tv Arnold Offner Hubert Humphrey CSPAN November 18, 2018 7:23am-8:31am EST
>> join us this week and poor live coverage of the miami book fair. today at 11:15 a.m. alissa quart on the middle class with her book. 2:55 p.m., fox news politics editor chris stargell discusses his book. 6:00 p.m., former secretary of state john kerry with his memoir watch the miami book fair line this weekend on c-span2 book tv. >> afternoon. my name is who in behalf of the bookstore owner in behalf of the entire step welcome to politics and prose.
it's a pleasure to have you here please bear with me well we go through general housekeeping notes. now would be a good time to silence your cell phone if you have not done so. arnold offner will speak for about 30 minutes and then there will be time for questions and answers. after-- after professor arnold offner will sign books. copies of "hubert humphrey" are available for purchase by the cash registers in today's event is being recorded. c-span is here, so it's important when asking questions to come to one of the two microfilms and speak clearly. i'm told there will only be one microphone today. it's over here. also remember to keep your questions brief and to make sure your questions actually take the form of questions.
we have another event later today so it's not necessary to fold up your chair after the events. you can leave them where they are. we hope you have had a chance to check out our two new store locations. please let us know you have questions or comments about the new locations. arnold offner is professor of history at lafayette college. he earned his ma and phd from indiana university specializes in 20th century american politics and foreign policy. in addition to his new book on hubert humphrey he's the author through their books including another such victory president truman and the cold war 1945 to 1963. arnold offner's new book has become a definitive biography on hubert homphrey based on
extensive research of archival records the book uncovers previously unknown details about humphrey's political life and explains why humphrey is one of the great liberals of post- american politics. the book has received outstanding reviews including from president jimmy carter, vice president walter mondale. brinkley praises arnold offner's book as quote a groundbreaking study of an american political diet and declares 'every page crackles with excellent writing, eye-opening research and true analysis". please join me in welcoming professor arnold offner. [applause]. >> thank you, all of you for coming to hear about hubert humphrey, a truly significant
political figure about whom far too little has been written and far too little has been known. despite the fact that thomas p tip o'neill was legendary speaker of the house from massachusetts humphrey, the most liberal the nation has ever produced humphrey himself told not to receptive united states senate in 1957, i am a liberal without apology and i'm sorry i'm only not more liberal. 1000 senate staffers in 1978 voted hubert homphrey the most effective legislator of the 20th century. undoubtedly humphrey should've been elected president in 1968 and in fact it's my contention that he would've been had it not been for lyndon johnson's
undermining of this president campaign. let me begin with a quick bio graphic sketch so that we all start out on the same page, so to speak with regard to humphrey's life. hubert horatio humphrey junior was born in 1911. hubert humphrey senior a pharmacist, in the tiny little town of wallace, south dakota, population 200 people. his father was a pharmacist who moved about constantly be seeking a law to market. he moved to doland, 500 people. a couple other places before his pharmacy finally collapsed and he had to sell out to walgreens and that was the end of the family business. humphrey himself went to the university of minnesota as an
undergrad, had to leave after a couple of years because of finances. took a crash course in pharmacy, came back and helped his father in their way back to minnesota to get his undergraduate degree in political science where he really blossomed as a student, as a thinker and among others who were his teacher and also political advisor turns of history was someone named ever on kirkpatrick who is a young phd from yale university. he was also the husband of gina kirkpatrick who wound up in the administration of ronald reagan. in any event, humphrey married muriel book-- bulk and rock to seek his masters degree at
louisiana state university. while in the know-- new orleans. that is when he turned to his civil rights. what struck him most because he had almost no contact with african-americans either in south dakota where he was born or in minnesota where the population of african-americans was less than 1%, but it was in new orleans white and colored signs jarred his sensibility. he was also struck by the fact that white people live in what he wrote as neatly painted houses. african-americans lived in shacks near open sewer lines and humphrey himself wrote that his civil rights interest turned into flesh and blood and continued for the rest of his life. he returned to minnesota to seek a phd, left midcourse abp, as
they say, and went to work for the wpa worker education program in minnesota and during the second world war and there he came in contact with the very tough living conditions of people who worked in manufacturing plants, and up in the north of minnesota, the lumberjacks and iron range. eventually because he was a very good speaker, labor leaders persuaded him for running from mayor of minneapolis. he did. he ran twice. you brought-- one on the second term and instituted a kind of urban new deal for minneapolis, cleaned up the corrupt police force, got rid of organized crime and he read the city of its nickname, if you will, as the capital of anti- semitism in
the united states and also brought about a coalition working very hard with democratic politicians, the old-line people from st. paul who are sort of machine politicians at the more radical farmer labor groups forming the democratic farmer labor party which had a profound influence on american politics from the middle 1940s until the late 1960s. humphrey made his first real national mark in 1948 when he was running for the united states senate for the first time and it was at that democratic convention in 1948 that despite the threat from the truman white house, from the steamer pasha senior democrats in the party that his career would be ended before it started if he went ahead with his plan to reproduce a minority, and personal rights.
