tv Mark Updegrove The Last Republicans CSPAN December 1, 2018 4:09pm-5:19pm EST
innocent life be it iraqi or american but you have done that which you have to do maybe it helps a little bit as you face the toughest bunch of problems any president since lincoln has faced you carry the burden with the strength and grace. remember robin's words i love you more than tongue can tell. devotedly dad. that was john meacham and the former president george w. bush on the life of the first president bush. he died friday he was 94 years old. starting now we want to bring you another program about george hw bush he looks at the
stage. he is a true rising star in this country in the media and journalism award. johnny got his start as a speech writer for rudy giuliani. both when he was mayor of new york and later as presidential candidate. he has way more than that. he is a very active writer in this country. moreover, she is on --dash mike he is on television all the time. you can look at c-span. and you will see john avalon. i will also tell you he is a terrific writer of books.
it's about washington's farewell address. and he reminds us that it's truly topical today. in the farewell address they warned the country against excessive partisanship greedy self-interest in foreign powers that might affect our elections. if that's not topical i don't know what is topical. i will also say maybe notoriety. because he has been blacklisted by president trump i have a chance to see john avalon on the stephen colbert show on monday night of this
week. he was a star there too. he says something that resonates very strongly with me. when he said that night is he perceived his duty and responsibilities expert. as a journalist to call ally ally in effect a fact. i wish there were more people that were like them i think we will all see a long time ahead john avalon on the public stage. those of you that have been coming here for many years have seen him on this stage with the possible exception of harry middleton they've been
in spite of that he was fit to be the director of this library. and where we ever wonderful. he set a new standard. is not texas bragging. when i say there are 13 presidential libraries in during his senior year he was widely known the single best. any presidential library. he left the mark on the library. in some in different different ways. the highlight probably is the civil rights summit in 2014. we have not one not to but five presidents.
it was all on the stage. never in the history of this country has there been five presidents in the subsidy program anywhere anytime for any reason. mark made that happen. and it is the hallmark of the success that we have here. muster in 2016 and the vietnam war summit was a program that was comparable. there are a rare few people in this world that are created. that know how to come up with an idea that is new and different they also have a fault --dash like a small number of people that know how to implement a program and those are normally two different people. mark is both. he knows how to come up with a whole new creation and then knows how to implement it. and there he is the rare
individual. he left to become director and the ceo of the museum for the medal of honor museum. and he still serves in that capacity. but he also has written even more books on the presidency. he wrote indomitable courage about lyndon johnson which is widely regarded as a good insight on president johnson because it was taken from interviews and other discussions of people that knew president johnson. and then he wrote the book about the civil rights summit. he has gone on to write about other presidents. the last republicans. it is wonderful to head him back we miss him. and i just ask you to welcome to this stage. john avalon.
[applause]. we have a little bit of role reversal going on. it is a total honor in delight to be here tonight. it is a wonderful portrait of american politics and power but also the personal bonds which you frame as a love story. and it is. it's really profound and i have to say in the not so subtle contrast to some of the things going on right now. how did the idea come to this book. how did you landed.
it's a very good one. i just want to thank you all for being here. it's a so great to be home. it's so good to see some old friends in the days i spend in the library urges the best in my career. it's wonderful to be back home. for the great introduction. he can you can only go downhill from here. thanks for coming in for new york city. he was on the stephen colbert show earlier this week which he was there was a bit that he did about my book last monday night it was a great little
bit that he did. and then i was on the top of the world. and then and john as a guest and i said that son of a gun one upped me. you get a great sense of what a great mind we have in john avalon. this is a story that needs to be written. we've only had one other father son president there was 24 years john abbott --dash mike adams was in his last 16 months of life. he was in quincy massachusetts.
