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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  September 22, 2012 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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writing novels is hobby. it's something i do to get a break. th, as long as people keep reading them. y i'll keep doing it too. >> when you wrote your first w? novel? why.wh what got you over the first hump. >> i hadac characters floatingoe around any head who i had stories that i wantedded to tell. they were crying out to be let out. even today when i write a novel, before i plot outline, i alwaysi have characters in my mind. people who's stories i would like to tell.le o the people who showed up in a no earlier novelve as minor characr and elevated someone else who has a story.ith a my novels are thrillers or mystery and i guess that i keep putting people in the odd i situations andut trying to writf them out. >> we're n ot going to giveawayot the ending.he we're going make people readd. it. >> good. read >> given the title of impeachment of ab han lincoln. it was safe to he was impeacheds by the house of
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representatives. >> that is correct. the house impeaches, which istmn like an indictment they go trial. the first half involves the impeachment. the second half is the trial, a, you said a courtroom thrillerril build around the impeachmentria trial, had there been one, iavee write as a fan of lincoln. >> steven carter we've been s talking to. "impeachment of ab abraham lincoln" thanks for joining us on booktv. >> it's my pleasure. thank you very much. ..
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i think there are a lot of anti-obama folks out there and a lot of books defending the president. i wanted to write a book that described the answer of what i thought was the most important question in and the most interesting question. look at barack obama for a moment as a character. he is a complete fish out of water in a way. he is a guy who has very little executive experience. isn't higher life is that the law professors like turn at the committee table in the illinois statehouse or the u.s. senate or in various meetings but he is never the guy in front of the room deciding, making the hard calls.
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he has very little if any management experience and then suddenly he is in the most important managerial job in the world. he is president of the united states leader of the free world and so my question was how does he decide? how does he make decisions? how does he govern? not with the content of the positions are but what is his leadership style? when i looked around for books we looked at this question semiserious and sustained way and they really were none. >> host: do you see this as a campaign coming out close to the american election? >> guest: we do know that most americans do into politics around election time but that is more or less -- is the one of the things that surprised me and will surprise a lot of your readers is that you say twice in the book that all of your sources were democrats and this is a very critical study of obama's leadership that all of your sources for the book were democrats. tell us about that position.
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>> guest: some of the sources i don't know the politics of who are longtime career technical people and intelligence services and so on but these are people who work alongside the president in one capacity or another in the white house in the federal agencies in agency found the halls of congress and they get to see them up close. what i discovered much to my surprise is this is in a demonstration that is limited by rivalries. there is an intense amount of disagreement in this administration. bites like the reagan or nixon administration but much less, unlike the last bush administration which is very corporate in its cultural feel. there wasn't a lot of sniping in fighting. they haven't been that sniping. this administration is very different. there is a lot of infighting and a lot of confusion and frustration and the clutch of the administration usually reflects on the guy at the top
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and you have obama as someone who comes across with the people who know him as sort of indecisive, sensitive, like the bad jokes when he is not in the presence telling them. someone who is not a constant predictable northstar and that comes through in the administration so a lot of those people are willing to talk because at that point someone who has spent weeks or months working on decision and working on a policy just to have it toppled at the last minute by one of the close clutches of advisers who surround obama who have little background on the issue and would just sort of swoop in and undo months of work and careful negotiations and planning so that was one motivation. the ideological motivation is a professional motivation but people don't talk to investigate reporters. >> host: that's certainly true. let's go through sony case
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studies you have talked about a night confess i found the discussion of going after osama and lott and absolutely riveting. you had details in there that we hadn't seen before and this was described over and over again that the democratic national convention as it old, decisive move by this president but yet you describe it very differently you talk about paralyzing indecision and political calculation. tell us a little bit about your understanding about this two yearlong decision process to go after osama bin laden. >> there are two ways of looking at the osama bin laden decision. one is the mainstream media. they started the day or two before the raid and then they look at the narrative of the raid itself and ignore the aftermath. i was curious about another way of looking at which is to say what did the president know and the earliest moments of his administration and then what are all the decisions leading up to that final decisions?
