tv Book TV CSPAN July 21, 2012 11:00am-12:30pm EDT
george h. w. bush sent a monthly newsletters -- they are not monthly. he offered them and all but one turned them down. a lot of people that used to be president wants get away a little bit. they've had enough of that secure world stuff. and i gave them up -- about life that life up for something better and different. .. >> we are about out of time. just on behalf of everyone here,
the reagan library and the foundation, mike and nancy, i just want to say thank you so much for coming, it was just fascinating. we're so happy that you're here. >> thank you. ms. . [applause] >> you're watching booktv on c-span2, 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books every weekend. congressional scholars thomas mann and norman ornstein examine partisan politics in the u.s. government. they contend the level of hyperpartisanship has resulted in a disfunctional political process that's marked by adherence to political party platforms above all else. this is about an hour and a half. >> i think we are, um, i think we're ready to begin. um, i'm e.j. dionne, senior fellow here at brookings.
i moderate a lot of panels. i always say the greatest insult ever directed to me was from david brooks who said my eyes light up at the words "panel discussion." [laughter] isn't that a powerful insult? and normally even when i have strong views, i try to be, to coin a phrase, fair and balanced about things. i just want to confess right up front, i'm not fair and balance because of my feelings able norm and tom. norm and tom are two of my favorite people in the world, and i cannot tell you how excited i am that they have become celebrities. [laughter] and i think it's a great thing for them, it's a great thing for the republic, and i'm just honored to be here with them and with susan and mickey who have agreed to join this great discussion. i want to begin by saying that this event is being live webcast. attendees are encouraged to live tweet the event, the hash tag -- i've never gotten to say that before -- the hash tag even worse is where you should send your comments. and books will be available for
purchase and autographs at the conclusion of the event. are there any other announcements i need to make? i think we can just go straight into the main event. tom mann is a senior fellow here at brookings, he is the hairman chair. he got his ba in political science from the university of florida and his ma and ph.d. from the university of michigan, so he speaks for the heartland of our great country, actually grew up -- >> and he saved the automobile industry. >> right. [laughter] >> and he was opposed to stopping production of the edsel. [laughter] he lectures frequently, as all of you know, and is on every radio and television show known to human kind. and he and norm have often
competed for the most quotations in any given year in all of our media. norm is a resident scholar at the american enterprise institute for public policy research, he's an election analyst for cbs, he writes a column for roll call, he has written for every publication on the face of the earth. he and tom both have been on the "newshour" with jim lehrerer, nightline, charlie rose. it is pure -- he has another heartlander -- a ba from the university of minnesota and an ma and ph.d. from, yes, the university of michigan, which is where you guys met. >> yes. >> and, um, i just have to say ha one of the reasons why -- one of the reasons why i think tom and norm got so much attention for that outlook piece is because they have been spending their entire lives being so damn moderate and reasonable that when they get mad, there really must be something wrong. and so why don't i go to norm and tom, tom and norm first, and then i will introduce susan and
mickey edwards. tom, a great honor to be your colleague. >> e.j., thank you so much. and, susan and mickey k, really appreciate your coming all of you for participating in this event. norm and i have been friends and colleagues and collaborators for over 40 years. by now it shows on me, it doesn't show on him, but people often ask me when we collaborate, you know, how -- what's the division of labor? finally, i got a book cover that pretty much lays it out. i mean, you see the subtitle, "how the american constitutional system collide with the the new politics of extremism." on the left is your constitution beige, right? you know, slightly worn. on the right is that harsh color implying extremism. mann's on the side of the
constitution, ornstein is with the politics of extremism. [laughter] so just so you have this straight. >> i'm beige already. >> i also want to announce that this will be our last public appearance before entering a witness protection program. [laughter] i mean, maybe we should have followed the full script of hans christian anderson and enlisted a child to blurt out the emperor wears no clothes, but we weren't smart enough to do that. actually, what i want to say is the response to the first ten days or so of, or less, of commentary i learned what it means to go viral. it was a very instructive lesson from norm's son. but it's been very heartening.
maybe 5% sort of really ugly hate mail, another 5% sort of constructive criticism and 90% thank you, guys, for saying this. and prominent among those scores of people who we -- who e-mailed us and were in the 90% are self-identified republicans, ordinary citizens and some elected officials and party activists as well. and a fair number of reporters. both of whom take a little heat from us in this, in this volume, and i'm actually really, really heartened by it. i think it's fair to say, too, that we feel each passing day brings more reinforcements of the argument we make in this book.
the latest, of course, was richard lugar's defeat yesterday in indiana. sort of not so much the fact that an 80-year-old man who'd served, what, seven terms in the senate? >> six. >> six, was running for the seventh term lost his election. these things happen. but it was the nature of the case against him that he had collaborated with the enemy when the enemy was in the senate. that would be barack obama. that he voted for supreme court justices nominated by obama, that he supported president bush's t.a.r.p. program. um, it really is quite telling to see how his opponent undermined him by saying that he's, he's gone over to the dark side. it tells us a lot about the
problematics of our politics right now. then we have that incident on the campaign trail, i think it was yesterday, when in a town hall meeting setting a woman got up and talked about the abuse of the constitution by the president and how he should be tried for treason. well, people make sharp statements. i remember john mccain reacting to a statement like that in 2008 and really just drawing the line and saying what kind of a person mr. obama was. in this case, you know, mitt romney just passed it by. it wasn't -- the sentiments are so strong, you don't want to confront or engage that. he said when asked by a reporter later to be true, no, of course
not. but it's not -- third, the house republican budget committee is now proceeding to do two things. one is to insist on lower overall discretionary spending than was agreed to in the law that came at the end of that dreadful process of holding the debt ceiling hostage. so unilaterally they declared that a floor for cuts and not a ceiling, and now it's a way of avoiding the sequestration of of the defense budget have proposed a really remarkable set of additional cutbacks and means-tested programs of one sort or another. i even saw the calmest and most lucid and analytic of reporters, david rogers of politico, show
his emotion in the course of writing about that. and, of course, we had yesterday a successful republican filibuster on the senate democratic plan for setting, extending a lower student loan rate and financing it in a particular way. that's no surprise. i noted in the new york times that this is the 23st -- 21st successful republican filibuster in this congress. now, most of it is not sort of, if you will, consequential as the filibuster was in the first two years because there is a republican house in any case, and democratic wishes from the white house and the senate respect likely to be -- aren't likely to be realized. but the fact that it's been so common place and is taken for granted.
