tv What Jefferson Read Ike Watched CSPAN November 23, 2013 8:00am-9:56am EST
stay at home dads who are very happy and who do not all entirely live in portland, oregon, you know, that is okay too. >> we're the only national television network devoted exclusively to nonfiction books, and throughout the fall we're marking 15 years of booktv on c-span2. >> this weekend booktv of is live this florida for the miami book fair international. coverage kicks off today at 10 a.m. eastern on c-span2 with dave barry, roy blunt jr. and brad meltzer and continues with appearances by doris kearns goodwin and a. scott burg. plus call-ins with sheri fink, peter baker and susan herman. sunday's coverage starts at 10:30 and includes mark halperin, bill ayers, thomas cahill and chris matthews. the miami book fair international live this weekend on booktv on c-span2. and don't forget to weigh in on
our november book club question: what books are you reading on jfk? post your thoughts anytime on our book club chat room, booktv.org/bookclub. >> presidential historian tevi troy examines the popular culture that american presidents have partaken in over the past 200 years from andrew jackson's interest in attending the theater to the reading habits of dwight eisenhower. he speaks on a panel with jonah gold burg, william galston and political analyst and columnist mona charen. this panel discussion is just under two hours. >> ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. i'm chris demuth, fellow here at the hudson institute, and i will be moderating this afternoon's session in which we will be recognizing and
celebrating and discoursing upon tevi troy's new book, "what jefferson read, ike watched and obama tweeted: 200 years of popular culture this the white house." with a title like that, you might expect that the book is a parade of ton and entertaining stories about presidents' idiosyncratic tastes in reading, theater, music, sports, movies, tv, or maybe it's more than that, maybe it's a study of decline -- [laughter] from adams and jefferson reading cicero in latin and the current bestseller over from the u.k., "the wealth of nations" to president obama tweeting about his favorite dessert or newest pop song. well, there's a little of both of that, both of those things in this wonderful book, but it is a
very serious, it is a very serious work. our presidents since andrew jack son have been popular figures. their popularity has been the most important source of tear political power. -- of their political power. they're the only national popularly-elected politician, official at any given time in america, and their relationship to popular culture has been deep, and it has changed in fundamental ways over the decades and centuries. and that, above all, is tevi troy's subject if this book. tevi is a senior fellow here at the hudson institute. he is familiar with presidents and the white house. during the administration of george w. bush, he was successively assistant secretary of labor for policy, deputy cabinet secretary at the white house and liaison to the jewish
community for the president, he was a senior member of the u.s. delegation to the organization for security and cooperation in europe. he took a little time off to work on the bush re-election campaign in 2004, and from 2007 to 2008 he was deputy secretary of health and human services. since his ten your in the government -- tenure in the government, he has written one book before this one, "intellectuals and the american presidency: philosophers, jesters or technicians?" he is a prolific author and may be said to be a full spectrum public intellectual publishing in the new republic, "reason," "national review," "the weekly standard," and washingtonian magazine where he writes about the presidency, as you might
expect, current issues in policy and issues of public health reflecting his involvement this those issues when he was at hhs. we're going to begin with tevi telling us about his book, what motivated him to write it and what he thinks the most important themes from the book are. and i hope he won't tell you too much, because i expect everyone to go out and buy the book afterwards. and we will then hear from a perfect group of panelists. these are people who do read cicero and other books. they also write books, and they blog, podcast, facebook, tweet, broadcast and probably to some other things -- do some other things those of us in this room haven't even learned about yet. we will start with jonah goldberg, a fellow at the american enterprise institute and a regular contributor to fox
news. jonah has been around the world of popular media and trying to elevate it and educate it for a long time beginning in the 1990s as founding producer of the pbs think tank with ben wattenberg. he has written two new york times best sellers including one that went all the way to the top of the chart, liberal far bism. -- fascism. following jonah, we will hear from bill galston. bill is senior fellow at the brookings institution. she taught for many years -- he taught for years at the public policy school at the university of maryland. he also has spent time this the white house and as deputy assistant for domestic policy for president bill clinton and work on the presidential campaigns of both walter mondale and al a gore.
al gore. his field is political philosophy and political institutions. he's the author of eight books, the most recent "public matters: politics, policy and religion in the 21st century." published in 2005. and then we will hear from mona charen who is a nationally-syndicated columnist, a journalist and political analyst. following the pattern here, she worked in the white house as a speech writer for nancy reagan during nancy reagan's husband's administration. and a political campaign working for jack kemp in his presidential quest in 1988. her most recent book -- and i want to mention that mona's most recent book is called "do-gooders: how liberals hurt those they claim to help," and jonah's most be recent book is "how liberals cheat in the war of ideas," but i want to make it
clear mona and jonah exempt bill galston -- [laughter] just to try to maintain a comity among our panelists. but our subject today is not partisan, it is far more elevated. we will begin with our author, tevi troy, and then proceed through the three presentations, and then we'll have some discussion up here and open it up to everybody in the room. thank you very much. tevi, the odium is yours. [applause] the podium many -- is yours. [applause] >> good afternoon. thank you, chris, for that nice introduction. thank you to my fellow co-panelists and to the hudson institute for sponsoring this event. the book, as chris mentioned, is "what jefferson read, ike watched and obama tweeted," and i mention it again. hudson institute wants you to know you may tweet this event at your pleasure, and we will also take questions via twitter. this is how even musty think
tanks adapt to the 21st century. getting to the titles, i originally had a different title for the book, and i came up with the title after i saw an interesting incident that someone, as chris said, who was a presidential historian and also someone who worked in the white house, an incident that kind of surprised me. a few years ago president obama was trying to sell his health care law, and in doing so, he went to the white house correspondents' dinner, and he told a joke. the joke was about an exemption that he was trying to get for the bill, and he said that i've got this tanning tax in the law, and in order to get this law through or the tanning tax through with the rest of the law, we're going to have to put forward an exemption for john boehner and for snooki. now, the crowd at the time laughed because at the time snooki was enjoying a cultural moment. i think now in 2013 her moment
is unlamentably gone, but at the time, she was the bucks some denizen of "jersey shore" in which she extolled the three priorities in life, gtl, gym, tan, laundry. and it struck me how bizarre it was that the president of united states was actually citing this person from the presidential podium. it also struck the president as somewhat bizarre, because the president was later asked about snooki on "the view," one of his favorite shows to go on, and he professed not to know who she was. and it led to this question appearing in my mind, are we better off with a president who knows who snooki is or a president who doesn't know who snooki is? and it's that tension and that question that really animates the book. and it led me to come up with my initial draft idea for a title
which was "from cicero to snooki. how our culture shapes our president." the good folks at regnery talked me out of that. they said that the venn diagram of those who know cicero and snooki does not intercept. [laughter] and they were right about that. but they were also right that three years later cicero is just as relevant whereas snooki is, as i said, unlamentably forgotten. so i went with this alternative title which i think conveys what i'm trying to convey. my book is about the different eras of technology and delivery of culture and how they've affected the president. i begin with jefferson read, that's because at the time those were the available options available to sun seeking -- someone seeking education or entertainment. so the first era is that period of the founders. jefferson and adams were
probably the two best-read people on the continent at their time. which is an astounding statement. you never think of the president of the united states being the best-read person in the land, and i'm not sure we'd want the president to be the best-read in the land, but nevertheless, these people lived booked, they consumed books, they were engaged by booked. and this was at no small hardship to themselves. i say in the book in 176 -- 1776 a first edition of that book cost $615. that is the cost about of an ipad today. and if you were to have an ipad today and if you have an ipad, i suspect many do, an ipad can store manager like 160,000 to 180,000 books. so when i say that jefferson had a library of over 6,000 books,
that was no insignificant investment on his part. they not only had to spend a lot of money to the read these books and to get these books, but they invested themselves in the books, and these books animated the discussions that led to the revolution from england and the revolution is aptly named because it was, indeed, a revolutionary act. breaking from the monarchy was something not done before s. these people of found beers, they found solace in the work of previous people who had gone before them. especially the roman classics writers, people like cicero -- who i mention this the title who john adams in particular was taken with, and cato, a play that george washington showed to the troops at valley forge in that very difficult winter to try and buck up their morale. so these people had engaged with what had gone on with the roman republicans who were fighting against what they saw as the
onslaught of tyranny. so the founders found ideas from previous generations that helped enlighten them, and they also looked to the current writings in the enlightenment to look for rationale for their break from england. ask so you see the ideas -- and so you see the ideas of the enlighteningment in the deck la declaration of independence, and after they broke free from england james madison -- can another founder and our fourth president -- reached out to jefferson who was living this france at the time and asked for him advice on what books to read as he was thinking about this constitutional project. and jefferson, remember how expensive books were at the time, sent him two cratefuls of books. and these books were about law and philosophy and history, all of the subjects that jefferson read so much and mastered. and madison took those books, and he read those books, and he wrote a memo to himself about those books, and he used that memo to inform his thinking on the constitutional con
recommendation, the constitution -- convention, the constitution writing itself and then the writing of the federalist papers to defend that great endeavor. of and so the founders, not wrongly, had this vision based on having dealt with a very literate populace, the population was a much higher literacy rate than in europe, and they obviously engaged in ideas, so the founders' vision was of enlightened leaders presiding over an educated populace. that was the vision. over the next two centuries, we would see that that vision was challenged, and it was challenged in two ways. the first way was in the second era i want to talk about in the 19th century. in the 19th century, i said there were two types of entertainment available at the time. the other type was live entertainment. and if a president wanted to get his message out, if he wanted to go and see and be seen, he couldn't go on youtube, he couldn't go on radio or tv, he went to where the people were.
