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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 31, 2012 3:30pm-4:30pm EDT

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>> during the republican and democratic conventions, were asking middle and high school students to send a message to the president as part of this year's defense student can video documentary. a short video students will answer the question, what's most important issue the president should consider in 2013 for a chance to win the grand prize of $5000 on their $60,000 in total prizes available. c-span student camas updegrave six or 12. for complete details and rules, go online to student cam.orrick. >> now on booktv, nancy gibbs and michael duffy talk about sitting american president than their predecessors. authors argue the most exclusive fraternity is marked by shifting allegiances one-week supporter
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is the next week's critic. this is about an hour. >> good evening, everyone. for those who have not had a chance to meet a name is john to someone in an executive director at the ronald reagan presidential foundation. it is my pleasure to welcome all of you here. in honor of our men and women in uniform who defend our freedom around the world come if you'd please stand and join me for the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the united states of america. and to the republic, for which it stands, one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. thank you. please be seated. as i was preparing for the arrival of our special guest today, not that it has anything at all to do with them, but i
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ran into some depressing statistics. don't worry, while this introduction will start on it though, i promise it will end on a high. the stats that i ran into were all about who was reading books these days and how often. some of the numbers concern me. now don't hold me to them exactly as my source was the internet, but they are revealing it is even close, they are tough to swallow. what do they say? one third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. never read till after college and 80% of u.s. families did not buy or read a book last year. now i have to presume that to the extent these people read, their reading habits are
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confined to 140 character tweaks, blogs, weblogs, chats, instant messages, e-mails and an occasional traffic sign. last night i think they are missing a lot. i say that because every once in a while a team of truly talented writers would get together and write a gift, a gift for all of us any work that informs, educates and entertains all at once. that is definitely the case with nancy gibbs and mike duffy's, transcended. it really is a great book. we are here today at a presidential library, which happens to be the best, in my unbiased opinion. and while i am handing out opinions, having read nancy and mike spoke, i am sure there will not via better book with such unique and interesting insights on the modern-day presidency published for some time.
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now, i know this because for me, the book passed the i didn't know that test on every page. i did have that president clinton had respect for president nixon. i didn't know there was a presidential clubhouse across from the white house burly former presidents are allowed to stay. and i definitely didn't know it was president reagan who taught president clinton how to salute. these really interesting discoveries are just a handful of the scores of such revelations through out the book. and no wonder, nancy and mike are two of the most talented writers and editors at time "time" magazine who had the next areas, the awards, the rolodexes and the reputations required to write such a wonderful book. so ladies and gentlemen, without, please join me in welcoming nancy gibbs and michael duffy.
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[applause] >> thank you. thank you. >> we could stand. thank you john for that ridiculous introduction. i wanted to start by saying that in the five years that nancy and i spent putting this but together, we had many hot discovery moments, where we are learning as much about the president as you will learn if you get a chance to read this, things we did know, at things surprised us come as surprise to us about the man we had covered from reagan to bush and clinton and bush and now obama. so for us it is a real journey of discovery to say nothing about what we've learned about hoover and truman and eisenhower, kennedy, johnson come in accent and ford. so we too came away thinking wow, i didn't know that. and it was a journey because
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people telling us things we don't know. but in some ways ronald reagan was a bigger part of that story than we would've just because we first meet him in 1947, long before his president and as we dug deeper and deeper into reagan's relations with the club, we learned he actually has seen ascii art when he was living in des moines and had gone to a truman fundraiser in kansas city when you were so a democrat. and let them be taken under the wing of eight when he was beginning his political career as a republican. another struck by how his relationship answer coming up the driveway here and we saw over and over again all the presidents, which is a reminder that every person who served as commander-in-chief sees himself as part of a bigger club.
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i just want to advance the picture here. this is a picture on the cover of time two or three weeks ago, never published before and so we were thrilled to put on the cover because it takes you into the modern club that really began a long time before george w. bush, barack obama and bill clinton were there to pick up the torch and in fact it begins in, what year would you say? >> well, it begins when a president is in need of some serious help. and that it was but it would take to bring together such an unlikely partnership as harry truman and herbert hoover. two men without any common politically, personally, no relationship of any kind except for the fact that the world was a very difficult, dangerous, challenging place in 1945 when he finds himself as president.