humphrey did so despite the threats of putting his career to an end or as he said i may go for mayor of minneapolis to oblivion. he pushed through a minority plank. it was the first time. it was utterly unprecedented that someone had done that and he pushed through a minority plank, personable rights program and it became the democratic party's agenda and it became the nation's agenda from 1948 intel the present day and it was humphrey's effort that did that. it caused the southern democrats of both party, formed the dixiecrat's but also energized a very lackluster campaign by harry truman and provided the late-- basis for truman's victory in crucial big cities that allowed for the so-called stunning upset of thomas dooley in 1948. humphrey also won his senate race and it was the first of
five times that he would be elected to the united states senate from minnesota in addition to being vice president in 1964. his first years in the senate were terrible. he wrote his memoir, lonely, broken bitter. the walter georgia, though richard-- the powerful southerners who had been in congress forever because you had out one party that ostracized him, made fun of him and pushed him aside because of his stance on civil rights. despite that, humphrey once he recovered from his pariah status, if you will, the end to through legislation that is unmatched by any senator, any congressman certainly in the 20th century and perhaps going back to the days of henry clay.
in 1949, humphrey introduced legislation of national health insurance. in his 48 campaigns he ran on healthcare oral. in 1949,-- yes, i know, in 1949 he pushed legislation for national healthcare premiums split between employer, employee and to show you how far ahead of the marquis was, he introduced legislation that included appropriation for what he called consumer cooperatives which today we would call health maintenance organizations where you prepared for your healthcare in advance and he even pushed through legislation to provide extra money to pay doctors so that they would come to for rural regions where money and facility was not great to try to get them to join up. the truman administrations preoccupied with other things
and let it go by the wayside. humphrey in 1954, pushed through public law 480 which was sale of our culture produce a below-market prices to nations in need and he became known around the senate as the senator from india. he pushed through in 1957, the first civil rights act since reconstruction. there had not been civil rights act in the united states from the time of post civil war reconstruction until humphrey pushed through a 1957 the first civil rights act that made it illegal-- federal offense to interfere with someone's right to vote and although robert carroll gives credit to lyndon johnston it was hubert humphrey who push that through. in 1961, during the days of the kennedy administration he pushed through the food for peace
program. 1961 the arms control and disarmament agency, which was the first time in american history that they set up a body to think about the problem of nuclear weapons in the world. p push through legislation that became the foundation for the peace corps. he pushed through the landmark, new color test-- limited nuclear test ban treaty which banned nuclear testing in the atmosphere and underwater. it was the first of such a treaty in the history of nuclear weapons. kennedy himself said this is your treaty, hubert. it also open the way to the salt one insult to agreements of the 1970s that limited anti- ballistic missiles and other nuclear arrangements. he also pushed urban 1964, the
job corps which was the staple of great society in 1964, of course, he pushed through the civil rights bill of 1964, which banned discrimination in public accommodations, workplace employment and any discrimination based on race, religion, nationality or sex. it was historic legislation opening the way to later civil rights laws in the 1965 routing-- voting rights act in 1968 fair housing act. i just want to point out that one of the rights act of 64, is the historic measure and humphrey broke a 75 days southern filibuster, he mastered all 11 titles that bill. he listed all of the challenge from old southerners who were
lawyers as well challenged him on this point and at that point in the constitutionality of this or that. humphrey was not a lawyer, but he mastered it all and it was a historic achievement. he also-- it was key to getting through congress the civil rights fair housing act of 1968 and i just want to point out that the importance of that is that the single most important asset that any family owns in america is their home and it also says the neighborhood that you live in, the schools you go to, the role models they will see. absolutely crucial and sometimes underestimated the importance in this country, but absolutely crucial and then finally later on humphrey after his career as vice president in the terms of the senate in 1978 he pushed through with the
