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tv   Hendrik Meijer Arthur Vandenberg  CSPAN  February 24, 2018 9:00am-10:01am EST

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underprepared. i had never heard of it and people thought i was being anti-semitic which i had never heard of it before. i wouldn't say this was the ideal education. >> watch afterwards sunday night at 9:00 eastern on booktv on c-span2. >> for nearly 20 years, in depth on booktv has featured the best nonfiction writers for live conversations about their books. ..
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[inaudible conversations] >> good evening. ima member of the event to staff and i would like to welcome you this evening to politics and prose took a quick note before we start, now would be a great time to silence cell phones. feel free to take flash free photography. we are here to welcome hendrick meijer for his new book, "arthur vandenberg: the man in the middle of the american century". when arthur vandenberg assumed his seat as a republican senator 1928 is outspoken opponent of the new deal and staunch isolationist. by the end of his life was not just a supporter of nato event un, but a key architect of the american postwar policy and in this comprehensive biology he changes from a politician to effective consensus builder. is a reporter, editor and executive producer of the--
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[inaudible] please help me welcome them both to politics and prose. >> thank you for coming and thank you for that nice introduction. i am delighted to have pink with us tonight because this is a surprisingly relevant book written about someone who i have to admit i do not a lot about and i'm glad i read it because are to vandenberg is one of the song heroes of the 20th century american politics and also for in the policy and when you think of or you hear that expression quite a bit over the past year of liberal world order and we think about the
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institutions that comprise that liberal world order, the un, nato, and trans nato alliance of art vandenberg was there playing a crucial role in the development of these institutions, so as someone who writes about and studies foreign-policy, i'm very happy this book is published and you have written in. so, i don't want to just lecture all night, but why don't you first tell us why it was decided to write a book about art vandenberg. i know you are from michigan and he's a hometown boy, but surely there is more going on. >> good to see you all. this was a hometown character-- i'm from grand rapids, michigan, who even in his hometown is largely forgotten or had been until recently, and that was irresistible as someone who
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likes international affair and foreign-policy study that to find someone of some consequent poor who there was no complete biography really created a sense of mission. here was a story worth telling someone very consequential in the early years of the cold war and largely forgotten. he died in 1951, in office before he could write his own memoirs and he was a longtime journalist and anticipated doing that. to other would-be biographers died before completing anything past 1945, when his most influential years were just beginning your guy has so far managed to avoid that fate and so had a chance to fill a gap in history. >> what was the process like? what was the sources of your work? was a paper collection, interviews, how did you write the book? >> there was a professor who had
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done his phd at the university of michigan who in 1970 published a book called the evolution of a modern republican , arthur vandenberg taken his life up to 1945. i assumed when i began thinking about vandenberg in the late 1980s that the world didn't need to biographies of this guy and one was well underway. a friend of mine who is a historian in michigan was putting together the program in 1989 for the annual meeting of the historical society of michigan and it was one of these things where he had to fill out a program, find a dozen speakers on state related topics of the said you're interested in arthur vandenberg. we talked about him at our meeting so i think there was an audience of six people are and i spoke about the dub eight over the repeal of the arms embargo of the neutrality act in 1939
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when vandenberg is leading the isolationist a fighting roosevelt's to repeal american neutrality and come to the aid of the british and i gave that talk in october, 1989, and in january of 1991 but notes to me the professor who had written in this first volume and was presumably during the second, died in his adult daughter, he was a professor in chicago at the time and his daughter was trying to sell her father's house and turned out he had a difficult life with health issues and emotional issues. she didn't know what to do with his lifetime of research on arthur vandenberg in his basement church it had no monetary value and this is predigital age when it's all xerox copies from the various libraries, but she hated to choke her father's lifetime of research in the streets.