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they are looking at an episode and i wanted to look the movie. when you look at the movie you look at the people involved and you have to talk to people who are at the senior career level. they take the view that no man is -- people who see the close look at it in different way. you can read a great man's biography and then you meet his wife to keep it in perspective. people saw a lot of indecision and they saw a lot of back-and-forth and they -- these are people who had worked under clinton and w. bush. they certainly saw differences in the presence is presidencies but they were necessarily ideological foes of the president that they saw the operation, planning of the operation stopped her stall three times in 2011 and they were incredulous and they asked why. would filter down to them was valerie jarrett didn't like the idea and valerie jarrett is a mentor to the president and the first lady but i want to be
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clear she didn't order them to stop. at that in the normal chain of command they heard stop working on the bin laden reagan when asked why this was the reason they came back. >> host: was valerie jarrett involved in any of the discussion, for example with hillary clinton and robert gates and leon panetta? was she a member? >> guest: unclear but probably not. there were a lot of discussions between valerie jarrett and the president himself and remember what barack obama had said about valerie jarrett. he told "the new york times" in 2009, never make an important decision without talking to valerie jarrett first. he said he speaks with her two to three times a day and if you look at white house visitor logs you will notice the first two administrations while they were hunting bin laden, the visitor logs, leon panetta only visits the white house nine times that we have two to three times a day on one hand versus nine times in
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two years so you have an enormous influence of valerie jarrett. >> host: you describe in your book how a number of political advisers met with the residents far more often judging by the president logs. >> guest: very interested in politics. huskey you've mentioned this particular case study that the president was able to make small decisions but never the big decisions along the way. >> guest: that's right. people tend to think of it like a movie where the president picks up the phone and tells the s.e.a.l.s to and in fact the decision of this kind of complex. involves a lot of moving parts. you have to move the material to keep position and before that you have to train and rehearse and there's a lot of intelligence that has to be examined and before that you have to decide what shape the mission is going to take it all and for much of 2010 an enormous debate inside the administration, should it be an airstrike? certainly the military favorite that.
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the risk to american lives of an airstrike is minimal. the ability to drop enormous amounts of subordinates and destroy the target is a guarantee but that has political ramifications too. valerie jarrett and others in the white house were concerned about the shockwaves that the bunker buster policy would send. nearby apartment buildings perhaps killing or injuring thousands of pakistani civilians causing a black eye so ultimately that was ruled out and the commander team was put forth as another alternative. valerie jarrett and others were opposed to doing anything about -- they thought that contains so many thorny political problems that ultimately would never be approved and somehow because hillary clinton was insistent and robert gates was insisted and leon panetta was consistently managed to push the president to sign the final order to go. >> host: the president given
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the unanimity of panetta, clinton engaged actually are quite striking overall. >> guest: and petraeus. >> host: tell us about some the details you uncovered about the commando raid and in particular is interested in the discussion of having someone who actually could speak some of the language. those are fascinating details. >> guest: a cia interpreter who had very little, almost no experience so they had to do a crash course which is something the s.e.a.l.s too much like we do getting into our cars but requires a lot of training and skill. proved to be very helpful because he was in the second team of the cia translator and was able to speak in a convincing local dialect to keep the neighbors who are curious about all the noise at the compound next door to go back to their homes and so one and he sounded like a pakistani policeman. >> bed dull authoritarian voice that they have heard many times before.
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>> host: that is really striking and also i thought another just thinking about the raid in particular with the helicopter crashed and actually it didn't help the situation. >> guest: they constructed down to the last and using several photographs and entire mockup of the dumond compounded when they created the outer fence they have the chain-link. for scaling purposes that was exactly fine but what they did notice is how that change the airflow for the helicopters and obviously in a downdraft it would just go through the chain-link and allow the aircraft to settle perfectly but they didn't anticipate how the narrow concrete walls which would not allow air to pass, would not provide the list necessary for a helicopter to slowly land and that was probably the cause of the crash. >> host: have you read the count of the navy s.e.a.l. the just released a book on the raid? >> guest: know i is not that
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i've spoken to a number of people in preparing my chapter who were involved. >> host: let's get back to the leadership decisions that day the seals were flying to afghanistan. it's my understanding from your book the president wasn't ready to give the mission a go. >> guest: >> guest: he was wasn't back the call for a 24-hour delay citing the weather and that made me curious. there was some difficulty in the weather report reviewed by the navy s.e.a.l.s by the meteorological center. it was funny getting these reports because at the end they said they were classified. i said we are talking about whether from a year ago in another country. eventually got the weather reports and learned there was really no cause for the weather delay at all. there was a night of low lumen they were looking for night that was in his bride to disguise the helicopters, weather and wind and so want that the delay was entirely political and you see at the last minute that president obama was talking to this deft concert it was going