and the people were at live performances. so i tell the story of james monroe going around the country on a goodwill tour, and in each city he would go to, he would go to theatrical performances because that's where the people were. but theater is a very democratic, small d medium. in the theater people on the stage can react to the audience. when there's a film or something on tv, that is static. that does not change based on who's seeing it or how they're seeing it. but the actors on stage in live performances can react to the audience, can interact with the audience, can recognize who is in the house that night and who is in the house. so i tell a story from 1824. there was a hotly-contested election between john quincy adams who i think was probably the best prepared person ever to be president based on his knowledge, his reading, his education, his previous experience in government. and he was up against andrew jackson who was not nearly as well read. in fact, he rarely cracked a
book. and he wasn't even much of a speller, as people used to point out at the time. so they had this presidential race, and jackson wins a plurality of the popular vote, and he wins a literality of the electoral vote, but he does not win the election because henry clay throws his support to quincy adams. clay is named secretary of state, and this is what became known at the time as the corrupt bargain. it was immediately unpopular. so not long after this happened, john quincy adams -- who was a theater buff -- goes to the theater in washington one night. and the actors, as i said, can react to what's going on in the house. today saw that the president-elect is in the house, and their reaction is to ad lib references to general jackson. and then the audience, seeing these ad libs, they applaud lustily at every mention of general jackson. and john quincy adams was so upset that although he'd been a
theater buff before, he significantly curtailed his theater going after that incident. and so the founders' vision came up against the raucous and oftentimes bawdy and loud vision of these democratic theatrical venues. democracy, they found, was much more open-ended, much more rabble-like than had been thought, and a man like andrew jackson who ended up winning the 1828 election and unseated quinn is si adams, recognized the appeal to the common man. how do we know this? i tell a story about andrew jackson going to harvard to get an honorary degree. this made quincy adams ap to to be protect tick that this person was getting a degree from his alma mater. but nevertheless, jackson goes and gets the degree, and he's expected to speak back to the students in latin which was the vernacular at harvard at the time. and jackson, seizing the moment,
says the only latin i know is e pluribus you numb. and that showed that he had this common touch, this ability to reach out to the common man and that he wasn't going to be seen as one of these hoity toity harvard types, but that he was a man of the people. and what we learned in the 19th century is that you might be educated in a certain way to govern like a quincy adams, but you needed to have some general jackson in order to get elected and get control. and the person who i write in the book had the best understanding of these two countervailing tensions was abraham lincoln. abraham lincoln grew up in poverty, in obscurity, and he read a great deal in his youth. often to the disgust of his father who tried to discourage him from reading all the time. but lincoln read, and he read every book he could get his hand on. and i'm sure all of you heard stories of lincoln traveling many miles through the snow to find a certain book or to borrow
a book from a farmer. and he didn't have the same kind of book selection that we might have today. it was very limited. and be, in fact, there were certain books that e read over and over and over again, and those included the bible, shakespeare,' sop's fables, life in washington and a history of the united states. and he internalized those books. and later when he was a politician can and he was running for office, he didn't cite books all the time, but he had internalized those books and expressed their vision in the way he commune candidated with people. so -- communicated with people. so he learned type of common language from the bible. he learned to use stories from aesop's tables, and he learned patriotism there the books on washington and the united states. and he used those successfully in his campaign for president in 1860. and then again in 1864. but lincoln also was a man who loved the theater, especially once with he became president.
and i write this the book about how he liked to attend theater so often that john wilkes booth planned to assassinate lincoln on the way to a different performance. and lincoln decided not to go that night because the show was at the old soldiers' home, and wilkes booth changed his mind and eventually did assassinate him at ford's theater at the showing of "my american cousin." and wilkes booth used his knowledge of the theater to figure out his way how to navigate through the house and even timed his shot to a well known laugh line in the play. so in some ways lincoln went to the theater, and the theater expressed his democratic impulses, but in some ways he was undone by theater. and, in fact, i tell the story in the book that his son was seeing aladdin at a lay a few blocks away, and he heard someone come in and say they have shot the president, and he went back to the white house and didn't find out until the next morning what had happened to his father.
well, after the 19th century we have the second thing develop that challenged the founders' vision of the enlightened leaders and the educated populace, and that came about in the form of new technologies in the 20th century. first, we encountered broadcast and the ability to project your voice to many thousands of people beyond the people who are in the room in front of you. so for today, we're speaking to this audience, but we also know there is a wider audience with the cameras before us. and franklin delano roosevelt recognized this. people talk about his fireside chats and how revolutionary he was, and he was. but even before he became president, in fact, he may have become president because of his recognition of the importance of radio at the 1924 and 1928 democratic conventions. he spoke recognizing there was an audience in front of him, but also recognizing there was a broader radio audience that was hearing his message, and some ways that's how he introduced himself to the nation. so radio was a new tool and new
medium for presidents. and we also think about roosevelt and the radio and scenes from raiding about it that roosevelt -- reading about it that roosevelt must have been on the radio all the time. the truth is he only did fireside chats two or three times a year. he had a tooth that whistled, and he would put in a false tooth to prevent from whistling before he went on the airwaves. and he also used a special paper that didn't rustle so people wouldn't hear the rustle of paper in front of him. so he was revolutionary in the use of this new technology, and one of the themes of the book is the way that presidents need to recognize new technologies and take advantage of them. and that leads us to the fourth era, the television every rah, the era we just left. but in this television era, the fist president of the tv era was eisenhower. and eisenhower recognized in some ways the tv as a two-way heed yum, that you can watch -- medium, that you can watch tv
and enjoy tv, but as president, you can also convey yourself on tv. and eisenhower did love tv. he watched so much tv in the white house including shows like "i love lucy," but he watched so much tv in the white house that the ushers at one point complained that the white house social schedule was determined by the tv schedule. you know, if you remember in these days, there was no dvr, there was no vcr, there was no netflix. if you missed that episode of "i love lucy," you were out of luck, and and ike didn't want to miss out. but he also recognized the importance as a communications tool. and people talk about kennedy as the television revolutionary, and he was indeed skilled, but eisenhower was the first president to give a televised news conference. he used tv speeches effectively including his famous speech about the military industrial complex, a phrase which is still with us today. and he was the first president to hire someone from the tv
industry, the actor and director robert montgomery, to advise him on his tv performances. obviously, after eisenhower we did have kennedy come who outdebated nixon on tv in this that 1960 debate although not on the radio, and kennedy recognized how important tv was to his campaign afterwards, seeing a tv one day and saying we wouldn't have had a prayer without that gadget. so kennedy really stood on the shoulder of a giant in eisenhower who recognized the importance. i said it's a two-way medium. the presidents not only saw tv, they appeared on the, but today affected what was on t. and one thing i cite this the book was this observation that presidents don't just watch tv, they are tv. there are and i tell this story about bill clinton during the monica lewinsky scandal. he goes away to get out of town, understandably, and he goes with terry mcauliffe who's now
