just a minute. this is live from miami. this is the 30th annual miami book fair international and at the 15th year on the air. and we have covered this festival life, a portion of it i should say for all 15 years it's about a weeklong festival, hundreds of thousands of authors attending and the last caller was correct, dick cheney was here yesterday morning. he was not in the room that we are covering, so unfortunately we were not able to cover him live. but we are going to go back. coming up, dan balz, george packer of the new yorker and jeremy scahill dirty wars. this is live coverage here on booktv. international. those of you joining us to chapman center in the lou harrison and absurd as a volunteer for many, many .. years. it's happy anniversary to the 30
years here in our community. [applause] we are very grateful to art software in particular, american airlines and always shall. i'd also like to recognize the friends of the fair, many who are here in our first couple of rows. thank you so much for your generosity in support. we look forward to your continuing to be a friend for many, many years. miami book fair international and miami dade college work hand-in-hand to bring this book fair to us every year. it's a wonderful, this wonderful cultural affair that thousands and thousands of fairgoers are enriched by each and every year so thank you all. come on and have a seat, please. and as you know, our sessions are being streamed live by
c-span. please help us to keep the fair going for another 30 years and we usually ask you to turn off your cell phones that we are going to ask you to keep them on and actually take them out and make a donation if you are so inclined, a 30-dollar donation to recognize that 30 years that the book fair has been in existence. if you would text mbfi241444 we would be most grateful for your generosity and support. at this time, as some of you are still being seated, i would like to bring to the podium someone who make the formal introductions of our authors. his name is mr. robert weisberg, a longtime civil rights attorney here in our community. mr. weisberg.
[applause] [applause] >> good morning. it's a real honor to be here today and to be able to introduce george packer jeremy scahill and dan balz. [applause] i am going to sort of do a quick little introduction of each of them right up front and then we can get started. george who is at the end of the table is a longtime staff writer for "the new yorker" magazine. his 2005 book the assassins gate america and iraq which focus on events which led up to the 2003 invasion of iraq and what happened afterwards was recognized by "the new york times" book review is one of the 10 best books of 2005 trade
george is also the author of novels, two other works of nonfiction and the played the trail which ran on broadway for five months in 2008 and one delusive beutel award for outstanding play. this year george book called "the unwinding" an inner history of the new america. this book in large part details narratives from various people in describing how institutions of the country have changed since the late 1970s to the present and how that has impacted americans. in preparing for this i looked at what individuals, authors and others have said about "the unwinding" and prominent and accomplished authors have described "the unwinding" as original, incisive, courageous, essential, unique, air is a civil extraordinary, the dig, gorgeous absorbing sweeping,
powerful. i could go on but i think you get the point. this past wednesday george was awarded the national book award for 2013 for nonfiction. [applause] for those of you that don't know the national book award has been described as an award for books as the oscar if -- is two films. next to george is jeremy scahill. >> i have to follow that? it was the timing. >> jeremy scahill is a prolific investigative journalist and author. jeremy has been a long-time printer burned to the news program democracy now and as the national security correspondent for the "nation magazine". as a journalist jeremy has reported from all over the world including afghanistan, iraq, somalia, yemen and the former yugoslavia. he has twice won the prestigious
george polk award for foreign reporting in 1998 for his investigation into chevron corp.'s role in the killing of two nigerian environmental activists and in 2008 for his new york times best selling book, blackwater the rise of the world's most powerful mercenary army which exposes the private military contractor blackwater. jeremy's investigative work has led to several congressional hearings and has also resulted in jeremy testifying before congress on u.s. covert military actions. jeremy's newest book "dirty wars" the world is a battlefield is a monumental book which takes the reader inside u.s. military covert actions worldwide and the consequences of those actions. "dirty wars" has also been made into a documentary which jeremy cho wrote reduced and buried it. jeremy brickley appears on
various public affairs programs such as the rachel maddow skop, the bill maher show and others. [applause] and next to me right here is dan balz. dan is it chief correspondent of the "washington post." he has served as the paper's national editor political editor, white house correspondent and southwest correspondent. dan has co-authored the 1996 book entitled storming the gates, or test politics and the republican revival. in 2009 dan cho wrote with the late haynes johnson the bestseller, the battle for america 2008, the story of an extraordinary election about the 2008 presidential election and this year dan wrote the book "collision 2012" obama versus
romney and the future of elections in america. "collision 2012" provides incredibly detailed rich insights into both the election campaign and makes for fascinating reading. in 2011, dan received the white house correspondents association smith award for writing about the presidency and the national press club award for political analysis. dan is a regular panelist on tbs's "washington week" in "msnbc"'s daily rundown and a frequent guest on other public affairs shows. please join me in welcoming george, jeremy and dan. [applause] thank you. >> so we are going to do a little curly, moe and what's the other guys named? a routine up here, larry and hopefully quite soon we can turn it over to you and get it going
both ways. the year 2008 came up in each of the introductions and it was then that i began to think about it look would try to understand what happened that year with these huge pillars of american economy and our society collapsing from auto may curse to tanks to the housing market, commercial investment banks and in a sense the political system which seem to be on the cusp of a new era of reform with the rise of barack obama that i think proved more illusory than real but i had just come back from covering the iraq war for several years and so the failure of big american institution was on my mind before that. i wanted to see how the lives of people at home were affected by
these forces and the more i thought about it, i realize this is really the story of my adult life. this doesn't go back to 2006 or 9/11 or even the clinton years. this is a generation long trajectory that led to the epic events of 2008. there are a number of phenomena that began up around the late 70's that it then the things shaping our lives from wage stagnation in the middle-class to deindustrialization of the rust belt and the outsourcing manufacturing, the decline of labor unions and the rise of information technology and of the consumer internet and consumer computers. political polarization in the
turn of the republican party ever further toward the extreme right and along with that the inability of washington to really function as it did when i was younger. and above all the rise of inequality which all of these forces have contributed to. economic inequality coinciding paradoxically with greater social inequality. more stratification along class lines. so this is a big story and it's been written about a lot. there are many good books from which i learned a lot that track is historically, politically, policy and economically. i tried it first to add my own version of those hooks to the pile and quickly was exhausted but the thought of it this is such a huge topic and i had big ambitions but to write a big ambitious book you need to find
a small way into it. you can't take a rlc will drown in it. so over the course of the next years after 2008 at began to travel around the country and to meet americans in different wayy and sometimes through design, whose lives were part of that story, who were sort of on the receiving end of the big global and national forces and decisions. these are not just blind forces. these are political decisions made and power centers like wall street and in washington that created the weakest inequality we have seen in 100 years. the moment of clarity came when i realized that don't have to write a big history. i can tell the stories of these people. dean price in the piedmont region of north carolina a truckstop entrepreneur who had a chain of gas stations and fast
food joints that again to crumble with the financial crisis and the recession had turned for salvation almost religious salvation to the fallow tobacco fields all around him and began to see canola as the answer which could create biodiesel fuel instead of imported oil which made it impossible for him to compete with the big chains and also the oil thrown out at night via the rpk joints in that part of north carolina. it could turn the restaurant into a diesel. tammy thomas who was a lifelong assembly line worker in youngstown ohio while the city was in a death spiral. faster and more dramatically in some ways than detroit as a result of the death of the steel industry. and the pillars of society that depended on it. her job went overseas just as
she was getting close to her pension and retirement and she remade herself as a community organizer right at the moment the community organizer became famous as a presidential candidate. jeff, and 10 who is the life long washington operative which sounds like a fate worse than death and in some ways it is but in fact his career is tremendously illuminating and showing the forces that have shaped washington over the course of this generation long history. he went from being an idealistic aide to joe biden to a rather cynical lobbyist who realized the real game was in lobbying and did very well at it and with the financial crisis saw all that was wrong with big money in washington kind of coming back to haunt him and all of us. he went back into government to try to enact real wall street
reform legislation in the senate as a chief of staff to the senator who took biden's seat. that didn't work out but the effort itself was worth recording. these people have crossed my radar and became the protagonist of what he came "the unwinding." the hard part was to figure out how all this fit together and there's more. there is the whole story of tampa florida not far from here and it's you know huge rise of this housing machine growth monster and then it's total collapse. almost overnight it could see it like the looney tunes character going out into midair thinking the housing market is still holding it up and it collapsed so the tampa stories the big hearted and there's also the silicon valley aspect of the book. you have to look at silicon valley is this weird anomalous success story that was so much
trouble. in addition and forgive me but i had a lot of material that i had to drop. there are 10 famous americans who stories i wanted to tell because i wanted this to be mostly from the bottom up but you also have to look at the tops of society to understand the people who shaped these years. newt gingrich represents politics. sam all represents business. robert rubin finance. oprah winfrey entertainment and on. at a certain moment as the deadline was looming ahead to figure out what is all this? i had gotten more than i could handle i'm sure jeremy had moments of truth along the same lines. it's called over reporting and you have to do it. if you are efficient it means you are not deep enough into the story. you have to lose yourself or a while and i was lost.