and in most press reports the word "filibuster" never is elevated to the story itself because so routine. it's a procedural motion. it didn't get the 60 votes that it needed. it shows you how much the filibuster has become so routine. listen, our argument is, can be summarized briefly. one, we have a mismatch now, a serious mismatch between our political parties which are highly polarized, internally unified, hyperstrategic in their partisan behavior in congress that is parliamentary like. relentlessly oppositional when they are out of government, out of, out of the presidency, but they are operating not in if a parliamentary system where that kind of behavior can be quite useful and productive, but in a separation of powers system with
routine filibusters, with midterm elections, with the possibility of divided party government that, frankly, is such a mismatch that it doesn't work now. the second point, the one that has gotten the most attention, is that the polarization that exists between our parties is not symmetric. there is one party that has really gone off the tracks, that has become an insurgent that is more ideologically extreme that rejects several generations of economic and social policy stretching back as far as a century ago that is scornful of compromise, down at the level of the individual republican identifier.
who doesn't have much use for facts, for evidence, for science and perhaps most important of all that really questions the legitimacy of the opposition party and the extent to which they are real americans. this is something, you know, we've had individuals say but never has it seemed to be accepted by the leadership of one of our two major parties. the third point we make is that in the end you never fix these things without the public stepping up and reining in parties that have gone amiss, but alas, the complications of accountability in if our system -- in many our system, number one, and number two the way in which these events and arguments and battles are portrayed to the public through not the partisan press which has
its own awful aspects, but through the mainstream press by respected, able, highly-professional reporters that leads to a kind of phony balance, a false equivalence of they both do it, you know? they're both implicated. that, we argue, has the effect of demobilizing and disarming a public that might otherwise be in a position to do something about it. thank you. >> thank you very much, tom. and now i turn to norm. when they first described this book to me, i said this book is just like that eric clapton album that became, was imitated many times. it was tom and norm unplugged. [laughter] and so i give you norm unplugged. [laughter] >> thank you, e.j.. i actually want to start with a pluck. this is not the -- plug. this is not the only book which
should be capturing deep attention by those who care about our political system. e.j. has a book coming out which is marvelous called "our divided political heart." what's the subtitle, e.j.? >> "the battle for the american idea in an age of discontent." and now you know why i love these guys. [laughter] >> and i suggested a new subtitle, "richard lugar as thety yen by yen few." [laughter] >> thank you, norm. but, please, buy them both. and both make great holiday gifts. [laughter] mother's day -- >> july 4th? >> father's day. mother's day's coming up, father's day follows. that's a lot to think about. e.j. started talking about the 40-plus-year partnership that tom and i have had, and over that period of time we have tried very scrupulously to be fair-minded and not take sides. call them as we see them. but for me it's always been a point of pride that i could go
and give a talk to people and have some come up afterwards and say we couldn't tell from that what side you're on. so 40 years we have done that, and writing this book was not an easy thing to do. because that's going the change some. there are going to be some people who now see us, see me in particular as having taken sides. so i often get asked why did you do this. and i think the fact is for both of us we've spent 40 years building some capital and a reputation, and there comes a point where you feel you need to use that capital because the stakes are too high, the consequences are too great. and we both believe that we are at a really critical point in this political system. we face huge problems in the country short term and long term, and if we are going to leech this system of problem solvers and end up with people who say things like richard murdoch, the new republican
nominee for the senate in indiana, said yesterday which is my idea of compromise is when they move to accept my position. if that's how we're going to be faced with making policy decisions that are going to be very tough and painful for americans as all major changes in social policy whether they expand government or contract government do, they disrupt people's lives almost by definition. and you can't make that work and create a sense of legitimacy in a system where people face short-term pain. for the problem that it will improve their lives or the lives of their children in the future. if we get rid of people like richard lugar in this process and emerge with people who have a very different perspective. and the fact that we have gone through a number of years where we've been move anything that direction -- moving in that direction and that people are not held accountable, there
hasn't been a price to pay for obstruction, for obstruction's sake, for hostage taking and for a lot of other bad behaviors in politics, motivated us not just to write this book, but also to take on a press corps that we think has to a much greater degree than it should fallen back into a comfortable position of saying we report both sides. i frankly think part of this is because we've seen the emergence over the last 20 years of fairly substantial and effective lobbies on both sides that may have started with accurate si in media, it moved to fair. journalists, like most of us, don't like criticism. in fact, maybe more than most of us journalists don't like criticism. [laughter] and in particular a mainstream press that has for many years been hit with the idea that it's a liberal press, to be hit hard from the right with the idea
that you're tilt anything that direction -- tilting in that direction brings about a desire to overbalance. and in this case it's an overbalance where the value becomes, as we've heard from many reporters, our obligation is to report both sides of the story. and my response to that is, all right, so if you have a hit-and-run driver, do you say that when the hit-and-run driver comes out and says, hey, it's his fault, he stepped into the crosswalk, that that has equivalence with the victim? and that's not the obligation of journalism, to report to truth. and in this case we have decided to report what we believe is the truth right now. and that truth reflects not a brief for one party. i have no desire to carry water for the democratic party. and i have no desire to simply turn the republicans into a version of the democratic party. we need two vibrant parties that have different centers of gravity and that compete with a
lot of vigor and bumping heads together but also have an understanding of the nature of our political process. it's different from a parliamentary system. it is a system where if you are going to reach a level where people in this extended republic accept those decisions that are made, you've got to find some broad, bipartisan leadership consensus, and that means collaboration. it doesn't mean here's what we're going to do, and if you want to come to us, that's fine. if you don't, screw you. it doesn't mean we're going to obstruct because that's the way for us to get ahead even if it brings significant damage to the country along the way. we've got to shed some blood during the course of a revolution. it means something different. our political heroes include people like barbara connable to whom we dedicated our book several years ago, "the broken branch." it includes people like dick
lugar. it includes people who have been very strong conservatives. if you read lugar's statement after his defeat which reflected some considerable degree of bitterness but also was a very eloquent statement about what we need in our political process, and this was not a statement coming from a guy who said, hey, look, i'm just your everyday moderate. in fact, he said people off said to me during the course of this campaign why don't you just become an independent. and he said i'm a republican, i've always been one, i always will be one. i believe in the values of small government, less taxes and all the things that reflect what conservativism was and presumably ought to be. but that's not enough now. and jack danforth said today partly, of course, in if reaction to lugar's defeat, if we continue to move towards purity, we will move to irrelevancy. and along the way the country, in effect, is going to go down the tubes. and that, i think s a clarion call. and if you get clarion calls