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to backfire and this was something that valerie jarrett had been pounding for quite a while. she was concerned it was going to be for something like desert one back in the carter years. a failed effort to rescue hostages held in iran and to american aircraft collided and american servicemen died and it was really a point in the part of -- carter presidency and that point people said he is not just the economy, he really can't be. she was afraid, valerie jarrett, that if the raid went badly it would be a bad point in the obama presidency. we have a lot of similarities between carter and obama. we have an circa about the economy and we have uncertainty about the future of the country. we have allies who are very uncertain about us and were deserting us. we have loss of american prestige abroad and then if you were at to this a disaster, an
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attempt to kill bin laden that is the point. she was concerned about the politics and the re-election possibilities. hillary clinton, petraeus, gates, panetta were concerned about missing an opportunity. this was a guy who killed 3000 americans and if america hadn't learned that we had him in our sites and didn't pull the trigger. >> guest: . >> host: that is where the leadership portion comes in. i think certainly the president early on given the lives at stake in the raid was certainly something readers could understand by what happened afterwards i think was really quite striking and here again we perhaps see the fingerprints of valerie jarrett? >> guest: perhaps. bin laden's body had splashed off the deck hours before and now here is the president of the united states racing to the television cameras to tell the world and the intelligence and military communities were just apoplectic. why would you give away one
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advantage we have in the war which is to have surprised. he took two hefty trash bird -- trash bags full of documents, thumb drives, hard drives. why not spend a week or two with the documentation with the cia and examine those and translate those? you could have located every senior al qaeda operative in the world. you could have learned who were the secret holders of money and where do they get their money from, what governments focus on charities or other means, drugs, and there are a lot of theories about al qaeda's money. where is it come from? what pending plots do they have? with sleeper cells do they have inside the united states or inside nato allies in europe or australia? you have the blueprint of the entire network and one to have that network, you could sweep in and surprise them, kill and capture al qaeda leaders around
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the world, dismantling organization and win the war. if he was willing to wait a couple of weeks or a month for the television announcement he wouldn't just be announcing bin laden's death. he would be announcing the death of al qaeda in the final picture in the war on terror. he threw that away for a few minutes before a television camera. it's simply incredible. >> host: it's very clear that statement he gave to the television cameras was written in advance and he was ready to go politically and as you say that surprised so many senior advisers. >> guest: he wrote it along with ben rhodes. he was an adviser as well. >> host: let's move on to one of the other case studies which i also thought was fascinating. tensions in the middle east are hardly ever far from the surface of our politics and we began this morning with the assassination of the libyan ambassador and the stories are back in the news once again but you talk in particular that president obama's relationship
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with president netanyahu of israel. tell us first about some of the influences on president obama in the thinking of the situation the middle east and particularly his thinking about the state of israel? >> guest: well then a look at this relationship which is really phone up out between the united states and israel, people say it's just bad chemistry between the elected prime minister benjamin netanyahu and the president of the united states. it's just unfortunate circumstances that these two guys just don't get along. sometimes that happens. what leaders usually do is put the goals of the country and the goals of the organization ahead of personality. if they are unable to do that find that what i've discovered is the personality clash. really obama, going back to the early 1980s and i found three handwritten letters written by barack obama to sayeed who is a palestinian activist and literature with professor where he is trying to form a
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relationship with sayeed and i touch on this briefly in the book. he goes after reverend wright is someone who is helping them rise and takes on his views of israel as well. but most importantly you have rabbi wolf who is a neighbor and hyde park, an area of chicago, a city of bear and wolf is really on the far left of american politics in a american jewish experience. this is a person who in 1979th penned an article saying that the jewish should stop talking about the holocaust. many holocaust survivors are still alive. they are still showing their tattooed arms from nazi death camps to their relatives in the press. this is an incredible consciousness-raising and this is where america's coming to grips that even in democracies genocide can happen and it's an
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important teaching moment in the jewish community and the larger american experience and at that moment he said you should stop talking about the holocaust. you are just as bad in what you are turning to the palestinians. the first leader of the jewish organization in america called for a palestinian state so that someone who is very far out on the left who is a was a harsh critic of israel but most particularly of the party of henchmen netanyahu. and so, because of the decades he spent with rabbi wolf and rashid khalid ian so on, it colors his thinking. in his book, obama says in israel that stroup. 48 hours and you have to subtract the 18 hours of flight time. he is there and back from newark, so it's very small, very small amount of time he spends