african-american representative from california augustus hawkins , the so-called humphrey hawkins full employment and balanced. it did two things. it attempted to make a job available to every able bodied american and it called on the government to budget accordingly for full employment. in fact, he wanted to make the original law that said that it was a legal right to a job and if he did not help on and were unable to secure one through government program you could sue for such a job. it was watered down in congress and eventually they made all the goals of the humphrey hawkins bill not mandates, but simply goals, things to aspire to and took the onus off the federal government for planning for full
employment. humphrey was also the first to senator to propose to curb the sale of weapons abroad because he came to the conclusion that most of the weapons americans is sold abroad was sold to authoritarian nations when the government use them against their own people to oppress them it is very clear that humphrey legislative agenda, legislative achievements out stripped anyone in the 20th century and his philosophy, i think, is best summarized if i had to put it in a single paragraph with the words he spoke at the 1976 democratic convention which were inscribed on the entry wall to what was then the new hew building, renamed for humphrey, first time in american history and federal building was named
for liberal american and the words on the entry wall say, the ultimate moral test of any government is the way we treat to create groups citizens. first, those in the dawn of life, our children. second, those in the shadow of life, our needy, our sick and are handicapped. third, those in the twilight of life, the elderly, which includes a sub of us. humphrey not only had a legislative agenda, not only worked to achieve it, but he was a great promoter of the protéges and when one looks at the people who work humphrey's protéges, gene mccarthy came to work for humphrey in his 1948 senate campaign. orval freeman, three term
governor of minnesota and secretary of agriculture all through the kennedy/johnson years. will term on dell-- walter mondale, senate vice president candidate and george mcgovern and also food for peace program presidential candidate. what i noticed a listing this as i look back, mccarthy, mondale, mcgovern and humphrey all ran and none of us on. what can i say? they never made it to the white house. nation's loss. humphrey was not an angel. he was a liberal anti-communist, gold cold war your early on, supported the truman doctrine, marshall plan, intervention in
korea in 1950. he supported the eisenhower administration support for the french in indochina when jfk engineered the bay of pigs humphrey called it a fiasco, but still supported the president. he was adamant in his support for kennedy during the cuban missile crisis and early on he supported the vietnam policy of the united states. he also admitted-- something politicians rarely do today-- that he could have been braver in facing down joe mccarthy, although if we recall the only man in the senate to do it was margaret jenkins. of the rest of them .-dot. he voted for the mccarron internal security act, which forced people in the communist party to register, but eventually that was ruled
unconstitutional and he supported the 1954 communist control act, which would force members of the communist party to register which was never invoked. ridiculous overhaul. humphrey admitted he could of been braver. he failed the moral test on that like so many democrats, he also struggled with the presidency and made his first run in 1960, when he ran in the primaries against john kennedy and to put it as simply as i can he lacks the charisma, money, hollywood entourage and all the rest versus kennedy who had no legislative record to speak of and he lost out to john kennedy. that taught him a lesson that many others followed. humphrey decided after losing out to kennedy that the only
route for him to the presidency was through the vice presidency, which is familiar among politicians etc. after kennedy's assassination and lyndon johnson becoming president humphrey said i want to go for the vice presidency under johnson. one of his staff members warned him not to become johnson's vice president. he said if you do, lbj will cut off your genitalia. he used less polite words, but i would also remind that it was not only humphrey who sought to be johnson's vice president. bobby kennedy wanted it very badly. so did gene mccarthy. in fact, gene mccarthy thought it was going to be his and was very angry when he found out it wasn't his, so while we may say with opportunistic to seek it, so did almost everyone else
around who had their eye ultimately on the white house. the problem, of course, was that lbj had said he wanted unswerving loyalty from his vice president, which to put it in lbj's language i want is pecker in my pocket. i'm sorry, but that's how they talked; okay? humphrey was a brilliant campaigner in 64. he helped-- he made coldwater seem like the extremist of that i think he was and johnson campaigned on no wider ruler. they wanted overwhelmingly and johnson came to the white house. not long after johnson was in the white house after the election he began to plan major bombing attacks on north vietnam
hubert humphrey thought that was very bad idea. he got together with a man named thomas hughes who is at the time had been a humphrey staffer who then went over to head to the research division at the us state department. and hughes and humphrey developed a memorandum which humphrey came to lyndon johnson in february, 1965, just as a johnson was about to give the green light to what was called operation rolling thunder, which would be the start that would last 10 years of the b-52 bombing of north vietnam. and that memorandum said that the public will not long supporting war. doesn't seem to have an overarching reason. the korean war has demonstrated