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she crawls the historical society of michigan and said do you know anyone with an interest in arthur vandenberg. i had spoken eight weeks earlier at their conference and i was the only name they hand and eight-- they had and they brought eight then load of boxes of files back to grand rapids and suddenly instead of the world not needing a second bartleby i had a sense of mission that if i'm not going to do it who is and that was the beginning. his papers are of the bentley library at the university of michigan and i spent a lot of time there working through the primary source material there and then beginning in the mid- 90s was able to interview people who were still alive who had worked with or known off-- arthur vandenberg from william fulbright to a lot of journalists who had covered him during his years in the 40s and. >> up until pearl harbor, arthur
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vandenberg was one of the leading isolationist in the united states. can you talk about how he came to this worldview, what were the main shapers, influences that made him an isolationist equipment as a senior in high school he won an oratory prize talking about in the 1900 on the peace conference at the hague, so this was a guy as a teenager with an interest in foreign affairs and one would argue even an impulse to internationalism, but as with so many americans he was a young newspaper editor at the time of world war i and really bought into the wilsonian crusade to make the world safe for democracy, the moral overtones that we gave to our intervention in europe in 1917 and when the treaty of versailles failed to create that lasting democracy, democratic rain everyone hoped for and in
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fact sowed the seeds of discontent that would result of the rise of the dictators in europe in dozen years later, vandenberg likes of me americans was disillusioned with that experience. what had been our reasoning for getting into the war and so that led him to be a part of the night committee hearings in the mid- 1930s exploring the causes of the war. was at bankers, armament makers, what led us to intervene and that led to the neutrality act in 1937 binding-- preventing the us from trading with any belligerent in a war and in his defense of that and in seeing neutrality as the best way to protect the interest of the united states, he really in effect isolated-- he emerged as
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the strongest voice, william bore of the line of idaho was sort of the senior isolationist figure in the senate. he died in 1940 and by that time vandenberg was the acknowledged leader of senate isolationist. >> he maintained that up until pearl harbor and i will read a quote from your book, which is fdr to his treasury sector-- secretary. i think we ought to introduce a bill for statute of austin vandenberg law and tops to be erected in berlin and put the swastika on them. pretty tough words from fdr. >> that was in the same speech that for those of you that i have read your fdr know he unveiled against martin, barton and fish who were the congressional leaders, the house leaders of opposition and boston, tapped and vandenberg were in the senate and they were blocking every attempt of fdr, fighting him on neutrality,
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fighting him on selective service, fighting him on land lease right up to pearl harbor they were trying to tie his hands from committing the us to war. >> you talk about pearl harbor and the effect it had on arthur vandenberg. >> vandenberg claimed that pearl harbor ended isolates-- isolationism for any thinking on that day. that's too easy to say and we now know today it didn't end isolationism, but it's certainly muted the debate during the war and was also a wake-up call that the sort of psychological notion that our oceans were barriers that would insulate us and vandenberg always did like that notion of isolation and he only said insulation and play language games to protect himself from being labeled. >> the new ordeal as well. >> pearl harbor was a real blow to the isolationist position,
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but for him in many ways it was the beginning of rethinking what america's role in the world should be. >> talk about more about rethinking pair did he regret the position he had taken up tell pearl harbor cracks did he think he was wrong to take those positions? did he think it was fdr's policies that led to pearl harbor, that was the united states was attacked it was irrelevant because the country had to defend itself? there is a lot of nuances there, i think. >> you summed it up well, but he was innately suspicious after a decade of being on the outside looking in in terms of foreign-policy and a decade of fighting roosevelts efforts in the new ordeal, the second new deal. fundamental distrust of roosevelt and with the-- we-- as roosevelts was trying to tamp down japanese ambitions by
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restricting sales of oil and things like that on the eve of world war ii, vandenberg was suspicious that fdr might have been inviting conflicts through a reluctance to negotiate a new trade treaty with the japanese, so he didn't blame him for pearl harbor. he wasn't conspiratorial in that way, but he felt like roosevelt may have hastened to that day by his attitude towards dealing with the japanese. >> then, with united states enters the war, how does his relationship with fdr change because these are two very colorful personalities let's say >> that suspicion lingers, of course. he talks about when george marshall comes to testify before the foreign relations committee in 1942 and talking about some of the early allied offenses and going to north africa and things like that that marshall brings a
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credibility that he had not seen before from the executive branch because he just doesn't trust roosevelt. then, in 1943 as the tide is beginning to turn and some of the areas that had been under access control are liberated the first-- before there is a former united nations there something called the united nations relief and really abilities and administration and this was a convening of the allies to try to figure out how to get aid to liberated areas that work destroyed, impoverished and roosevelt proposes that america's involvement in this organization will be by executive order. the isolationist in the senate say no, no, no this smacks of a treaty we are working with other nations in this common cause and vandenberg in one of his early instances is trying to find a