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in israel and most of the meetings are with people of the like-minded left-wing persuasion. he doesn't meet and get a sense of the broad spectrum of israili israelis. his knowledge of israel's based on certainly a world-famous writer and he is worth reading but has a distinct field that is outside of the mainstream view of israel which is to say he sees israeli democracy is fundamentally flawed because it is not giving full citizenship to the palestinians and so on. so he comes to this first meeting with netanyahu with a set of ideological axes to grind if you will. >> host: one of the newer groups that you see in israeli politics or excuse me and he was as her politics in washington is the -- group and you make a point in the book that members
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of the group have been very influential in terms of the sequestration and have had a number of meetings and have suggested that panetta has according to the white house log. >> guest: that's right. the white house log shows leon panetta as a cia director visited nine times in two years. during the same period of time, they visited more than 35 times. i found the j street conference in 2000 they had a supreme court justice there in a number of obama administration former clinton administration officials there but he brags about access to the white house and the white house and certainly bear that out. certainly has visited much more than any of the mainstream jewish organizations or any of the israeli business political organizations. it's just very much a cold peace between israel and the united
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states and the obama years. >> host: tell us how you understand leadership given his relations with netanyahu and what your expectations are for the weeks and months ahead? >> guest: he just really miscalculated what a determined leader netanyahu is. hear someone who brought his -- older brother dies in rescuing a hostage. he himself, netanyahu was injured so he has been a commando. he is the son of one of the most committed zionist scholars, someone who is steve did history and tradition and is personally brave and the idea that he might be intimidated by the office of the presidency of the united states is simply silly. and someone with that great of access to the u.s. media. the obama people believe they could roll netanyahu is simply a foolish gamble meant to double down on that simply made things
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worse but there is no obvious gold to their policies. they will not persuade any likud prime minister and certain of this one benjamin netanyahu to refer to the 1957 lines. it was foolish even to us. >> host: as you think about the situation in the middle east today, can obama give forward given the leadership or the lack of leadership that you have shown in this area? >> guest: well i think they're focused on the problems in the 1970s which is to say please train the palestinians and israelis and after 1983 the oslo force in which the peloponnesian got 90% of what they wanted and still said no. a lot of israelis would say the moment for making all of our peace has passed. it may come again but certainly at the moment it has passed.
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meanwhile the sunni, arabs and the israeli are concerned about the growth of the persian bomb. we have thousands of -- 24 different sites so they have made the rocky mistake where 1981 they bombed the iraq reactor in iraq and stopped for a time the iraqi program. they spread the program out and brought in russian scientists in the sciences from scientist from other countries as well and very sophisticated effort. they have adapted for long-term -- to carry atomic devices. they are very determined to become an atomic power and it's important to remember what atomic powers do. they don't detonate atomic vons. they threaten to do so and extract concessions with those threats and when i talk to the american officials in saudi arabia and other nearby air countries they are equally terrified of the israelis. they know what kind of concessions the persians are
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going to demand and they're not going to be small in ambition. >> host: frightening. let's move onto fast and furious where the inspector general's report, eric holder and the president talked about waiting for word on what actually happened in the fast and furious operation yet you see this as another example of deficiencies in obama's leadership in particular dealing with a subordinate in this case the attorney general of the united states and eric holder. let's walk through the steps of how fast and furious happened in the talk about obama's leadership. >> guest: well, what happens when a support is caught lying? the attorney general and his staff had to retract the sworn statement they made before the united states armed services, multiple sworn statements. they had changed their stories number of times and it's clear the withholding of evidence congressional investigators have identified some 70,000 pages of
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documents that were responding to their request. >> host: and i don't feel they have got them all at this point. >> guest: they have only got about 70,000 so it's an incredible number and with a subpoena issued lawfully, they only had two choices. they could turn over the documents, which at the documents are exculpatory like they say frankly why not turn over the documents and in the scandal? instead, they did something very unusual something very nixon like if you will which is extend executive privilege and exec privilege usually protects the president and his direct advisers so they can offer candid advice. usually that is outside of the scope of of the congressional institution and of course pending national security or pending criminal cases but those are the three things, the three reasons why generally it is denied. this doesn't fit any of these things. they're just trying to cover holder. look at the complex between --