the limits of land and air war and if you press the war, you will begin to fracture the great society political coalition, criticism will come first from the liberals, break up the democratic coalition and we will all pay for it and he said the best time for lyndon johnson to negotiate is now after this overwhelming victory over coldwater, after we ran on a no wider renewal platform and after the public regards lbj as the shrewdest wheeler dealer in town and he will get the best deal possible. instead of taking that under advice and thinking about it, johnson concluded that humphrey was nearly paving the way for release of this memo that the public would get it and he would be exonerated in the event of it expanding war and instead of taking it too hard he exiled
humphrey from the white house. he cut him off from advice. he cut him off from his statutory seat on the national security conference counsel and basically isolated him. truth to be told, everyone in washington knew this and truth to be told humphrey could not take personal humiliation. he felt as he was, isolated, a pariah, everyone knew it. cabinet office is it didn't return his phone call. he was badly treated by white house staff and so he began what i call in the book mind over matter. he would find the basis for the vietnam war that could justify his supporting the war and he basically determined that the united states was fighting two wars in vietnam. a war to defeat aggression from north vietnam and the vietcong and the russians and chinese or
whoever was sponsoring north vietnamese and a war to bring the great society or little great society to south vietnam and for the next two years of the 1966, 67 is the argument that he pushed publicly and it had him obviously in a lot of trouble with the liberals who felt he abandoned their causes and so forth. 1968, february 1968, gave the idea we were winning the war. johnson himself, when his own wiseman told him he could not meet with general william for 200,000 more troops johnson himself began to see that the war was essentially unwinnable as humphrey had said and on march 31, 1968, johnson announced to the public eye
shall not see, i shall not in my party nomination for president. it is a lie. he did not mean that. he would work for the next month secretly with it richard daley, the mayor of chicago, where the convention would be held trying to plan a second appearance at the convention, which would stream will the movement appear put that aside for the moment, but it's there. humphrey-- johnson had been forced to withdraw because gene mccarthy had come close to beating him in new hampshire primary and then robert kennedy entered the race and kennedy became the leading candidate when he won the california primary, but tragically kennedy was assassinated the very same night, which obviously took it out of the race and left a kind of opened field for humphrey
except it also created bigger problems for him. now that kennedy was not in the race, and johnson's mortal fear that he would be succeeded in the presidency by robert kennedy and will always be known as the president book ended by the two kennedys and left johnson open to criticize humphrey more than ever before during the campaign. simply put, he warned humphrey if you continue to criticize the war, if you continue to criticize my strategy, if you move apart from me in any way i will destroy you. he also met with nixon the day after in late july at the white house and nixon told him that if lbj did not engage in a bombing nixon would not criticize him
and his policy. in short, lbj agreed with nixon not to call for bombing during the campaign, which would fit nixon's campaign and leave humphrey out in the cold. as clock clifford, the secretary of defense said, humphrey has been pros and out. he can push for more moderate policy. he can't push right bombing halt and negotiation because it would run counter to democratic policy and nixon has gotten johnson to agree to that end that's just where nixon once a johnson and it leaves humphrey odd man out. he also wrote at the time that he thought that johnson really in his heart of hearts as he put it in question that he would repeat over again in his heart of hearts that does lbj really one humphrey to win the election
open question, but i think the answer is obvious. johnson controlled the convention. he controlled the platform, which disallowed any sort of bombing halt plank that the humphrey people had been pushing. he pushed through a plank that said no bombing halt until the present appeals the troops are safe, which met you could not offer a bombing halt as a means to get negotiations is started and he also undercut his campaign-- humphrey's campaign. he refused him all funds from the democratic national committee to his cash starved campaign he told his texas donors not to contribute to humphrey's campaign. he refused to campaign for humphrey in the few places where he might have helped in the border states. he made all of his telephone calls to the candidates three, four way calls.