running for governor in virginia and hillary clinton. and on this vacation -- such as it were -- they are sitting there one night trying to watch television. and hillary has the remote control, and she's flipping through channels, and she's trying to find a channel that does not include the lewinsky scandal, doesn't have a mention of it. and she's clicking, and she can't find a channel, and she's getting increasingly frustrated. and you can imagine how frustrating this was. and finally, finally she comes to espn. now be, hillary was not an espn fan, is not be an espn fan, but on that day she settled for some sports programming. on that very same vacation, mcauliffe notes there was one point where the white house ushers came up to themsaid would anyone like -- them and said would anyone like some wine. and hillary said, no, bill said, no, and terry mcauliffe said i'll take the bottle, please. [laughter] you can't blame him. so following this era of tv
which people like bill clinton were very skilled at despite this one episode, we have a new era that we're coming into right now, and it may even be too early to name this era. but let's call it for now the internet era or the social media era. when i was growing up in the '70s, you knew that if someone was on "all in the family" or "happy days," everybody saw that. these shows were so widely watched by great swaths of audience members. that's how you could aeel to a whole country, but appearing on one of of these shows. in today's day even though a successful show, even a show like "breaking bad," even a successful episode of "breaking bad" is seen by a tiny minority of the public, and even a show that gets as much buzz is never seen by a majority of the american population. and so in this era of segmentation, presidents must adjust. and i argue that president obama
has been revolutionary in his use of social media, in his appearance on different shows to appeal to his audience, to segment the audience as it were, to find places where he can get his message out to people who are likely to support him and to vote for him. be and so he goes on shows like "the view," and he has a twitter account that has 30 million followers, and when he tweets something differently from him, it has the letters bo at the end so that you know it came from president obama. and this era is a different era, and it presents a few challenge. and you wonder in this era if president obama -- who is so successful at winning two elections by this pop culture advantage and he deserves credit and i give him credit in the book for doing this -- you wonder if it comes at a cost. and the cost can come this two ways. one is to him himself. he gave remarks on syria last week, and the response was not overwhelming. and you have to wonder if his
supersaturation of appearances in pop culture venues to the campaign last year may have colored people's judgments of him now, and they say, oh, well, i saw that guy on "the view," do i really want to hear him talk about syria? and similarly, you wonder about the costs to the presidency. does the stature of the office diminish when you have these kinds of appearances? remember, president obama is the first president to appear on a late night talk show as president. you've had other people appear beforehand, obviously, clinton with arsenio hall, nixon with "laugh in," but obama regularly goes on late night talk shows. is there a cost to the stature of the presidency for the? so to summarize, i'll just mention the conclusions that i draw from this because people often ask so you've written all this stuff, and you've got all these great stories, what does it all mean? and i'll say that we can learn four hippings from this. one -- four things from this. one, there's an economic impact
to what presidents watch or read. "the washington post" has chronicled this phenomenon, when president obama is seen to be reading a book, that book's sales spike. we've seen this a couple of times this the past even before president obama in the 1980s. president reagan was reading an obscure insurance salesman named tom clancy, and he mentioned the book "the hunt for red october," and clancy has been a best-selling author ever since. then you have the policy impact. sometimes i tell stories in the book about how presidents have read something or seen something that has shaped their oils. one of the most -- their policies. one of the post famous instances of this is when you had john f. kennedy in 1963 was supposed to have read book "the other america" by michael harrington which talks about poverty, and it led to the war on poverty. it's likely he never read that book in particular, but he probably did read a book review
in the new yorker by dwight mcdonald, one of those famous book reviews that the new yorker has had. and that way what's out there in the culture can influence the policy. a third thing is the presidents use pop culture to humanize themselves. i mentioned nixon on "laugh in." think about clinton going on arsenio hall with glasses and the saxophone to try and show a different side of it. so you can get a different type of appreciation of presidents and the way they aeel to people. but the last is the way that presidents use pop culture to convey aspects of leadership. they can convey intellectualism by reading books, they can convey a larger than life image by be talking about movies or appearing in movies. and until michael bay's 2001 movie "pearl harbor," he was never shown on screen as in a
wheelchair as president. 1960s he's in a wheelchair. so he's never shown as president on screen, so it certainly showed an image of this great leader without recognizing his physical aprilty. and then there's the common man approach. by watching tv, you can show a certain aspect of appealing to regular people. you watch this show on tv, you watch "i love lucy," well, ike and mamie watch it with a tv dinner in the white house. we're just like you. so that's another thing. anden then the haas aspect of leadership they can convey is, again, this notion of hipness, you're kind of cutting edge and cool, and obama has been a master of that. in fact, in terms of the shows he watches, i joke in the book he likes the shows of the 1% rather than the 99%. he likes cutting edge, gritty, hyperrealistic shows on pay cable like "the wire" or "boardwalk empire." or "homeland." in fact, there was one incident
where president obama was briefed about a possible sleeper cell situation, and he said, oh, just like "homeland." so we can learn a lot about presidents by seeing what they read, what they watch, what they attend and what they listen to. and i hope all of you will appreciate what they hear about all of that, and i hope you come away informed. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you, tevi. jonah goldberg, please. >> i want to say, first of all, thanks for -- thanks to tevi and thanks to the hudson institute for having me here. i'm a big fan of the hudson institute. in fact, the president of the hudson institute introduced me to my wife a while ago. the day after he called me up to let me know she was way out of my league and i shouldn't try, so i appreciate it. it gave me extra incentive.
so i'm going to try and be brief. i've got a lot of thoughts about the book. i really enjoyed the book, i think it's a wonderful book. i think in ways it's a lot like tevi, it's very smart without being otherly eggheady. it has, it's full of stories and interesting trivia, a lot like tevi. and at the same time, it weaves them all together for a pretty grand theme. one thing you might want to know, tevi, for your book tour, when you talk about andrew jackson and others going to theaters to be amongst the people, there's an interesting countertrend going on right now. there's a big open primary for mayor of minneapolis right now, and there's a guy running who has a viral ad campaign, and one of his chief promises is that if he is nominated and elected mayor, he promises he will no longer go to strip clubs. [laughter] so it sometimes works the other way.
maybe we've come full circle. i agree with stanley kurtz who wrote at national review online -- america's greatest web site -- that in a lot of ways this book offers a certain kind of window onto america's soul and maybe a little bit of tevi's. but before i get into that, i wanted to go a different route. tevi's a very old friend of mine. in fact, he's probably my oldest friend in washington. i took his job at the american enterprise institute in 1991 or something. and probably anybody who knows him or me knows that he's a much better jew tan i am. than i am. but be i am actually a much better practitioner effecter of the seinfeldian faith under the airing of the grievances. so i figured i would go a slightly different way and grind some axes. tevi's book is actually remarkably even handed. it is not a partisan polemic by any stretch of the imagination.