and then i began to think there must be a way to tell the stories without conventional forms because what i had was too unconventional to fit. i looked back to one of my favorite works of american fiction the usa trilogy by john dos passos 48 guides to how to tell a big historical story. his trilogy is about that first three decades of the 20 century but to do it through people's lives. that gave me the confidence that we could create something coherent out of all this prolixity. it's a very kaleidoscopic work. when you read "the unwinding" as i hope you will, you meet characters in turn. you leave them for a while. you meet newt gingrich all of a sudden. his presence might seem odd at first and then you begin to see oh it's because this is the late 70's and early 80s.
jeff coddington is about to go to washington and here is nick gingrich to did more than anything to create a toxic political world that we live in. been to go back to one of the characters and so yuan and it takes you 35 years through their life stories and the largest part of america to reach the present. i can't say it's a story of shining success because it's not but i don't think it's depressing in the sense that these people have tremendous energy, humor, creativity, a kind of growing objectivity about themselves which is you know that only benefit to getting older. it is i have to say a kind of a middle-aged story. all of these people come from the period around the late 50's or 60's and i needed that because they needed their lives to carry the weight of all that
history that gets in the late 70's and links to the president. so that gives you a brief map of "the unwinding" and alternative over to jeremy and then we can do the questions. [applause] >> did you interview newt gingrich in a sue? >> i ambushed newt as his tampa convention last year and had just one question for them but basically the vip's did not have the benefit of talk. >> transitioning from newt into serious journalism. [laughter] you know when newt gingrich was speaker of the house he would hold his daily speakers breathing and i believe it was aired on c-span. and he canceled it eventually qasimi goodman my mentor from democracy now confronted him on live national television about
his purported use of the word to describe hillary clinton who at the time was the first lady and i remember the "washington post"'s david peace on it and the title of that was gingrich can't ditch comment. we are in a moment right now not just in this country but will wait where there is an emerging war against journalism and in some countries there's a direct war against journalists. in mexico almost every week journalists are gunned down either by narco-cartels or by forces associated with the mexican government. there are several dozen journals missing right now in syria. austin ties a young american who went to georgetown law school was a marine and went on to be quite a good reporter from mcclatchy news services, was
missing for over year and james foley and other independent reporter who just passed the one-year anniversary of his action somewhere in syria. journalists are regularly murdered in somalia and in yemen and i tell the story in my book. there was a journalist named a shiite who was the first journalist in the world to report that the obama administration had initiated a bombing campaign in yemen in december of 2009. president obama authorized to cruise missile strike on what he was told was an al qaeda training facility in the village of elmo joão in southern yemen. there was a target that the joint special operations commane u.s. military, the people that killed osama bin laden attract a senior al qaeda member and he was tracked there.
obama early on in his administration expanded its use of weaponize drones but they didn't have trunks available for this operation because they were being used in pakistan. they authorized to cruise missile strike and they used cluster bombs which are basically like flying landmines. i first saw the aftermath of a cluster bomb attack in yugoslavia in 1999 during the nato air war over kosovo over the issue of kosovo. the niche marketplace in serbia was hit by cluster bombs at around noon when people were shocking -- shopping at the grain market and i went there after that inside human beings shredded by these weapons. most countries in the world agree that they should be banned and the united states continues to use them. they launch those missiles and cluster bombs on what they believed was an al qaeda training facility.
the yemeni government issues a press release the next day saying that his forces have carried out a series of strikes against al qaeda targets and they killed 34 al qaeda militants. the united states sent a note of congratulations to the yemeni government and directed all the inquiries from reporters to the yemeni government. this reporter went to that village with tribal leaders who had gone there and took photographs and video of what plainly looked like a massacre. there were three dozen women and children that were killed in that operation. there were 14 women and 21 children to be precise. and there is still no clarity on who the ultimate target was so not operation or if anyone from al qaeda was even there. but when he took these photographs he also was able to
discover parts of the missiles that were manufactured by general dynamics. we ultimately went and filmed those missile parts ourselves and interviewed people who had survived. when amnesty international got ahold of those photographs we had had munitions experts who determined there was no way on earth that was the yemeni military action. it had to be the united states based on the weapons. this yemeni journalists began talking about the covert u.s. war in yemen early on in obama's administration was provided information published in the "washington post" and was broadcast by nbc news. he was on al-jazeera regularly and in the course of doing is reporting he was subducted off the streets one day and taken to a political security organization holding cell in yemen and with savage sleep
beaten and then driven and tossed back out into the street with a warning that if he didn't stop talking about the u.s. bombing in yemen and this particular attack that killed the civilians that he would be put back in there for good. he did what i think was an incredibly brave thing and the right thing for him to do. he went straight from that beating that he received to the studios of the international news organization and the one on the errands that i was just a ducted by yemeni intelligence operatives and they beat me and threatened me and they told me if i didn't stop talking about this they would put me in prison for good. he continued to receive threats and eventually his home was raided in the front of the night and in front of his children he was snatched by commandos and disappear for 34 days. eventually he was brought into a clinical court in yemen to a court tribunal and a process developed specifically to prosecute journalists are activists who committed crimes
against a u.s. client basically at that time. he was charged with being a facilitator for al qaeda and a propagandist for al qaeda. they fabricated all kinds of evidence against them in every major media freedom organization in the world and several major international human rights organizations condemned his prosecution, condemned his trial and condemned the court where he was being prosecuted as a total sham. he was ultimately sentenced to five years in prison and he was in prison for about three years. i started reporting on the story and i investigated on the ground. i attributed all sorts of people who knew him and i read every possible article i could read on him. this yemeni journalist puts to shame the reporters who sit in the front row at the white house press briefings.