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middle ground because he recognizes the need to do something. he's not about to relinquish congressional authority and succeeded to roosevelt, but he said it's not going to be an executive order, but it doesn't need to be a treaty. it can be something that the white house can swallow to end that is we will get a majority votes in congress and when we talk about super majorities and simple majorities today, he argued in this case for simple majority, which began to distance him from sam isolationist who said no, no, it's a treaty, but in his eyes he had one a degree of commercial oversight for the executives. and in doing so he's getting a compromise between sides on foreign affairs and that begins to characterize his experience after that. >> what role do you think his being from the midwest played in
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this? i think when people think of isolationism prewar isolationism they think of the midwest and see the the coastal internationalist and mean as someone michigan and this part of the country writing a book about arthur vandenberg do you think the regional role or the geographic role of where he came from played a part? >> i think it did in the early days. it did before-- it did in the aftermath of world war i, which is a nine committee in many ways is investigating, was at the coastal elites who had a greater vested interests in intervention then the midwesterners. i think by the time world war ii comes along its less geographic driven, although the most powerful media voice for isolationist colonel mccormick in the chicago tribune whose influence looms large in the midwest and in fact he he begins
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as a general ally and supporter of vandenberg and ultimately regards vandenberg as benedict arnold when he begins to veer from a pure isolationist packs. >> before world war ii is even over we see arthur vandenberg becoming you might even say the first cold war era before that term even came into use particularly at the san francisco conference where the un was being formed. can you talk about those-- the end of world war ii and beginning of the cold war and how that all affected his role with-- >> the generation of decision-makers after world war ii were people who had come of age in world war i and that's roosevelt, truman, vandenberg and is so very much in all of their minds coming at it from different political perspectives is the failure of the league of nations and that failure may or may not-- the success of the
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league of nations may or may not have altered the course of history and changed world war ii or prevented world war ii, but it certainly was a disaster in and of itself and so one of the great criticisms of wilson's efforts at first i was he picked an american delegation, which he chose to lead, but which otherwise was nondescript amine we don't remember who the delegates were and particularly there were no prominent republicans, so he comes back to washington with the covenant of the league of nations and says not going to make any changes to it and the republicans particularly in the form of henry cabot lodge who is the chairman of the foreign relations committee in the senate says no, we want some changes to this. we weren't involved in creating an and we would have done certain things whether cosmetic or genuine to protect american sovereignty in this new organization and of course have falls apart in the league is not
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approved. roosevelts-- roosevelt was keenly aware of wilson's error and new he could not make a mistake so he had basically hold his nose and vandenberg is the leading republican spokesperson on foreign-policy and roosevelt passed to hold his nose and appoint vandenberg to the united nations conference on national organization san francisco in the late spring of 1945, which is the first meeting of the un creating the un. there had been some preliminary work here in washington prior to that, but this is the delegations from all of the sovereign nations meeting in san francisco to perfect and approve the charter and roosevelt names vandenberg and his democratic counterpart on foreign relations
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with whom he traded chairmanship, tom-- tom connolly from texas and the president of barnard and harold stassen newly returned boy wonder governor of minnesota newly returned from the navy in the pacific. and they are the six person american delegation. the-- and then roosevelt dies. of course, roosevelt had really not to say the least worked closely with the state department. if there were diplomatic missions during the war he sent harry hopkins to moscow or london. they really were not in the loop very often with roosevelt, so stettinius who is a young steel company executive and new secretary of state was really more a manager than a diplomats. he's leading the us delegation
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peered truman, of course, had lunch once with roosevelt between their election to the vice president and roosevelt's death and knows nothing going on , famously nothing about the atomic bomb. they get to set-- so they could to san francisco state department presidents, president is unschooled in foreign-policy and the american delegation is in the penthouse at the fairmont hotel with the french, british and russians and seem to cross from all top and the soviet delegation and vandenberg was the strongest character, the strongest personality and most forceful figure. he was also the one that even the democrats knew they needed to win approval of any kind of charter in the united states senate and the each got to
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choose an advisor to bring with them to san francisco and he chose john foster dulles who had been thomas dewey's shadow secretary state and significant figure in and would later become a significant figure in foreign-policy and the latin americans have a disproportionate share of the votes at the un because so much of the rest of the world was either were their colonies or axis powers and the assistant secretary for latin american affairs was nelson rockefeller who was also close to vandenberg, so vandenberg it's really those three republicans led by vandenberg who have the votes in the senate, the votes among united nation's countries and the gravitas, if you will, and vandenberg is facing down molotov and debates over who should get the veto and how many