doesn't mean he doesn't have sharp ideas and arguments to make, but they're not -- he's not exactly a hurricane of fists in the fight between the various partisans on these kinds of things. and i figured i would offer some sharper points. starting with, i think, tevi is way to easy on the progressives and way to easy on, particularly, woodrow wilson. some of you may know i am the treasurer of the he-man woodrow wilson's society, so i am biased -- [laughter] but i'll start off by saying as tevi reports in the book with, i didn't know that he probably did not say birth of a nation was like history written with light lightning, but next time i have a chance, i will correct my book on that. he did let the endorsement stand for while. he was the most racist president of the 20th century who resegregated washington, d.c. and actually initiated the practice of putting racial
quotas into federal policy so as to keep whites out of the federal government. he -- i also think it's sort of interesting to mention that the second clan, the clan of the 1920s was, in fact, in respects simply a movie cult in much the same way that star wars dorks get dressed up as darth vadar and all the rest. these guys were so inspired by the movie, that it actually became something of a cult because the clan was, in effect, more budgeted. and wilson's role in that, even if it's less than i thought, i still think is somewhat significant. tevi does this fantastic job of talking -- you heard some of it -- talking about the role the classics and the ancients had on the founding fathers and on abraham lincoln and sort of intergenerational interplay of ideas going back from the beginning, and since tevi's always had slightly striving tendencies, it's not surprising that he likes this idea we've
been looking through the wrong end of the telescope looking back at the past. i would have liked a little more about that sort of thing about the progressives. much to by dismay in tevi's book and as well as the new biography of woodrow wilson, there's no mention of hagel. and hagel was, first and foremost, a huge fan boy of hagel. he even invoked hagel this a love letter to his wife. and tevi's got this great thing where he talks about wilson was such a devotee of detective novels and how maybe wilson's obsession with detective novels betrayed a certain frame of mind that thought you could solve the world's problems through pure reason alone which was, in fact, an air answer golf most -- arrogance of most of the progress is. and i would have liked to have seen a little bit more about the wisconsin school and their relationship to things. the new republic was, in effect,
founded as part of the teddy roos relate cult. and there's a lot of great stuff about the cult of teddy roosevelt in there. but as someone who also thinks herbert crowley is one of the great monsters of the 20th century, i'm doing some of this just to sort of provoke bill galston, you know, it's funny. the new republic was founded as this fan magazine of teddy roosevelt, but when the magazine actually ended up being very support i of woodrow wilson, teddy roosevelt was really ticked off. and be his response about it was -- and i actually wrote it down because i think it's one of the great cutting lines of american presidential rhetoric. he said that the think republic had had become a negligible sheet run by two gentiles and two uncircumcised jews. [laughter] i don't know what that means, but i just think i it's great. i could go on about this. i think one of the things that
would have been great is to have a little discussion at the movie gabriel over at the white house which was a movie that fdr was, in fact, a script. doctor on. a lot of these movies was that the president basically has this epiphany and decides to become a dictator and solves all of america's problems, and there's this note from fdr saying this will be enormous help to me persuading people in my argument. now that i've gotten that out of my system, let me actually talk about the book that tevi wrote rather than the one i wanted him to write. it's actually an intensely subtle piece of work with. one of the things i love about it is it sort of builds slowly from the sort of glacial pace of the founding era which, i know, men's minds were lit by tire, but the actual movement of ideas had the inverse of what we have
today, ideas can move at lightning speed, but there's not much to them. i think it's sort of interesting how it tracks that. and i think wun of the great lessons of the book and why i say it's partially a window on the soul of america is there's this whiggish tendency that says every technological breakthrough makes the world and society better prior to when we had it. often that's true, you know, realms of science and medicine and hygiene and all that. uh-uh think we're much better off with modern dentistry, call me crazy. but it's not necessarily true in the world of communications. and this is one of these points i try to sort of impress upon young conservatives often is that conservatives are so obsessed with ideas and arguments and the founding and the be canon and all that, that we always want to have arguments with historical and intellectual figures and movements, and the problem is technology actually has a more profound impact.
the automobile did more to unsettle stable, intact communities than nietzsche ever could. the problem is you can argue with nietzsche, you can't argue with a buick. and this is one of these things, i think, comes across so very well in the book. and i think that one of the questions i was left with when he talks about teddy roosevelt this his almost sort of add-like quality focused on being able to read and, you know with, four or five books a night and all of that, the if we had someone like that today, would the teddy roosevelt of today with that mental capacity and that sort of intensity, would he spend his time reading cicero, or would he spend his time mastering the next, you know, edition of grand theft auto or call of duty v or whatever it is? and i think that's one of the things you these to think about in our society today s that
technological change is siphoning off some of our greatest minds into, essentially, cul-de-sacs where they don't have the opportunity for flowering that they may once have had. some people will say, you know, tevi talks about how jimmy fallon introduced barham that as the preezy of the united steezy, and some people might say that was a huge step forward for society. i'm open to the idea. i guess one way of making that argument would be that the barriers between the people and their elected representatives have been broken down thanks to modern technology. i'd be open to that, i just don't think it's true. i think that in ways because of the kind of manipulation that starts with jfk and fdr and follows through with obama of manipulating media elites into this cult of cool about the president, you actually have an even more imperial presidency than you might otherwise have had. but people don't care as much, because they think the guy in
charge is cool or hip or whatever. and so a lot of that just sort of seems to me like a rationalization. and if you just sort of -- i don't mean to seem like a fuddy-duddy, but if you just think this way, reading is superior to listening. that's not a cranky old man kind of thing, that is a scientific fact. you take in more information reading than you do listening. you take in -- you take in even less information on things like twitter, and i say this as someone with nearly 100,000 followers. i still don't get the point of twitter. and i think that's one of the things that's sort of what te i have's so wonderful at this in book, is he shows rather than tells. there's not a lot of houration, and this is one of the gifts, that we are too obsessed with exhortation and telling people things, and sometimes you have to show them. edmund burke says example is the school of mankind, and he will
learn at no other. so i think this is a wonderful book for partisans and nonpartisans alike, and i'm delighted to be here. and i expect tevi to air his grievances shortly. thank you all very much. [applause] >> thank you. bill galston. please. >> [inaudible] >> whatever you'd like. [inaudible conversations] >> well, i appear on a lot of panels, and i've never been more out of by depth, indeed, out of my league tan on this one. -- than on this one. [laughter] you know, in the green room i listened with a sinking heart, you know, as these allusions to popular culture whizzed by. i'm the kind of fuddy-duddy
clintonian who memorized putting people first and who had to find out about the arsenio hall show the next morning in "the washington post". i mean, that sort of says it all. [laughter] but, you know, i actually come here neither to praise, nor to bury the book. but, rather, to just share with you a few of the reflections that it evoked. and i thank tevi and the be book for having -- and the book for having done so. and i'm going to make these points quickly and in no compellingly logical order. the first, the first is a distinction that is woven through the book, particularly the first half, but which i think is not stated explicitly, and that is the important difference between the things that form presidents and, you know, and the media through which they share some or all of
that with a democratic public. and so when we, you know, when we read about jefferson and adams and everything they read, we're not talking about the sort of thing that they use for democratic political purposes. at least not in any, not in any very direct way. they don't make a show of it. and so i think that, i think that the this distinction between what forms public figures and the use of what forms them and the media through which which they use it is a distinction with a difference. and to bring it home, let me put the following proposition on the table. i think at this point we want leaders who know how to interact with and use popular culture. we certainly do not want leaders
who are formed by popular culture or in the way that jefferson and adams or were formed by the classics. but what are the -- what are the political purposes in american democracy of engaging with popular culture? here's my rough inventory. well, first of all, you know, in a democratic society manifesting democratic equality and your commitment to it is very important politically. you cannot be seen as putting on airs. you cannot be seen to be saying i'm better than my fellow citizens. and the more high borne you are, the more important it is to send that message at least today. my favorite example of this is fdr. he invited the king and queen of
england over in the mid 1930s, took them to hyde park, fed them hot dogs. this was front page news in the "new york times." the american people loved it, and guess what? the king and queen of england loved it as well. i mean, they could sit through stuffty banquets, you know, in buckingham palace. that's not why they came to hyde park. but it was front page news in "the new york times" because it conveyed a very important message to the american people. you know, here was a president who was one of them, who didn't have to put on airs to impress even visiting royalty simply by being proudly and straightforwardly an american, one could send the appropriate messages to high and low as well. that raises a very interesting question, you know? if one distinguishes in a rough and ready way between popular and unpopular, has to say high
