. mass slaughter or not. there's a, there's a terrific book on this, i think, and we comment on it. and he is very much in favor of compromise in international politics, and he draws the line with rotten -- he says everything but rotten compromises. and is what are rotten compromises? they're compromises that perpetuate humiliation and degradation for more than one generation. so it's a, you know, it's a line -- and then you have to ask, okay, why draw the line there? so i think the same argument we make in the book applies to international politic, but it's much more complicated international politics. and that is you have to ask whether a compromise will improve on the status quo, will move you towards the principles
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you believe in and will make it more likely to be able to continue to make progress in the future. and if the answer to those are all yes, then there's really openings for compromise. but if it's going to empower, give more power to a repressive regime rather than rein in their power, then it's dangerous. but the main argument of our book applies to international politics which is there are no general principles that you can just trot out. because sitting down and crafting compromises doesn't allow you to know ahead of time what you can agree to. >> you challenged the wisdom, quote-unquote, of joseph shumenter the in the book in terms of governing elites. and related to that one of the questions is you say that modern am paining is not -- campaigning
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is not likely to go away because of money. so a democracy or our form of democracy, is it relevant? should we switch to a technocratic system -- not sure what that is -- what makes democracy the right form today? >> oh, wow. >> that's a deep question, and dennis is going to answer it. [laughter] >> i'm going to ask the person who asked it to stand up and explain himself. >> and stay after class. [laughter] >> it's a serious question, actually, because we take it for granted -- as i think most of you do -- that campaigns or, let's say elections which almost by definition imply some sort of campaign, you could have a search committee -- >> you don't want to do that. [laughter] >> well, a search committee did very well here. [laughter] not always at harvard, but -- [laughter] most of the time. [laughter] you're going to have campaigns,
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and i think we just have to discipline ourselves as citizens. we haven't said anything about civic education which is a little section in the book and something amy's written a lot about. the hope for preserving this democracy and maybe not us, maybe some of you are young enough to still be in school, but in the next generation some people are directed to that message. if we're going to preserve representative democracy which does require a certain amount of self-discipline to get out and campaign and be uncompromising and join movements and then hold back a little bit, let your representatives govern for a while and then tell them, no, we didn't like what you did not because you didn't keep your pledge, but just because you
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screwed up. and get rid of them then. so i have hope if we can get that message across that we should -- and the alternatives, technocratic? no. elitist? no. the experts and elites have not served us very well in the past in history and even in -- >> right. but it does, so we're just a few blocks from independence hall where the constitution was crafted. and the story goes that when franklin left and a woman confronted him and said what do we have, mr. franklin? and he answered, a republic if we can keep it. and that question really challenges, i think, democracy and citizens primarily, can we keep it. and i do think that we're at -- it's going to get worse before
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it gets better. i think the spirit of compromise has faded, and i think until citizens stand up and show that they really care about our republic and about governing, it's not going to revive. but i think it will revive. but if it doesn't, then democracy is really at risk. the spirit of democracy. i don't think any other form of government. i think winston churchill when when -- was right when he said it's the worst form of government except for all the others. it's a great form of government when its spirit is alive at it was at the time of the founding with huge injustices. i mean, our founding substantiated slavery. president lincoln, the greatest -- i think one of the two greatest presidents,
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washington and lincoln -- he made compromises in order to preserve the union. and we have to recognize as citizens our responsibility to take control of the future of democracy. so the question of whether we should have an oligarchy isn't really one that we have to take seriously because it would be, you know, it would be a -- it would be the tragedy of our lives. and be it's not going to be. we really -- president clinton who's the chair of the national constitution center in his inaugural address 20 years ago said there's nothing wrong with america that can't be fixed by what's right with america. and i think that's true. but there's an awful lot wrong right now. >> and when you look at bringing it back to one of the comments you made earlier, the lack of regard for congress, for government -- >> yeah. >> -- even less so than for the executive branch, 9% according
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to some polls, the lowest in polling history. what can we do about civic education, a topic in your book, to create a virtual, a virtuous cycle where people care, respect government, want to be engaged, follow it and, therefore, we end up having a higher number of people voting and voting in a better informed way? >> that's absolutely right. i mean, one of the problems is that government doesn't deserve much -- it deserves more than 9%, perhaps. so there is a little bit of chicken and egg problem here, and that's why the civic education is so important. maybe we can't get out of this bind today, but if next generation learns -- we suggest three things in the book -- learns how compromises were made