and is on the line, humphrey was on the line and a george wallace was on the line. enjoyed-- short, what johnson did was elevate everyone to the same status as hubert humphrey during the campaign and when humphrey in early september, said it is possible troops by be able to begin returning in 1969, johnson raced from his ranch to new orleans to address an american legion conference and say no man can predict when troops may come home, completely undercut humphrey and left him feeling for the rest of the campaign everything i say is going to be shadowed by lbj. he also cursed him out. nixon sent the reverend billy graham to see lbj, gave him a long message which basically said if i'm elected i will never
embarrass lbj. you will get your rightful place in history and i will give you major credit for helping to bring the war to an end. lbj was taken in. he lived in fear as he told his aides, if mixes is elected-- if nixon is elected he will indict us all. in short, he was afraid of nixon and yet he thought the only way not to be afraid or escape his wrath was somehow to appease him throughout and have blocked humphrey from taking any risks for peace. when he-- johnson made his call to the candidates to talk about the prospect of a bombing halt they said he put all three people on the line. late in the campaign and began to have rumors, word creeping out that the nixon campaign was
cooperating with an national who was a very well-known republican donor, the wife of general claire who was a hero of world war ii because he commanded the so-called flying tigers that defended china against japan. she was working with the ambassador, south vietnamese ambassador in the united states to get the south vietnamese, not to come to any negotiations in order to prolong the war pass the date of the election. johnson's began to get word of this when he kind of questioned nixon, nixon said i would never do anything like that and it johnson just took him at his word without agreeing to it. without challenging him on it. finally, when they got the negotiations almost underway and
the north vietnamese agreed if there was a bombing halt they could be at the negotiating table by november 2, johnson ruled it out. november 2, he said his three days before the election, it will seem like i'm trying to help hubert win the election if i do that. as he wrote, i do not want to help them, soviet union in north vietnam put over a man like humphrey who has this attitude towards us. the south vietnamese and the others are voting for a man who they see will stick with it. nixon. johnson also got word on october 28, from the fbi, cia, nsa, wiretaps that nixon was in fact not only telling the south vietnamese not to come to negotiations, but north vietnamese that they will get a
better deal from him. called johnson did was call up everett dirksen, the republican minority leader, conduit to nixon saying your guys are playing dirty pool, tell them to cut it out. eventually, october 31, he also got further word and he calls up -- i'm sorry, cause of dirksen again. .. and said i would never do anything to slow the negotiations. when humphrey was briefed on november third, two days before the election by william bundy, assistant secretary for far
eastern affairs and state department about what the nixon campaign was doing, humphrey knew that it was too late. there was nothing he could do. when johnson told him, johnson told him we've got it on tape i don't have hard proof, then humphrey knew exactly what johnson was telling him. if you say anything, i will not give you the tapes and, therefore, anything humphrey had to say would be regarded as desperation move. long story short, november 5, nixon won the election by less than three-quarters of 1%. he won the electoral college by 301 votes to humphreys 191. there were three closely contested states, , new jersey, ohio and illinois. humphrey, if humphrey had been able to win two of those three,
the election would've gone to the electoral college. i'm sorry, it would have gone to the congress and you would've had state by state votes. and whether humphrey could have prevailed in that sense is questionable because wallace 15 southern states and one didn't know how those electors would vote. in short, nixon won the election by a narrow margin. he won the silent majority, white working class, or as they said the un-young, the unborn and the un-black. -- on poor. jonathan was responsible for this particular change the entire tenor of the election had he acted differently towards humphrey but it wasn't any. humphrey probably should have been tougher with johnson. he probably should have broken from johnson, if not at the convention, sooner than he did
in late september when he did call for a bombing halt. but it was to be frank about it i think too much the elder son, as he said. he couldn't break from johnson. johnson was a powerful and a vengeful figure. it wouldn't be easy, but one has to say the young man who in 1948 defied all the party elders and was willing to put his whole future at risk by breaking, maybe he was too close to power and what comes with it 20 years later, and he couldn't do it. but it was lyndon johnson who betrayed humphrey, the trade the democratic party and his nation, as well as i think his own request for revered status in our history. he deprived nation of president hubert humphrey who for 20 years have been the most stalwart proponent of progressive legislation and helping nixon to
victory meant seven more years of war, 20,000 more dead, and the beginning of the death of the great society. it also opened a way to watergate and all of that. humphrey's role though was not over. he came back to the senate in 1970 when gene mccarthy gave up his seat, humphrey took it. he pushed national health insurance, and national development bank to rebuild state and local facilities, automatic voter registration when you file your federal income tax, and the full employment bill. he became carter's greatest ally in the senate. he was crucial and allowing for carter getting the panama canal treaty through. when barry goldwater young republican hawks were stalling that treaty in 1977, humphrey called goldwater and asked him
to call off his hawks, and goldwater said only for you, and to get the necessary votes. and he made a literal deathbed wrote a literal deathbed letter to menachem begin in january 1978, just a few days before he died, pleading to heed carter's call for the conference in washington that cane. he supported throughout his time in the senate after 1970 the strategic arms limitation talks, the abm talks, every proposal to limit the vietnam war, and spending. and he also said about that vietnam war, he doesn't think that people will forgive him for having supported that war, and he wrote i am not sure i can forgive myself. and finally he wrote that the
collapse of south vietnam in 1975, no outsider force can say the country that lacks the will or political leadership. what we've learned is that there are not american answers for every problem in the world. we make judgments about that part of the world based on our experience in europe. we were a world power with a half world of knowledge. it's clear there is blame enough for all of us. i include myself. and finally he wrote, he wished americans would talk less about the nation's destiny. be read, he wrote, of the great nations cultural myopia of power and cultural imperialism. when he died in january 1978, walter mondale, the vice president, said he had become the conscience of the country.