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votes you get on what in the un and that sort of thing. if you think about it the war is still going on. it doesn't end in health later in the summer. for the american public at large, the soviets are still our allies. they had been enduring great sacrifice. they are fighting no bully in their hands are reaching across in germany and then wendell wilkie has written this book one world about world federalism and how we can all be friends and that's kind of the general public perception of the soviets well, down here-- well, our work soldiers are linking arms in germany and down here vandenberg and molotov are risk-- wrestling over the shape of the future world, so i think you could argue the first blows of the cold war are coming in the opera house in san francisco in the house of the fairmont hotel. >> he has no illusions about the
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russians. let's read some of these quotes from his-- he says we need to stop the reds immediately. he's reporting back to truman simply saying we can't give an inch. he uses the word appeasement, which the last time we heard that word used was in munich and presumably his view on munich was not what it was in 1945. could you talk a little bit more about what were his attitudes towards the russians? why was he so quick to see them as not really allies anymore, but enemies? what was happening in europe at the time? i know there was a large polish community and michigan. did that play a role in his worldview? >> yes, indeed. first of all he had thought diplomatic recognition of the soviet union, an arch anti-communist from early on.
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of there was a large polish community in the detroit area and he had a lot of friends and was sensitive to that both sensitive politically, but also it to raised his sensitivity to how stalin was treating poland. of course, golf tip famously promises made and not kept and i think even in his last days roosevelt was confining to vandenberg that i need you in san francisco precisely because you recognize the soviets will be more of a problem than we thought, promise elections and not delivering them in poland and that's one thing, so he is knee-jerk anti-communist from his history. he is alarmed at what's happening in soviet occupied poland and that's really raised his antenna that molotov may be
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trying to get away with some things that are not in our interest. >> so, arthur vandenberg plays a crucial role in the founding of nato of the united nations, basically orienting american foreign policy to be leader of the free world you could chapter world war ii. really charting the path for where american foreign-policy has been bipartisan on a bipartisan basis really for the past 35 years and whether or not it's continued with this administration is a different question. how much was contingent in this period 1945 to 50 because we look back on it and i seems so obvious that of course we should establish this something like nato and have the un and have a system, all of these things that we now take for granted, but was it inevitable or was there really a lot the depended a
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handful of individuals who were really in the right place at the right time? >> two things somewhat in conflict. one was there was the dawning recognition that we were the only superpower and certainly the only democracy intact and prosperous at the other war and so that forced us to suggest, faced their sensibility, but this is the end of the war. our soldiers want to come home. we have not suffer the way that the europeans had, but we had rationing and we had controls on the way people were living here. people wanted to see that and and a so that norma's impulse-- enormous impulse to a point vandenberg probably created after world war i was people wanted to return to normalcy and here you are talking about things that entail not only the maintenance of the united states
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military presence overseas, but significant contributions in foreign aid, marshall plan. so, that sense that america couldn't simply become isolationist again was strong, but when george marshall proposes the marshall plan, that's when vandenberg talents were called into being because he's now chairman of foreign relations committee. he reacts-- at first blanches at the staggering cost because the marshall plan had begun as you know inviting the european nations to propose what kind of aid would be required for the reconstruction of their economies and of course their wish list was billions of dollars more than anyone in america could swallow. so, state department appears that back a little bit and it comes to congress then and
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marshall proposes the marshall plan and vandenberg has to pure it down more-- pare it down more. we will just do it year by year and instead of asked-- x billion it will be why billions ends instead of finding the sweet spot that will make effective while winning congressional approval and that was the balance was after. congress would be willing to pass resolution, but would we really be willing to undertake fast managers and so he made that digestible, but still effective. so, in hindsight some sort of marshall plan would have still happened, but had it been a fraction of the size that it was , would it have been effective end of the same thing happens with nato. robert lovett, the undersecretary of state stops by his vandenberg apartment on connecticut avenue after work and they-- vandenberg has his typewriter and he types
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something called the vandenberg resolution, which was the authorization of the united nations and us participation in this new organization of the nato and the senate passes that, not with a great deal of controversy because there's a recognition that in our interest to have be allied with these democracies. although, for vandenberg it's entangling alliance which he had invaded-- he was a disciple and worshiper of alexander hamilton who famously used that phrase in washington's farewell address, but then it comes time in 1949, to provide aid to those devastated european militaries. at that, the isolationist wing of the republican party people like robert taft-- you know it's one thing to approve nato and it's another thing to get it teeth and vandenberg is looking