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in the past and how difficult they were, so a little bit of history, learns themselves how to understand the views and perspectives of other people not just say, oh, that's nice, you believe that, but really engage, actually, in depth in the classroom and, third, actually learn how to make compromises. maybe on things like school rules or things that matter to the students and have them actually workshop in compromise. well, there's an education program for you, and if that's -- you read the book, you do the education program and come back in ten years, and we will have solved the problem for you. [laughter] >> and that could not be a better way to conclude and just say the spirit of compromise is a wonderful book. it's really a primer, and it's actually exciting because it is a useful reminder of moments in
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american history, some fairly recent, when things actually did work. and there is advice for ways that things can be better. and it's an election year. i love politics, i love election years, so i'm thrilled to have this new work of wisdom. and our thanks to the authors, dr. amy gutmann, dr. dennis thompson, and our thanks to all of you. [applause] >> is there a nonfiction author or book you'd like to see featured on booktv? send us an e-mail at or tweet us at >> yeehaw! >> welcome to old cow town museum, wichita, kansas. >> here in the city of wichita, of course, waking up the city
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for 22 years, and we think we've got a heck of a start, that's why the mayor comes in every witness stands. today he's going talk about talking about the problem we're having in the city with taxi cabs. >> june 2nd and 3rd booktv and american history tv explore the heritage and literary culture of wichita, kansas. >> rather modest looking paper-wrap binding. but what it contains is an alphabetical list of the members of the senate and the house of representatives done in 1831. i believe this was issued only, as it says here, for the members' immediate use only. not that they had xerox machines, but they were not supposed to loan this out because, as you can see, it would tell you exactly where everybody lived. so you could go and button hole them and punch them if you didn't like them. >> watch for booktv and american history tv in wichita on june 2nd and 3rd on c-span2
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and 3. >> let me just say i think you can sum up -- a very timely book. i hope you enjoy it. it's, um, i think it can be summed up in really one sentence, that seldom, if ever, in our history have we seen such a concerted series of vicious personal attacks directed against any president of the united states. completely funded, in this case, by a pair of brothers, big oil barons named the koch brothers, with the assistance of an all-too-compliant american media. and you add those three elements together, and you get the obama hate machine. so i'd just like to say a little bit about each of those elements and then open it up for questions until c-span tells us the cameras are turned off. and, you know, let's start with
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a hate directed against obama. first of all, i've got to say, though, i think criticism of any american president is fair game. i'm part of the white house press corps, i go to the white house every day, would have been there today if we weren't coming down here, and every day in front of the white house on pennsylvania avenue there are, there's a crowd of people protesting something. you know? and i love that, i really do. i always make a point of checking out what they're there for, what the issue of the day is. it's a very healthy part of our democracy. and, um, criticism of presidents, of course, has been around for a long time. you want to go back to the ugliest presidential campaign in history, you could probably go back to 1800 and john adams and thomas jefferson, some of the things that were said particularly by their followers, not so much the two of them, but their followers. but with president obama it's been attacks not on his policies so much as on him as a person. and we haven't seen that, i
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don't believe -- and i went back and did a lot of research in presidential campaigns and presidential history -- we haven't seen that directed, that severe and ugly directed against, pardon me, since abraham lincoln. we think of lincoln, of course, as st. abraham. he wasn't thought of that way during his lifetime. it was only after he was assassinated. when he came to washington, he was introduce today the nation by the -- introduced to the nation by the kentucky statesman as follows: abraham lincoln is the man above the medium height. he passed the six foot mark by an inch or two. he is raw-boned, bow-legged, knock-kneed, pigeon-toed, slob-sided, a shapeless skeleton in a very tough, very dirty, unwholesome skin. his lips protrude beyond the natural level of the face but are pale and smeared with
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tobacco juice, his teeth are filthy. [laughter] meet your president, the new president of the united states. [laughter] at the same time, one -- another paper published this profile of mr. lincoln. mr. lincoln stands six feet tall in his socks which he changes once every ten days. [laughter] his anatomy is composed mostly of bones, and when walking, he resembles the offspring of a happy marriage between a derrick and a windmill. [laughter] his head is shaped something like a route bag georgia -- route beg georgia. he can hardly be called handsome, though he is certainly much better looking since he had the smallpox. [laughter] all right. well, flash forward, right? president obama called a racist, a marxist, a fascist, a
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dictator, a muslim -- that's not meant as a positive term, by the way, man of faith, a muslim meaning a terrorist -- a nazi, a foreigner, a jackass, rush limbaugh called him that, a liar, of course, jim wilson on the floor of the house and a socialist. this is obsession with obama as a person, it's what others have called the otherring of president obama. you know, they have the kind of prove that he's not like us. and some of it, not all of it, but some of it, of course, is the color of his skin. he's black, and we're white. he's the first african-american president. but also he's not a true american, he wasn't -- the whole birth certificate nonsense. all to show that he is, again, something different, something else, something foreign.