[applause] he was an actual independent journalist and the reason i say that as this. he was interviewing leaders of al qaeda in the iranian peninsula. very dangerous individuals and 1.1 of his stories, syria who was believed to come up with the underwear bomb technology he meets with him them and syria has input on a suicide vest to see what it feels like and they were joking that they were going that the native were with him. he writes about in the piece. he did multiple interviews with al walking who went to yama started creating these videos. he was assassinated in 2011 under direct orders of president obama. by were working under u.s. intelligence i would want a journalist like that interviewing the officers. if you perceive these are your
enemies you want more information and not less information. the one i'm getting at here is that he is not a terrorist. he was very critical of al qaeda as an organization but fascinated in the way that george was talking about getting lost in the story. he was fascinated with this movement of people and do they really were. the individuals who run it, how did they end up becoming leaders in the arabian peninsula? it's a fascinating story that is largely untold particularly in the english language. when he was facilitating was a process where those of us in the west could actually have a deeper understanding of the figures were being told we have to be frightened about in our night is every night that will blow up our airlines are attacked our embassies or try to go after public transportation systems. he gets six years in prison and eventually tribal leaders who control the politics in yemen forced the dictator to issue a pardon for him.
he drafts a pardon and the yemeni news agency does a story on it saying that ali de la salle he is going to pardon the terrorists journalists. that day the dictator of yemen receives a phonecall from the white house, not from some underling staffer at the national security council. not from a senior pfizer to the president and not from john rendon who was in charge of the trojan war and the counterterrorism but from president obama personally. president obama tells the dictator famine that the united states which is a major funder of yemen's counterterrorism organization at that the yemenis listen to that the united states is deeply concerned about reports that this individual is going to be released from prison and the dictator of yemen rips it up and he remained imprisoned because of the direct intervention of the nobel peace
price in winning constitutional lawyer who said he was going to run the most transparent administration in history and be a friend to journalism, he kept the yemeni journalists imprisoned for over a year more because of his budget and when i call the white house and i called the state department and spoke to the national security spokespeople and i asked them to produce one shred of evidence that he had anything to do with terrorism other than reporting on it. they would not comment. they said they stand by their position and they want them kept imprisoned. he remained there for three years and he was eventually released about three months ago. he is still under a state of default house arrest in yemen right now. he cannot leave the capital. he is not allowed to have a passport. along with iona craig who is a fantastic reporter to the times of london to geneva ii receive the human rights award on his behalf because he is not allowed
to have a travel document right now. when you look at this one story in the intervention of the leader of the free world in this specific case and then you look at the crack down on whistleblowers in the egregious use of the espionage at to go after individuals providing information to journalists or the public, people like thomas drake who worked at the nsa for decades and did what they claim they wanted edward sowden to do. to go up your chain of command if you think is taking place. thomas drake did that and they still went after him and they tried to run him as a person. thomas drake works at an apple store now. he was air force and then he was a career and used himself as a deeply patriotic american, a career staffer at the national security agency. they went after him for doing exactly what they said edward snowden should've done in snowden that and he watch what they did to build mini.
they raided his home while it's in the shower and they tried to destroy him. these are the people we targeted at the same time donald rumsfeld and josé rodriguez who ran the program are in it up to her. that says a lot to me about the priorities of our society and the stories i try to tell in "dirty wars" are the stories of the people caught in middle of the war but also the men and women tasked by the president united of united states with hunting down the who have been declared enemies of america. and also telling the story of the movements like al-shabaab in somalia or al qaeda in the arabian peninsula who actually benefit from the perception that the u.s. is a gratuitous enemy and uses drones with impunity and will assassinate its own citizens even though they haven't been charged with a crime, away from any kind of declared battlefield. unless you believe in these bizarre interpretations of the
original authorization for the use of military force as a justification for a war on the world. it's been 12 years since nine to 11 and i always say to young people you should go back to the speech that represented arguably of california gave when the original blank check was written for the push of administrations global war. she was the only member of congress that voted against the authorization for the use of military force and she was trembling. she was receiving threats at the time and she got up and she saiy force that we claim to be against in the world and i fear we are throwing our values out the door by granting the president is kind of sweeping authority. if you remember what it was like in the direct aftermath of 9/11, for her to do that was incredibly great but i think history has vindicated her. i think she saw where this was going in president obama second inauguration much of the media focus was about the beyoncé the sink and michelle obama's banks.
president obama said in that speech we cannot and do not want to exist in a perpetual state of war comes that there has to be an end to this at some point and it that day he authorized drum strike in yemen. they are creating out for them to ensure assassination over them in a similar component of what is called the u.s. national security policy. at the end of the day i think we are reaching a point and in some countries i think we averaged a point where we are creating more in evidence than we are killing actual terrorists. it's not the states don't have a right to defend themselves. it's that we are engaged in a form of theocrat liked the movie minority report with tom cruise were we are categorizing people after we have killed them as militants even though we have no idea what their identity is. president obama finally admitted
publicly that the u.s. had in fact killed anwr on on that day his administration put out papers that awlaki was a sniper pointing a rifle at a crowd of illicit people. if we didn't take him out in the sins were going to die. in this particular case they had the guy under surveillance for a month in a village with 10 houses and yes they have redefined what the definition of intimate is and is in this department of justice white paper were basically anyone involved with what you think is a terrorist and represents an imminent threat of course law enforcement has the right to take out a sniper. ideally they try to take them alive but they have the right to kill them. i think the world would dispute that. the same is true if there's an imminent plot to blow up something in you to take this person now. most reasonable people agree that that's legitimate but that is not what we are engaged in.
we are engaged in preemptive strikes. you don't need to get an indictment against a sniper who was pointing a weapon at a bunch of innocent people but why do they never seek indictment of anwar al-awlaki for the crimes they alleged he was involved with? when they started to put them on the kill list two and a half years before they actually killed him. to me the question of the assassination program that drone strikes the nsa surveillance stuff is not so much who is on war a lucky or massoud or any of these people but who are we assist society? how do we take -- treat the most reprehensible citizens of our country tell a lot about how we govern. he was going to reverse the direction of bush and cheney have taken the country. when he is assuming amphora like authorities to decide americans are not americans. that's dangerous for a dangerous for future and sets a very
frightening precedent. we are in a moment now where the congressional rating is at 11% the last time i checked. the vast majority of americans are completely angry with those who represent them or supposed to be representing them in washington. the nature of our partisan politics in this country is completely bankrupt and at the end of the day the premier issue in our society of leave no matter what your priorities are and whether it's access to women's reproductive health care or its immigration or it's the war or it's the environment it all comes back to the same amount of control the corporations have over the political process, illegal corruption and bribery. until we confront that and realize the only true beneficiaries on what is then called the war of terror they corporations. nothing is going to fundamentally change in our society. with that i will tell you that i
give razor blades out -- the dirty words along with my book. anyway, thank you for having me. [applause] >> during introductions you made reference to the kinds of places that george and jeremy have reported from, exotic and dangerous places and i've spent most of my time in places like des moines iowa and manchester new hampshire and charleston south carolina and other places like that covering campaigns. the segue from there to here is an interesting one to me and that is george and jerry monee monee -- george and jeremy have laid out serious problems of this country is facing in his face for some time in the question is to what extent is the political system capable of confronting those.