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and so he is not one to stand on ceremony. he does not care that herbert hoover had left washington is the most hated man in america with his motorcade being pelted with rotten fruit, ask out completely. whenever one suggested to franklin roosevelt, but hoover could be useful, hoover knows a lot and he was a great humanitarian relief worker. brazil would say i'm not jesus christ. i'm not raising herbert hoover from the dead. harry truman was reading the report says many of the hundred billion people were at risk of starving because the continent have been so devastated. saturn exactly how the white house would react, truman secretly mails a letter to hoover. this is taken in may 1945.
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germans only not this very matter of weeks in a very suspicious of each other in hoover afterwards thinks nothing is going to become of it. within a year, hoover has been given a staff he has been given 55 miles around the world. he would have a six prime ministers and the pope. and his mission was to visit from the countries that had it to the countries you need today. and in doing so, these two presidents lawless partnership that existed in policy differences, political differences because they both are so committed to what needed to be done. and i first laid the foundation, lay the philosophical premise for what presidents and sometimes only presidents can do for one another. and this is why when the two men meet one another on the platform and eisenhower's maturation in 1853, hoover goes over to greet
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president truman. and he says great, you be the president. i'll be the secretary. so that is the mythological foundation story, sort of teasing each other in the platform except it turns out that the success as president to become more and more and more real. so eisenhower in 1957 as office space and an allowance and mailing privileges to the former presidents. lyndon johnson grants them secret security, detailed in the use of presidential helicopters and even a projection from the white house so my birthday were being treated at walter reid and wanted to watch movies in the white house library. richard nixon as the clubhouse as john mentioned, which only one reporter in history has stepped foot inside. >> when i asked the white house if i could see the clubhouse on
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jackson square across the street from the white house, called a press secretary jay carney used to be my colleague at time and said what building? [laughter] i don't think we know anything about this. in 1969, richard nixon as president and he's getting calls constantly from the country taxpayers, where he's going crazy. he's been sent home. his term is done. he decides not to run for reelection. he's a little stir crazy beauties entering and from a firehose for 10 years, longer than that. he says i want to do stuff. need somewhere to say. get them in office, a place to stay overnight. a young military aid since there's a kernel and the air force was named brent scowcroft. got this assignment. instead they basically take over
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rundown townhouse on lafayette square he's going to work, stay overnight. until today. it has recently renovated. it's for stories like the nicest four seasons you've ever stayed in your life. you can't check in now. only four people can do that. the thread count on the chutes is like a it's a lovely steel if you get up in the morning you're not sure what your job was you can look down at joe's and say i used to be president of the united states. this is one of my stories from the club. the law was reading presidential biographies. reread robert caro and lbj is lots of great reagan biographies and they're fun to read and
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treasured teaser to sit down and curl up with. one of the things we want to do is pull the two men up together, to look at relationships because relationships are what are interesting. one of the things were discovered by working with the leg and library another archives is these two men were friends and allies long before reagan was president and long after i quiz, so much so that in 1965 and 66 when ronald reagan is just beginning his career as an elected official running for governor of california and immediately thinking about the presidency once he's elected governor of california, eisenhower gettysburg pennsylvania is watching him. never met him. he's reading everything he can, he's really intrigued by reagan. he likes the optimism and secretly begins to write letters to some of reagan's friends, which in some of those days was too much of an extremist to ever represent the republican party.
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they are through cutouts they are astonishing, for example there is a chargesheeted than too close to the john birch society and the early 1960s. they kept coming up. eisenhower sold price compasses are begging to have. we should find someone to ask this question and reagan should answer it this way. he goes through several different iterations, several letters in a stewing about picnic thing is trying to seek the gop nomination. eisenhower secretly helping reagan and 66, 67, 68, while reagan is contesting for the gop nomination against richard nixon who used to be ex-vice president. the mac and his daughter is about to start dating and will marry the grandson just so that you have the full gothic familial.