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complex relationship. early on 2000 obama's candidacy for president look like a longshot. eric holder had been deputy attorney general under clinton, came to work for his campaign and they were able to push that donor into the presses and the clinton people are coming over. and then eric holder in the course of the campaign was a number of key moments of brevin wright one example where he was able to handle the crisis and help them be there when donations are spent something to the press so he and the president became very close. he is one of the few cabinet members who is in the president on a social basis. he is welcome in the white house residence i'm like other cabinet secretaries. to put this in perspective transportation secretary ray lahood didn't see the president after he was sworn in until his
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son was kidnapped. so this was several years and he is from illinois. in fact, you could say the number one agenda is to get the third runway for o'hare. they didn't see each other for years. eric holder had this close personal relationship and they watch espn together is more important eric holder had a deep relationship with leaders of the black community that the president simply doesn't have. he knows al sharpton and he speaks of his events and he knows jesse jackson senior and jr. and has as a long-time relationship with them and many influential black leaders so the political calculation here is if you fire, president obama fires eric holder, he just fired the first african-american attorney general of the united states. how does that play into the key voting bloc was another matter is who does he replace eric holder with? time is short and it's very hard to confirm somebody you know
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what the senate going into re-election. so it's a difficult problem but the key to leadership is you should always remove a subordinate who who is lost of trust of those he has worked with and remember more than 200 sitting members of congress, house and senate, call in air colder to resign and the largest number in u.s. history of calling annie attorney general including nixon's attorney general to resign. >> host: let's talk about the operation itself. the leaders are familiar with the killing of brian terry that you make the claim that hunch of peoples have died because of the "operation fast and furious." >> guest: hundreds of people inside mexico. the mexican justice department based on the crime scene. the mexicans of launch their own investigation to fast and furious and sharing the results of those investigations with u.s. congressional investigators so there's a fair amount of cooperation but this is a major
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crisis. they did not approve the operation advance and they were not told of the operation until it was in the u.s. press. >> host: where did it originate? >> guest: where did it originate? >> host: yes, with it in phoenix phoenix and what do we know about that? >> guest: to put this in perspective, the alcohol tobacco and firearms bureau is the main regulator of legal firearms in the united states. the problem is that legal far -- firearms are used in very few crimes. armed robbery, murder and so on, these are almost always using black-market guns. the agency for a long time wanted jurisdiction to expand its operations because it needed than to have a scenario but lawfully obtained firearms were used used to expand their
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jurisdiction and at the same time the political people at the justice department also wanted, they were concerned about the recent supreme court case which we vilify the second amendment and they wanted to bring back gunter trolled so there was an ideological agenda and a clear agenda here. a similar operation was called wide receiver but there were a lot or controls in place in the operation was a failure. it wasn't a dangerous the dangerous failure the way to fast and furious was. how far the decision went with the president fault the attorney general? so far we just don't know but it seems likely given the operation of this magnitude and the swiftness of the cover-up that all the whistleblowers were devoted, transferred or fired. and all the people are participated in the cover-up were stonewalled and promoted and brought back to washington and given cushy jobs were given transfers to places they preferred. they were kept at their post.
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no one who was stonewalling was fired. only those who cooperated with the investigation were pushed out of the agency. >> host: a very sad chapter thing. let's move on to something that more directly involves domestic policy and that is the health care initiative, certainly what most of us would describe as the signature initiative of the sequestration and you provide other examples of obama's leadership and in particular with relation to nancy pelosi, speaker of the house who was extraordinarily influential in the health care debate, moving it forward with the president leaving from behind. >> guest: that's right. i don't share nancy pelosi's politics but i've really come to admire her as a leader and a visionary and of course in reporting in this book i've had a different sense of nancy pelosi. here is someone who is very jealous of her prerogatives the speaker like the office but had
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a definite ideological agenda and this was her pitch. health care reform had been part of the progressive agenda for centurian and has been on the democratic platform since 1948, the truman years. everyone try, lbj tried, clinton had tried, she wanted to try and she wanted to win because she wanted to get some version of the national health service passed in the united states and she did. for she had to win over obama himself. rahm emanuel and the chief of staff was completely opposed and he said wait a minute. >> host: he had been there before. he had seen this movie before. >> guest: and he knew how it ended. the republicans got control for the first time in 50 years in 1994 partly as -- so it was going to be a political disaster. he could see it coming. nancy pelosi was determined, she won over the president but there