coming from people like chuck hagel and alan simpson and dick lugar and jack danforth -- not just from us -- that ought to shake people up about where we are and where we're going. and what we hope would happen but has happened, actually, with a degree of penetration that astounded us from "the washington post" piece before the book was that all that credibility that we had built up would get out there and resonate with people, that this isn't just a couple of people coming from one end of the spectrum saying it's all the fault of people at the other end. and this is not 100% the fault of one party. plenty of blame to go around in a lot of ways. but this really is the case of of a system that has grown in dysfunction as one party has become as we say an insurgent outlier. and it needs not to disappear, it needs not to become so pure that it moves to irrelevancy. it needs to move back to where
it was when we had a system that had plenty of imperfections but that worked to solve short and long-term problems by finding ways to create legitimacy behind the tough decisions that we make. >> thank you very, very much, norm. just two things i want to say before i introduce susan. the first is one of norm's great lines that i have heard as i've been talking about this book is if you want to understand the book, understand we believe democrats move from, say, the 40-yard line to the 25-yard line, but the other guys have moved to some point outside the stadium altogether, and that -- [laughter] [inaudible conversations] >> and the other is apropos of journalists, a politician once said, look, we politicians may have thin skins, you journalists have no skin. [laughter] which i've always tried to keep in the mind. and so it is an act of both great graciousness and bravery that susan page has kindly i greed to -- agreed to join us today. susan is the washington bureau
chief for "usa today" where she writes about the white house and national politics. she's won a slew of awards, the gerald ford prize for distinguished reporting on the presidency, the merriman/smith award. thal doe beckman award for coverage of the presidency, and a whole lot of other awards. she is a regular guest host of "the diane rehm show" on pbr, she's been on many broadcast outlets. a native of wichita, kansas, she received a master's in journalism from columbia where she was a pulitzer fellow. and she'll be followed by mickey edwards who is a lecturer at princeton university's woodrow wilson school of public policy and international affairs. he was a republican member of congress from oklahoma for 16 years. he was a member of the republican leadership, he served on the budget and appropriations committees. he's taught in addition to teaching at princeton, he's taught at harvard, in georgetown
he shared various task forces for the constitution project for us here at brookings, for the council on foreign relations. he is current vice president and director of the aspen institute's public leadership program, and his latest book, "the parties versus the people: how to turn republicans and democrats into americans," will be published this summer. and i promise that before you leave mickey wll baptize all of you. [laughter] but first, i want to turn to susan page. >> thank you. thank you, e.j.. it's a great pleasure to be here with, really, four people for whom i have so much admiration and who i have quoted so many times in so many stories. i have, i think, a little bit of news which is i have found out the title of the next book that is coming out between tom mann and norm ornstein. you can figure out from the past the previous books. 1992 book by the two of them, "renewing congress."
sounds pretty positive. 2000, "the permanent campaign." okay, maybe not entirely positive, but at least pretty neutral. six years later, 2006, "the broken branch." okay, sounds a little perilous. now "it's even worse than it looks," their new book is "run for your lives." [laughter] thereafter that they're just goo be marching up and down holding a sign -- [laughter] um -- >> that's a good title. [laughter] >> let me -- they take on many institutions in washington and elsewhere, and let me just talk for a minute about some of the things they say about the news media which is, um, appropriate to criticize. a lot to criticize about how we do our jobs and how we ought to do them better. and they talk about fact check institutions, that's something that i think journalism is doing more of things like truth telling on tv ads, that's one thing i think a lot of
organizations including my own is trying to do this year. i think there's been some move in the last few years to do what you just talked about, norm, which is if someone says something is black and someone says it's white and you can tell it's white, you shouldn't just say he said it's white and he said it's black. the two things i think of, two specific storylines very pushed journalists to be more willing to call someone as saying the truth or not is the whole birther movement. because we found early on in the obama campaign four years ago that it was not enough to say this voter i interviewed said that he was born in kenya. obama denies being born in kenya, you know? that did not tell readers fully enough what the truth was. and so i think you'll see the mainstream media when this comes up, and it continues to come up a lot of times, i have to say. you say so and so said he was
born in kenya, however, he was not born in kenya, he was born in hawaii. you know, you go on and state as fact what we believe to be true which is that he was born in hawaii. the other thing that i think has pushed journalism in the direction that you want them to go is climate change. because there was a time when i think a lot of news outlets would report climate change skeptics with kind of equal force with people arguing for climate change. and now i think when you see reports on this in the mainstream press, much like the overwhelming predominance of scientific opinion is in favor of climate change or believing in climate change. the one thing, you know, there'd be nothing in this book to fault exactly, but the one thing i think might get kind of underestimated in this book is the degree to which this paralysis is a conscious choice by a whole group of voters. you know, if you look at the criticism that richard lugar made -- richard murdoch and
murdoch's defense of himself, the same thing. lugar said he doesn't want to legislate. murdoch said, i don't want to legislate. lugar said, he won't make the compromises necessary to get things done. murdoch said, that's exactly what i want to do. if you elect me, i'm going to throw sand in the gears of government, i'm going to prevent things from getting done. i don't agree with the consensus that has governed washington for so long. i'm for presenting a different path. and that was true with the rise of the tea party movement in 2010. i mean, voters who voted for tea party-backed candidates were not tricked into a kind of tactics that supporters were going to follow once they got to washington. they said they were willing to take the government to the edge of a cliff on something like the debt ceiling and over the cliff because they said that was the only way they could achieve the kind of political ends that they, b that they wanted to see. so in the end, it seems to me that the fundamental problem
here or a fundamental problem is dealing with such a lack of faith in government and such a disconnection, such a disconnect from the federal government and such a suspicion about the role of the federal government that it's led a significant portion of americans to want to elect candidates who do exactly what they said they were going to do which was stop things from happening in washington regardless of the consequences. >> with thank you so much. i -- thank you so much. i want to correct -- that was excellent. i want to correct one thing. i said mickey would baptize you all as americans. i realize among others we are joined, and we appreciate it, by the ambassador from norway. [laughter] you will only be baptized as american if you wish -- [laughter] mickey edwards. >> well, honorary -- >> the green card maybe. [laughter] [inaudible conversations] >> yeah, he's already a citizen of minnesota.