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>> this picture as you understand it better. >> said this is a bohemian grove. this is the club picnic. the thing that amazes us about what happened is how many relationships go back long, long come along before it anyone is in politics. >> were not sure who the man of the centuries. does anyone know? % buy that, too. this is december 1967, 68 i guess. richard nixon on the left would meet herbert hoover at the grove. that summer, nixon was giving the big speech there about hoover. but when he really wanted to do was meet with reagan because lincoln by now is actively seeking the 1968 nomination. he's beginning to contest primaries, beginning to pick up delegates. he's got the right thing of the republican party completely won over. he's got people at all you must
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buckley featherstone also vote for in 1968. and he was nixon who thought he would have a stately walk to the nomination commit suddenly having to contend with this newcomer from california, who he had met, just go back, 1947 when he was a young congressman. they corresponded through much of the early 1960s, but by this time they're on opposite sides. as we find throughout the story of the friends and rivals even before it either of them reached the oval office. most people probably can't time, but right after nixon started made his comeback after watergate, reagan as president. and there's a great story between the two of them. he goes to see ike at walter reid and ike is not well on the old soldier says to nixon, he's
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giving advice before he leaves. he says i'm yours to command. so when reagan becomes president in 1981 unaligned tench singlespaced letter, which nixon would write to advice about how to appoint and how to conduct your first year. he would say, i'm yours to command, just as i can say to him. >> so we have these partnerships as with reagan and nixon we often found the president of the same party often have the more complicated time getting along with each other than presidents of different parties. and we see this up to this day. some of president obama and president clinton, obviously their relationship got off to something of a rocky start. but you does make campaign was bound to be a little hard of them. but the thing that got to clinton most may be is the fact that during that campaign, many will remember that when obama
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was invoking a model of presidential greatness, it was not the last democrat to manage to win two terms in the white house. it was the last republican, ronald reagan, who was the example obama saw a summit was that a clear vision for the country, not efficient obama agreed with but what is captivated by it but he honored his reagan neighbor he wanted to take the country and hasn't been able to bring the country along with him. of course this is exquisitely calculated to drive bill clinton nights. and obama would talk about the presidency in comparison implicitly to reagan as having been small and a missed opportunity about small things. and so, that guarantees this is not a relationship that is going to get off to a great start and after obama wins in the points hillary clinton and secretary of state come he basically mixed bill clinton signed a prenup.
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but all of the camino, what money he is and isn't allowed to raise the money cannot cannot do and who we can and cannot see. clinton goes along with it. he says it's hillary's turn now on i'll do whatever they need me to do. but it takes a while for these two men to find their footing on all. and i think one of the things of course that happens and we see it happen is once president obama has been in office for a while, he realizes doing great big things is not easy. doing anything is not easy. and suddenly the deals of the compromises and maneuvers and things that they had dismissed as clintonian and i was not a compliment, suddenly were looking a lot more understandable. and so, now we see in the newest obama campaign video, which is directed by an oscar-winning director and narrated by tom hanks stars appearing four times in 17 minutes, bill clinton.
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>> i just meant for public and primary were a lot of different people running for president we talked about this earlier today said, you know, they were asked what they would do if they become president and they said i would do what ronald reagan did. what we forget is the cheapest in a campaign of the democratic side was a very big argument about ronald reagan in which is nancy was hinting, obama basically said i'll be more reaganesque than clinton ever was. an astonishing thing to happen on a democratic campaign. despicable they have in the club is constellation of these are men who came out of the office with huge scars, dig wells, even when their very successful. the thing that binds men from different parties in different generations and the club after it's all over that make some friends when you least expect it is they all come out of office with wealth loss and burdens and regret some things they wish they could do over. there's no easy decisions as
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president and even the ones that turn out well have misgivings about the famous picture from 1961, right? 's as john f. kennedy's first trip to camp david come in a place named after x grandson. i give mr. where they are, but it was not a cordial call. this is how many days after the bay of pigs? >> and literally eisenhower sticking kennedy to the woodshed where kennedy had come into office. he had reorganized the white house around his own way of making decisions. he thought that eisenhower's very military hierarchy just not going to work. he wanted a much more personal kind of presidency and then they had the bay of pigs and he thought maybe that's not working so well. eisenhower and kennedy me. this is a bark off the mysterious they tried to warn you can't organize the white house this way kind of talk. kennedy said yeah, i'm beginning to figure this out now. and he would change the way he did his decision-making and would become much more like the
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one like ike is interestingly enough before they appear before the cameras and kennedy really needed this picture as much as the talking to, he needed this picture because it conveyed a sense of authority and command to have the old general they are. eisenhower didn't criticize canadian public. >> in fact, the following week a whole congressional delegation of republican leaders in congress at a pilgrimage to see eisenhower, loaded to bury they thought the bloom is off to visit the kennedy kennedy administration and eisenhower brushed the back. he said there should be no witchhunt. it is important that we support our president, especially in foreign policy, especially in dangerous times this not become a partisan issue. >> which is very much like what happened about two or three weeks ago. i just have to bring this up. after george w. bush left office, the club has its protocols and traditions. he really went off the grid and
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is it. so the current president deserves my silence, which is a very classy thing to do. obviously his vice president didn't take that approach. [laughter] do when he finally broke cover about three weeks ago i made some very gently constructed criticism of obama's tax and energy policy come after sentence or two he said that i don't believe our president of our country should criticize our president. for the public role precedent supporting the current ones continues. this is just a great picture. >> this is another amazing pairing. and again another yester texans can though we argue about whether eisenhower counts as a texan. they work very closely together while johnson is majority leader, but still, it's your republican, true democrat. the night of kennedy's assassination, johnson is on the phone to eisenhower and he said i needed you for a long time.