and jimmy carter said, from time to time our nation is blessed by the presence of men and women who bear the mark of the greatness, who help us see a better vision of what we can become. she would humphrey was a man. that's another story and i have tried to tell it in this book. thank you. [applause] >> now i guess i'm supposed to take questions. so if anybody has any questions or -- yes, sorry, please. >> i wrote my masters thesis on adlai stevenson. >> is a row. >> and -- his hero. >> the effort to draft stephens in the 1960. mike mulroney from oklahoma who
is very close to humphrey and to stephenson, well, he called hubert humphrey and asked him to not name adlai stevenson at the convention. humphrey told him, well, that would look like sour grapes among the kennedy people. here i was defeated and west virginia, so he was the one who suggested eugene mccarthy, humphrey suggested mccarthy, who gave the best speech at the convention. but i question deals with the convention itself. humphrey and the stevenson people allegedly the johnson people, i have a hunch that johnson might've been vying for the vice presidency all along. i mean, johnson entered the race a week before the convention, as you point out in the book.
but johnson was a master of parliamentary procedure. there was an effort to adjourn the convention after the stevenson people have packed the galleries. they wanted to stop, to postpone the vote to the following evening. a key vote was on wednesday. clarence cannon, the parliamentarian at the convention, first ruled that governor loveless in iowa had to vote, had to be voted on as a favorite son speedy what is of the question? >> the question is, do you think the kennedy people controlled the convention in 1960? >> i don't know if they controlled it but they certainly had a hell of a lot of the
influence, and they had all the people at work, and it was a long, it would be a heck of the battle for kennedy to get the nomination. he knew that because of the stevenson people and eleanor roosevelt people, but they had the influence of power, the votes. gene mccarthy make a brilliant speech, you know, let us not -- i forgot, and bears the second ballot. but the kennedy people had the votes and are able to get it, and johnson agreed to be the vice president. partly because he wanted to be, sam rayburn and company said you will do it, and so that was about. are there any of the questions? yes. >> board on one side of the widest and grew up on pennsylvania avenue during the kennedy and johnson years and so often we got notoriety and
credit for johnson during this great society time and now you're shedding light about humphrey's influence who lived right up the street from it. can you just should, that you take too much temperatures of more like the first of that balance of influence to getting all that great society past, whether johnson or humphrey would get more of that. >> almost everything that was in the works at the time had been proposed early by humphrey in one form or another. and he was a great galvanizing figure. i mean, he was willing to go and talk to everybody, and as long as it took, and as hard as it might seem, he was willing to go out there and press people and go on and on about my something had to be done. and virtually everything that was in the great society in the kennedy -- had been part of humphrey's early progress.
he can't take credit for the entire thing and the democratic landslide of 1964 was crucial to getting the great society legislation through. republicans were as helpless as the democrats are now because of the democratic majority in both houses. and johnson was pretty persuasive with anybody who stood in his way. he had his ways and he was a master legislator, and is humphrey said he had his own fbi, and anybody who wasn't going to vote his way he would call them in and say you know, mrs. so-and-so would be really interested to know who you on that cruise with down the potomac with last night. don't you think you want to reconsider your vote? >> as far as humphrey being president of the senate, was that a big deal as far as -- or -- >> you preside over the senate, you can influence but it's not like being a majority leader.
