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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  October 27, 2013 1:00am-3:01am EDT

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the top 1% is much more likely to participate politically than the other 99% and so we have these distortions in terms of how decisions are made in washington. i don't have a magic solution to it that part of the reason i wrote this book was to suggest that there have to be ways for us to reengage the citizenry around the project of american renewal both domestically and internationally. ..
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[inaudible conversations] we are going to get started now. welcome to the texas book festival director for "the new york times" magazine i nt night i am here with mark leibovich to talk about. to talk about his book "this town."
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it was an open-ended question while he was reported the bow to the new video side of washington would be interested in the finished product after spending 11 weeks on "the new york times" best-seller list is of full house today here in austin, texas o congratulations. have the genesis of this book was 8100 word costume -- contest that he did for the character that most of you would not know or care about an unusual fellow named mike allen who pollute produces playbook apolitical tip sheet that he describes as a distillation in-house law of the nation's business in the form of a summer camp newsletter. [laughter] the premise was that this very socially precarious
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individual is the town crier for the nation's capital tuesday it says much about washington as the fellow that we called nike. the great book editor became interested in this subject but let's talk about how you saw this topic. basically what this would be is a journey into the world of the playbook that seems like a rickety proposition. >> also in the psychological level the experience of writing april 2010 was essentially writing about the world that we live in and did have it in washington and that was much harder hit a story i had ever done. a fish trying to write about
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the water a lot of people do it was there but people resisted it because we are the fish. it was a tough story. i have known mike for a long time, extremely private private, extremely powerful and that got done and then people started to wonder people have a sense of washington end of dinner parties but people did not have a false sense of what this carnival has come to in the money world that washington is today. with this world of characters that has
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protected washington. >> host: let's talk about the other characters. we have a social a congressional aide and a lawyer and a book agent. why should they care about those that are not household a surgeon not hold elected office? >> i don't think they should care about them. [laughter] of course, you should care deeply about them. [laughter] they are people who made washington work for them. jimmy is a socialite and kurt is a longtime aide to congressman darrell ice that describes himself but as an opportunist. not the although raised on the politics of west wing the media culture literally in griffin came to
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washington and found the father figure with darrell i said it was so completely a neighbor with his own narrative that he felt the need to tell me all about it . . ready males these are written by members of congress and eventually he was fired and is in chapter eight. but those who are extremely powerful whether president to the united states nor senate majority leader harry reid or the next governor of virginia and again is at looks at the entire world people who tried to scramble to the top of the pecking order. >> you have made the point that despite the fact people say washington is divided as though interconnected and
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the players that have that connection it goes without saying that washingtonians don't know these people that they are fully divorced so not so much a town or a place but a class a ruling class? >> the political class they think they are the ruling class but not to the extent they may think but he essentially the people of this town these are the people one tv yelling if we should shut down the government peyser not the hundreds of thousands of people being furloughed. citizens lost their lives in
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the naval yard shootings last month these are anonymous government workers better all of the neighbors in washington d.c.. i've focused on a small group of people who has a disproportionate amount of money, visibility and influence. one of the criticisms of the book is that what about the real people who make up the city? site pleads guilty to that. i wanted to focus and inject some shame into the system on what this world looks like from inside. >> did it seems you are conscious during the course those that may not be considered wholly admirable characters see you were on a quest to find some kind of
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heroic individuals tell us how that worked out. >> is interesting. i like a lot of nonfiction writers would have loved to have had a single protagonist to tell it take you to the narrative to be noble commissure you world in a way that is compelling or someone likeable or august. michael lewis has an incredible knack for finding the emblematic vehicle of a culture rather silicon valley are baseball. >> i did not find those in washington. >> i tried. after a while i did not give up that i decided there was not one or two or three characters big enough to sustain a narrative but eventually i tried to make the ensemble's that was not