as bob said i wrote about the 2008 campaign and about was if anybody can remember a unique campaign and a historic campaign obviously because of the election of the first african-american in america's history. it seemed to be a special moment george indicated there was this feeling that in one way or another, because of expectations about obama and because of the aspirational message that he carried to that campaign, that we might be at a point where the political system could turn through the bush administration back and the clinton and stray shin and the polarization and break through that. when i decided to try to do a book about 20121 of my biggest concerns was the 08 story was a
very rich story and it pretty clear story to tell, the rice of we call the most unlikely presidential prospect in the history of the country and how he got to the oval office. my fear was that the 2012 campaign would never produce anything as compelling as what we went through in 2008. in going through it there were moments when it was obviously bizarre. the whole republican nomination process as my friend and colleague david maraniss cried out from hunter thompson rather than conventional journalists like myself to try to chronicle it. it was obviously much different campaign than 2008, far more negative, not aspirational in the least. my campaign about some very big issues that was in fact fought
out in small ways. when i got done with the reporting and was beginning to put the narrative together to try to tell the story the conclusion i came to us in many ways 2012 was the more important election in 2008. more important not because it solved the problems but quite the contrary. more important because they think it told us much more about who we are so country and where we are as a country. and why the politics of the country are in a sense frozen and as polarized as they are. jeremy was talking about things that most of us knew nothing about. i was writing a story about something that everybody knew everything about. when you write about a presidential campaign you're covering territory that is very
well trodden -- trod chewed over and talked about on cable television had not seen him and the challenge in trying to tell the story of the campaign that has been told and retold so many times is to try to get a hind it, get me fit and to get above it. the first way is to try to tell it to tell it from the inside out. no matter how much we know in real time in presidential campaigns there's a lot we don't know. unlike my college covering the white house was a man -- woman named ann and perhaps the best reporter in the history of white house coverage.
she died of cancer at the two young age but she was a tenacious reporter gave fits to every administration she covered. one of the thing she said to me as i was coming on to be to work with her was she said the reality is we only know 10% of what's going on in this place on any given day and our goal is try to get 20 or 30% or 40%. to some extent it's the same in presidential campaigns. there's a lot that goes on beneath the surface in terms of the decision-making and the debates in the choices the candidates and their staffs have to make. part of the goal of retelling the book is to unpack events that we watch in real time pull them apart and put them back together in a more coherent way to give them context. one of the ways i tried to do that was to spend as much time as i could getting people in real time to talk about events that were going on. i didn't number of interviews
for the book which is a little bit tricky when you are reporting in real-time for the "washington post" but nonetheless quite doable. another thing i tried to do was to the extent possible that the voices of the candidates into it. my feeling is unless you have the sense of the campaign sometimes in real time if not afterwards that there is something missing. we talk about what candidates are thinking or doing or seeing without having any real understanding of what they are potentially thinking and among those talking in real-time with newt gingrich to approach me. i said back in the late spring of 2011 that i want to try to sit down with him with some frequency. he came up to me at a dinner one night and he said i am ready to do this. he said i have got it all
figured out. not just the campaign but for the next eight years. within three weeks is campaign had imploded as we remember and he went through several rebirths but finally imploded to the end. i was able to get governor romney to talk at some length after-the-fact which frankly surprised me because often losing candidates don't want to be prodded and poked by a reporter after losing a campaign because they know the questions will be why did you run such of that campaign? >> was interesting in two ways. one was to acknowledge some that doubts he had about whether he was the right candidate to be the republican nominee and said to me if somebody like jeb bush had decided to run he might not a friend. i think what you saw saw the field that is simple but included herman cain and michele bachmann he decided he was probably in a class of that field and is probably better
able to take on the president than anybody else. he also acknowledge it real doubts about whether he fit within the republican party, the party that had taken over the house of representatives in 2010 they shifted to the right that was in much more dominated by the tea party than it did then. he struggled with that literally up until the time he became a formal candidate as to whether he could get past some of those obstacles. this is a republican party is obviously a southern base party and he is a northerner. it's an evangelical base party. it's a very conservative party particularly in the nominating process and he is conservative but conservative for massachusetts which is different than being a conservative in texas for example. so he talked about that at the most interesting part of it was when we got to the 47% comment that everybody knows about.
that was a crippling moment. i don't think was the decisive moment in the campaign but it was a crippling moment because it crystallized the argument that the obama campaign had been been -- that he was a wealthy plutocrats that was out of touch with ordinary americans who did not understand the lives of many kinds of people that george reported on in "the unwinding." he said the country is polarized and there is 47% that will vote for me and 47% that will vote for the president and there's nothing i can do to get them. you said these are people that go completely dependent on government and feel government owes them something and they will never take control of their own lives. he said i didn't say that and he jumped up. we were in his home outside of boston. he jumped up and went to the kitchen counter where is ipad was charging and
unplugged it and pulled it over and he said i've made some notes because i knew we were going to talk about this. he went through the notes come in nothing which contradicted what i have said because the video that was released that david corn and "mother jones" with the help of jimmy carter's grandson made public showed what he is said and people that read the transcript annuity said. he could not bring himself to his knowledge that he had actually said that. whatever had come out of his mouth he did not want to believe reflected the real mitt romney and yet as we know it was a crystallizing moment that in fact created a blockage. i think in the end there was no way he could win the campaign but certainly after that event made it much more difficult. just as an aside i tried repeatedly to get president obama to do an interview for the book. he had done to interviews for 2008 oak and one in particular
was a very rich interview in which he talked about his philosophy of leadership and how i wanted to sit down with him not to go through why he did so badly in the first debate and obviously would have asked him about that but i wanted him to reflect a bit more on where the country was after his re-election and what he had taken away from it because he could be quite thoughtful about it. he declined in and the white house declined all my requests and they made a decision that he would not participate in any of the books that were going on to cover the 2012 election. if there is one big hole in my book is the absence of his voice in the book and i regret that. the other way i've tried to tell the story is from the outside in rather than just the inside out. i think there's a limit to what
the inside-out story can tell us about who we are so country and the politics. when you think about all of the energy that we put into this decision for this debate for this decisive moment for this episode to try to talk about what is affecting the course of the campaign many of which are important in many of which deserve attention we sometimes forget its larger forces that determine the outcome of campaigns and to tell us about who we are. i thought there were three big factors that i wanted to bring to light in helping to tell the story. one obviously is the economy and there are a couple of aspects of this. one is simply a political question of the economy. was the economy just good enough to allow president obama to win re-election or was it just bad
enough to make it almost impossible for him to win the election lacks the economy obviously was not good in 2011 in 2012. nate silverton of "the new york times" wrote an article called is obama toast in which he talks about the various economic paths the country might take and the prospects for obama's re-election with those. political scientists models differed on whether obama was karen teed re-election or guarantee defeat as a result of the economy and in the end what we saw was the president was able to turn the campaign from a referendum on people's attitudes about the economy at that moment and how they felt bout his stewardship of the economy and turn the election debate into a choice of which of the two