but his influence was a bear. >> i have read regarding the incident which he spoke about, that humphrey did have information about that and confronted nixon and had a phone conversation with nixon in which nixon assured him that he had not done it and that humphrey basically believed him. did you run across any evidence of that? >> there is no such evidence. the phone call, i think that has been conflated with what you're saying, was a phone call between lyndon johnson and richard nixon in which nixon said i would never do such a thing, i would not, i would never tell -- i forgot what he said. saigon not to come to the negotiating table. the conversation took place right before the election between johnson and nixon, not
humphrey and nixon. humphrey did not know about this until the very last days, the weekend before the election, and it was too late. and when johnson told him i have no hard proof, of course it takes from the nsa, cia, the fbi of the south vietnamese ambassador. yet tapes, and even had tapes on the president's office in south vietnam. johnson made clear that to humphrey he would not give him copies of the tapes and that meant humphrey could not say think because people would say where is your proof? so the conversation i believe sopranos i know i do know it's been a hotly contested is to, but no such conversation took place between humphrey and nixon or between -- but it was between nixon and johnson about what
nixon was doing in which nixon benighted. >> thank you for clarifying that. >> you're welcome. i mean, i think i'm right. you know, the world -- >> since i have a legible cap to ask a question about what he became across something in your research. you mention when humphrey frisking visits and after some time he was ostracized and isolated by the senate leaders who were the southerners. you did mention the fact goldwater had an affection for them, he should only for you. but i think you'll find, maybe your book covers of this, there was a substantial movement like that that took place among the people who previously been those who ostracized him. i can give you one example, in the 64 campaign for vice president he worked as a speechwriter for them, utility, to a room in the senate office building were almost be taking place in commitment every night but there was no sign on the door. only later did you find out that
was james eastland offices here given to humphrey to work on the campaign. he couldn't really and mississippi idea humphrey were really close friends. >> a word. what's interesting about humphrey because he is such a likable person, so amiable, actually lyndon johnson began to introduce humphrey to some of the southern leaders, particular johnson's own mentor richard russell. he used to invite humphrey to come down, all by the way, dick russell will be here. when you come to my office will have drinks. after a while russell secretary johnson, why am i getting to like hubert so much? this is really bothering me. he was so amiable. he was so nice. you know, it could've been -- i don't know, he was so nice to his opponents. he just didn't have it in him to be mean to anybody.
he was amiable. he was lovable, and he was willing to entertain. when he took charge of the '64 civil rights bill and johnson had sent you liberals will never get that to the senate, he broke a 75 day filibuster. he stood there and took not only challenging questions but insults from southerners who would come down and say, come down and speak close to her humphrey was standing. and he just then did it all off. he never lost his temper. he never was angry. he just enveloped anyone, took their arguments, disgusted and then his famous slogan which johnson adopted, now, let us reason together. that's what he did and people -- and barry goldwater learned to love it. when he said to him i'll call
off his dogs on panama canal treaty, he said only for you, hubert. are there any other questions ask i thought everybody was convinced. >> i'm looking for to reading this, thank you so much. i'm curious to know what kind of relationship humphrey and johnson had after the election. did they see each other much? obviously there are still in the white house but did johnson express any regret? >> johnson never expressed regret about anything, okay? that wasn't in lyndon johnson's repertoire. it was okay. it was okay when it opened the johnson library, humphrey came and spoke and delivered a speech about what a great civil rights proponent he was, et cetera. it was a cool relationship. it was cool.
humphrey knew he had been stabbed in the back, undercut, undermined, but humphrey was forgiving and lbj was lbj, you know? if you were to listen to me, you know. not so. >> thank you so much for this book. excuse my confusion but what you think is the major reason that johnson did that what humphrey to be president? >> vietnam. he was afraid, as you said, can't put over a man like this. he was afraid that humphrey would end the war sooner than nixon who was pursuing the hard line. vietnam was the dividing line. >> who on the current political scene is most like hubert humphrey, if anyone? >> i don't know that there's anybody as amiable. i will tell you though there's
some people on the political scene, look, i come from massachusetts, okay? , okay? my candidate is elizabeth warren, but that will raise hackles even amongst my friends, okay? including the past president of lafayette college and tolerated me for umpteen years while i heckled him about health insurance, okay? but there's really nobody on the current scene. in fact, i mean, this gets off into another realm but there's nobody in the democratic party who stands as a national leader at present, , unfortunately. there are some very good people like jeff merkley of oregon was very thoughtful, a real spokesman, but there just isn't anybody with the dynamism or what have you to replace a hubert humphrey. we could use him badly now. >> what about ideologically, apart from personality?