well, first of all, i want to say it's a great pleasure to be able to be here with tom and with norm. i have been a friend of theirs for a very long time. there are no two political scholars who are more respected and who have more credibility with the american people than tom and norm do. and so i'm delighted to have a chance to be here and, you know, help them sell as many books -- [laughter] as possible. you're not allowed to leave. we have the doors blocked. [laughter] billions you buy their books. and, of course, i've worked with susan and with e.j. for a long time, so, you know, i'm very pleased to be able to be here and be part of this. what can i add? first of all, i agree when you're talking about it's even worse than it looks, i agree with that completely, it is.
if you really examine what is actually happening on the hill in every conceivable way, how decisions are made about who gets to sit on what committees of jurisdiction, how decisions are made every day in terms of whether or not to allow opposition groups to offer amendments to the process. all of -- if you actually saw this in detail, you'd say it is worse than it looks. it is much worse. i would say there's a couple of things that i would add. it was certainly right, what tom said at the beginning and norm has said that the problem is not equal between the two political parties. some of you know i wrote a book four years ago called reclaiming conservativism basically saying that the people who call themselves conservatives today have no idea what real conservativism is.
and they're preaching some kinds of weird ideas that seem they don't even understand what the constitution is. so i'm not going to take the role of defending the republican party at all. i will say that it may be that this book could do a better job of arguing that there is also fault on the other side. and nancy pelosi is a good friend of mine and has been for a long time, but when barack obama wanted to reach out and work with republicans, nancy said as you remember, you know, we won the elections, we'll write the bills. when the democrats were controlling the house, they did what republicans had done before and what republicans have done since which is to use closed rules to prevent amendments from being offered and to shut down
debate of consideration of alternatives. so i do not dismiss at all the criticism of the republican party, and i agree that the party has become more locked in against compromise which is the essential ingredient of a nation of 320 million people. it's not consensus, it's compromise. and to shut it off as the republican party has done is a terrible problem. but let's not let the democrats off the hook because they've also been partners in this, and there were just a couple of u.s. house members who lost in their primaries, you know, as part of the democratic purification process. so what we have here is a system where both parties are focused primarily -- that's the reason i have the subtitle of the book, you know, "how to turn republicans and democrat into americans," is because they're focused on party, focused on
party advantage. how do we win the next election. and i have argued that -- and i think tom and norm both have come to grips with this too -- a large part of this problem is systemic. so when you look what happened yesterday in indiana, dick lugar losing, and i think that was a terrible thing that he lost, but when he lost, he lost in a republican primary. when robert bennett lost in utah, he lost in a republican primary. when joe lieberman lost in connecticut, he lost in a democratic primary. when mike castle lost in delaware, he lost in a republican primary. and i don't know what would have happened if dick lugar had been able to run among all the voters in indiana. but we've created a system here in which the parties themselves can prevent the voters, the bulk of the voters in the state, from are being able to choose among their options. and you have closed parties that
are dominated, you know, by the people who are the most partisan, the most ideological, and that's what moves the process forward. they do that in congressional redistricting, they do it, as i mentioned, in how the parties choose, you know? i think tom's a great guy, very smart. he probably knows a lot about economics. if he were a member of my party and he wanted to be on the ways and means committee, i'd say, tom, you're great. you'd be perfect on ways and means, it would be good for america, and i will put you on the ways and means committee if you promise in advance you're going to stick with the party line on these three or four things. so i guess what i'm saying is to make this book even better than it is, and it's a superb book, it would have to be three times as long. and it's because the problems are not only in the people who are elected and how they behave, but it's the system that allows these people to dominate and become our official decision makers in washington.
so but having thrown that in there, i'll just say that this is a really good book. it's a superb book, and i'm -- i agree with what norm said. given their reputations, which are sterling, it took a lot of courage to write a book like this. and i admire them both for doing it. >> thank you. i'm such a contrarian. i feel like turning on my friends now, but i won't do that. [laughter] i can't do that. but here's what i'd like to ask, and then i also, again, i want to remind people that especially the people who are listening on the webcast that they can send their thoughts using the hashtag "even worse." and i'm going to turn to christine in a second when she has some comments. let me start with a question to you, norm, and a question to susan. the question to you, norm, is, i mean, mickey has really laid out in a sense the question that
probably lots of people want you to answer which is you have really singled out the republicans. you say they are the insurgent outliers. and then mickey sort of said, well, but the democrats have done a lot of things wrong too. can you sort of explain why -- and, tom, as well if you want to come in on this, but norm had expressed an interest in answering this question before, you know -- why the republicans really are different. and then to susan, and i'll just give you some time to think about it. i'm sympathetic to, i mean, i write an opinionated column, so it's easy for me, but i'm sympathetic to their create critique of -- critique of the press, and here's what hit me this morning. during this primary dick lugar was regularly described as a moderate. and i looked up dick lugar's rating from the american conservative union. dick lugar's american conservative union rating is 77%. now, if that's moderate, that's a spectrum pretty skewed to the right because he's already more
than three-quarters of the way over to the right. and that struck me that the very language that reporters use ends up being a concession to a radically-changed situation, and it doesn't even acknowledge it. so i'd just like you to sort of think about that. but, norm? >> thanks, e.j.. let me say i didn't want to say good things about our panelists before they spoke because it would seem like i was tilting the process. [laughter] but it's just a thrill to us to have both of these people here. they're role models for us. and mickey, i could add to that past onof heroes. from the time when he was serving in congress because he stood up for the constitution and for article i at a time when his colleagues were trashing it for their own political purposes. so he really is a true conservative in the kind who we used to have who solved problems. and susan's the kind of journalist we used to have a lot more of. [laughter] so having said that, a lot of
what mickey said is true. there are no angels here. and democrats have manipulated the process, dispensed with the regular order when they felt it was in their interest, then particularly during that 40-year period when they were in the majority and especially towards the end of it became arrogant, condescending towards the minority, misused the rules, often would use a proxy power in committees to have one person show up and throw out every minority amendment, even the good ones, just because they could. so, you know, it's not as if we're looking at angels versus devils. but there really is a difference. ask one way to express that -- and one way to express that difference is if you look at what happened after 2000. george w. bush gets elected after the most controversial election at least in 100 years. thirty-six days to decide it, a supreme court 5-4 decision put him in. no coat tails at all.