culture -- that is to say high culture, there is the example of john f. kennedy. and and tevi talks about this in his book, who deliberately tries to send the message that he is more of a highbrow than he actually is. now, what is that all about in a democracy? why is it deemed to be litically significant and beneficial to -- politically significant and beneficial to send that sort of message? and that raised the following question in my mind. even in modern democratic, increasingly, you know -- america increasingly sufficient fused by popular culture, have americans entirely lost their taste for aristocracy, you know? and i'm not just talking about "masterpiece theater." is it out of the question that an american politician who presents himself not as being part of popular culture, but having an important dimension
that rides above it and maybe even in opposition to it, is it impossible in the 31st century -- 21st century for such a politician to get a hearing? i'm not sure. i think there may be a pent-up taste for at least a -- [inaudible] of aristocracy in one of our future leaders. we shall see. another important dimension, rationale for identification with popular culture is what might be called generational identification, the i get it factor, the i'm one of you factor. why is this important? well, political science, i think, has demonstrated pretty conclusively -- indeed, it's one of the few things it has demonstrated conclusively -- that there are real generations in american politics formed birdies at this pointive generation aleck appearances, and they can be, you know, grave
experiences like the depression, world war ii, 9/11, but there can also be a cultural dimension, you know? as we found out in the 1960s, the music that you listen to is a very important generational marker. and by indicating familiarity with the next generation's music, you're sending them an important message not just about what you know, but about who you are. and the inability to connect with an emerging generation is usually the kiss of death for an american politician. and i could give lots of examples of that. the third reason for engaging popular culture is a point that has been underscored by my friend, the political scientist sam popkin in a wonderful book almost 20 years old now called "the reasoning voter." and what he argues this that
book, among other things, is that voters use what he calls low information curistic. you know, shortcuts. rather than reading through policy papers or familiarizing themselves with candidates' biographies, they use shortcuts to try to figure out what kind of person a particular politician is. and, you know, sam pointed out that one of the defining moments in the 1976 presidential campaign was gerald ford going to a state fair in texas and trying unsuccessfully to eat an unshucked tamale. okay. now, there you are in texas with even then a very large hispanic electorate. the message that ford sent to that piece of the electorate was he had no idea who they were, how they lived. in case, by the way, you're noting a proliferation of food
references in this commentary, it's because i think food is a very important part of popular culture, and one of the few aspects of popular culture this book doesn't underscore enough. engagement with popular culture is an easy form of political bonding, all right? because it provides a quick common ground. and if you're dealing with lots of different people on a daily basis, being able to rely on a kind of prefabricated common ground at least to break the ice and get the discussion of other topics going can be extremely useful. and politicians, politicians who can't do that, i think, are at a real -- if you want me to be highfalutin for a minute -- disadvantage. now, here's my last point. a key part of contemporary
popular culture -- and tevi underscored this -- is what i will call the culture of self-disclosure. you know, it's a culture that not only permits and facilitates and enables, but to some extent demands self-disclosure. and this is, i think, a very revealing fact. one of the things that it reveals -- and i'll, you know, and i'll put this in a way that harvey mansfield jr. would not find edgy enough -- let me, you know, let me call it evolving conceptions of manhood and manliness. we can symbolize that by the transformation, by the shift from gary cooper to alan alda, you know? from the strong, silent type, you know, to the endlessly sharing type. the man who refuses to reveal
his feelings to one who wears them on his sleeve. and that is, i think, a very important fact about american popular culture. and it not only demands self-disclosure, but it enables it many if ways that i -- it enables it in ways that i personally find disturbing frequently. but that raises a final question that's parallel to the first question that i put on the table; namely, do -- have americans entirely lost their taste for what i will call dig any tied reserve? -- dignified reserve? is it impossible, is it impossible to say in, you know, in the second decade of the 21st century that something is not only none of the people's business, but beneath the
dignity of the president and the presidency or any other senior elected official to discuss likely? what kind of cost would someone who wants to be president incur if he or i must now say she, you know, refused to answer the famous boxers/briefs question? couldn't you make points with the american people, you know, by saying this has gone too far, right? there's a distinction between the public and the private even for a public person, and being able to enforce that distinction is part of what it means to be a good public person and a good public leader. and if it means disappointing all of the talk shows, is it possible to stiff them? is it possible to pay that
communications price and still succeed in contemporary american politics? because if you go on those shows, you're going to be faced with those kinds of questions, and you will look churlish if if you don't respond to them with some generosity. so one of the questions that tevi's book leaves me with is whether technology has made certain sorts of moral stances in public life prohibitively expensive to maintain. and if so, what does that mean for our democracy? >> bill be, thank you very much. [applause] mona. >> thank you. thank you, chris. thank you to the hudson institute and to tevi for writing this very, very stimulating and interesting anecdote-rich book. bill had a sinking feeling in the green room when we were discussing pop culture, i had a
sinking feeling when tevi was speaking because he referenced several of the anecdotes that i was going to relate which reminds me of that, you know, joke about the prisoners, you know? a new prisoner comes into the yale -- jail, and he hears some calling out from one cell 11 and everybody laughs, 17, everybody -- what's going on? well, we've all been here so long, we know all the jokes. so now we just call out the numbers, and everybody laughs. and he says, oh, can i try it? sure, go ahead. five. there's silence. what went wrong? some people don't though how to tell a joke. [laughter] i will begin by saying i want to shout out number five because i would like to start by mentioning that one aspect of tevi's book which i enjoyed tremendously but which i found a little depressing is the sections in which he outlines ther you decision of our founding presidents. ..
washington and the vast readings at adams and jefferson both did, they were familiar with latin and greek. he didn't mention but could have their fantastic correspondents that carried on for the last 14 years of their lives, which is fantastic reading. first of all the knitting together of an often tense relationship between two men who had been at odds many times in their lives but discussion of books of ideas brought together by a love of country and their tremendous -- who could be thomas jefferson's pen pal? who was on his level and the whole world? there was only one guy and that was john adams which is really amazing to consider. katie also mentioned john quincy. he was described by david mccullough as the most brilliant human being who ever occupied the executive office.
his tastes were definitely leaked, quote, as president he enjoyed poetry, literature, theater, opera and translating latin text. i am sure that is just the way obama spends his saturday afternoons. not to be too partisan there is no recent president who could possibly compete with quincy adams. we do get to teddy's book, in a democratic republic, successful politicians must have one must learn to fake the common touch. the man who unseated quincy adams, andrew jackson, somewhat crude, unlettered, notoriously bad speller, but knew how to use that to his advantage in a story that is told. the only when i know is eplur u
epluribus unum. that was set for everything that followed. teddy roosevelt, though a wealthy man and a remarkable intellect himself published his first book the year he graduated from harvard, didn't make the mistake of being like quincy adams. he fancied himself an outdoorsman, pugilist literally and figure of lee, a naturalist and explorer, teddy -- tevi troy tells a story about him , a natt and explorer, teddy -- tevi troy tells a story about him when he was out west, gone to montana in a bar and get a. and he talked about it. there's never a shortage of great teddy roosevelt stories. another one from his adventures
in the west where he did earn the respect of the cowboys. for learning their ways and enduring their hardships, they tease him a little bit, called him fluoride to because he had glasses but they did accept him as one of their own. this is a story that he couldn't quite take the man hadn't grandy out of the boy completely even when he was in the dakotas and one of them, a biographers' they would nearly double over sometimes when they were in a hard ride and he would shout quickly follow. i take from katie's book that can be roosevelt was pretty much the last republican president of the united states to be well treated by popular culture. 1960s saw the advent of the culture wars and clear side
shooting of writers, entertainers, musicians and other cultural arbiters. richard nixon, the exception approved the rule about the common touch made some attempts to connect with the culture. he invited elvis to the white house and suggested and to his staff he wanted to have the jazz evening at the white house. all the jazz greats like guy lombardo, duke ellington was a genuine republican and nixon gave him the medal of freedom but that didn't get him any street credit. by the 1970s, most of musicians were leaning left. republicans attempted to use a popular song as a campaign theme as reagan did when he attempted to use a bruce springsteen number and as george bush found when george h. w. found when he