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i need you more than ever now. the next morning eisenhauer gets in his car, dressed in gettysburg to the white house to see johnson. he sees kennedy's body lying in state goes to see johnson and writes out in longhand on a legal pad coming into college with session of congress and here's what you need to say because the world is watching. the country is traumatized. everyone wonders if it's going happen next. and his basic advice is unique to promise to do everything in your power to push through kennedy's agenda. kennedy's agenda at that point the stalled in congress and wasn't going anywhere. eisenhower's advising to push it through. this is not because eisenhower liked kennedy's agenda. this is because eisenhower believed that this moment with the country country needed was a message of stability and of continuity. and throughout johnson's presidency, eisenhower placed the six drawer neri off camera roll, which also call him up and
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say can you make up some cover story for why you need to be in washington so you can come and see me as i don't want everyone to think it's an emergency so, come up with that forget the reason. i really need to talk to you. to the point that there were meetings that in the white house about vietnam that eisenhower ran. and johnson attended an eisenhower brand of meetings coming up short area. at one point johnson says to him, you're the best chief of staff at god. [laughter] >> is really amazing. that relationship is amazing and my favorite from that is actually had a staff find out every time he met him, attended the reception commissioners so he could have physical evidence of a relationship >> this is from a chapter i call three men and a funeral, which has been breaking sent these three guys to the funeral of anwar sadat come october 1981 on
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a version of the plane, just like the one in the other room, the one prior aircraft before that, 26,000 may think. no of these guys like each other. there is not a love lost between either of them and you can understand why. but on the way back, nixon goes off on his own secret mission naturally. and carter and ford who fought like ferrets in 1876 are now a loan on the plane, headache is gone and kissinger is gone. it's a weird planeload. and their friends. they realize there's something in common to both need to raise money under libraries. they realize they are both sort of men of faith. they both realized they were tossed out of office a little before they would've liked. and i think they looked around at the club and saw nixon and reagan was president and they saw, you know, we might be stronger together than we are a
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part. so the next 25 years, ford and carter again across party to 2425 different projects and budgets, deficits, arms control to middle east politics. they join for this come about a book together. they went overseas about 15 times together. they were promised by making me fat to give the eulogy of the other depending who died first, which is really a measure of friendship. and so when ford did pass in 2006, there was jimmy carter and roslyn carter in the front row in tears, men who had five very heavily in 1876. the club is like any fraternity, but the bonds are really special. do i take this one? >> you call this the beauty and the beast light. >> it is more like the buddy movie hollywood could never make. >> so you know, when clinton takes office after the 1982 election, something happens that
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only happened once before in american history about which was the reagan's inauguration. there are five living former presidents and they all want his attention in varying degrees or another, but no one more so than richard nixon. and he is proud to place him outside the white house jumping up and down comes the listen to me, listen to me. and he's calling and calling them wanting clinton to talk to them in the calls are coming back, so he writes a very friendly op-ed about the great promise of the clinton presidency. there's no word. then he raised a somewhat tougher op-ed and privately sends a signal, either you take my calls for these columns will be getting tougher and tougher. >> he's bad copy me and he's the president of the united states. finally, clinton calls and then of course realizes that he's still incredibly shrewd about the world. he is an extraordinary sense like the chessmaster of what was going on in the former soviet union, what was going on in china.
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the clinton, they become late-night phone buddies. it isn't just to talk about foreign policy. he wants to talk to nixon about how to organize his days, how to use this time. this is when i'm getting up in the morning, eating, doing. and of course the president's time is the most scarce and precious thingy has anyone to know if he was using up on the first month of the presidency. he certainly was not, kind of a mess. ..