he really wasn't able to be in washington to be any kind of influence on the presidency. with the sprite 76 years old when his son took the office. he have just been there eight years before. this is a story that needed to be told. they agreed to do if 43 agreed to do with the the book. i wasn't sure whether they would say yes or no. i knew him a little bit. i was shocked in the beginning of the meeting he said i've decided that it needs to be told. i was so unprepared i did not have a tape recording device and he pays feet up on the desk. and he fingered an unlit cigar and he started talking about his dad. i realize there is so much to him that was a mystery.
when he went to war as an 18-year-old. sign-up for the navy. in the pacific theater and shut down the lives of the crew mates were not. there was some purpose that he have. the riches of wall street and go to the fields of odessa. to make his way in the oil business. they lost his daughter in his second child before he was 30 years old. these are amazing years that usher him early into manhood.
into the intimate way that they were willing to do that. there are two figures who have this historic throw away. they are not they're not particularly given to psychological rumination. how did you get them and where was your favorite stories about getting the interviews that you did to get them to reveal. some language we can't use in can use in front of a family crowd. for some of the favorite interviewing stories.
the real is the story needed to be told. they were revealing things about each other that other's that the others didn't know. there as you said they are circumspect they would say this was sort of cycle battle. and then he would tell me something those particularly revealing. i remember one conversation with george hw bush. he was sort of getting heart appearing. in our legs were touching behind that desk. he was talking about what he would've done this is pretty pretty heavy stuff for a historian. that is a subject we all speculate about.
he said in the final analysis yeah i think i wondered is that the answer from a former commander in chief or the answer of father who wants to protect his son. i'm not sure he would've really done what his son did. he was being protected at that point. when he was about his son's actions the extraordinary loyalty and it's really not a family contrivance. love really is a word they use a lot. loyalty in the family values
not in the political expedient way of exploring that term. but the real family values they embody. unconditional love from his father. the character and service in humility really matter civility for me it is stark. there is a family ethos. that was something that was passed through the bush family.
his father was a great influence in his life. am i sure he ever felt like he measured up to his dad in many ways which was remarkable the 40 worst president of the united states to say. he talks frequently about his mother and she would often say george, don't be a braggadocio. i don't care how many homeruns you hit how does the team do. it's a moot point. that humility that is really the hallmark of the bushes in semi respects is clearly lacking today. lacking in the public discourse. we talk about the father-son relationship. there is a great story about being with his son in midland when he was about three years old. in apparently he erupted in a fit of temper.
almost cartoon style. at 360 degrees. until he tuckers himself out. they just stopped and walked along again. in a way it's a metaphor of the reckless in some ways he tried to land it with his dad and never did and ultimately they just sort of walked on it. and when i bring up that ill tempered moment.
dad's office, disconsolate. that was his father's greatest weapon to talk about how disappointed he was at any given point. wasn't particularly emotional, never yelled at his kid, never hit his kids. no corporal punishment in the bush home, but that expression of disappointment was the best thing to do so ounce a message that said, straighten up and fly right. so that happens, leave his father's office and then get as call from his dad that afternoon and said can you and kathy, his government, come to astros game tonight. i have a couple of tickets. so he expressed disappointle and also welcomed him back into the fold, and that faith that he had in his son, ultimately do the right thing never wayneed. >> that's the store he carries with hip. another fascinating one, his mother, barbara, a family intervention because he busts
hmm for smoke can at 17. and h.w. weighs in. they take him out to dinner. he is 16 years old. and gorgeous w. thinks this never happens the parents never take me to dinner. and as john said issue it was an intervention, barbara bush said you smoke. you smoke. what are you doing smoking? and george h.w. says, well, you smoke, too, barb. and then the subject just kind of died. i love that sort of, you know, can lecture someone for doing something you do yourself. there's just a bit of yankee common sense, which is lovely. there's an amazing interview with -- at the interview is really are extraordinary in the book but where w. rejects the
idea he was every prodigal son. >> that was interesting. a lot of misconceptions but george w. bush and the relationship he has with his father, but one is this expedient narrative he was the proking gal son, the ne'er-do-well, was never expected to amount to anything and wouldn't be the political heir apparent. that is just dead wrong. there are aspects that are true, but actually he was quite auspicious in many respects. one thing he said to me was -- i have to clean up the language -- he said, i chased a lot of tail and i drank a lot of whiskey, but i was never the prodigal because i never left my family. and he never did. he always embraced his family, and so talk about that. the fact that he made it on his own. one of the bush doing thursdays you were expected to do as a bush is make it on your own.