tried to use the bobby mcferrin tune, we have seen it again and again in recent history with other republicans, john mccain, michele bachman and so on. the one realm of popular entertainment that is not ferociously anti republican in the 20 first century is country music but while country music continues to thrive, it is dwarfed by other genres. i looked this up. in 2012 country music and gospel sold 16.5 million digital albums. you compare that with combined total for rap, r&b, metal and new age, up $89.9 million, 69 to $80 million. the results are similar in other cultural venues, movies, television, theater and republicans and conservatives
find themselves get allies to refuse sympathetic artists or creative minds in their increasingly isolated corner. many conservatives are tempted by a variant of timothy leary's 1960s slogan to and on, tune in, drop out without the drug implications. teddy quote george w. bush who prided himself on not watching television, he hadn't seen saturday night live, he hadn't seen the daily show with john stewart, he said they put an offer but none the tv for a reason. one can sympathize with that sentiment from w. left to my own devices i watched will's war and reruns of the jeeps and forster ceres. i understand the desire to push it all away but it is important to recognize the danger is
politically. politics and culture are intimately linked and it is no accident that the one realm of culture not hostile to republicans is country music which is very white, very christian, very axe urban. republicans cannot and should not try to do what barack obama does so successfully which is the down with it all, be the cool kid. they would get laughed out of town. it wouldn't work. and arguably it would violate some of their principles. there is a tremendous amount of cultural bilge out there that is arguably damaging to our souls as well as our political health. i felt the need recently to comment on miley cyrus. it is important to remember is that not all of it is pernicious or corrupt and in any case it is
ubiquitous. conservatives and republicans should look for opportunities to raise what is good and if necessary condemn what they want to condemn and feel they must but they have to be engaged. they have to know what is going on and they have to fight the perception that they are out of touch. so as tevi troy demonstrated popular culture will continue to influence politics and turning it off while it may work for the on the edge --amish it does not work for those who hoped to win future elections. >> i will address the comments in reverse order. first to mona charen, thank you for your kind words and your
wonderful column to say everyone should see this in multiple outlets including the "national review," syndicated everywhere so thank you for is that. and i am flattered that we have the same taste in anecdotes. we took a similar approach. i agree with her, successful presidents must have the common touch and throughout the book i try to cite examples of presidents successful at demonstrating they have a common touch. one story is lincoln, who before he was running for president, presented good latin in a court case. from the jackson story that is when you better get yourself another witness. i also tell the story of ronald reagan who at one point was reading a serious work of nonfiction and his press secretary said to him and maybe we should get it out there that you are reading this book to counter the general view of you and he said no, i don't think we
need to do that. there is definitely a sense among presidents the they need to understand the common touch to appeal to the common man. as for the notion of politics and culture, mona charen is corrected diagnosis i point that this is an increasing phenomenon since the 1960s and different presidents tried to combat with different results. i tell the story about nixon trying to appropriate country music on his behalf. i talked-about merle haggard who had written a song about muskogee highlighting the thing is nixon saw as pot smoking and draft dodging, why don't we get him to the white house and he did come and sing a song, wasn't much of a republican but he did come and perform and noted later in his diary that it wasn't much of an event because most of the people in the crowd had never
heard of any merle haggard songs and the >> fail resonated with was from miscode the. you have to have the common touch, you have to be aware of the culture and have to be careful about how you do it. in terms of bill's comments where i will most agree, the notion that he doesn't belong on the panel, he ably represented himself even if he wasn't keeping up with our breaking bad and seinfeld references in the green room. he says that there is a distinction, an important one between presidents and the way they are viewed and what form the media for which they use it and it is something that throughout the book i did try to address the distinction and the way i address is point to both. it is import how presidents are formed and what their cultural influences where and how they use media to protect their image and oftentimes a president who is informed by the media like barack obama was informed by television at a very young age, i quoted directly from his
memoirs someone could accuse me of partisanship when he came home from school and went to the school in hawaii he would come home and watch cartoons and he would wash sitcom reruns and watch prime-time television with his grandfather until it was time for the johnny carson show at which time he would retire to his room and listen to talk 40 on the radio. that is a very pop culture informed childhood and i would argue that strong knowledge of the popular culture has helped in his use of popular media today. he is not faking it when he talks about the media, my snooki story not withstanding. he knows whereof he speaks. we do want leaders who can use pop culture but and not formed by in all the barack obama has managed to do both. we don't want to think about president who is watching reality tv or spending all their
time watching music videos. the point about showing himself as more highbrow than he really was. i urge you to look at my first book on intellectuals and the american presidency and i talk about kennedy's masterful use, and appealed to the intellectual community. it is interesting, kennedy is the hero. kennedy i argue in the first accused intellectuals better than any other president. every subsequent president modeled themselves to some degree on kennedy's views of intellectuals. in this book kennedy is almost the villain. i criticize him the most because in many ways he was faking it with culture. in the public, he has all the elites come together to watch the u.s. first time in forty years, kennedy had to have handwritten notes in front of him to tell him when to clapped
at a classical music performance. the famous book he supposedly wrote profiles in courage, clear from the historical evidence i look at that he didn't really write that book. he talked a lot about kennedy and hollywood. he likes hollywood starlets more than the life hollywood movies. the number of starlets with whom he was associated rivaled the number of movies he watched when he was in the white house. he's of 48 movies when he was in the white house and three years and jimmy carter had ten times as many movies as kennedy, 480 movies in a single term. by the reckoning of a number of close aides who i cited in the book, didn't have the patience to sit through a cultural performances and liked engaging with people and there were stories of people and the bureaucracy a couple of letters down, calls from kennedy, he
really liked engaging with people and culture. bill makes the point about food and i had the franklin roosevelt story in an early version of the book but off topics a legend included. of famous cookbook writer, she and i were e-mail in yesterday and agreed apostles' sequel to this would be nothing in the white house, talking about president's relations and publishers are watching to co-authored that one. finally on bill's point -- >> on bill clinton. >> about this tissue of dignified reserve is it gone forever? it seems to be gone for right now and the obama approach has the upper hand but will it always be? i am not prepared to say. presidents need to engage with
pop culture, be aware of pop culture but don't necessarily need to be as self revelatory as we have seen some of our recent presidents in the and george w. bush said that approach of i am not going to engage with pop culture, i am not going to bear my soul on tv, i won't be on these shows, i won't watch tv. george bush had his challenges and left with a low approval rating also successfully won two terms. there may be an avenue for a president to take that approach in the future. i want to talk about jonah's response which was quite thoughtful. joanna and i are good friends for 20 years and had many arguments about culture and politics in that time sometimes over beer and sometimes not. my book is an implicit defense
of reading. somebody called minister lc and form of misdirection but i focus on reading as important and presidents should read, they should read serious works, history, biography, it makes them better leaders and better informed people. and we live in a pop culture age. you can't win, you can't make it to presidents, to have them in for your governing until you have an understanding of the culture and conveyed the in the standing. pop culture is our common vernacular. my greatest flaw is i don't eat enough abuse on presidents. you want and abuse on the progress ofs i urge you to read jonah goldberg's book liberal fascism which has a lot of it. at this point i will say culture helps to define and understand the president. jonah goldberg likes wilson because his political -- he is
accurate, counting many of them but at the same time wilson is viewed through a cultural lens, seen in many ways as a successful president because of who controls the culture and who defines the reputations. jonah is working hard to change that. what i found in the book and what a humbled me is every president in some degree has had to deal with popular culture of the time and every president subsequently has been defined by the culture of the time and subsequently. to get to my initial distinction between cicero and sicily, snooki might be out of bounds, the appropriate person you talk about, cicero was someone who was killed in the art of persuasion and wanted to use every available tool for persuading.
he used his voice and worked hard on speaking and learning how to speak in the upper peer way and trained his body and mind to invade the points at doing so and if he were in this era he would look at the media and the envious to make the most fans greatest advantage of all of them. jenna suggests i don't wear enough of a partisan hat in this book. let me put on a partisan hat and say from the republican perspective the republicans need to understand the pop culture better than they have been doing in recent elections. mitt romney who i supported and worked on that campaign, when he made references to pop culture, the big reference was ferris dealer at a day off which is a funny movie but it is dated.