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>> it was the clinton white house that announced the death, and clinton gave the eulogy. he said he missed him in the same he he missed his mother, not the same, but similar, but he wanted to pick up the phone and call him and ask him for advice. >> it was a truly extraordinary thing that we got to witness a father and son in the white house. you know, what are the chances of that, and if politics is complicated, family is really complicated. [laughter]
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yet, the only thing is that he actually serves the father and son of more than one president, and the friendship developed again, across party, across generations, between president clinton, and the entire bush family to the point that they now have a nickname for him, calling him their brother from another mother. [laughter] >> i want to go back to this because we get asked about this a lot. when they finally meet in the oval office, the first father-son pairing of presidents since the early 19th century, both men are overcome, just can't speak. it's later in the day, but it was an emotional moment. a lot of people have asked us, you know, said, how much did bush 2 listen to bush 1? how much did he ignore bush's advice. the reporting bears it out as
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much as people wish were that it were not true is that in some ways the son was the conferraller to the father, that all through the gulf war, a difficult time for the president, it was -- it was the younger man who would call the father up and sigh turn off the television. stop watching this stuff. the older man was concerned about the criticism as of any father would be of the son. i think what 41 decideed early on was his son had a lot of advisers, but he really only had one dad, and so that was the role he would play, probably the choice most, i think, fathers would make. anyway, easily misunderstood, but really simple when you think about it. this is one of the earliest. >> so, again, you know, these relationships tend to follow
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often a twisting path so if you like at eisenhower and truman, two men, architects of the post war world working closely and effectively target in figuring out america's role, the surviving superpower, the idea of stationing troops in europe and selling a reluctant american congress on the idea of nato. truman under it would take eisenhower's stature to get the idea accepted. they were so effective as partners throughout the years immediately following the war that in 1948, truman says toize p hour, you know, if you're thinking about running, i'll get out of the way. i won't only get out of the way, but i'll be your vice president if you want. you have these men who start out with warm relations, who by the time in 1952, eisenhower runs for president, and it all comes
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apart. it parts badly over the fact that truman concluded that eisenhower was failing to stand up to and challenge the most extreme elements in his party, and especially senator mccarthy, and truman was furious about this. he calleddize p hour a -- called eisenhower a moral coward saying he was unfit for the office, that anyone who could not stand up to mccarthy did not deserve to be president of the united states. therefore, no surprise, maybe, ontic august deny on inauguration day, he refused to pick up truman to go to the inauguration and barely spoke throughout eisenhower's presidency. truman doesn't step foot back in the white house, but the relationships, again, it's never that simple, and the two men do find themselves, again, together, mainly at funerals, particularly in november of 1963 when they share a limousine back
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from arlington cemetery, the burial of kennedy, and they talk about their own plans. in that shadow of their morality, small things fall away, the big things come back, truman turns to eisenhower and says, you want to come in for a drink? they end up at the house talking and reconciling. a friendship that turns into a feud turns back into a reconciliation because ultimately what they both had been through by this time, what they knew as presidents was much more important than the fights they had. >> that story had a happy ending. this one not so much. you have to tell this. >> well, you know, i don't know that there's been two political combat at that particular times more skilled -- combatants and more skilled fighting for stakes as high. you remember in the 1968 election, johnson decided not to run for another term. all he wanted was to redeem his
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presidency, live office as a peacemaker. he was determined that there should be some kind of a breakthrough. nickon, of course, had -- nixon, of course, had reasons for worrying if there was a breakthrough, he didn't have a chance of winning the election. before election day in 1968, johnson discovers that richard nixon's allies were secretly sabotaging the peace talks. he calls this treason privately. what does he do about it? it's 18968. we saw bobby kennedy assassinated, martin luther king assassinated, and there was a war zone. part of the calculation is what it would do to the country to have an outgoing president accuse a major party candidate of sabotaging peace negotiations at the most delegate moment, but
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it was an extraordinary moment of confrontation, and ultimately, johnson decides not to challenge nixon about it. that election, you remember, was very, very close. four years later, you have to understand now all the reasons nixon had to keep johnson happy. it was johnson in the transition that showed nixon where the tape recorders were in the white house. it was one of the reasons why i think nixon got the clubhouse, why reorchestrated johnson's birthday party, why he sent a jet down to the ranch with briefing papers every week to keep johnson in the tent. >> the lady bird grove. they created a special forest in california full of lady birds to pay tribute to johnson. >> in january of 1973, nixon's men call johnson and say, you know, you mightment to call your
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friend from the senate telling them to back off on the watergate investigation, or always, you know, we'll reveal the fact you were illegally surveilling, eves dropping on us back in 1968 to which johnson said, well, if you do that, i'll say what i learned when i was illegally wiretapping you back in 1968. [laughter] it's a moment of blackmail. how didn't it blow up? two weeks later, nixon inaugurated, and two days after that, johnson died of a heart attack. at that moment, that rather perilous moment, there was no club. harry truman died at christmas. johnson died in january. nixon is all alone. >> this picture really tells you all you need to know about how herbert walker bush is feeling.