candidates individual voters thought would do a better job for them and the future, which of these candidates understood your life better than the other and it was so strategic and important strategic decision on the part of the administrative. the other aspect about the economy is the degree to which with all of the focus on the middle class in terms of messaging how little real focus there was from a middle class in terms of policy. this is an area i think if there was a negligence on the part of candidates that was there in the validity to rise to the moment to come forward with some fresh ideas, some new ideas, the kinds of problems that george is describing as been with us for a long time. if there were easy solutions probably someone would have promoted them and put them into place. there are not nonetheless the political system has been so our incapable of even coming to any
real debate or discussion about it. that is one factor. the second factor is the changing america. the new america that we are in an america that we have seen change over the period of several decades one that is more diverse, one that is more tolerance, one in which the share of the white vote declines with each presidential election. the share of the white vote is still the dominant share of the elect are at on any given presidential election day but it has ticked down from roughly 88 or 89% when ronald reagan was elected in 1982 now 72% in this last election. the degree to which the republicans discovered they had a problem was in some ways astonishing because it's a problem that has been sitting out there looming for many years that occasionally they have done well. jeb bush did really well with
the hispanic vote and his brother did well in texas. his brother did reasonably well in this election campaign, consistent basis the republican party is not done well with hispanics and we know they do very badly with african-americans. as long as the country is changing that creates a headwind and in trying to win presidential elections and that was an important factor that the obama campaign understood throughout 2,112,012. the romney campaign either didn't want to accept or didn't believe in is hard to know which was the case. in any case this wasn't rob on that hurt him badly. the third factor which we have all alluded to this morning is the red/but divide, the polarization of countries in. we talk about red american and blue americans some ways clichéd terms that red america you can
argue has gotten redder and blue america has gotten bluer. the number of states that were closely divided this past election was a handful. there were only four states where the margin of victory was five points or fewer. if you go back to previous elections this is a historic low. what we have seen this many states are no longer competitive they are either very bluer bread we know the degree to which a steep a look at the opposition, people don't feel anymore positive about their own political party and feel much more negative about the other political party. i went around and asked republicans have romney rallies or democrats at obama rallies what is the consequence of this election? what is at stake. what do you think happens if your candidate loses? the answers were almost always apocalyptic particularly among republicans. their fear was if barack obama
was elected to a second term the america that they knew and cherished would go out the window and would cease to exist. many democrats i talked to felt if romney were elected that republicans tend to -- hold the house of representatives and the progress they made over the last 30 or 40 years with the eroded and rip hurston would go back to a different kind of america. it's that kind of country that we are now living in politically and if you look at 2012 you can see a straight line from that campaign to where we are today to everything we have seen over the last few months with the government shut down, with the nuclear option that was just put her in the senate. we are in it. mcafee polarization. campaign citizens no longer resolve those differences. we used to think he would have the campaign, it takes third at presidential that was designed to answer and resolve some of
these differences and that the voters would push the country in a clear direction. what we saw after 2012 was that didn't happen. the lines had been so hardened through the course of the campaign in part because of the way our modern campaigns are now waged in the negativity and demonization that goes on that it makes it impossible for either side to begin to come together after those campaigns. for the time being i think what we saw in 2012 is the future of elections in this country which is the basis for the subtitle of might look. people have asked me as i have gone around to talk about the book is there a way out, is there an easy way out? there obviously is not an easy way out. i think the only way out is simple, from the voters. at this point voters are almost tribal and their allegiance to
republican party or democratic party. a lot of people call themselves independents making until there's change in that and i don't know what would prompt or force that we are likely to stay in this period of gridlock and stasis at the national level so thank you. [applause] >> thank you. we have got some time now for questions. i would ask that you make your questions short so we can deal with as many as we possibly can. >> it would like to ask jeremy to explain the difference between the bush-cheney approach to clandestine extraconstitutional foreign activities in the obama approach. >> yeah, i mean first of all people sort of ask is obama
worse than bush? let's remember here that under bush and cheney it was like murder incorporated and they had lawyers in the white house who viewed the jeep and -- geneva conventions as quaint. pm and start to use them prisoners they were interrogating. in answering your question, i don't want to understate in any way how reprehensible the policies of the bush and cheney error were. ..
and they paint a picture for obama of a world where there are hundreds if not thousands of concurrent threats against american interests, against indices, against aircraft, against tourists. and in a unified voice said to obama if you don't continue these programs, in fact if you don't expand our authorities in certain regions of the world like the arabian peninsula in east africa we will get hit again and we could get hit on the american homeland. you have political advisors like axelrod and rahm emanuel -- i'm not saying they didn't care about whether they would be a terrorist attack but there iraq concern was are we going to have
a second term. obama want to get away from large-scale military deployment outside of his initial search in afghanistan but in general wanted to move away from that. and i think it became very appealing to the idea that you of these incredibly trained forces that are able to operate discreetly, the blast radius of a hellfire missile fired from a predator drone is much smaller than the blast radius of other platforms out there. i think potentially they adopted a posture they're going to wage an aggressive, preemptive campaign using drones and small footprint military operations. at the same time obama's on to these executive orders very early on in his administration and wants guantánamo shut, he wants to dispel the blacks i. he says publicly and then leon panetta says we are out of the business of running secret prisons. so what obama did was go back to what was the clinton era perspective on condition and detention of prisoners in sort
of the asymmetric battlefield, and when the guantánamo problem arose and guantánamo of course women's open and there are prisoners on hunger strike and people who have been cleared for release were still rotting away, obama did know what to do with people they would get on the battlefield. in large part of the focus, they didn't want to put them in guantánamo for all sorts of reasons, a large part of the focus became killed rather than kill or capture. so i would say that a lot of what obama has done and his team has done is to rebrand the bush era programs or to tweak them a slightly because i feel sometimes we're watching obama debate him -- his former self when he gives major addresses on ashes to to do. you flashes of the men who clearly is incredibly uncomfortable with the role he is having to play in the world and then you have this guy who was putting a stamp of legitimacy on actions that a lot of liberals would be calling for impeachment over if a republican had won in '08 or 2012.
i would say that obama's team perceive it as a smarter war, they killed bin laden and his it would lead to subject american personnel to been killed in doing this. we can use technologies. at the end of the day, and i think we won't be able to analyze this for a decade, my sense is we're creating a ground war for pretty serious blowback. and i think part of the message that's been sent whether true or not, to large sections of the most moral is it doesn't much matter who the president of the kind is because a guy like obama what do the things that he's done. [applause] >> i have a question. would you say patriotism -- [inaudible] and number two, are you aware why obama breached from his
promises? was from some global finance is? >> i would be very curious to hear george's take on this. >> patriotism from a virtue did you ask? >> in the snowden case. with the snowden issue. >> you could answer it in a general sense. >> has patriotism trumped a virtue? that so big. those are two such big things, and what's the relationship to each other? i mean, i have to don't think there's much patriotism in this country. in the sense that very few people are willing to sacrifice very much. in a sense, the story of the unwinding is the story of certain virtues that were
probably more on her to end the breach the existence a generation ago. i at least have hocrisy served a purpose been. are no longer even considered virtues like self-restraint, like paying taxes. like serving the country, which we pay a lot of lip service to but there's a wonderful book about soldiers coming back from the iraq war with a devastating title thank you for your service, which is essentially the way we fall off our consciousness with the terrible hardships and pain that has been inflicted on these people who served in those wars. so patriotism -- it is still the last refuge of a scoundrel as samuel johnson said, and when you think about what it really means, giving up something for the common good, i don't see it very much in evidence, especially at the levels of our deletes.