and in a very weakened position. >> and lost the popular vote. >> lost the popular vote. >> just remind people. [laughter] >> and it would have been easy for democrats to stomp all over him right from the beginning and, basically, damage a weakened presidency. the first thing bush pushed two initiatives when he first got there; no child left behind and tax cuts. no child left behind moved through in a model bipartisan fashion with the impetus for it coming from from george miller and ted kennedy, liberal democrats. now, you can say, well, they like that policy, but the fact is that in doing so they gave legitimacy to bush and made his presidency stronger. democratic votes enabled those tax cuts to go through, whether you like them or don't like them. then we had 9/11. and a rallying by both parties
behind a range of legislation, some of which was quite controversial, but almost unanimous support. and then you move on to the t.a.r.p. program. rejected first by republicans. and it was democrats who saved the bacon. now, i compare that to two things. the first is what happened with the president who came in under the not the same circumstances, but with mom momentum and that was bill clinton in 1993. and the first thing that happens is every republican votes gwen his economic plan -- against his economic plan in both houses, acting like a parliamentary minority, and then a whole series of programs where there was a conscious effort to make sure he couldn't get what he wanted. now, it's also true that he couldn't keep his own democrats together, and they have some culpability, but a very significant difference. and then you move to 2009. of we have a president who's been elected in a landslide with
enormous coattails, a clear sign of where the public, what the public wanted, a president who comes in with a 70% approval rating in the worst economy since the great depression. three-and-a-half weeks into his presidency, he has his economic program, the stimulus plan. now, you can argue -- and i think mickey would -- that that was a plan largely hatched in democratic rooms, but it also had more than a third of it, almost 40%, as tax cuts. and the single largest tax cut was the extension of the alternative minimum tax which came from chuck grassley who ultimately voted against the plan. three in the senate not including most of those who had their amendments added. and then we move on from there to not a single one voting for any significant initiative. now that, to me, represents a difference. and a difference which suggests a willingness to try and figure
out how you can solve some problems even if there are other places where you want to stomp on the president, and democrats did that with bush at other times. but a real contrast between where the two parties are now. so there are no angels here, but we really do have one party that is not that far from the midfield area, although it's moved, and the other party that's behind its own goalpost. >> do you disagree with any of what norm just said, mickey? >> no. i think the problem is with both sides, and so a lot of republicans would probably say, well, yes, but we've said for 40 years we don't want to go there, and now our failure to go there
doesn't mean we've changed or become bad. but i think the problem that i see and it really bothers me, and it is i think it is worse on the republican side. but we do have on issue after issue after issue, i can tell you right now i don't know whether the next nominee for the supreme court will be nominated by barack obama or by mitt romney. i don't know who will get the chance to make that nomination. but i will tell you now -- and nobody in this room knows who it will be -- but every democrat if it's obama who nominates that person, every democrat will vote for him or her, and every republican will vote against him or her because that's the situation we've got, is that it all comes down to my club against your club. and that's -- so i think that's our basic problem. both parties are only playing to the next election. they're playing to their own base, and they're not worrying about solving problems.
but i do agree republicans have been worse at it, more in lockstep, less willing to engage with issues, more, you know, what richard murdoch was saying that norm was quoting is fairly typical, at least to the republicans who take part in the primaries, and i think that's right. >> susan, can you address the question i asked? and i could give other examples, but that one just really struck me where it seems to me the press is allowing one party to redefine where the middle is without acknowledging that this is a new middle from the middle everybody was accustomed to. >> right. and, you know, i think words matter, so i don't think it's inconsequential whether in reports -- the indianapolis star, for instance, called lugar a moderate or a conservative. especially in a climate where that was a weapon that was used against him in the republican primary. maybe we need to retire for now
the word "moderate" from being used in washington because we've got nobody in the middle. as the book points out in the national journal study of congressional records, there is no republican with a more liberal voting record than the most conservative democrat. so now we have literally zero overlap between the two parties. maybe there's, maybe moderate is not the word we should be using. i think you make a very fair point. dick lugar has a conservative voting record, he's got a conservative history of half a century in government as a mayor and then in the senate. um, so he's a conservative, but, you know, i think the reason that reporters call him, have called him moderate is not because of his voting record, it's because of his manner. and in this climate he has a moderate manner in that he's willing to talk to democrats, he's willing to work with sam nunn, he's willing to engage with president obama on issues. and there are some liberal democrats who you'd also say are moderate in manner. and so maybe that's the language
we should be more careful to use. >> tom? >> can i just follow up on that? i think susan's right. it's about more than ideology. it really is. and it would be a mistake to say this is nothing but the ideological polarization of the parties. it also has to do with the sort of process of politics and and a belief in the legitimacy of the other side and a willingness to engage in real give and take. i mean, barney frank got along pretty well with his ranking republican, spencer bachus, but bachus leveled, you know, when they finished in committee. even though many of his ideas were included, i can't possibly support you on the floor because my party has a strategy. it's a political strategy that i can't do anything about it.