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as satisfying but ultimately that is what i came up with. so it is always helpful to have intent with a figure that could rise above which is easy for him to say but i quoted the fact he said your large bowl will be washington d.c.. i said would never. with a profile rather than focusing on one character. >> italy for the fact they are inescapable who they are bad harry reid comes to mind as part of a sympathetic character and trent lott also who makes no bones about it. >> harry reid has an anecdote that the as a fly
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on the wall if on the election night if he becomes a senate majority leader and chuck schumer his right-hand man trying to win the majority with him. as the democratic candidates kept winning fair elections elections, senator reid kept calling on the phone these cursory 302nd congratulations calls he would punctuate all of them with either of you, hilary. either of you, claire. i love you whoever. then he met my glance and he knew i was wondering i said what is with the i love you? he said they are politicians. they need to hear that. [laughter] i love that total transparency he was being completely cynical and completely honest at the same vein as senator lott went up to be, a lobbyist
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like 50 percent do now compared to 3% in 74. he sits there in his lobbying office and talks about how much she hates washington. he hates and all the time and the politicians are very ostentatious when they run for reelection but he said i could go back to mississippi. i said why do you live here and he looked to me like i was crazy. this is where the money is. [laughter] like someone of my skill set and stature make $5 million per year? clearly seven figures that is why i am here. that is where the medeas. he did not need to finish his sentence. >> host: but the cynicism you hear from somebody like trend lighthouse the title
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"this town" is being read about scornfully. >> it is a way to get district -- distance. obama said the business of this town must change or have been around this town long enough so politicians use and all the time as a way to achieve dissents. i am proud the book has done enough that mike allen capitalizes a better in the president himself started to use it now even the president is plugging teeeighteen book. i don't think that was his intent but i'm happy to have the endorsement. >> host: the classic "this town" molnar it to a place in the course of your reporting. with a congressional aide to darrell eisa political magazine reported that he
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was beating you e mails from other reporters and as a result of that that there was word getting around town you we're doing a book called a subsidy was a working title. [laughter] that is chapter to. >> host: that was the apprehensive miss it not cooperating and fact you were telling me to a lot of individual said don't write about me. write about him they were throwing their friends under the bus is. [laughter] >> that spectacle in itself was the subject of 150 stories within washington on various blocks of "politico" on one week egypt was pulling up and republicans threatening to shut down the government but nobody --
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people are only talking about this story one'' from cbs news said instead of writing a book about a house off involved washington is mark leibovich got people to act it out in realtime. [laughter] is true. i had to laugh the with the fact checking process but trying to lobby their way out of the book. >> host: explained that. what you did that icing was pretty bold but basically he would contact every individual who was a character and run past than they affirmation to screaming and threatened legal action. >> and fall 37 did you think to modify or take things out? [laughter] >> yes.
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writing a book like this involves 1 million decisions and sometimes they are not yours. there is a lot of publishers and lawyers and controlling interest in that a certain point said theoretically purer world of journalism runs into a business proposition i was not familiar with. so there were many discussions that went on over my head. >> host: let's just say they barnetts a powerful agent and attorney that had as many media contact you ran all the stuff passed bob >> a lot of people were. bobby is arguably the most powerful lawyer and politics, a broadcast journalism, and publishing. that creates certainly a lot
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of shared motivation with conflicts. this book is a work of publishing and he is the character of the book and he has a lot of relations in the publishing industry. i did not have much control over that. it was a process and i opening and luckily did no one has come forward with factual stuff and people read the book for what it is so i will stop there is. >> host: the question was a process question. but you were concerned that would be rough on some people. if you have the criticism that your book was soft on people? >> probably.
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i got criticism it was too mean and that the boat pulled punches and i knew i would get that but the fact of the matter is there is a psychological and unconscious'' we take writing about real people whose lives are in a real way in your hands and again this is where the decisions come in. i knew this book would be scrutinized in a big way way, with a lot of buzz and washington playbook and i knew it had to be factually accurate to be as few people surprised as possible to talk about it.