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were key moments in which it look like he was going to fail and obama wanted to distance himself from that failure so he would pull a disappearing act. pelosi would have to hunt them down and get them to call a wayford senator congressman who wasn't sure. she even had lobbying barney frank for him. >> host: this is one of the reasons emanuel is in chicago i know longer in washington because of his differences on health care. >> guest: also frankly he is more of an executive personality and he fits right in as mayor of chicago and he is doing a good job as mayor of chicago. >> host: let's talk about what nancy pelosi did an very stage in the health care bill and particularly in the last few weeks when she essentially told harry ricci knew exactly which want to do. >> guest: she had a number of innovative legislative maneuvers. she confronted her own members
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and said he will have to vote for to see what's in it. she pushed it through. she said if there is a fence -- do we will go through the cade and parachute in. she was absolutely determined and she got there but she didn't get to go to the promised land. she will probably and her political career in the political minority in the wilderness. >> host: do you think obama was thinking about that all along based on his hesitation at every stage of this debate facts obviously he was very concerned about the political calculations. >> guest: well, everyone is his position is worried about it. but i think you know he was -- it was just a blink of an eye ago that he was a senator and a moment before the junior lawmaker and i think he is still just adapting to being president of the united states and doesn't fully realize that it's a
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different kind of leadership post in which when you are a junior lawmaker disassociate yourself from failure pretty quickly so you can continue to rise so when he saw obamacare getting into trouble trouble he wanted to back away and he wanted a health care summit with republicans. he wanted to talk about something else. this is very much our jr. lawmaker would act as someone who ran a committee in the u.s. congress work sample or speaker of the house for a general or a ceo, they see speed bumps and they see mountains in and away and the line them and they get there. that is not what jr. people do. they are always setting themselves up for the next thing. i don't think obama has made a political adjustment. >> host: the leadership failure here is his ability to set priorities and move forward them and let others at parties for him? >> guest: his priorities is that by other people especially the boma care.
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his future legislation is the work of nancy pelosi. >> host: we didn't hear much about that at the democratic convention. you and bob woodward and his new book on the obama presidency seem to be very much in agreement on the discussion of the debt ceiling in 2011. talk about that. >> guest: we probably talked to talk to some the same people. i have no way of knowing but we have the p. party brings the republicans back from the dead. they get control of congress and john boehner or speaker speaker of the house and boehner realizes he has to confront his own caucus if he is going to save the united states credit rating and the credit rating agencies moody's and so on are prepared in august of 2011 for the first time in american history to downgrade the united states gets stripped of -- aaa status.
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boehner can feel the back of his scalp that this is going to be blamed on the republicans. so he feels political blame but is also worried about the country. does he really want to be one. two heartbeats away from the presidency. america's credit is downgraded for the first time in our history and so he does something extraordinary. he acts like a leader and. he comes up with a compromise, what they call a grand bargain and he can't raise taxes. that is a political impossibility from where he sits. but it does come up with a way to close tax loopholes and raise $800 billion in new revenue. that should be enough to make a deal with the president of the united states and he seeks out obama and together they are meeting secretly on golf courses, the back patio for the white house may come to a deal. they even shake hands. and they can feel the wind of
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history at their back. we are going to reform entitlement and the vice president was briefly involving cantor comes in at the last moment. there are other players involved the. >> host: and the senate also. >> guest: absolutely but at the very moment they are making this deal and they shake hands, obama suddenly gets cold feet and he realizes that the gang of six plan in the u.s. senate raises some 1.2 trillion revenue and ultimately decides he is going to torpedo his own deal rather than confront the liberal lions of the senate and a half a dozen people from various senate seats who simply don't want to give up the revenue and they certainly don't want to reform entitlement. that is not why they were elected. they don't want to take a legacy and change it and they are not prepared to confront their own
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ideological path and obama as a leader as president of the united states is not prepared to get half a dozen old men to say wait a minute, the country is about to go off of a cliff here. it's time to rethink things here. the extraordinary offer from the house of representatives, if i go with the well of it absolutely nothing and instead he goes with them and he gets nothing. they go without a budget for more than 700 days. the trust in washington is gone. now even the summit democrats don't trust him. the president is unable to govern and achieve economic areas to decide the budget for the federal government itself. it's an extraordinary moment where the press has totally ignored him. >> host: if obama's reelected what does this portend? moody's has already suggested there will be another downgrade. >> guest: i think that the house and senate remain as they are an obama's reelected, in other words the status quo