to achieve some success on your own. to leave the next, strike out into difference place iches george h.w. and barbara bush did to make your own mark and once you could private for your family -- provide for you lambly, go interest public life and put something above yourself, up maltly president bush does that but his family never leaves him. always loves and respects and admires them and i don't think he was as rebellious as some people think he was. >> i mean, there's some great anecdotes. one after the great diss of the kennedy family. we're not like them. the kents never had to work. there was the seasons have bushes that order exited. you haas to strike out on your own, broaden your horizons, make money, and then it was public service. and there's a practicality and a humility to that keep then
groundable and relatable in an extraordinary way. so, let's talk about the politics of the family, too. it's called the last republicans for a reason, and there is this throwback quality to them. but there's a flow-through, too. you look at prescott bush, the grandfather, the senator from connecticut. he took on joe mccarthy in the senate. i had not fully freshed when h.w. was beginning his career he took on the birchers in houston and there's this pattern of trying to isolate extremist elements, but unite the matter as much as possible. talk about that tradition win the family. >> and it's funny because it's relevant, too. you can see a battle now for the soul of the republican party. there's nothing left and you can see extremists going up against the establish: that's been true
in the republican party through its history. you have these radical elements that battle more moderates, a more moderate faction, and as you mentioned, prescott bush went up against joe mccarthy, one of those who censured joe mccarthy. device eisenhower has great faith in prescott bush. in fact put him on a short list of vice presidential candidates he was considering and thought he should be president himself. expressed that as separation for prescott bush. >> nixon people no nixon people. >> but he -- it was extraordinarily moderate by today's republican standards. in fact as you pointed tout me at lunch, he was the president of the planned parenthood chapter in his home town, in connecticut. so, a very moderate force. when george h.w. bush throws his
hat in the ring, it's at county commissioner for the republican party in harris county, texas, and battling john birchers who are extraordinarily radical, and virulent in their thinking. they don't want an establishment republic, particularly from the northeast, to tell them how to run things. george w. bush achievers the office and he invites them inch he has this spirit of inclusion, where he brings them into the party operation. our nights them. by including them -- unites them by including them. a remarkable gesture and emblematic of him. >> another extraordinary gesture and moment, a contrast to the way people pursue congressional october. a fair housing act and the letters from george h.w. bush's districting like 500 to 2, don't warrant him to support the fair housing act.
and he writes, this acharacter testing moment. and he does what he thinks is right at great political risk. flesh that out. that's a key moment and the kind of character you don't see from congressmen today. there's an allergy to doing what they believe is the right think i they feel they'll get politically hit. >> an amazing moment, jon was here moderated ore panel for the civil rights, when george w. bush was here, he asked me not introduce him. typical bush style. asked me tot to do an introduction to him but to talk but his father. again, there's the bush humility coming out. george h.w. bush campaigned for the senate in 1964, unsuccessfully. he was defeated but one of the thing he did was campaign against the '64 civil rights
act, which of course lbj signed into law. and demonized his opponent for having supported the civil rights act. flash forward four years later, george h.w. bush is a congressman from texas. didn't get elected to the senate but became congressman good in of 66. martin luther king is assassinate inside he 36th 36th president, lyndon johnson, wants to sign their fair housing act into law, the third in his trio of civil rights laws. the voting righting a, civil rights act and the housing act. george h.w. bush is under thunderous pressure to oppose the fair housing ability but has just been to vietnam and sees african-american soldiers fighting aside white and hispanic soldiers and makes a deep impression.