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not every president gets along with other members of the party. carter has been a challenge for all of them. [laughter] it's probably because it's in carter's nature to be a my way or highway kind of guy. he had another challenge. he left office at the age of 56 or 57, and in september, jimmy carter is the longest living ex-president in american history. 31 years, eight months, 24 days surpassing herbert hoover's record. that's not an easy burden to bear. he's worked hard at his second career inventing the modern post presidency. he was depressed for a year after getting out of office. he said i have a long life, this will be hard. he wrote books, did charitable stuff, done huge of amounts of things at home and overseas in the last 31 years and eight months, won the nobel prize, and
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all presidents turned to him other than bush, clinton, bush, and obama sent him on foreign missions of some kinds and delivers the goods, but has a tendency to go off script. this was a classic moment. a funeral in 2005 or 2006, not sure when, it was to pay ammage to a civil rights leader and used the moment to criticize his son. carter says things like i feel my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents. every club needs a black sheep. [laughter] gives everyone else in the club something to unite around. clinton also sent carter overseas, but even when he did it the first and second time, he was not sure he was going to all turn out okay. i'm sending carter, do you think
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it will be okay, don't you? [laughter] the last thing we want to talk about here is how the club really works to unite when the presidency is in crisis. the presidency is more important than any president. they recognize in politics today, which don't work very well, that one thing that has to work, one thing that always has to be functioning and powerful and effective is the presidency. >> and this is where we see them most willing to put self-interests, put party interests, put political interests aside and join together make a cause around larger purpose. we see it with truman and hoover again where of all people to completely reorganize the executive branch why would truman sign off on the hoover commission? this is a guy who everyone assumed was going to dismantle the entire new deal super structure of government. what truman knew by this time
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about hoover was hoover was president in a moment of national crisis, and he knew that a president needs the tools to be able to meet a crisis, especially in the post war nuclear age is more important than ever. they wanted an organization to empower the presidents who followed, essentially, the great gift they gave to all presidents who followed to organize and rationalize the branch in a way presidents would be able to function better, and the fact that hoover strengthened the presidency in the moment it was occupied by a president made no difference the in gathering the information for the hoover commission, hoover found out so much that was wrong and wasteful in government that if he let it be known in the 1948 election, it's easy to imagine reporters at the time said it's amazing hoover didn't leak this, kept it to himself because his larger goal was to make sure that the
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presidency, itself, was strengthened for all the presidents who followedded. >> i think we see across parties all the time. >> we see it again when hoover and eisenhower advise richard nixon not to challenge the results in 1960. as close as that race was, as many accusations there were of funny business, in phone calls within 15 minutes of each other, eisenhower and hoover both say to nixon, it's not good for the country. you stand down. >> it would be seen overseas as -- >> we needed a much smoother -- the smooth peaceful transition of power was an essential model that america represented around the world, and this was not a time to be having a prolonged battle over it. >> playing a role in a number of points in trying to protect the
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presidency, both, i think, in his pardon of nixon which he realized his presidency could not begin until the matter was off the table, and later he came to rescue bill clinton from impeachment in 1998. privately working behind the scenes in a series of phone calls 20 get clinton to admit he lied and work away from impreachment, and he couldn't convince clinton of that, but he worked hair to make that happen. this is the famous meeting. most don't know they met. as far as i can tell, they met twice. first in 1983 when reagan invited all the governors to the white house, and so both bill and hillary clinton, there's a picture of them with -- am i right? that's the only other time; right? this is not the place to make a mistake about that. [laughter] that picture exists, and this is the other picture which we found lately in the time life
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archives. it's a great story. century plaza. i would stay late november, 1992, bill clinton is in his post-election pre-inauguration tour, pays a curtesy call on ronald reagan. they have a brief and polite conversation about things every would-be president have online item veto, a need for tighter budgets, and bill clinton asks any other advice? rage p says, well, the first thing you have to do is get to camp david, get out of the billing of the it's just good for the soul to get out into the mountains and it was advice clinton did not take until he realized a year or two out of the presidency he needed to be out of the house. another thing reagan was watching president clinton in the campaign and found his salutes a little wimpy as john was too kind to say, but not a sharp, crisp salute. reagan had been in the military.