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simply continues i think we -- >> host: and if the democrats gain control of the senate again? excuse me, the democrats control the senate. >> guest: the republicans do not control the u.s. senate but they control the house. the inability, the lack of trust with key players is enormous. the inability to think outside the box. we have to look at the bigger picture here where entitlement was created in 1930s and expanded in the 1960's but it's almost 50 years old in its main application. what everything in american life has gone unchanged in 50 years? the fact that one political party, the democrats come are not prepared to make any reforms in entitlement is simply extraordinary. this is a crisis happening not just in the united states but throughout the western world. this is what happened in western europe and this is what is happening in japan and happening
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in australia. as the baby boomers are set to retire they will have to confront the entitlement state and they will have to reform some of those promises or these economies will simply implode. and to make those hard choices you either need leaders who are willing to grow up or we need a new set of leaders. >> host: president obama's relations with the hill generally when you talk about health care bill and the debt ceiling, i think that is also a market the way he has decided to run his presidency and i think many people would argue that had has been extraordinarily detrimental to his success. >> guest: there's a great anecdote in it conference call between pelosi, reed and obama and obama is going on at some length and nancy pelosi leans over and starts a conversation with reed. that illustrates and i've heard similar versions of that story from my own sources, that illustrates the lack of trust
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that simply isn't there. they simply see him as an empty suit. is maybe able to run anything. conservatives think come all the things they tend to see obama as the evil genius which i think is. is an ordinary man trying to do the best they can but that -- are deeply disappointed in him. they had a much bigger agenda and they need a personality like lbj to make that happen. hillary might have had that personality and she probably does actually but obama definitely does not. this is someone who is solitary and bookish and that those adjectives that describe him as a boy but they describe him today to too. yella likes to retreat to a private office in the white house. is on staff doesn't know how he is going to decide on key issues. he hesitates and weights a lot. >> host: let's go back to the
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early chapters and the way you begin the book when you talk about the enormous influence of the federal women over president obama. tell us about that. >> guest: first of all i've been attacked by some in the press by saying it's somehow a bad thing to listen to women but i think strong confident women are wonderful things. is the it's this kind of generational change in american politics. george bush listened to a number of strong women as well, condoleezza rice for example but what is extraordinary about obama is that he really needs someone who can really meet him where he is. and successful women tend to be a little better at this frankly. and i don't want to sound like right here but they are somewhat a bit like his mother. his mother liked to have a relationship at arm's length. she was very solitary. she was definitely progressive
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and hippie like in her outlook. .. she was bonn in iran. her father is a noted blood research aerothe the university
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of chicago. and it hopes the hospital in iran and she's born there. she spends a lot of her childhood spholling her parents around the middle east and the developing world and in some cases western you were. when he meets barack obama, in 1990, at the cafe in chicago, they a lot in common. they had a childhood spent overseas. they both grew up in muslim countries. iran and indonesia. they have a different perspective, they're definitely on the left part of the american political spectrum, and they have a sort of disdain for what they concern american per robing lymph. that becomes a bonding moment for them early on. let's not forget who valerie is to the obamas. she's the gilded arch gateway in to the establishment.
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she knows everyone. she's from a prosperous and successful family that's been successful for a long period of time. >> host: she herself was successful in chicago. >> guest: absolutely. she was the deputy chief of staff. went stanford law school. stanford rather than michigan law school. it was influential, connected and powerful and able to do normally beneficial things for them. and they become very grateful that becomes -- that relationship she becomes essentially a third member of the family. hillary clinton is another strong women. i find that an interesting story. i can't wait to read hillary's memoir. >> host: you should write about women in politics. and the generational change. >> guest: maybe i should. here is someone who is a bitter rival to obama in the 2008 campaign. it's one of the most harsh
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nominations fights in democratic party history. brought up the administration, they sent her to the state department. they were going to put her on an island they were not intended visit. she had hadn't been voted off the eye rand. they weren't going to be sending postcards. she'll take the job under one condition. she wants a weekly standing meeting of the president of the united states. she get it is. i bet the first few meetings were awkward. they occur on thursday mornings. over the course of the meetings, she wins and moves over the president through her hard work and intelligence, and he comes to realize she is a familiar figure. she's a strong, confident,
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progressive minded women. he's met women like her before. she knows how to read him. she spent her life dealing with difficult men. i don't mean her husband bill. her father, her brother, other men in her life. she knows how to deal with these men. and she knows how to deal with president obama. and how those reflect many what we have seen in president obama. >> host: one thing a leader days is stay in the room. they stay engage. we have barack obama walking out of 2009 during a briefings on the gulf oil spill crisis, here the room is crowded with coast guard officials and epa and department of energy. and in terms of the energy secretary he says, steve, i'm out. when negotiations stuff.