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i did the best i could throw a lot of times people critiques the book they wish you had written. why could he has been this mean? to make these decisions for years for i try to with with the line on the edge. it is not a clean process. >> host: tel the audience baobab. >> you did not start with the list of characters it was how you put it together. >> there were people who would ever decided they did not want to be a part of it. but i think a lot of it, change and i worked on this for about three years and the tea party election
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of 2010 it gave way to the presidential election so there was enough narrative so there was reevaluating of lots of the decisions. but the process was very messy. i switch publishers in midstream that was not a fun experience different editors and different publishers. >> did have to do with of loan deadline? david rosenthal who was the publisher of simon schuster coming helps me to understand what this book was. he came to be essentially with a great vision and after he bought the book he divorced a few weeks later
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in part because he bought koffka maybe books like this. it was a new publisher john carp the book was not his idea. we kicked around a change in concept and then reached an impasse and david landau the pangolin and he was nice enough to take over the books there. >> rarely does a scenario like that. >> it was great. s soon as i was writing for him begin it was a sense of coming home to what i thought the book was and i remember it felt much better immediately. david is one of my idols. i am glad it worked out. >> host: we talk about the book being a place but the time is the age of obama.
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although it has been interpreted as a subsidy or self-appointed media stars, it is also under the administration and that promised unprecedented transparency but filled with characters who have become filthy rich and to the extent there is the civic outrage in a reserve for bad element? >> i would not say specifically but this world is washington of the 21st century is a place people come to get rich. the mafia's metropolitan area in the united states seven of the 10 wealthiest counties in the united states. calotte happened during the bush and clinton years. what was interesting or tightly about the obama with the change of 2008 is a rather change campaign.
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to some degree every campaign claims that but they doubled down. that was their message it was resident at the moment did he tapped into the grass roots out radon a completely different flavor but grass-roots nonetheless that the two-party did a and ted cruz and a very much outsider flavor but a lot of the obama change for craig lewis said there would not do anything with the official washington would go want to become obvious to. [laughter] exactly. running the corporate interest or go to the same parties. it became a question is open change just a marketing campaign or something they really believed? everyone is different i think the president was
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sincere and is in a special category but i think they would be the first to say one of the biggest regrets in my question is how party really tried? >> people can begin to line up to the microphone now. you mentioned in the book referencing courage that eight people were sure she was scanned by a darrell fisa the idea would never have lunch in this town again be you assured us he was. this book has been wildly successful. >> make sure you get the wildly successful. [laughter] >> washington laws that but of the other hand at the expense of the most beloved or well-known characters.
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has this created a dynamic it is more difficult to report or find because of your achievement of individuals in this book? >> no. people have been asking the question for years. i'd never had an answer for cartwright to be fair and accurate. >> buyer beware. like any journalist trying to tell the truth there hold it to a culture but one of the other working titles this both devolve long enough with other working titles but to never eat lunch in this town again but curt was fired they got his job back three months after then he went to the doom a caller then went back. he has been through a lot.
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now he has of the of the title of report and we get his spee of all the time. it has been fine. one thing you have to do know enough to you are if you realize it is not you said is spoken to were invited to the parties it is your job. you have a lot of fake friends in washington and also a few real one sandy to know the difference. i am sure their people better mad at me others trash me behind my back. that is good but it has not been a problem at. >> host: that is the way it was before anyway. [laughter] >> this segues beautifully. my daughter just did mr. masters of global policy
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of her goal is a career in washington. what advice would you give her? >> the single most common question. i get that all the time for it is a great question. >> but she has strong ethics this is not a good town. [laughter] >> this is the part where i completely contradict everything i just said witches there are a lot of good people and very sincere hard working people making an impact and that is a great place. but if it is possible, don't go immediately to washington but live in another committee or part of the world. to realize that i had a reporter from the capital of new hampshire to talk a few weeks ago and she is 25
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years old and she said i would really love to go to washington. she sang see the young journalists getting davis with 20,000 twitter followers i want to part of that world looks so exciting the you live in concord hampshire you are meeting people every day that you are greeting these people this is the best experience you could get it age 25 to jump into this world. but if you go at an early age is important to know who you are in and what you believe in a party were there and not to treat it like a panoramic circus that you are immediately defined by your brand but washington
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d.c. the people in this role talk to in a way that most regular people don't talk to each other the language of sucking up and selling and browbeating and i may be on the frontlines of someone who is attached to reduce organization. but it is a fine place the other contradiction is a nice place to raise a family very pleasant for i have chosen to live here and my wife likes her job and my kids like their schools and washington can be home if you make it. >> howdy. i am currently reading dean acheson's memoirs and he was secretary of state during mccarthy -- mccarthyism. washington looks strangely familiar with that time period what is your
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thinking? >> they're always has bad qualities about washington driven by a the thirst for power and opportunity and what's different now is the wealth. the infusion of money into the system now is such it has changed the game were no one ever lives -- ever these there is the acheson era, truman era you do service in return to your community but now there is a sense once you get there you won the lottery you can die now on a former congressman, a staffer, a policy analyst. also a new media up. a new self-appointed celebrities that are enabled by cable and social media that did not exist back then. it was a smaller world now it has been amplified with dollars that.