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at the red army across europe saying it's not good enough just to say we will support these other countries. of a need to rebuild their defenses. that would have been a real struggle for vandenberg had he not lead the way in fighting in this case more of his own party to get funding for nato. >> what lessons do you think from his life are most important today? >> the-- i turn this manuscript into the publisher about a week before the election in 2016, and it felt like i was working in another age. i guess maybe it still does, but the two related lessons would be , of course, he becomes a icon for bipartisanship and that's the notion that it's important to work with the other party. we all crave that, i think.
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but, the other is compromise was an art form for him. it was the notion that you would stick to some principle, which meant you would never change your position when the world was changing or circumstances were changing. coldly as own experience own experience proved was untenable and so the marshall plan hearings were some of the most extensive that a never been conducting congress and what he did was wear down the opposition turkey wanted to listen to everyone's opinion and waited out the opposition very patiently. then, he would write language were in fact one of his colleagues he phrased a something in the legislation in one of his colleagues said that as a make a sense, what does it mean and he said don't worry about that. i can go to then different senators and tell them i've
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included in here what you had in mind and that willingness to say compromise is a great thing in the way democracy functions. i guess it's inescapable model that we long for. >> thank you for that. i think we are going to open it up to the audience for questions , so the young lady in the back. >> you said something about he started out being isolationist and event you said we were pretty unaware of what he accomplished and i wonder if we could say that international affairs are still in play and each player is in play. it's very very hard to understand what's happening unless you are part of this, so that would have implications i think would be that certain people--
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[inaudible] white with so hard to convince people that it would import to do the things he came back. >> i think the question is, did his experience beyond a foreign relations committee-- was a call that at the time? >> complexity made it extremely difficult for people to understand and our democracy to work. >> no question and i think that's part of the challenge in a way that wilson had with world war i. seems like one of the hazards of democracy is that we want to simplify things into a crusade to make the world safe for democracy when there may or may not have been plenty of good reasons to get involved, but we are truly going to make the world safe for democracy we are just going to kind of keep the germans from being more hegemonic in europe and so i think that temptation to
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simplify. one of the famous quotes often attributed to vandenberg for which there is no evidence that he said it, but it may catch some of the temper of the times was with the truman doctrine. in 1946, the british who had been helping the greeks resists a communist insurgency coming from you with claudia-- yugoslavia and the turks who were feeling encircled by the soviet union had relied on some aid from the british and the british came to the us and said we can't afford it anymore, so truman then first comes to the aid of greece and turkey giving them supplies and arms and then does the truman doctrine saying to the chagrin of vandenberg and
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a lot of people we will come to the aid of people fighting for freedom anywhere which opened up a whole new world, but it was-- but vandenberg is said to put a small meeting with congressional leaders where truman is out lighting his plans are because the truman doctrine and vandenberg says-- is alleged to have said mr. presidents, mr. president if you take this to the country and scare the hell out of the american people i will support you. in other words, you can explain the complexities to us, but you have to give a sales pitch to the country and put it in simple terms of good and evil and we are fighting communism and i think that may be what you are talking about. that trap we fall into of simplifying it so much, when it is infinitely complex and i would say in the history of it, the history of that was in many ways in turn the first person to
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describe most eloquently by dean acheson in his memoir "present creation" talking about the first years after world war ii and dean acheson was a brilliant guide wonderful writer and a fine secretary of state, but he also puts himself at the center of that history and so if you read that, his boss george marshall one of the great american heroes didn't do a very good job of selling vandenberg and the congressional leaders on that in turkey and action since ended his memoir d modified chime in and next line the domino theory and how that will work and then he talks about vandenberg and said we would draft these resolutions and then send them to vandenberg and he would have to put his stamp on it, making him sound as though it was vandenberg's ego that had to make tweaks in it and some of that was true, but what
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vandenberg was doing was taking the state department proposal and making it sellable, digestible to congress and acheson-- so, acheson puts himself at the center of it and sort of treats people like marshall and vandenberg and sort of they are important good guys, but i really was figuring all this stuff out and i interviewed clark clifford who was an aide to truman and clifford said part of truman's skill was he said with-- was sort of not trying to put himself in the middle and of course he astutely called that the marshall plan, but he also said acheson and vandenberg with these big egos and truman was willing to step back and let them sorted out. i don't know if that answers your question, but it's interesting.