but mickey's right, there is a broad dynamic at work here that effects both parties. there's just no question about it. and we may not play that up enough in the book. we certainly, we certainly believe it, that there's so much now strategic partisan behavior, it's happening because the parties are operating at a level of parity so that each, each election is there's a chance of a change in party control of the white house and majority control of the house and the senate. and so there's a kind of relentlessness to think in those strategic terms in -- and both engage in that. so in that sense i'm with mickey completely. but right now there's a sort of fundamental difference between
democrats and republicans. republicans, partly because of the public and their constituencies, are -- believe that government has suddenly gotten out of hand. it's just too big, it's too expensive, taxes are too high, and anything associated with government except for the defense department -- [laughter] is counterproductive and a bad thing. democrats, for their part, who once were insurgents themselves are now a more diverse party, and they're a party that's protective of government to some ec tent. especially -- extent. especially the major elements of the inherited regime going back to teddy roosevelt and woodrow wilson, continuing through franklin roosevelt. and, frankly, richard nixon who
is responsible for a good part of the domestic policy apparatus of the country. they're realistic now. they are not wild-eyed liberals wanting, you know, wanting to socialize activities. i mean, it's a joke. they, they understand that the demographic forces at work in and health care cost increases make programs that they and -- will make programs that they and most americans think absolutely essential unstable and weakened over time. so they are fully willing, um, to engage in those negotiations. whenever i see a press report, well, the republicans say no new taxes, and democrats say don't touch that, our entitlement
programs. and i say, which democrats? who counts? the president isn't saying it. the leadership of the parties are not saying it. they're perfectly prepared to negotiate. but sort of everyone understands, you know, if you're serious about deficits and debt, you don't begin your program as paul ryan has with major new tax cuts and then imagine how you're going to sort of put that together in the end. and so i think that, that is a sort of fundamental difference. democrats are protective and, therefore, their political incentives are to play the same hardball campaign, permanent campaign hardball. but they're not prepared to put at risk the full faith and credit of the united states. they're not prepared really to shut the goth down. shut the government down. you know, they just won't do
that because they believe government plays an important role, and i think conservatives, real conservatives, want the government that they have and not a bit more in that they need. but they're not, they're not wild and crazy about just dumping on that. and i think we have -- it's almost a radical perspective, not a conservative perspective against one that's much more protective of government. and i think that difference is real. >> thank you, tom. by the way, i just want to throw out a theory which you can keep in the back of your head, and i want to go after to the hashtag even worse caucus where christine will tell us, have some comments. just one theory, it's all bill clinton's fault. [laughter] and -- >> of course. >> i would explain that by saying that starting in the 1990s moderate republicans began leaving the party in large numbers in places like the counties around philadelphia. and so the john hines
republicans aren't republicans anymore, and you've rate. >>ed an entire -- you've created an entirely different electorate, witness what happened in delaware or indiana. i'll just leave that there, somebody can comment. christine, thank you. >> thank you. first off, the twitterverse is loving norm's pink socks. [laughter] that's the fundamental thing trickling up. i have two questions. one is from robert kelly who's a student at american university. and he says if there's a systemic problem, what changes to the system do the panelists feel are most appropriate. and secondly, michael mcvicker, also in washington -- a self-described aspiring policy analyst -- he wants to know are voters getting what they deserve, and when are they going to wake up? >> barney frank, by the way, once told an angry crowd, look, we politicians are no great shakes, but you voters are no day at the beach either. [laughter] a brave statement.
who wants to -- you want to take either or both? >> okay. well, first, there are systemic problems, and half this book is about what not to do and what to do. but we have to start with an acknowledgment that this is not something that's going to be solved by tinkering with the institutions or even the institutional setup. to some degree it's a cultural problem now, and it's tribal politics. and it's also built into a broader media system, you know? we can talk about the primary electorate, but the fact is that people like grover norquist and rush limbaugh and cable television networks and other talk radio have an enormous impact here. they both help to shape the zeitgeist and to create conditions where politicians who might otherwise be willing to look for solutions can't because if they do, they're dead. and when you watch the degree to
which political figures give -- [inaudible] to these individuals even when they go wild, and limbaugh has said some things that are beyond outrageous, you get no pushback because whenever you've had a political figure who just tries a little bit to say, gee, that was too much, they get their legs cut off. now, what do you do when the new world of media basically tell us that the business model that works as the fox news model that somehow a network with an audience at any given time of two-and-a-half million people can make more net profits than all three news divisions combined with an audience of 30 million people, and -- >> is that true? >> yes. $700 million in net profit for fox news last year, a billion it look like last year, more than the three network news divisions combined and cnn and msnbc. it's enormously successful. and if they abandon that business model, if fox news tomorrow said, all right, here's the new message from roger
ailes, can't we all just get along? you know, we may not like what this president wants to do, but he's a good man, and we could probably find ways to work with him, i would guarantee you within a week there would be a wolf news channel that would take the old message, and the two-and-a-half million people at any given time would all gravitate over there. and that's where the money making would be. so it's very hard to change this stuff. how do you create a new public square where you can at least share a common set of facts and then debate hammer and tong over solutions? that's the challenge, and we discuss that a little bit. at the same time, getting to what mickey said, we've got to find ways to broaden the electorate. we are both big fans, all three of us having spent time in australia, are big fans of the australian system of mandatory attendance at the polls. i won't get into the details here, but basically, a small fine if you don't show up. you don't have to vote, you can
vote for none of the above, has led over many decades to 95%-plus turnout in australia. now, high turnout is not an end in and of itself. the former soviet union had 95% turnout. it doesn't reflect health in a political system. chicago can get to 110% on a good day. [laughter] but what australian politicians will tell you is, if you know that your base is going to be there, all of them, their base is going to be there, all of them, you don't focus on energizing and exciting and scaring the crap out of your base or suppressing the other side's base. you have to focus on the voters in the middle. and it changes the issues you talk about. they don't talk a lot in their campaigns about guns or gays. they talk about the economy, jobs, the climate, education and things that matter, and they don't use the kind of language that we use in our campaigns because you'll scare or turn off the voters in the middle.
absent that since we don't like mandatory anything here, i've now come to be a champion of a megamillions lottery where your prize, your ticket is your vote stub. [laughter] and if you look at the last megamillions where people, you know, camped out three days in advance to be able to get a ticket where, of course, let's face it, the chance of winning was less than being struck by lightning twice in a day, you know, put a few hundred million dollars into this, and we'll up our turnout significantly. open primaries, i think, are an easier way to move in that direction. a lot of things that can be done, and we've got to do some changes inside the system, including the filibuster. ..