virtue, you know, there's always a shortage of virtue. [laughter] [applause] >> and why did obama reneged on -- >> pass the microphone to the next person. i'll answer your question. just briefly on that, i do believe that there some conspiracy that has taken control of barack obama mentoring and candidate still. on the guantánamo issue, first of all a lot of the criticism of obama from liberals is disingenuous. because obama largely telegraphed his passive. if you bother do anything other than just watch his stump speech. if you lay out who he chose to be around him advising them on the core issues, if you look at what his actual policy positions were, he largely has done what he said he's going to do on the areas of a cover on characters and their ethical of people projected onto him an image that
they wanted to see any. but he generally has been consistent in being a pretty hawkish democratic president and the democratic president and the other on the campaign show that was going to be true. if you look beyond the stump speech. the guantánamo issue, big part of it is they didn't spend a lot of political capital on a. all of these other guys were on that team to close guantánamo quietly left the white house. and h it became a total non-isse but republicans also were blocking the funding. so it's more comfortable to think part of it was they were fighting other battles and obama didn't want to allocate his political capital to fighting that battle, which i think was wrong at the end of the day but i do think it's more confiscated and some has threatened them in the oval office that if he doesn't do this easily to get bumped off by the cia. >> my question is for jeremy scahill as will, the previous question is, regarding especially in your remarks are expressed a lot of frustration
and like you appeal to liberals to look past their concerned with things like abortion, and really focus on some of the issues like the drone strikes and so forth and the abuse of power that we are discussing with regard, not just drone strikes that there has been so much discussion about the issue of massive surveillance and so forth. issues that liberals were very gung ho about going after bush on and that we don't hear anything so much about. how do you think company, i feel like it's a question how the media frames the issue year after you if you focus on the social issues. how do you feel the media may be partially responsible for the fact that again, the democrats get a pass on some of these issues? >> well, first of all, i wasn't
saying people should look past their concerned about abortion or other issues. the point i was making was that whatever issue you are concerned about, i think you can draw a direct line back to the structure of our political system and the role of corporations. that was the point i was making about that. i think you watch cable news, and i know dan and i are on regular. i'm still shocked msnbc lets the author airways. i criticize him and say it looks like state media and that the coverage of democrat national convention look like one big obama for america meet up. fox news is a parody of itself. cellulite doesn't need to make fun of fox news because you can watch the real thing and it's much more letters than any actor. [laughter] you turn on fox and it's like it's a world where barack obama is a scary black marxist manchurian candidate who wants to resurrect mousy time and put them in the oval office. and been seen and it's just --
there's been some fantastic reporting from major corporate news organizations and i think those of us competitive as all the time, bash the corporate media write large. i recognize some the best reporters in the world work for publications like the new york times or the "washington post," but the problem i think is that there seems to be the default position that journalists have to prescribe what i think is a totally bold shared interpretation of objectivity. i don't think there is such a thing as objectivity in journalism. it's a fabricated construct. we are not robots. [applause] the final thing i'll say about this is the most important thing to me in journalism, transparency, accuracy and are you providing a public service. and i think that in the culture of twitter in instagram, god forbid if anybody uses snap chat, that it's like we're in a ritalin society were having has to be done in 140 characters. the kind of pieces that george writes for these deep, involved,
long pieces that are telling very complicated stories. if we lose that in our society they would lose something that is such an important part of the democratic process, which is we have to provide information that is detailed and nuanced to a public so they can make an informed decision and i think we run the risk of losing that if we don't forget new ways to respond in support long form investigative journalism. [applause] >> to each of you, you feel america, our empire is kind of having entered a new gilded age cut each in your own way. and dysfunctional, destructive, self-destructive. is it perhaps beyond the point that it can correct itself,
safer huge social movements that force it to change? and it correct itself? that would be my question to each of you. >> well, i mean, it depends on how you defined correcting itself. if you are looking for the congress to correct itself, it's not going to happen for the foreseeable future. in terms of a big social movement doing it, there's nothing on the horizon that we see that is doing that. we've seen in the sense in the last few years, to movements. one from the right and one from the left, a tea party on the right, which had a political component and service changed the republican party and to force change the politics in washington. i think part of the reason we're going into this period of incredible gridlock and the shutdown that we went through is because many of the people who were elected in 2010 and then
2012 in the republican party came with a different agenda than other people have come to washington to represent congressional districts in the past. and are playing by a different set of rules. there was the occupy movement, which i think some people thought might transform some of the politics of the country. it certainly changed the vernacular by giving us the 1% versus the 99%, and i think that in a sense helped frame some of what we heard in 2012. but as a political movement it has had much less impact. in part i think by design. it was not, you talk to someone people have been involved in it, they were not setting out to be another tea party or to create a third political party. the ingredients for an independent presidential candidate certainly exists today. the anger at washington which is
enormous, the frustration, the disillusionment with a lot of political leadership, but it takes a couple of things. one, it takes somebody to lead that. somebody to be the face of it in a way that ross perot was in 1992. and somebody probably who has the resources to be able to fund and run a national campaign. but the prospects are somebody actually doing more than having an impact at the margins are pretty small, for the reasons i said before. if you think of yourself as a republican, 95% of you are going to vote for the public and presidential nominee and probably the republican congressional nominee in your congressional district and the republican senate in your state and if you're democrat missing. if you're an independent, you know, more than happy, probably three quarters of you lean to one side or the other. and that still dictates of
political behavior in this country. we've been through periods of polarization and carriage in which congress switched back and forth. we went through that a little over 100 years ago, and we came out of it, you know, at the beginning, or the end of the 19th century and the dimming of the 20th century when the republicans were put in power and had a run and then the democrats have it in the 1930s. that we seem to be in a different big now and which voting behavior is different than it was in those days. you know, we think maybe it would take something cataclysmic, that it would be 9/11, which created a sense of unity in retrospect 10 minutes and then we went back to the old ways. we thought maybe after the 2008 economic collapse we would see a change and that the political system would spawn in a more effective way and that didn't
happen. and so if you've had an enormous shock in terms of terrorism, and enormous economic shock in need of those severely change the politics and in many ways have hardened the lines that we've got, it's hard to know what's out there that would do it. >> i think we're hitting our time here, so maybe in the interest of that we should -- >> thank you very much. let's have a round of applause for our authors. [applause] >> our authors will be autographing at the other end of this same floor across from the elevators. thank you so much. [inaudible conversations]
♪ ♪ ♪ >> our live coverage from miami continues. that was a dan balz, jeremy scahill and george packard talking about american politics, american society. want to get your reaction to that. (202(202) 585-3890 if you live n east and central time zones. (202) 585-3891 for those of you in the mountain/pacific time zones. we will take a couple of calls and also put a microphone on george packer who just won the national book award on wednesday night and will follow him over to the assigned area. we'll watch that a bit. 15 minutes before the next
office tarts and then the next author is bill ayers and he'll be talking about his latest book, "public enemy: confessions of an american dissident." this is live coverage on booktv on c-span2, the 30th annual miami book fair international. we want to begin with a call from margaret in leavenworth kansas. margaret, what did you think of that trio of authors? >> caller: oh, that was so actually. thank you very much. i particularly think it's important for jeremy scahill -- can you hear me? hello? >> host: we're listening. margaret, we're listening. >> caller: okay. jeremy scahill is so important to recognize how much we are not getting, and the heroes are the journalistic i wrote a poem to marie who was killed in syria. has been so many killed trying to get us the story, and yet we've lost our media except for
c-span and bbc. we lost scene into a change within the year. it's really horrible to me commit to the point where they put a newt gingrich back on at a time when we had such division. i lived in chicago for four years. i used to call c-span all the time as a country that doesn't care whether you're citizen lives or dies is due. the same with the world. we americans are the -- >> host: margaret, thank you, margaret, for calling them. jeremy scahill will be joining us although later this afternoon for a call-in program. so you have your chance to talk with the author directly. david, palo alto, california. david, good morning to you. what's your reaction to that offer panel? >> caller: good morning. i also wanted to thank c-span for booktv, this particular panel, booktv in general. every weekend i watched. i really like the idea of the
information presented by our government, our country, our politics without all the corporate sponsors. i enjoyed this particular program as well. thank you. >> host: thank you for calling in, david. thank you for watching booktv. you can see george packer they're walking over to the signing area where he will be signing his book, his newest book, "the unwinding." winner of the national book award this past week. let's listen into george packer a little bit. >> i'm sorry, that's a shorthand answer. yeah, yeah. thank you. >> do you want me to sign these? for anyone in particular? >> no. >> okay.
hi. >> and as mr. packer weights or so authors to come over and sign books as well, let's hear from john in hampton georgia. john, you just listen to jeremy scahill, george packer and dan balz. what did you think? >> caller: i like jarret. i like packer. but my question is to jeremy. every time i see jimmy on tv, he's always bashing obama. i would like to know who does he want to be president right now. and how does he know who obama is talking to over the phone? i don't understand what gets the information from, every phone call obama makes. i mean, does he have an insight person in obama's office telling him every time obama picks up the phone and call somebody? i mean, i just wonder where he
gets his information to make such a broad statement like that? >> host: john, i promise you that when mr. scahill joins us for a call-in program, we will ask him that question from you. let's listen in again to george packer as he signs books. >> do you come every your? >> every year. >> wonderful. nice to meet you. hi. adrian? >> yes. >> okay. [inaudible conversations] >> really? this is kind of the people who are a little older than you bet it ends with some young people that occupy. i hope it makes sense to your life a little bit. thank you very much. nice to meet you. >> thank you very much. >> hi. how are you? >> i'm a huge fan.