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>> i think also as we have seen with president trump he said a lot of things on the campaign trail and he's not exactly perhaps he's realized the world is a bit more complicated place that it was when he was campaigning. sir? >> [inaudible question] >> he was very earnest in that way, but he was-- well, he was not an intellectual. he had had a much more interesting life than average politician or key became the editor of the local republican paper before his 22nd birthday he was, at that time, actually-- he would write editorial and send it off to henry cabot lodge during the league of nations debates and large rights back to
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him and says i don't know if you are the first to propose reservations along these lines. he was posing them and may have been the first, but i'm going to steal a line-- i like a line you wrote, unshared idealism as a menace to this guys influencing the league of nations debate as a young editor in grand rapids, and that capacity to change goes into the personal life, also. sinclair lewis publishes babbitt in 1923 or something like that and has already done main street and he's powering literary figure of the time and for those of you that have it read it, it's the study of this middlebrow, middle-aged midwesterner in a middle sized city in just a sort of being caricatured by claire lewis who
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is a renegade from the midwest for all the kind of status quo things that he favors. he's a good rotarian and he's a local booster and so the name babbitt is taken up by hl mencken and folks like that as this shorthand for everything that's sort of mediocre about american culture. vandenberg writes his editorial and says that saved the best of babbitt. here's a guy who cares about his community and is a good god-fearing soul and this is in the 1920s. in 1935, vandenberg and hazel who travel to lots are sailing back from england and sinclair lewis has married dorothy thompson, the most important female correspondent of her age and a friend of vandenberg. >> the first american journalist to be expelled from nazi germany >> yes, and the first one to give an in-depth interview and
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came home saying this is a real menace, folks. she and sinclair lewis are in europe and she goes home early to file her stories on her interviews with mussolini and hitler and he was on the same ship back with vandenberg then sends a note up to vandenberg's estate room saying would you like to have a drink and they meet him in the lounge and hazel vandenberg says in her diary he's already been drinking a lot, but they become fast friends on that trip and later on lewis is a ready to vandenberg telling he should run for president and vandenberg's are hosting the parties for him. he was one of his colleagues said he was the only senator who could strut sitting down, so he was a picture of the pompous senator, but he also had a level of wit about him.