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it's really this obsession to try to destroy barack obama personally. david horowitz actually calls in the obama derangement syndrome. they just can't help themselves. and i don't know how many of you heard about this. it goes on. last week the leading federal judge in montana sends out an e-mail on his official judicial e-mail account to his friends this joke about barack obama asking his mommy, you know, why am i black and you're white, and she says, well, for all i know about your father, i'm surprised he didn't bark when we had sex meaning having sex with a dog. he did this on his official federal e-mail, and he said, you know, i don't usually send jokes out to friends like this, but i just thought this one was particularly funny. yeah. i mean, that's how sick these people are, and that's what we
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have seen over and over again. again, directed not so much against -- you can disagree with barack obama's health plan, was it strong enough or that it's government takeover of health care. you can disagree with him on taxes and whatever, but this is against him personally and trying to destroy and be discredit him personally. and it's not just fox news. it's out there because of a couple of people that most americans have never heard of, the famous koch brothers, now-famous charles and david koch. and, again, we've seen corporate-sponsored attacked against presidents before, particularly -- and i outline two of them -- franklin delano roos vel. -- roosevelt. by the way, it was the dupont brothers, and there were threw of them at the time. they actually banded together, put their money together, formed the liberty league to deny fdr a second term.
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then with bill clinton it was richard mellon who funded the investigations that led to paula jones and the articles in the american spectator. but nothing compared to the must money and the organization that we've seen on the part of charles and david koch. who are the heads of koch industries, they are the third and fourth richest men in america, people in america, both men. you know, we know about bill gates and warren buffett, but these are number three and number four. combined wealth of $50 billion. they have put more money in -- by the way, i have to say this. they do some good things, particularly david koch who is the wealthiest man in new york city. you thought michael bloomberg was. no, it's david koch. but he funds the metropolitan opera, big supporters, the metropolitan museum of art,
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cancer research centers around the country. but most of their money goes into political activities. and they are everywhere. the heritage foundation in washington, d.c., koch brothers. the cato institute when it started, koch brothers. cato kind of went its own independent way, and the koch brothers are now suing the cato institute to get it back to be a totally-controlled koch brothers' operation. people, americans for prosper by, the most active political organizations today all funded by the koch brothers. freedomworkss, dick armey's organization, koch brothers. john kasich in ohio, koch brothers' candidate. bought lock, stock and barrel by the koch brothers. same with scott walker in wisconsin. everywhere. in california a couple of years ago there was a finish many, problem 23, on the ballot to
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repeal the clean, new clean car standards put in by arnold. schwarzeneggerer. that measure which lost, totally funded by the koch brothers. legislation in west virginia to overturn the new mining safety rules that were put in place after that last mine disaster, the effort to overturn mining safety regulations funded by the koch brothers. i have in the book a page with 53 different organizations. a lot of them, by the way, research centers on college campuses around the country alll for the purpose of disputing global warming and fighting to do away with government relations that have anything to do with climate control. different organizations that i was able to find that are either partially or totally funded by the koch brothers. their reach is so great that someone has called them the kochtopus. [laughter]
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just think of all those arms out there. and they don't do it alone. they get together twice a year with their corporate buddies from around the country and raise money for right-wing political causes. two days before the book came out -- i was so happy this happened hawz i could tell people, you see? i'm not exaggerating, i'm not making this up. they had their latest con fab in palm springs, and i'll tell you who was there. sheldon edelson was there, by the way. their meetings are routinely attended by republican governors, kasich, walker, chris christie, bob mcdonnell from virginia, i'm sure rick scott, they've all been there. supreme court justices antonin scalia, clarence thomas, alito, they've all been there to these meetings of the corporate chieftains, and this one two days before the book came out, they raised $100 million in one weekend to defeat barack obama
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this year for president. now, think about that. if you look at the super park z for -- pacs for romney and santorum and ron paul and newt gingrich, up until super tuesday they had spent a total of $53 million. and in that one weekend they raised $100 million. so they are, they are huge. they were out there, and they will say and they will do anything. of course, um, a lot easier for them now since citizens united. because you cannot only raise unlimited corporate money, but you don't have to report which corporations are paying which bills. but they also couldn't do it without the assistance of the nation's media. and that's what drives me crazy. >> you can watch this and other programs online at >> here's a look at some books that are being released this coming week.
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