>> thank you, thank you. do you read "the new yorker"? >> yes. i'm also joined the peace corps sent. >> are you? t. know where you're going? >> not yet. >> i was in togo. a long time ago. >> how was at? >> hard, but life-changing. ultimately, in a good way. at the time it was hell. not that you shouldn't do it. >> i don't mind. >> you may be more capable of it than i am. i was a little young and unready. but it was a great experience. good luck to you. >> thank you. >> how are you? >> pretty good. [inaudible conversations] >> thanks for coming.
hi. spent i don't know if you remove any. i am tammy -- >> yeah, i do remember you, of course. how are you? >> this is the third book online, by the way. >> you're a good customer. is this for tammy? >> yes. [inaudible conversations] >> would you be willing to talk to me for a few minutes about a book i wrote? >> i wish i had time but have to get to the airport right after this is over. if i said i was going to read it i probably wouldn't be telling you the truth. i am so busy and overwhelmed with my own stuff and my friends stuff. i'm sorry, tammy. i don't want to mislead you. >> that's okay. >> okay.
[inaudible conversations] >> host: you are watching george packer live interacting with some of his readers, and we also want to hear from you and get your reactions to the george packer, dan balz and jeremy scahill panel. doris, you are on booktv. we are listening. go ahead with your comments. >> caller: thank you, peter. and i want to thank you not just for today but for all your commentaries over the years that i've watched you from my little house in northern duchess county. but today, the panel was so -- i don't think people appreciate how much i think some of your listeners, judging by their comments, don't appreciate the
depth and integrity of those three men. and the significance, moral significance of what they were talking about. so i say amen, and thank all of you for bringing this, to have -- i don't have is gentlemen, mr. packer is dealing with chitchat after get such a moving commentary so god bless the writers and god bless everybody searching for peace. >> host: doors, thank you very much for calling them. thank you for watching booktv, and for watching c-span. bill ayers will be starting in just a few minutes. that will be live from miami. "public enemy: confessions of an american dissident." after bill ayers, debbie wasserman schultz will be talking about her book for the next generation. and thomas cahill.
and then you have a chance to do, we will have a chance to hear your voices on the air. jeremy scahill will join for a call-in followed by representative debbie wasserman schultz and the finale for today's coverage from miami will be chris matthews, tip and the gipper is his book but as you can see, there's the room. we are just waiting for bill ayers to come out and then we'll go right to it live but we want to take one more call if we can from karen in littleton, colorado. hi, karen. >> caller: how are you doing? i just want to say, i did want to say that i'm really impressed with the jeremy scahill's comments about -- [inaudible] i don't know how you get to have somebody recognize -- how false
they are when they're saying oh, i didn't say that and there's like four television behind them showing them saying those exact words. how do people not understand, how do they not get how somebody asks that way isn't good for our country? isn't good for the people, and just -- i don't know, i don't know what we can do as a country and also like mr. palmer i believe said that we have to have somebody as an independent state rise up and talk about ross perot. ..
booktv fan and a few years ago i read "black water" and i have so much respect for investigative journalist and do -- to -- a degree i am one. i have written two books. but at any rate, back to the investigative journalism, these men are providing a service for our society and culture and hopefully people can pick up on what was said and run with it. >> we will have to leave it there because the next panel is starting. bill ayers is next live on booktv. >> it is our 30th anniversary as you will know.
and we are very grateful to miami dade college for presenting this fair. it is because of thousands of volunteers each year that give up themselves to make this fair occur that we are here today and able to enjoy it. thank you to miami dade college, and our sponsors, american airlines and ohl and thank you for being here friends, new friends, and guests that have come from out of town. this year we are asking you to consider contributing to miami book fair international. thinking about our 30th anniversary. if you are so inclined if
talents to introduce bill ayers today. and that is our filmmaker billy c c cor corbin. he has produced many films and please join me in giving him a warm welcome to billy corbin. thank you. >> thank you. it is great to be back here at miami dade, not community college anymore, but it will always be the community college to me. i graduated from the arts high
school in 1996 and the one thousand building is where the chemistry labs were where i took class and learned to make meth for the first time. i want to welcome everyone who is watching at home on c-span booktv. both of you. nancy, larry, hello. when i got the call from the fe folks at the miami book care asking me to introduce bill ayers and i said what? mohammed wasn't available?
i should have figured i would bomb at the bill ayers event. it is my agent there. so basically, what would was i flipped a coin and lost to a guy who had to introduce dick chaney. he was scheduled to be here, canceled and then showed up and said i could go both way and his daughter liz immediately condemned his right to marriage. bill just flew in today and i cannot imagine how the tsa treats you. i wonder what that is like. and before we get started i want to dispel a couple myths. obama didn't have a close relationship with bill ayers and if you like your plan you can
keep your plan. but honestly, i didn't come here to roast bill like the folks in 1970 in the time back then. i am interested in hearing how bill feels about the america we live in. an america of the nsa and where military suicides outnumber combat deaths. and i want to get this show on the road because i have to go to church and introduce jerimiah wright. i am wondering what comes first: the audit or the drone. ma'am, would you like to start
my car when i leave today? i need a volunteer. myself and probably many of you and people all over the world respect and admire the miami book fair for its commitment to offering diversity. and if you have dick chaney and bill ayers you know you express freedom of speech in this great county of ours. and without further ado, there has been much ado actually, i would like to introduce you to "public enemy" or how i learned to stop loving the bomb. please give your welcome to
them. >> who was that? >> this is my chair. >> very typical. >> hello, i am helen atwon, i am the director of beacon press and we have the honor of publishing "public enemy" and several others by bill ayers since you just heard the livliest int introduction. bill has always written books about public education.