>> warren maybe, kamala harris out in california. there are a few, but nobody systematic, thoughtful. it may say more about the state of american politics than it does about the democratic party in particular. >> and no reference to the republican party at all? >> in the republican party? [laughing] >> thank you. >> considering his amiable personality and all of the things said can what kind the president do think humphrey would've been? what he been an effective president? let's leave out vietnam for the moment. how we get served as president and do with all the complex and
reasoning together and turns it into an effective presidency? >> i think he would've been a very effective president in the same way he galvanize people to vote for the legislation he wanted to push through. it would've been difficult, long and hard. the tenor of the country shifted of course i 1968 but his willingness, his willingness to entertain arguments on the other side, his willingness to debate it, to see compromise. there's a chapter in this book he was the one who coined the phrase compromise is not a dirty word to come by compromise didn't mean selling out. he meant leaving the others that with enough so that when they walk away from the bargaining table, they don't feel that they had been poured swaddled and left out in the cold. i think he would've been a very effective legislator in the same we got all the legislation through that he did and the same way that he got through the '64 civil rights act.
no other person in the senate could have done it. johnson could not have done with his strong arm tactics. it was only humphrey creating -- 11 sections of the bill, learning everything about the legalities and issues of it and willing to entertain endless conversation debate at the southerners. and he just simply never gave in, and after 75 days they collapsed and he got the bill. so i think he would've been very effective. >> i have been impressed by his early dedication to civil rights and other humane issues. often that stems from the influence of a parent. were either or both of his parents, do you see a source in that? >> his father was a major influence in his life. his father was an old-fashioned democrat whose heroes were
thomas jefferson, william jennings bryan and the good woodrow wilson before we uncovered his racism and stuff, and he used to read ten books night after night. he was a book lover, a book buyer and a book reader to his kids at night. his mother who he never mentions in any of his writings other than to say she was his mother, was a stern lutheran, and as humphrey's father, he used to say to the kids mother is politically unreliable, which meant, okay? that was his expression for the mother. she was kind of -- unfortunately for humphrey, his father who was a profound influence on his life died in 1949 right after humphrey came to the senate, and that was the loss of somebody who was very important to him.
and humphrey talks about several problems he got into early in the senate where he says if my father had been alive, he would've counseled me in how i could avoid that. but it was his father who was very committed to these very issues. he wrote a piece, i think it was her time called my father, and it is worshipful. the mother, you know, he mentions her and that's it. he does mention one thing, when humphrey was a little boy he used to play with african american road workers in south dakota, and he used to trade rights under wagons for newspapers. and when his mother found out what he was doing, she may can cut it out. so i don't know what lesson to draw from that, that's the way it is, or was. >> unfortunately we're pretty much at the time for questions.
if you want to do a really quick one then we will have one more, then when what's with all finished the questions if you want to form a signing linebacker, great. if you haven't bought a book already it is available at the register. >> thank you. one quickie you said? >> i really enjoyed your talk. that brought back memories of 1968 but i but i had a number y friends who were so disappointed in hubert humphrey on the vietnam issue. and i'm wondering if it's a human characteristic that when we are in our 20s, '30s we had these high ideals like humphrey had, but after 20 years of making compromises through your superior, and in this case it would be johnson, that he lost some of his
backbone on the vietnam issue of 68? thank you. >> i think the short answer to that is yes. i think that happens and i think you do lose some of -- i think i tried to say, i do at greater length in the book, in 48 the rest it all and his group. the would've been no humphrey career if he had come up on the wrong end of the decision to push civil rights. in 1960 when should it said i'm going my way, lyndon, he didn't and the consequence. so, yes, i think your question is a good deal of truth in what is your question, or the answer to it. so yes. thank you very much. appreciate you. [applause]
>> michelle obama autobiography was recently published and is already number one on most bestseller lists. she's on book tour now speaking to tens of thousands of people and in arenas across the country. here's an excerpt. a public anything from ugliness of the campaign it was that public judgment suites in to fill in void. if you don't get out there and define yourself you'll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others. look for coverage of michelle obama's book tour in the near future on booktv. >> here's a look at some books being published this week.
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