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he wrote short stories, little bit of poetry, never enough to make a living that way, but cultural impulses and you will get entirely different pictures of him if i talked to younger reporters he would not give them the time of day, but older reporters he was one of them and regarded himself as sort of a wretch and was somewhat beloved by his colleagues in the senate even had he had this stiff and formal demeanor to the outside world and a voice that was made for the stump, not for radio or television. he gave off a bit of a larger than life or a. in fact, when he died edward r murrow did a little radio testimony to him that said he was somewhat larger than life in his influence or in the way he
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came across. i don't know if that answers your question, but he was ponderous. he was a compromiser, but he was also regarded as kind of a principled character. he would not drink until he was outside of the three-mile limit during prohibition, but he also with his best friend also wrote music. he wrote-- there was a silent screen star name to bebe daniels and he wrote bbb mine which was fairly widely published at the time, so much more dimensional than we might think. >> go ahead. >> probably in the course of your research for this book or elsewhere, how many other characters that figures in history are whether or not someone literally died while in
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the process of writing their biography, but how many other people have you encountered who you are now like maybe someone needs to write about this person or this person? >> i'm trying to figure that out because that might be the next person i write about. that's a great question. not enough from a historians standpoint for an open field. it seems that there is something on almost everyone. >> i'm not going to reveal those because i have a few ideas myself but i wouldn't want to give them away feeling that's a wonderful question. well, one of the earliest pollsters was from the upper peninsula of michigan and he was the first-- worked for the democratic national committee for a while and was the first person to really develop scientific polling, but that book was just a done in the last year or so. >> interesting. >> i'm still trying to find that >> sir?
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>> said he didn't have the voice for radio and television, which is sort of when you have the world of the senators now are surrounded by staff and lobbyists that are applying for their attention and not having an opportunity to talk to each other, do you think to be effective or that bipartisanship and compromise that he was able to do could be effective in today's environment? >> if-- you are talking about can people be effective with they don't have those connections with each other across party lines and we all here and a lot of the same things, but if you talk to them was of congress you do get that sense when they go home every thursday and come back on monday that so different from coming the washington marriott today--
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there were so many people living there. of their work congressmen and senators from both parties in a supreme court judge or two and henry wallace when he was secretary of-- lessee-- let's see, agriculture. lived there and vandenberg talks about henry wallace showing him outside how to use a boomerang and it nearly taking his head off, but at the same time vandenberg is railing against the agricultural adjustment act and henry wallace is a symbol of new deal accesses of plowing up crops to drive prices up endings like that, so the interaction was so continuous that it certainly allowed them to bond. i was talking with congressmen-- congresswoman debbie dingell and she was talking about how when her husband was going through a divorce jerry and betty ford
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would have him over for dinner and they built those kinds of relationships that so few congressmen have today that it has to make it more difficult. >> the other point was the network they live in or rent, you know, they are hub of a network that has to deal with another hub of a network. it's a very complex structure to work in. >> it has to be an operating in a cocoon in some respects, also. >> to raise funds for your next election. >> yes. >> i guess what i'm saying is that, is there any hope? >> part of the challenge of courses that compromise gets you in trouble today and so, i mean, it's like we say about so many of our political leaders because could they get elected?
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yes, but they would get primary door could they get nominated is the bigger question and the more polarized environment. >> who is the democratic senator that he had the closest relationship with? >> just because they spent so much time together maybe tom connolly although that was awkward rivalry. he was a very fret-- on vendor friendly terms from the michigan democrat who came in in the late 30s. i would say probably and he was on very friendly terms with harry truman. now, they were not close in a lot of ways, but one-- truman both because of the recognition of his weakness, but also because he too was a child of the senate, the day after roosevelt dies truman goes over
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to the capital and has lunch with congressional leaders and for people like vandenberg who had been shut out by roosevelt for a decade, that's spoke so profoundly and then truman sends vandenberg the last box of cigars from the vice president's office or something like that. that's relationship went a long ways. it met that truman could trust vandenberg in san francisco. it's meant that vandenberg had more confidence when truman goes to pot stand even though truman was for a list experienced. >> sir? >> a really influential isolationist in the 1930s-- [inaudible question] >> henry ford goes back further. henry ford actually ran for
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senate as a republican and democrat and got the democratic nomination in 1920. it was a scandalous election campaign with-- where the republican truman newberry who had been cast secretary of the navy, he and henry ford both spent so much money except newberry spent part of his two broad editors and was never actually allowed to take his see, but vandenberg had to hold his nose and vote for the republican because henry ford's isolation during world war i had been to be very critical of the government and basically he had some famous remark about the thinking of the lusitania, like they should have known better than to get on this liner. so, at that time buying into wilson's arguments he would have