i will ask bill a few questions myself and then after a while i will open it up and let you ask questions. i will begin asking how he came the right the book. >> i want to eco something billy said and that is a shout out to the miami book fair and i am grateful to be here and you for coming. deacon published my first book on 9-11-2011 and we had a book tour planned. it went off the rails but then we did it anyway. and people came out in huge numbers on that book tour not pause they were supporting the book or me, but you will
remember the months and years after 9-11 they were desperate for a public space to talk to one another and independent book stores give that. i think it is a great tribute to free speech and an issue around both of us care about and to the power of dialogue and conversation. so i will start by shouting out and thanking you all for being here and thanks for the miami book fair. [ applause ] >> so my good friend and editor and boss, helen, right aftafte afteafter after "fugitive days" was
published i should write a follow up of what happened after the war. i resisted for maybe 7-8 years something like that. i was not interest td in writing a sequel. and then the election of 2008 happened. and as many of you know i was thrust unwittingly and unwillingly into the presidential campaign. are we applauding the campaign itself. yay. i was thrust up as if public enemy as was wright, the fiery pea preacher from the south side. >> and i have to interject that there was a $5 million ad
campaign about bill and it didn't sell scombanything. >> i am convinced it was all of the photographs together with me that helped. if you want a picture with me, it helps, if you are running for office. i have written from 1975 to the the present. the theme that develops is what is it like to live a life attempting to the purposeful over a long life. we were surprised it is about teaching parenting than i would have predicted. but it goes back to 1975 but begins in the 2008 campaign and i would like to read from that to set the scene. i am a retired professoprofesso
have students in seminar at my home. on a night in april 2008 i had a dozen doctorial students in my house and we were cleaning up and ending the seminar and one student flipped on the abc debate between clinton and obama. and he had just been bearing down on obama about this relationship with wright and whether wright was a patriots and i will read from there. now, liz was bearing down on the general theme of being a patr t patriot. the group that bombed the pent
gone has not appaologized for that. your campaign says you are friendly. can you explain your ship to the voters? i thought obama looked stricken, off balance and tongue-tied but i am projecting because i know i felt that way myself. and i know for sure my students were thu were thunder struck. obama replied this is a guy that lives in my neighborhood, is a professor and i know. the notion that this is a consequence of me knowing someone that did acts when i was
eight years old represents my behavior doesn't maybe sense. were were amused. everyone clamoring to make sense of the bombshell that dropped into our seminar and reverberating around the country and world. a student turned to me and said that guy has the same name as yours. why would she know? another explained to her that is because we were indeed the same guy. bill is the guy and we are in the neighborhood george is talking about. the students were lovely and they brought me tea and rubbed by wrist as they trickled on. no body could believe what was happening. it was strange. i will pick up after the students leave. and just so you know, my partner
of 44 years appears here. the evening became more surreal. no sleep. lots of phone calls from family and friends. disbelief, laughter and support. and threats in some sense of for bodi boding. we were trying to regain our balance and come to terms with the sense that this cartoon character named bill ayers who looked like me and shared my name and address was about to become a punching bag and might have an impact on the national election. it felt too big and all in all too strange. fantastic, unreal, crazy, the cartoon character had been quite and still fermenting on a dusty shelf when he was plucked from a jar of brian. he was wrinkled and smelling of vinegar and garlic but alive.
he was breathing fire and more menacing and dangerous and far better known than every before. mouth to mouth recess was made. >> i was burning to ask you a question. but you go ahead and read. >> i will read one more piece. although you are my boss. there was a lot of unexpected love from the start. the sweetest came from a colleague at the university of illinois who was a democratic activist.
she stopped by with the latest combat in here family. her and her daughter die hard for hilly and son and husband for obama. she suspected that her husband was a bit sexist. she would smile and say it is hilary clinton's turn. she can beat any republican they put up but obama will get crushed. he is just a kid. one day she reported the tension at home boiled over and john was sleeping on the couch. now i am glad i am not a democrat i said. i flew to california the next morning after the debate to do
work with my brother. when i got settled and opened by e-mail i found four messages from her she spent over the 18 hours. the first was a note of friendship and love and sympai y sympathy. the secretary second was a letter she wrote to hilary clinton and detailed how much money she devoted and explaining who i was and encouraging and demanding that the campaign appaologize to me personally or else she would have to rethink or commitments. the third letter was another p copy and this wan fired off in angry to the democratic committee howard dean in which she insisted dean resolve the issue and apologize to me and
attached a copy of my cv so dean can see what i am. i have this image of dean saying he wrote that? the forth and final e-mail was sent after she had a good nights sleep. i let john come back to bed. i hope you are okay. and i was happily beyond okay. all of the attacks and non-sense hovering seemed a small price to pay for the reunion and the years ahead for those two. >> i'm going to ask this question: did you actually write "dreams for my father"?
>> this is interesting. i can read a piece if you tell me the page. rush limbaugh -- first on helen's question, a lot of this stuff that came into the mainstream media was always going around in the right-wing blog atmosphere. i had hints this was coming because i have three tech-savvy children who alerted me that the national inquirer had a story about obama's sketchy friend and it had me and wright and his gay lovers. it was endlessly interesting. there has been a story and it is still a live story that i
wrote "dreams to my father" and i will read a little piece from that. among the laughable highlight from the lunacy tracking me through the presidential race was a photograph bouncing around from blog to blog. it was an early snap shot of my and my wife smiling in my 20's with the caption bill ayers and obama's mother; dreams from which father. they were indeed both born in 1942 and beautiful and free-spirited women. but for a dedicated few, the idea took home. we were obama's parents not his pals. and it is aastonishing.
it went wild in a corner and more serious analyst signed on and spoke about the vast conspiracy i was orchestrating. how could i prove the negative? one day in 2009 i was walking through regan airport when a woman asked me if i was bill ayers and i said i am and she said she is an leery. and she said she is a right-wring bloger. did you write "dreams to my father" i laughed outlo loud. i asked her to quote me exactly. i said i wrote ""dreams for my
father" i met with obama 3-4 times and made it up. she wrote furiously and smiled broadly, thank you. and i thought i had brought a little ray of sunshine into what i imagine might be a dim and aired space. ann posted the interview word for word and got links soaring up to three on a traffic site and then got to number one. ann was big time in her murky cham monopo
chamber. she was a hero. and in a matter of days, it got around and finally it was said it sounds like bill ayers is choking chains. if they said i wrote the book, rush pointed out, that was an example of intrepid journalism. rush saw it as i did write the book, but my admitting i was asserting i didn't write the book. what a tangled web i have weaved. so helen i and met up and i was
telling her i am back in rush's sights. you can find this. they did away with the fi fillbuster in the senate and rush said obama can do whatever he wants and will appoint ashad to the 9th circuit appeal. i can see it now. wright and bill ayers on the supreme court. i called wright and said let's do it. that would be great. >> i think we should turn for a moment before we open up to your questions. we should turn from another aspect and that is your deep
involv involvin involvement with children and education. >> very quickly. i have written many, many, many books. people call "fugitive days" by first but it was my 18th. most are about education and my favorite is "teaching toward freedom" but i just wrote a comic about it as well. i came to teaching at the age of 20. i was in ann harbor, michigan and involved against the first teacher sit-in against the vietnam. with 39 students i entered the
draft board and began to destroy draft files in 1965. i was arrested in what i considered a non-direct action against the war. i was put in county jail for ten days. and i met a guy whose wife st t started a freedom school. so i marched out into my first teaching job. and from that day until this i have thought of teaching as linked to making a better world and linked to the idea of democracy that we can improver ourselves. and from that day on, i have never been able to say education without thinking of freedom and democracy and vice versa. and for me, this is a big struggle, but the struggle for publ publ
public education is an essential struggle. and i spend most of the energy opposing the reform agenda that says education could be reduce today a simple metric/single test score. education doesn't need the involvement of the collective voice of teachers. and it is okay to sell the public space off to the private managers. i respeject those things. so i find myself fighting for a new of education on the bases of all humans are of in calculable values. and i got involved in 1965 and stopped teaching in 1969 to
become a full-time activist and anti-war. i followed by son too day care and became a teacher there, then elementary and then high school. because i have a problem with separati separation. i am doing the same thing with my grand daughters. they look around and say what the hell is bill doing here? i cannot help it. helen wants me to read about this day care place i stumbled upon. this woman, bj, is the hero of "public enemy." bj's kids was a home daycare and an organized enterprise. dave lit up whether -- when --
we made the turn down the street and an entire community swung into view. i was parked there when i was hired to be an assistant teacher. besides the hard work of taking care of kids, bj was trying to manage or business and juggling a blizzard of part-time schedules and the cash that flowed out. tuition was based on an hourly rate, unwritten and unclear that was fully formed each day from the head of bj. my first pay day was a marvel. she pulled her bag and emerged with a handful of crumpled up $20s and said see if that is all right. i said sure. bj's kids had aow