s much as possible because those that do not now participate are ones with less absolutely committed and polarized views and reinforcement from australasia and the dozens of other democracies that have some form of mandatory attendance. at the polls. the other thing is you say okay, we've got these parties. let's have a political system in which they get something done. that means fundamental reform of
the senate. i believe the united states senate is today the most dysfunctional legislative body in the space world. the very process that in the past looking out at senator sasser here in the past would yield people to come together across party lines to try to work out some agreement now do just the opposite to enforce the absolute partisan divide between the parties and individuals centers to, abuse the individual holes that frankly sort of the partisan to bend the culturist such the senate cannot function that's needed. one final thing, thinking of changing and the public sure
it's the public's fault. they got frustrated and angry because the economy didn't improve and they changed the team and power after two years in 2010 and created a divided party government that believe they have a public mandate to do just what they said they would do, and they worked hard to do that and the public hated it. so in a sense they got what they asked for if not consciously, unconsciously that is the sense that asking too much of the public would be nice if every member of the public or registered to vote and voted and try to have the knowledge of the typical attendees at eight new england style town meeting and a brookings seminar. islamic it's not going to
happen. people are busy keeping wife told without investing in two hours of reading of the times and "the wall street journal" every day. but it does mean we've got to figure out a way. it's very hard in our constitutional system to make the choices more clear to hold individuals a accountable. they've become the dean of american democracy. it worked there under conditions and it doesn't work now. mickey has good ideas and i want to bring him back in but i want to turn to the audience. do we have some microphones to circulate? this gentleman right up front, yes, sir and then mike behind you. >> for an explanation, and external explanation of behavior and the more rigid leaning
republican party newell said that it was the voter at some level we bring particular to the fox news profitability and the inevitability of money following the experienced ideas in the media and elsewhere what can that link money to the media be linked to the greater rigidity of the republican party whether it is campaign finance or elsewhere it's the public insinuation into the process is one that's facilitated by media guide influence by a logically imbalanced money to have a greater reflection more had it had a greater reflection of the current condition of the republican and the democratic party? >> that is a highly relevant question. by the become the main take away from this is what would the onion do with the idea?
>> acknowledging that there is a conservative wing of the gop that has gained influence is it fair to say that they represent the party of the whole that is part one of my question to the eddy and number two, is it possible that these folks play a valuable role in making easier for moderate and both parties including the president to make the tough decisions about entitlement and taxes? >> there's an optimistic view. right behind you. >> i noticed that mr. lawrence dean's p.m. the on a few rows none of them are still in congress or won't be in a few months. it seems that once they are on their way out the door alan simpson is a great example they say all the right things but when they are continuing to run, what would you suggest to
encourage politicians in office because it's the right thing to do? >> you can start on -- i'm curious because you've done so much work on that money question and then whenever you wanted to say before and i guess we are supposed to -- are we close or past the time? >> leah at many fascinating questions pending. let me try to run through a couple of them. the conservative wing is now the party. its agenda has been embraced by the leadership. the chairman of the budget committee paul ryan a very evil committee is the architect of that agenda which would make every tea party happy so that
it's indistinguishable and they ain't no way provide cover for all those moderates that want to do the right thing. the answer is grover norquist no new tax pledge. that alone would free the republican party to engage in good faith substantive negotiations everybody knows that our taxes are now at a historic low in the contemporary era and they are going to go up sort of naturally and with the aging of the population i guarantee it would be somewhere around 20% of gdp. wouldn't it be nice if we could acknowledge that and say what is most sensible and efficient way
to structure a tax system? probably a progressive consumption tax and the host of others they had the pledge to which members sign it's hopeless in any constructive resolution of the problems confronting the country. there is no political space for a third party to occupy. it's based on the presumption we have the two extreme parties and there is a great set to mobilize that there's room for such a party and it was play a constructive role. is it going to get worse than it is now? and to the status of greece
model the status quo would solve our problems that this to say expiration of the tax cuts pretty much take care and the median intermediate deficit problem and implementation of the cost saving measures strengthen over time what deal with our long-term health care problems so we are not that far away and we have other tremendous strengths that will allow us to make the kind of investments to transform the economy to deal with the reality of stagnant wages and a sense of diminished opportunities. we can do it. we need the public to rein in beater that's destructive and we
need political leaders to act forcefully. we've given enough bipartisan commissions and search the consensus it's time for sensible hardball politics along these lines. >> i'd like to take the money question back. i've forgotten their names a couple political scientists had a chart that showed the party polarization in congress was directly correlated with increasing concentrations with the polarization. about a post citizens united system with a federal election commission completely out of control and a lot of money coming in with political actors
and told a policy process in a very bad way and in a way that will only enhance inequality and if you look at this one example from north carolina and you have a group of the agricultural interests that wanted to influence the state legislature on the bill the prepared the model commercials put them on the ipad and went in to see them it had nothing to do with agriculture they defined them as a child molesting aliens out to destroy the fabric of america and show them the commercials and said if we don't get what we want, millions of dollars could be spent on commercials just like this and they got what they wanted and they didn't have to spend in the honey. that is what this has done and the idea that this is not corrupting she was on a different planet in a different universe so there is all of that to deal with and we are getting model legislation written basically by outside interests that just gets pulled dryden.