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he wack walks out root of. when he's negotiates then speaker nancy pelosi. he said i'm not a stupid man and walks out of the of the room. a leader stays engaged and persuades, comprises, cajoles, coaches does what has to be done in order to get there whenever there is. but that's one of the aspects of leadership. another aspect of leadership is a leader is tough on the subordinates just as on itself. when someone lost the trust of the fellow colleagues when he's lied and acted unethically. he needs to go. a leader has a vision. >> host: it's a principle. >> guest: absolutely. >> host: and other qualities a leader needs to have. >> guest: you need to be determined in the face obstacles. every decent life lived whether you're a mock or a ceo of the
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corporation overcoming adverse i are, getting there. and you continue give up. inspire. you keep going. you inspire your followers second and you keep going until you get there and the impossible gets me. the impossible by people with vision and determination. there's a reason we have leaders and we don't randomly select people out of a crowd. not everyone has that quality. the and the question of the selection in 2012 does president obama have the leadership qualities to take us there. >> host: you say number times a leader takes risk for a larger cause and that's something you have not seen in obama. >> guest: i have not seen in obama. nancy pelosi took risks her own political career in one. you can debate the merit to the cause. she had a vision and took the risk for the larger cause and succeeded for better or worse.
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name one of the example in which barack obama took on something that was truly politically risky and gambled it off and the -- closest to get to that is the bin laden raid. when you look at the bin laden radio see a series of stops and starts and stalls. you see they had to changes their story about what happened a number of times. there's so many things about the raid that simply don't add up. here's one, they said they gave bin laden a muslim burial, who is the muslim chaplain on duty that day? there wasn't one. >> host: interesting. my business is looking at public opinion, i'm struck by the fact if you ask americans who is the stronger leader barack obama or mitt romney barack obama wins that contest every time. why do you think that. >> grois glois it's
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11 point advantage on foreign policy. for president obama and i can't see. killing bin laden. >> host: absolutely. i think most people remember. i think that obama has been actually on the same page that americans are in terms of foreign policy withdrawing from iraq. americans are tired, i think in terms of foreign policy. as you said, that's not what a leader does. >> guest: a leader needs to select and decide. we have a crisis in the euro which could bring down the economy. the crisis of the dollar. we have a joblessness crisis here. there's a lot of causes the president can pick that would resonate with the public and champion with instead of taking on secure bids from the wish list like health care reform.
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>> host: we a few minutes left. tell us about some of the biggest conclusion from a the book and what you might do next. >> guest: this was book was csh you answer a big question and you have to play detective for a year or so. you want to spend some time really thinking about something. and it's it came as a great surprise to me. i was expecting to find something very different. i was expecting to find a more determined leader somebody who indicates a new generation in american politics. if you look at the debate in 2008 against mccain barack obama. you saw the hobbled dwarf speaking out about the war that ended years ago who spoke in the language of the friend. very complicated way. and you had the tall, confident man who seemed to be speak
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directly and connect with people. they choose obama. and reduced by the office that he's too has lost the ability to lead, if he ever had it. and we have a tendency sometimes in america to promote people before they're ready. and to make excuses for them once they're there. but ultimately, a kind of aloofness e exists in the national character. when people don't reform, we remove them. i think this is going to be a very monument us year. i think it's going the year this which next year is going to be a difficult year. we really exam the entitlement state. we exam of the nature of american political life. and while we may be scaling back abroad more fundamentally we may
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be changing how we do things at home. i think the world is going to look very differently four years from now than today. >> host: you -- and some ski areas we absolutely need to make progress. how do you think americans will react to that? will we see an extraordinary turnover in 2014? in congress? what will the reaction be if we continue the pattern. >> guest: i think it's unlikely we're going see obama re-elected. i understand the poll give a -- look at new mexico 8 to 9% of undecided. 7% vote for gary johnson. i think ultimately, i think this is another carter presidency. i think obama is neither a
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visionary or a competent leader. he's miscast and there's a tragic element to all of this, actually. >> host: has it given you an idea for another book. >> guest: i have something in the works. >> host: can you tell us about it? >> guest: no. >> host: congratulations on your new book. >> guest: thank you.
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and 10:00 p.m. on saturday. 12:00 a.m. and 9 p.m. on sunday. go to and click on afterwords and the booktv series and topics list on the upper right side of the page. michael gordon achieved military correspondent for "the new york times" and journalist and retired marine corps. general provided an indepth account of the war in iran and the "end game." the inside struggle from iraq from bush to barack obama. in eisenhower's secret battle to shave the world. he recounts the ten year presidency


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