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>> morning show is not very highly rated across the country but is very inferential in this town. could you talk about or give us your idea why that is? >> "politico", and beat the press, there are certain franchises that get into the bloodstream that the chattering class will grade. morning till for whatever reason the last few years has become a morning sell-off in in which you have the familiar characters , not unlike today's show or "good morning america" for the political class. the the number of watch -- watchers is disproportionately lower
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than the network morning shows but the formula has worked. don imus had this same appeal and the same slot and mike allen and again is the convenience of the morning sell-off in. today's media environment allows for that to be electronic were before maybe it was the power breakfast at the madison hotel. >> started the book with tim russert its funeral. could you talk about that? >> tim russert was very well loved and very effective and a newsman and died in june june 2008 i remember walking into the kennedy center where he had a state like year-old clintons, obama is, and the king, bushes, all mafia families paying respects.
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>> the book was not even a glimmer in your eye? >> was taking notes on the program that is tacky but people were scalping tickets. it was like a social event of the spring. i thought this is a funeral that i sought a producer for countdown literally read of to have recanted and said senator trying to broker at the funeral and just watching the cocktail party and fold at this the radically sacred event and jockeying for power. extending to the eulogy. the procession in people try to help to each other out they were enough about the and stories about me. it struck me as a good
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jumping off point. >> i waterhouse -- wonder that are so singers thank you could not put them in your book? and if they were so i untouchable who might they have been? [laughter] >> anybody who works for "the new york times." robert draper. [laughter] hugh carried. >> you can read. i think tom brokaw he lives in montana and new york but quite an activist against the white house correspondents' dinner and the grotesque spectacle and has become it has been quite outspoken the last few years. tom brokaw with tim russert is closest friends gets this
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very well and tim russert gets this very well but i respect on for coming the next 9 yards to talk about with the enough about me correspondents' dinner. it is next of lot of gray areas. >> we just had a 15 day government shutdown and came close to defaulting and washington doesn't work. people don't talk to each other tip o'neill and ronald reagan are not getting drinks. yacht i got a fatah. where was interconnected washington during the shutdown? were they concerned we would default? or did they know what would happen all the time? >> that is a great question. if you looked at what drove the shutdown will get ted
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cruz. he has taken a big great deal of oxygen with this conversation. [laughter] he has very deftly taken advantage of the world we have allowed to grow up which is someone who does not care about accomplishing anything in the senate. does not care about being on a committee or the respect of his colleagues but he seems to be caring about running for president, a five to percent of c-span viewers the, the c-span ratings are 500% they've watched his filibuster. he wants to run for president the only thing that matters to him in many ways the way he conducts himself politically how to build his branch in a very
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angry and impassioned constituency within the republican party. that is how it is playing in all but as i said none of the people very yelling at the park rangers on tv or grandstanding about the horrific bureaucrats that were not getting paid. the people of this town did very well. the lobbyist right now are doing very well when it comes to doing decline and spitting as far as not being affected by the sequestration. again, i would argue fact a grown-up'' agreement toward consensus would be better off but ted cruz is availing himself of the world that we
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have all created the republican party has created in the printing machine so i guess i don't fault him for that. >> you make the point disfunction works. >> yes if the immigration bill passes tomorrow that is tens of billions of dollars of lobbying and consulting many that will not be realized. so in in a way the things that did not bring the country forward is what washington profits from. >> i have a question about the white house one-party getting along with the congress of a different party. reagan had a relationship with tip o'neill although he would chastise reagan in public. they had a way to get things done.