1986 movie. he talked about seinfeld. those references to seinfeld are two decades-old. it is made up of seinfeld's plot that could not have existed in the days of seinfeld. was all about jerry and george and elaine n. cramer interacting with twitter or facebook, things that the people in the seinfeld era had never heard of so presidents need to be a little more up-to-date than mitt romney showed himself in the last election. i think they could learn from joe not who ably quotes edmund burke and willie when it comes to issues of foreign policy. closing with john's comments, republicans are knowledgeable about pop culture and successful
in the use of it, once again makes the presidency a festive this for the rest of this. bring under the pizza. [applause] >> jonah goldberg 11, bill, any rebuttals you would like to offer? otherwise okay. before we do, since i got the microphone, i want to say a couple things. my own reaction to what i listened to, on the distinction between culture that shapes leaders conlan and the use of culture for political purposes, one thing i did not know, one thing that i've learned from tevi troy's book that i had not sufficiently realize, our most successful presidents have been
voracious readers. i think if we lined them up along with a lot of presidents, we would find a strong pattern. he goes out of his way to point out the enormously capacity for leading, since the jackson era, inaugurated the small democratic presidency, lincoln, roosevelt, reagan were all huge leaders and their political ideas were clearly decisively formed by what they read. i want to say a word on behalf of jfk, there are things such as the faking of profiles in courage which are worthy of
short criticism, but the president is creating a public image and faking that, i find it admirable that somebody who does not know who public assaults was, to have him to the white house and was trained so he could be appreciating it. being impressed by its that, following the president's lead. having robert frost, a serious poet at your inaugural and there were many others and that was demonstrating the kind of cultural leadership that would be a good thing if we have more of. i have been trying to think of examples to bill's talk of presidents more often.
trying to exert cultural leadership going against the culture and i think of michele obama's obesity program which was similar to jfk's and rfk's fitness program, get off the couch and do things, get in shape and pay attention to physical fitness. vice president al gore's wife engaged in a vigorous and highly controversial campaign against violent misogynist lyrics in popular music. would got a great deal of attention. i remember in the week before obama was inaugurated he was in an interview, african-american young men in america, got out of his way to tell them to pull up their pants. they should hit japan's and get
rid of the slow rise prison perfect. i don't know that he has said much about rap music or the particularly offensive and degrading aspects of popular music. i wish ronald reagan had gotten a bit more in this book. he was a good cultural arbiter and he did not want to engage in this information about hoity-toity books that he was reading the tea was a master about creating the visual image. the low information here respect about the nature of the presidency, being on horseback with queen elizabeth and standing in front, standing in front of the berlin wall or the
shores of the d-day invasion, he thought about his words carefully and was something of an auditor, culture, come from hollywood and los angeles, he would more than once i can remember him criticizing the mores of contemporary movies and sometimes he would sound little priggish but never sounded priggish. he was criticizing so much sex in movies today, when i was in hollywood the great sex scene would be the man and woman going inside a bore of a hotel and dropping the do not disturb sign on the handle. it played to your imagination. it was actually pretty leverett criticism but on the other hand when the secretary of the interior, jim watt, canceled the beach boys performance on the mall because he wanted to have
the fourth of july because he invented some wholesome family entertainment, he was publicly and humiliatingly overruled the next day by nancy reagan who was a great beach boys fan. he had great sensitivity to the culture and he could set standards but he could also appreciate it. finally, when i think about tevi troy's explanation of how the culture has become fragmented and there are lots of channels and lots of opportunities for segmentation, my old guys worry to match bill boston's old guy's worry is i like a president who has to talk to everybody all at once. that encompasses the certain discipline that i like and i think is important for a democratic leader. he has to lead in a way that he is leading everybody, he is
talking to all of us and i worry a little bit where you can set these channels where they are communicating political opportunists -- communicating the president's message by some cos and narrow shells that our president -- kind of scripted automatons, and be able to escape this necessity, to speak in a purely democratic voice to the nation. those were my reactions to all of these wonderful presentations. >> a few points on that? >> yes. >> first of all i want -- it occurs to me some presidents, every president is mentioned at least once in the book. on but faking it is admirable. kennedy was successful in the faking it regard. one important point in the book is about the filtration affect,
that what we talk about even when i'm talking about it, isn't always necessarily everything the president read or watch because we can't know that. the watch alone in a dark room or read in their bed room but we talk about what we know they watched and that i recognize and the book is filtered to some degree by themselves adair aids and bill clinton would read three or four mysteries a week but didn't highlight those books that he was reading as mysteries in his presidency, he highlighted the serious nonfiction he was reading and he used to be applauded for that. on the segmentation point, one argument i make in the book is we are becoming increasingly segmented into separate narrow audiences one of the few cultural touchstones we have is the president, one of the reasons the most common subject of jokes on late-night talk-shows is the president, something everybody knows about and everybody can relate to an there is no one show, no one
movie everyone watches anymore so i think the president has a special responsibility to try to get past just their political short-term needs and try to elevate that. >> i will call on people if you could wait until the microphone arrives and introduce yourself briefly and ask a question. >> i would like to challenge the proposition that conservatives have any business trying to be part of popular culture in america today. i would say the past half century the popular culture is fundamentally revolutionary, transgress of, is not what conservatives are about. using the media which is a neutral thing, the media can be
used in any fashion by any group, but to become part of a culture which is supposed to essentially is a foolish idea. the notion we have to do it, i would say ron paul and rand paul disproves that. i have not seen themst to any kind of popular culture business but they seem to have a great deal of full with people who agree with their principles. >> i disagree with about 92% of that. i agree there's a lot in a culture that is hostile to conservatives. i don't dispute that for a moment. one thing that drives me crazy listening to mona charen's remarks, she is right, it is funny how paul ryan and marco rubio when the new york times got a hold of their ipod
playlists they immediately tried to hold this against them, 9 inch nails are dedicated communists as if it was hypocritical of them to like this music. they never follow-through and the upshot of that which is of liberals listened to it, they agree with communism? can't you dislike it because it is music that speaks to you on some other level? i agree there is a lot of what social scientists call crack in the popular culture but there's also a lot more good stuff in there than conservatives are often either aware of or willing to acknowledge. as teddy mentioned i wrote a cover story about breaking bad before "national review". not only the best television show currently on the air or maybe ever, also profoundly conservative show in terms of what it shows about a moral degradation that comes with lying, breaking outside conventional morality and all the rest.
you can find one of these points lost on people, lots of pro-life messages and popular culture and pro-life activists never sees honored as much as they could. there are a lot of issues that end and popular culture that conservatives leave the chips on the table rather than trying to celebrate these things. every sitcom since maude, ahmad was the only one that had a character have an abortion and one of the reasons that show was so awful. ever since than any time a character gets pregnant she always agonizes about her choice. always forgets to keep the baby, then some profound metaphysical transformation occurs and she starts treating it like a human being even though it is the same fetus was five seconds ago and that message plays out across the culture, there is something that the mother i'd -- decides it is a human being, either it
is or it isn't but at the same time the way they talk about the decision to have the baby is much more pro-life than pro-choice and a lot of ways but regardless one reason conservatives should engage in popular culture is it is our culture too and the point of a magazine like "national review" or the conservative movement isn't simply to elect republicans but to move the country in a conservative direction and it is difficult to do that unless you find a way to engage in the vernacular that young people speaking in. if you find a way to sort of persuade the society, not just one political party to move, i don't know if you can do that unless you are modestly fluent with where the popular culture is. >> well said. >> fabulous presentation. you really talked about two separate categories. how people use pop culture to develop their own ideology and
how they took the audiology and sold it through popular culture but one out of five americans has a disability and you don't see presidents throughout history talk about it and you talked about the presidents who had a visible disabilities of i wonder what you learned about the presidents and how they either learned about people with disabilities or wanted to speak to them more about them? >> thank you for that question and the good work you do on behalf of children with disabilities. correct me, pick up on -- presidents should they have disabilities don't advertise, you remember the argument whether to show franklin delano roosevelt in his wheelchair at the memorial and they were -- at the cape cover on a wheelchair but he is bare. one thing i found i didn't know in the book is some people thought woodrow wilson may have been dyslexic because he was so
late to start reading. it seems to me of a common theme you will find is to the extent there have been presidents with disabilities, dyslexia or roosevelt's wheelchair it is not something they advertise from the bully pulpit or the presidential podium. getting to bill's point about the self-regulatory nature of the modern presidency that is something we will see more in the future. >> my husband and i are involved in the adoption world, the bush administration, the clintons is too, hillary clinton came to one of our events, have been very supportive of adopting children with handicaps so they have provided white house venues and so forth, maybe this has not as much attention as could be given but hasn't been entirely neglected, i wouldn't think. >> that is a terrific question
and it raises the following question in my mind. in today's media culture, is it conceivable that a wheelchair-bound president could conceal that fact from the american people for a day? no. that is what i meant when i suggested changes in communications have made certain forms of reticence technologically impossible. that raises a very important question. roosevelt knew what he was doing because he thought that in the cultural context of his own time, that disclosing a fact which in fact had no negative bearing on his capacity to lead
might disable him to become president of the united states, and prevent him from doing so. what does that tell us? what it tells me is that taken too far, a culture and the communications environment of more disclosure may end up highlighting facts about individuals that deprive us of their services even though we would be very well served to have those services. the culture of disclosure enacted government price, not morally distasteful but makes a real difference and not a positive one. >> thank you to the entire panel for your excellent presentation. congratulations on the book. i appreciate your remarks about the michael bay movie showing fdr in a wheelchair, the first
time michael bay, the explode diaz director in hollywood responsible for the transformer movies has been praised for historical verisimilitude. >> not that i was praising him. >> the new atlanta journal, technology and science. i would like to focus on the technological aspect that has come threaded through. i wonder if looking forward, i hope i am not asking technological projections into the future but looking forward, whether we might see any trends that continue the story. chris's remarks kind of pointed out a little bit the fragmentation and segmentation's that you talked about having pointed out how it will have a cost on governance and could have a cost on governance and i wonder a decade or two from now when we have a president who has been raised entirely in the era
of fragmented, segmented media, to this point we haven't. president obama was watching the same cartoons' children elsewhere in the country were watching the point or two from now it is possible we will have presidents who are not really able to communicate with other parts of the culture because they are not literate in those other parts of the culture or to turn to some of what bill was talking about, the rise of virtual intimacy with the president, i wonder whether among the costs, if there is a countervailing force, people who are increasingly savvy about fake kinds of intimacy, the of falsity of certain kinds of media intimacy. if somebody brings, if a president bring someone to the white house today, it is going
to be understood to be and gesture, an intentional gesture and all sorts of second-guessing and analysis even more than there was, why this, why this was done, why the first one was brought. i wonder whether media savvy among voters kind of pushes back against some of the fake intimacy that social media and other technologies would encourage? >> let me make a couple points. thank you not only for your question but support for this book project before i even had an agent on it you like to this it and urged me to keep going so thank you. in terms of the question whether there is a new technological chapter to be written i am quite confident there is one. the story of america, story of new technological frontiers that are challenging the people and challenging us to figure out how to deal with and adapted them.