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found henry ford anathema. later he helps try to revise tax laws under roosevelt where henry ford's business was so important to the michigan economy that-- and ford was still a privately held company at that time and i think it was the inheritance taxes that roosevelt was perfect posing that would force for to go public which they ultimately did, but that could also jeopardize the state of the company and so he ends up helping-- trying to help ford in that way and then ford is left-- less evident in world war ii. father coughlin, of course, start out supporting roosevelt and then famously moves into that sort of anti- somatic role as a roosevelt critic and he's doing that in league with another guy who's in detroit at
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that time, gerald lk smith flame throwing evangelical minister and vandenberg doesn't like those characters at all. he doesn't really have much interaction with them and i don't have any record-- they were so busy attacking roosevelt that they really-- vandenberg would've been someone they would have normally supported, but he did not court them and he had minimal interaction with them. >> sir? >> wonderful book that sort of reminds you that politics doesn't change much over time. the attacks are as-- were a scurrilous as they are today and something like father coughlin who may not have heard about him until he read your book and i looked him up on youtube. >> we didn't have twitter, though. [laughter] >> ford also benefited from the military, so you know
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eisenhower's warning leaving office, how did vandenberg feel about that? >> he was-- first of all, when-- he contributed to it in a sense because he was as he's fighting for greater appropriations for the military and for our nato allies that certainly 18 in the development of the military-industrial complex, so you could argue taft in the isolationist and budget hawks are restraining the spending that would go into what became the military-industrial complex. at the same time, eisenhower was his guy and eisenhower, of course, had to fight for the nomination and he viewed eisenhower as embodying his
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approach to the world, which understood the need for american meat leadership that the us could no longer be isolationist, but i think he would've happily endorsed ike's cautions there because he was also very leery of the growth of federal power. as a sidelight, the vandenberg air force base in california is not named for arthur vandenberg. it's named for his nephew, hoyt vandenberg who was one of the rising stars in the air force and air force chief of staff when the air force-- army air force became the air force and later the second director of the cia and is so vandenberg and he would come over to the workman park on sunday afternoon and they would excuse themselves and go in the kitchen and talk about knows what, but vandenberg was certainly recognized and becoming as he's one of the
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things moving him away from isolationist nephew hoyt knows about the realities of strategic bombing and modern warfare and how isolationism was no longer strategically possible for the security of the us. batch would also-- may have made him or synthetic to arms appropriations. i think finally, though, he would have-- he and eisenhower had-- they were so much in sync on their approach to the world that he would have shared bikes caution-- ike's caution. >> you will be the last one. >> korean war, by the time it started we had reduced our military significantly. we had hollowed it out and it turned around and rebuild it to a level that pretty much was
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sustained for a long time. how did vandenberg play a role in that period from 48 to make 50? >> when the korean war actually breaks out its right after vandenberg has gone home. he's been diagnosed with lung cancer and had half his lung removed and he makes a brief return to washington in 1950, but he's really on the sidelines and so he's dealing with it theoretically because people are coming to him and saying should we support truman or not because of course truman is not asking for declaration of war he's calling it a police action and vandenberg is caught up in and really never resolves in his own mind that perpetual debate of when does the executive come to congress and asked for permission to engage militarily and vandenberg comes out says if you have a new emergency he's
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our commander-in-chief, he needs to respond, but beyond the emergency you have to fight yourself to congress. you can do it as a police action and he was engaged in that debate from a distance. but, he was really no longer a part of deliberations over military preparations and things like that. >> thank you all for coming and by the book and henkel will find some. >> thank you very much. [inaudible conversations] >> you are watching book tv on c-span2 with top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. a book tv, television for serious readers.
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>> this weekend on afterwards, carol westover describes her life as the daughter of survivalist in idaho mountains in her introduction to formal education act of the age of 17. also, fox news media does host howard kurtz discusses the relationship between the media and the trump administration. bloomberg technology emily chang describes the culture and silicon valley for women. white house reporter paul brandes offers a history of the presidency. the pen american literary awards given annually since 1963, recognizes books any range of categories from biography in science writing to essays and poetry. that's all this weekend on c-span twos book tv, 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books. television for serious readers. for complete schedule, visit book and follow along on our social media accounts on
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facebook, twitter and instagram at book tv. .. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >> welcome to the brown bookstore. i am emily and i work on food media and gender here at brown and american studies and tonight i am delighted to


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