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now what has happened? president obama does not seem to have the wherewithal to have dealt with the house majority ship. is this a significant failings of his part? or the time is so different kurtis much difficult problem to deal with? >> i would say obama doesn't have a partner. john boehner does not have that much control. when did he party came to town is one of the best books of the congress that is behind it and everybody should read it. but a lot of people and republicans would argue favorite be happy to be at the white house every week starting five years ago these relationships should
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not have gone beyond so weakly cocktail parties. gerhard he tried is perfectly valid in the question whether john cater represents where the power or the energy or the fear of his caucus. and tip o'neill had the incredible growth of his caucus ronald reagan had a strong verbally pulpit with a greater handle and barack obama and john and hater are weekend with their positions to make it hard to have the relationship anyway. >> even if he ready to be permitted in this caucus is even a question. >> ted cruz to the rift yesterday in iowa with the reagan revolution this and that. that is one of the great
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opening questions would he be nominated now? i don't know the answer to that. >> have you watched house of cards and how accurate portrayal of this city? [laughter] >> we did a times talked that's a reporter to ring live interviews on stage and i talk to the entire cast kevin spacey and one of the head writers and robin wright. they take a lot of their days with fiction. it is netflix. the education bill would not be passed with the one-hour episodes of the do take license but it is great television frankly. people in washington d.c. are always rolling their
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eyes is unrealistic and i say shot up. [laughter] what ever. it is true enough. one of the things people are compelled by on the show is in a weird way it is politics moving forward a major education bill and deals are cut and that does not happen these days you actually have the ark of progress whether it is an and quotations or not it is not pretty but i find it compelling high binge watched again before a interview them and the creator said we're using we're stealing you from your book for all of season to. [laughter] i said say that on tv. [laughter] >> i interviewed them last weekend i asked him of the
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government shut down what the house of court -- with the house of cards majority whip would had done and and he said he would have murdered someone. [laughter] >> what about socializing to get ahead is there a difference? directed bigger distention of between those on the inside and legitimately on the outside. i have found equal of rage from the left and the right outside of washington on a college campus, a conservative talk radio, the revolution of washington is quite a bipartisan. sarah taylor and makes a lot of the occupied movement points of cronyism, ralph
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nader, ron paul make a lot of the far right points. the insider outsider paradigm is much stronger. around the margins republicans intend to be more unabashed about making money in democrats to go want to become a lobbyist are very quick to say they are missing consultants and not lobbyists because the democrats will cloaked themselves with the higher virtue and that is not lobbying. but somebody like trench lots lobbying partner once famously said my vote cannot be bought but it can be rented. [laughter] somebody said you are just a cheap pork and he took great offense to that he said i am not that cheap.
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[laughter] so he is a southern democrat but as an author i admirer the transparency in a warped way. >> i think we are finished. thank you very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> that was mark leibovich talking about his book "this town" it takes a critical look at the inner workings of washington d.c.. we will be back with then next panel and about 15 minutes when it begins with
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a panel on the kennedy assassination 50th anniversary. booktv is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year and we want to show you some of our past coverage of the texas book festival. we'll be back with live coverage in about 15 minutes >> they are happy they are in power per our suspect they break up screaming from time to time because they all have control over their caucus and i talk about speaker john boehner and eric cantor and if not for this class of the 87 freshmen or 2010 he would be minority leader but if they are not beholden by the leadership been made it clear from the outset they would not just be told to fall into line. but this will prove to be the case when if ever the
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democrats regain power since earmarks' have now been banned. with the block this fear you can turn somebody into an instant murder bryce stripping of their committee assignments. it is very hard. there is a point that i refer to after the debt ceiling fiasco when they came back without a continuing resolution of the obamacare administration. the republican the ship believed they've been getting an easy vote put their own members for to the can step for the appropriations committee that designs these continuing resolutions was furious purveyances did on reading with the leadership than they said we're the
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ones being punished we're cutting spending to record lows pre-will not go for rusbridge you need to tell them to follow mine in he said we cannot do that anymore. >> so the leadership doesn't feel that they are in a position to lead on the debt ceiling or anything else? >> the whole book devoted to the debt ceiling is specifically long magazine stories that fell apart but that is all wind and sale with all due respect to those officers because the bottom line is that speaker peter never have those votes in the way. whatever deal he would have struck with the id registration would have failed to not get sufficient votes to renew -- to win the