there is a new chapter to be written but i don't know what that chapter is and readers of the new atlanta will be at of the curve in figuring out what it is but it will challenge our ability to not only communicate but to relate to the president and the president to relate to the larger body and that gets to your second point about this segmentation. we are going to have a president in the future raised in this segmented culture who watches only fox news or only m snbc outlets and has a certain view of the world. some could say president obama to some degree has this because he grew up in hawaii but his mainland experience was in northeastern university's and gave him a certain view of the world so we will see more of that in the future, and what presidents speech counteracted the thing is that not only make
us uniquely american, the values that tie us together, if the president can do that they can do very well in a segmented world. >> i think that is an important point. i just wanted to underscore it. to put one mediocre credential on the table, i was walter mondale's issues director during his presidential campaign so i know a fair amount about ronald reagan, the politician, the president, the campaigner and i am convinced that in a central part of reagan's broad appeal was that he grew up as the member of a political party that was not the parties that he belonged to when he was elected president. this was a president who voted for fdr not once, not twice, not 3 times that four times.
so this massive phenomenon of reagan democrats, in affect reagan was the first reagan democrat and the fact that he understood the mindset not all lee of his own party but of the party that opposed him is an enormous political asset. i agree with you. the fact that president obama grew up in a politically monochromatic environment was, despite all the foreign travel that he did in his youth was a narrowing experience. by contrast affect that bill clinton grew up in profoundly conservative rural arkansas and didn't have to read books about what it meant to be in a small town that didn't have and vigorous economy and where the
bible and guns weren't things that you just clung to if i may drop a reference. but the find a way of life that had an integrity of its own, gave him an enormous capacity to appeal beyond the narrow base of his own political party. i think that capacious mess of experience is absolutely critical if you want to beat a country which in the best of circumstances, and may not like you very much. >> may i comment? you make an excellent point. i would also say that obama is the calendarexample. obama is the counterexample. reagan won two landslides because he had this brought understanding of both sides and knew how to speak to the broad middle of the country. only people on the extremes of either end didn't like him. but obama has demonstrated a that you can do narrowcasting.
you can be very provincial, very conventionally left wing, don't have to read anything the other side says and still squeak out two victories and still marginalized 48% of the population and b, with the help of the press and popular culture as we have been discussing, still be successful in being elected. >> can you govern? >> you want that? >> i am old-fashioned enough to believe an election campaign is an overture and the play doesn't begin until the curtains go up. and so the difference between a narrow purely partisan victory and when that gained on a much broader basis -- >> i am earl clay. my question will take you back
to the intellectuals, will the overhead cost or are we are ready at the point where the qualification to the federal reserve chairman is to shows that you are in touch with the people and for the to popular culture? ben bernanke is bailing out the banks, to tell the story that he is going to nationals games. larry summers, who qualified to be a fed chairman, probably had trouble relating to the people. are the intellectuals going to be part of this game? >> thank you for that question. we are going in a different direction. as i say in the book harry truman, our last president not to have a college degree. george h. w. bush is the last president not to have a graduate degree. ronald reagan is the last president not to have a degree from harvard or yale or both. perhaps we are moving in a more
elitist direction intellectually at the same time there is the coarsening and the culture. >> back to adam's question a little bit, i don't know if it is in terms of communication technology. maybe it will come up with something shorter than twitter and you only get four characters or something. >> all abbreviations. >> like in the matrix and we will just see the code and make sense of it that way. i do think we are on the verge of a profound societal transformation because of technology. not communications technologies the maybe we get things beamed straight into our heads. the rise in data that people get paranoid about and only some of them are unjustified to be paranoid about it, getting to the point where large numbers of the american people can be
manipulated without knowing or even trying to manipulate. he is a different than presidential rhetoric of the cast when you would hear a president say my friends, don't listen to the bad guys, listen to me. now you have people who can get mail because or phone calls or embedded ads on the internet because of something they balked at wal-mart and they have no idea their lives are being publicly track for marketing tracked and that has huge repercussions. i also think that a little off topic but rise of the driverless car which is much closer than people realize will profoundly and permanently change american culture. because all of a sudden the second someone outside your car can take over your car it is not your car anymore and you don't -- won't necessarily go where you want to go all the time. it is wanting to manipulate people with ideas and indebted to physically transport them in directions they don't want to
go. i think it is a good point about appealing to the populism of the fed chairman. julian bentthey talk about a second the masses get political consciousness the king becomes slaves to the masses and it used to be up to the king to decide what was in the national honor of the state in medieval europe but when you get to the enlightenment of a sudden it is up to the mob to kill the king what is the issue of national honor and you can see some roles like the federal reserve chairman which is the classic disinterested public servant immune from the pressures of government like the supreme court, you can see high-tech populism american culture is invading those places and you need someone who feels the pain of the average man. and the trend will continue.
>> one point is the transformative affect of the driverless cars. i have fought a lot about that. my prediction is it will quickly and able teenagers to use the back seat for god's intended purpose even when the car is in motion. >> may i take this opportunity to point out because tevi troy didn't the single most astonishing fact in a book crammed with astonishing facts, we have already heard the hook on which this fact depends and that is pablo casals's concert in the kennedy white house. there was someone present at the concert who was also present at the first concert he gave in the
white house in 1904. that was teddy roosevelt's daughter. talk about a sweep of history in one person. that fact blew me away. >> ladies and gentlemen, we at the hudson institute hope what jefferson read and polk -- "what jefferson read, ike watched, and obama tweeted: 200 years of popular culture in the white house" will be an important part of american popular culture this fall. to further that ambition, copies available for sale and if we have a copy today we will have a signed and inscribed by the author. and not woody are adjourned. [applause]
[inaudible conversations] >> for more information about the author visit is website, tevi troy.org. >> this weekend booktv is live in florida for the miami book fair international. coverage kicks off at 10:00 eastern on c-span2 with dave barry, roy blount jr. and roy millssir and appearances by doris kerns goodwin and a scott burr and called ins with cheri thanks, peter baker and susan herman. sunday's coverage starts at 10:30 and includes mark albritton and john hale said the
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