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he also played many roles of military oppositions, and clinton, i understand it, asked reagan to show him how to do it. the two men had a brief saluting clinic there in the century plaza. [laughter] it reminded me it was eisenhower who taught ken -- kennedy how to press buttons on the phone to make a get away on the helicopter, and johnson who knew where the tapes were, and it's not just in matters of policy that the men who are commanders in chief pass on tips, but this is one where a former president had a particularly keen understanding of the world that public perception plays in leadership, not just on public officials, but our private ones. it's very important, and clinton would learn that. he would come to salute every time he got off the hell continue every just as president --
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helicopter just as ever president had done. bush visited clinton when clinton was leaving office, and george w. bush asked clinton, you didn't used to be such a great speaker because clinton gave a horrible speech in the 1998 democratic convention. he said, do you have any tips about how to give a good speech? the president's club functions on levels both high, you know, and sometimes just very practical. >> but ultimately, i think, what struck us is the ultimate of all the rules and rituals, what makes the club reality, is the notion that the officer itself is more important than the individuals, and who occupy it and we kept hearing this again and again and again, particularly when one administration gives way to another, and so in january, 2009, president bush summoned the entire club membership to
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the white house to meet the new guy, and he says at that time to president obama, look, we all want you to succeed. those of us who have been in the office know, the office transcends the individual, and i think what michael and i took away from all of this research was seeing how these are men that are fiercely ambitious, played immense roles in the country's history. they all are hanted by how history will remember them. they have very deep, strong, wide, broad agendas themselves, and yet, over and over and over again, we also saw them set those agendas aside or move past them or find in their own interests a larger interest that brought them together, and brought them together to do great and important things. or to do the small, but still highly important work of just helping each other because it is a very hard job. it's not a job they can complain about. it's not something they can wine
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about. they all fought, and in many of their cases much of their lives to get the job, but once they do it, there's something that comes up again and again, and jefferson called it a splendid misery, and buchanan called the presidency a crown of thorns. truman called it the great white jail that is the white house. it's a difficult job. even the ones who do it successfully can be wounded by it and bear burdens from having done it. there's very few people they can talk to about it, and so the one thing they want one another to know is basically, yeah, i get it. you can call me. i understand. i get it. i know how hard it is, and i won't give you a hard time. that's what we saw here, and it's what we saw all through history, and i think it is a model, maybe, that many of us can take back with us in whatever realm we are operating. thank you very much. we're happy to take your questions. [applause]
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>> nancy and michael have by greashes enough to a-- gracious enough to allow questions. if you can raise your hand, there's people in the aisles with microphones. wait until you have the microphone to ask your question. we'll start right over here. >> is there such a situation with the first lady? like the presidents? >> so interesting how a lot of people have been curious about that, and what i think we all have seen is that first ladies are especially aware if you are trying to raise children in the white house. it seems to be mainly girls -- >> lately. >> lately that there were the johnson girls, the nixon girls, clinton girls, bush girls, and
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now the obama girls. as the mother of girls, it's a wonderful, glorious challenge in any event trying to do it in the bright white lights of the white house would be especially challenging. hillary clinton talked about how helpful jackie kennedy was to her about raising children in the spotlight. lucy johnson told us that there's reasons why first families don't criticize each other. it's not that we are all such wonderful people. it's that we understand how difficult it is. there is, i think there is something of a kinship among the first families. there's a marvelous picture that we saw up here in the library of six first ladies together, and certainly i think there's bonds between them because they, too, were having a unique experience. having said that, the semiofficial infrastructure of the president's club is unique to presidents. i suspect it will not be long before it is no longer an
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all-male club, but for the time being, we have not seen any equivalent outside of the president themselves. >> here's another question here. >> everyone's probably see the photograph of the 16 or 17-year-old bill clinton shaking the hand of president kennedy, is there any evidence that he met johnson, would have been a college student around that time, but are there any photographs? >> we asked clinton because i suspected that if he had had a chance, he would have -- [laughter] >> in fact, in his office, in president cline top's office -- clineton's office there's a signed picture that had to be 40 years old. >> it's a great story. clinton reviewed the book in the new york times sunday, which we thought was an excellent club idea and supported it as club
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authors. we thought that was good. [laughter] in 1972 clinton is tapped by george mcgovern to run texas which in as far as lost causes go -- [laughter] is one of the great lost causes. texass for mcgovern. [laughter] hopeless. who is the only -- lyndon johnson, he was not sure either, and the day comes when they did to the ranch, after the convention, but before they realize eagleton might not be the best vice presidential can -- candidate. the co-chairman and taylor branch who would eventually be clinton's direst had to flip a coin about which one accompanies mcgovern and eagleton to the ranch to see johnson.