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rest of the insurrection so with the showdown of the debt ceiling with its closest allies hot to say if you come back with the deal that does not get more than 100 votes then cantor has already started a whisper campaign and we saw happen with speaker gingrich but he took that to heart and walked away from the deal shortly after that. >> i have to ask this based and what you said. the president initially gave a off the record interview to the demise register be he did not get the endorsement he believed he could get a grand bargain struck him if he was reelected november
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november 6th but based if you are saying it may not be possible if the freshmen or sophomores don't give john paid their blessing to cut a deal they he may be and the same tough spot is last year the grand bargain may not be possible if obama wins under any circumstances. >> i have been doing a general election reporting for "the new york times" and talking to the campaign manager of the obama campaign from the middle, david axelrod to ask them how would the next four years given it would be the same, how will things be different? the talking point was the
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fever will break. if they vote for obama will basically vote against construction is some and they will go to center. >> i cannot see that at all. >> is there a deal 18 for him after they get into office? >> no. so his time that appeared about three weeks ago that i interviewed a number of people the more conservative house republicans that are licking their chops believing this to be a great
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movement but to legislate very aggressively the conservative agenda but what if that is not so the president-elect is that how he wishes? when he was governor of massachusetts tuesday there would be disappointed one of the freshman class who is featured said there be an insurrection that we have been called so far you have seen nothing yet. if they did not behave the we will burn down. [laughter] >> i will just let that set there and let it sink and.
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so the way they characterize each one is sure agent? >> he is a washington lifer not the obvious choice not writing the tea party class with the tea party phenomenon to be on the train then underneath it. [laughter] so vague campaign heavily and this presented americans with a great opportunity and his belief was this would be a perfect recipe for entitlement reform. if you go after entitlements reform ideally to have bipartisanship and the presidents of they can walk away from it. he believed he could
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leverage that deep conservatism into action and he has failed to do so. 50 party freshman like him personally and found to and admirable like a acyl but certainly not as their real leader in that has been implicitly clear now with eric cantor it is a bit different somewhat younger than and john boehner in very clever and very, very ambitious has his own back channel to the white house. kim in vice president by dinner very close. i believe it was by doing that was leaking to eric cantor that speaker greater
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was pursuing separate talks with the obama during the biden talks with eric cantor this made him lifted and the ultimately walked out of will certainly because of the dynamics going on and then he heard the democrats. but it sounds childish. [laughter] but if eric cantor walked past john boehner of the g.o.p. open window he would cut hesitate to push him. >> they are even tempered. unless the moment is right you cannot get ahead by to carry a mutiny. said there is a detente klay declared? >> you can say that's be but we are live this week and for the texas book festival. visages of mind for the
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complete schedule of events. we will be back in a few minutes with the next ralph -- the next panel. >> there is a villain at the door and sometimes we had to address it. it could have had a white hood. now we're in the 21st century with the stronger more affluent, better educated, black america met yet we're at of point that
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caused you was developing your to be saluted and heralded by our committee to say you have a strong community me yet what about the brothers' who are not coming with us when there is a greater class division why is it we have 25 percent of brothers and sisters living in poverty and how can we speak to them? the devil at the door now is the internal threat 50 percent dropout rate or even higher. 70% or not of wedlock? it is not morality this means the mother limits herself to move forward now the position she cannot support or give attention in
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the way the child needs to become awfully strong educated adults >> as a young child i tasted discrimination and i and i did not like get. my a mother or father or grandparents why segregation? why racial discrimination? they say that is the way it is. don't get in trouble. don't get in the way. in 1955 and the tenth grade 50 years old, i heard rosa parks i heard the voice of
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martin luther king, jr. on the radio and the words of dr. king inspired me to find a way to get in the way. in 1956 as my brothers and sisters and cousins we went down to the public library and a little town of alabama tried to get a library card and check out the books and we were told by the librarian that the librarian -- a library was for whites only and not coloreds. in 1998 and wetback to the library for a book signing of my books and hundreds of black and white citizens showed up and they gave me a library card. [applause] walking with the wind is a book of faith for courage. not just my story but the story of the hundreds and
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thousands of countless men and women, black and white, who put their body on the line during a difficult time to end segregation in racial discrimination. . .
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