it's the gilded age brought up to the 21st century. i always like to find places like nt issues with, and so i want to address this question. i actually don't believe that the right wing without representing the party represents the republican party and we have survey after survey that has on a range of issued sulfide and five republicans do not take the same positions consists of a lot of older voters that have no clue just for others it's not clear to me that all of this will play out necessarily the way they want, and i believe there are problem solvers still in congress. they are completely intimidated being able to play that role but you still have a few who've taken now to do so. mike crapo, saxby chambliss and
tom coburn and not to mention durbin on the other side actually stepped out of lamb and will tell you and barack obama praised the gang of six and aid to the senior republican in the senate immediately send an e-mail to politico saying that killed that plant if he's for it we are against it. it's not about ideology now than it is about tribalism, so that is a challenge that we have and it's not encouraging moderate or providing space. it's intimidating them. every time getting to the question every time we get people who leave congress we get these republicans to leave them it's like you've been inside the tent where you are breathing a gas and suddenly you are outside and say how can i have done that, how can i have acted that way? so what always is to create a shadow congress that consists of former members who stayed on the spectrum starting with a common set of facts and maybe after the
debate congress never was a great debater for society but the genuine discussions aren't going to have huge audiences you can provide a model for how the voters that kuran to have a discussion of what our options are you can start with an ocean of there is something to climate change and have a great debate over whether you do anything. whether you do lot. whether you do it with a carbon tax or cap-and-trade program or through some other mechanism that can actually give people a sense of what our tough choices are instead of having people who say maybe scientists have something and then they are thrown out unceremoniously. small steps that may provide us with some opportunities to change the dialogue. we had a usa today gallup poll that came back on monday. other republicans, not leaders but people who describe themselves as the republican party and the arrest their ideology called self moderate to liberal. a third of the party.
and this particular poll for the first time they lost their enthusiasm advantage in the presidential race and the reason they did is because declining among that group of moderate and liberal republicans. so there is not a republican in washington who would describe themselves as a moderate or liberal but a third of republicans on the country do. >> and then they lose primaries. >> just to the point rahm emanuel like to say that the republican party is deeply divided between its small government wing and it's no government wing. and i do think that is the truth within that garb. i am told we are now in our time i want mckee to come back and and a couple of closing comments. incidentally the part of the book that hasn't gotten much attention and susan mentioned it, unlike the we should ignore chapter which i will review the american political system will
correct itself? no. a party to the rescue, know. balanced budget a limit, they say no and public financing of elections they say no but then they have a whole bunch of things they say yes to and i propose if you had your shot at congress than we can have an election between the schoem congress and then we can see who wins. so, let me invite everybody to do closing comments and start with mickey. >> just going down a couple fees. does this represent the republican party as a whole? else susan just said, no but it does represent those that vote in primaries. so, you know, it's a matter of you can't be on the ballot. every state in the united states has a sore loser law that means if you lost your primary you can't appear on the ballot in november. those need to go. it's the primary voters that are represented in the party.
second, in terms of what can we do about it i don't know how many of your have any of your friends show up in the town meeting, show up where you are a member of the house or senate present to participate in the elections, called into the radio tv show in other words, we need to get the citizens engaged. the citizens aren't crazy. 42% of the american people are now registered as independent. they are fleeing from the party. but they need to be at those meetings. the need to confront. the need to be confrontational with their representatives and senators and say we are not going to vote for you if you believe this way. can it be more repressive? i got to testify on behalf of the american bar association to a committee in the house when the previous president announced through his statements that he
would decide for himself whether or not he had to obey the law and every republican so nothing wrong with that. democracy is not about policy it's about the process and i think as we continue to focus on do whatever we need to do to the policy of, what the hell with the process and the constitution how about wiretapping without a warrant. i think we are on a slippery slope than some people would want to admit. >> saying what an achievement is to read a policy book it gets sold out on amazon so congratulations to the officers.
>> i'm on to thank my colleagues mckee and susan and e.j. of course. we are with you. it's a very negative sounding title but we too agree with you that there are things we can do things that can help produce a larger and more electronic changes we can make that would allow the public to officials accountable in a way that is very difficult to do now that in the end clear signals to the public and the changes especially within the senate so the political leaders are willing to sort of laid out and not just say we all have to come
>> what are you reading this summer? book tv wants to know. >> and also a book by an academically trained anthropologist who was talking about the ways in which people create new waves of making discussions and finding value. he drawls the line between things like twitter and fantasy football and the movement it's a fascinating but if you're interested and we're off the wall culture and what changes getting the title wrong it is a recent biography of roger williams agreed dissident who
founded the city of providence in rhode island. first person in english to come up with the concept of a fully secular government even though because he was a devout baptist fascinating by john and barry williams and the creation of the american soul the books have been compelling to me the interrupted my original summer reading which was a hundred games trilogy. they were both in to them and i started reading the fantastic look at the time kind of dystopian affliction that smacks totally what's going on in today's america. it takes place in a world where one district in america and a country gets rich by training all the resources with every other part of the country and bringing it to the capitol district. to me it sounds exactly like what is going on with washington, d.c. and the metro washington area growing bigger getting richer at the expense of everything around it so those are kind of on the top of my summer reading lists.
>> i know many of you might not have been born in 1973 and '74 when watergate to place richard nixon won in one of the biggest landslides in the united states which meant most americans who voted in that election voted for him. the american people including the overwhelming majority who had supported richard nixon said congress have to investigate, we have to have a special product used the coprosecutor in the end when the house judiciary committee acted on a bipartisan basis for the impeachment of richard nixon the country overwhelmingly supported that verdict more important than any political party and more
important than any president of the united states and more important than any single person and more important than in the all she was the bedrock principle was the rule of law and preservation of the constitution and americans united on that team regardless of having a vote just about a year-and-a-half before that. they put their own partisan view and say what is good to the country and the rule of law and one standard of law was critical that they've really important principle and i believe in it, too and then we got the bush year, the principles pretty much work i will say they are perfect hardly government doesn't operate in a perfect world and
things change. so i end by co-author cynthia cooper wrote a book about impeachment i was an expert on a nisha area of expertise in the country i had the experience of dealing with the terms of the constitution and the impeachment proceeding that worked in the impeachment proceedings. but we saw and wrote a book and we saw however that through the anp joint process so we said what else can be done because we knew the freedoms of the constitution have stood clear in the the data but the constitution when they leave office he or maybe she can be prosecuted. there was nothing in the framers of the data that said you've been president you get a forever free from jail card.
nonsense. the framers understood that presidents could do very bad things. they were human. they created checks and balances because they understood bad things and they also understood congress could do bad things. they were not idealistic about people. they were very practical and they were very pragmatic. so she said okay. let's do this book about what kind of accountability can exist. and to our surprise and as we look at what the criminal statutes were, what we saw was not just the possibility of accountability, but that the bush team was excruciatingly sensitive to the possibility of prosecution to the barriers and a variety of ways including
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