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clinton loses the coin toss. taylor brings back from the meeting, which did not go well, by the way, and for clinton, that's as close as clinton got to the meeting of lbj. what's great about the american presidency we remember if and when we saw a motorcade, and he saw fdr on the back of a train somewhere in iowa, i think it was des moines, i'm not sure, but everyone has their creation stories but clinton never met lbj. he said, as all presidents do of their successors, he said history will be kinder to him. [laughter] that's what they hope for, huh? right over here. >> it's unique to the american democracy, are there similar models in europe with other
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democracies, prime ministers of britain? >> can i answer that? >> yeah. >> what's amazing about the president's club -- i'll answer it this way. there was a story in the "new york times" yesterday about how it was inevitable that sarkozy would be defeated because he was not a typical french president. they like their presidents grandfatherly and cool and anti-american. [laughter] sarkozy was known of those things. [laughter] he was not grandfatherly cool. that reminds me back to the picture, i mean -- go back -- there's nothing in common about any of the guys. they are all different. it's a classic american story. we elect presidents who don't begin to fit in the same mold. go back the following five, it's just as different adding reagan, nixon, johnson, and kennedy. i mean, this club speaks our own makeup and our own widely different, you know, backgrounds, and it's an american thing, and so i don't
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think there would -- the clubs that you have in france or england probably already existed because you wouldn't have to create them because they came out of clubs. [laughter] there's no club that would have all of these guys as a member in america. [laughter] they are just too different. that's what i think is so remarkell about this is that -- remarkable about this is that they created their own. creating your own association is an american thing. >> back here. >> when you did research, did you have a chance to talk to all the living presidents, and what was their take on your book? >> we were able to talk to president clinton in the first president clinton and carter, and i interviewed the second president bush before we worked on the book, and god spilling on us, i asked him about his view, and asked club questions before i knew there was a club. we were very, very grateful for
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the help they were willing to give us. i think, though, you know, this is a pretty intimate group. i think there's lots of things that they will not talk about, and i would argue as a citizen, that's how it should be. i think we got a lot of help from them and from people who had served multiple presidents and had a chance to compare the way they function and who they rely on and when they reach out and how this little inner circle works. >> we have time for one last question. >> back here. >> are there security levels such that the present president cannot discuss certain levels of information with other presidents? >> well, i think if you were going to tell anyone outside the tightest circles that exist, a
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former president would be among them. herbert walker bush sent letters and secure phones, and all but one turned them down. a lot of people who used to be president want to get away a little. they had enough of that secure world stuff, and i gave that up for something better or different. i don't think there's a real downside to telling any of the guys that happens. what's interesting is when they tell -- even after the strike on bin laden, the first two calls by president obama were first to george walker bush and then to bight because he knew these two men, in their own way, tried to get him and were impeded for different reasons unable to make it happen or pull it off. i think obama was saying or tipping the hat to the fact that this was a shared mission over three presidencies. it took all three to get it done. that's the more important kind of loop.
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thank you. >> so 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 are just so happy that you're here. >> thank you, thank you. [applause] >> in terms of female political representation, we are behindirq iraq and north korea. to americans like to congratulate themselves all the time we're number one on all of these things. we're just not. we're not doing very well on infant mortality or on maternal mortality. obviously, we talk so much about thingske


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