is these can go overseas and put their lives on the line, suretily they should be able to come back home and live where the want. so he supports it. votes for it. also you said, john, the letters opposed to it were 500 to 2. people opposing george h.w. geo. bush's stance on the fair housing a. he goes back to his district and talks to a very angry group of constituents. and he talks about this crisis of conscious that he experiences and why he ultimately had to do it, including that experience he had in vietnam. and he gets a standing ovation. it's an amazing moment. it's a moment that i would like to think that we can have in today's america. >> yeah. it's a beautiful and powerful moment and we don't see it enough. >> yeah. >> when george h.w. bush decides to run for president, his peach
announcing i believe the national press club in washington, talks about the republican tradition of lincoln, teddy roosevelt and eisenhower. this is a distinct last, pro business, republican party, and that tension with reagan, reagan reaches out to try to unite the party by tapping hum vice president after a bitter primary. but talk about that tradition that h.w. was representing and the tension with the rising conservative movement, even within the reagan administration. >> the reverence to eisenhower was very pointed. asen hour battled conservative forces as well. robert taft was competing with eisenhower for the republican nomination in 1952 and there were very radical elements on that side, too but ike's just
sheer likability was enough of a force to carry him over the top, sheer popularity and prestige as a general who had helped to lead us through world war ii. gets the nomination but the reference to eisenhower as a moderate is pointed. you can see through the bush family the progression in publication politics. in prescott bush, northeastern, moderate, pro business republican, very moderate on social issues, particularly compared to today. he would be almost a liberal compared to most voters today. and he is sort of becoming an -- by the time he leaved the senate in 1962. george w.george w. bush is a hyt northeastern wbc -- northeastern republican and a western, with the slightly more conservative link but the wing of the
republican party never trust him as they did in reagan. he violate his own no new taxes and the republicans are in rebellion. that is his downfall. george w. bush is more a product of texas. and that conservativism comes far more naturally to him than it certainly did his father or would have his grandfather. you can see that the relatively conservative politics by 2000 standards is now relatively moderate by standards of 2017. >> oh, yeah. it's -- compassionate conservative ick lie code -- is like code word for hippie. >> we talked earlier about w.'s style. there's particular kind of rebellious about w., swagger,
part texas, lever venned by his general generalin evangelical faith and that helps his connection to conservatives but a lot of the cool hand luke swagger, and which was apparently his style -- his favorite film at the time. how do you enincarr din enincorporate that counter, counter, counterculture cowboy. her. >> he bow goes back east and follow his footsteps to andsover where his father and grandfather went and his brother jeb also went and he goes yale and on to harvard business school. when he goes to yale and harvard, he is very much a texan. this agoo who is wearing beatup levis, chewing tobacco and carrying a spit cup in his hand.
when he goes harvard he is wearing his national guard jacket very pointedly to make a statement to the counterculture that dominates boston, massachusetts, at that time. certainly representes -- overrepresented on the harvard campus. so, he is the anti--antihero in that respect. so, his father runs for president and he quits drinking bit '86. possibly because he didn't want to embarrass his father. takes that love and loyalty seriously and makes a significant life change that probably changes the trajectory of his own possibility. gets very involved in the campaign. plays kind of the enforcer with access. learns about politics but there's an extraordinary moment which you flesh out in greater detail, where after his father wins he asks a staffer, david wade, to write up a fairly lengthy report but presidential
children, presidential sons in particular. and it's kind of a despairing document. it basically says, shut up and keep your head down. mediocritiy, you can't succeed or fail without reflecting badly and pre press and public will punish you. mediocrity is clearly a win ask the reads expect says i'm not going to follow that script. but it's amazing insight into him that the asked for it and then discards it entirely. >> an amazing moment. again, the aim for mediocrity approach that was advocated by looking at the lives of presidential offspring was not a path he wanted to follow. he had real aspirations and am biggss and as he said -- the bushes are not particularly intro speck testify people but he said to me there was a certain sort of expectation and
he meant is that it was tacit, some ways, never overt. george h.w. bush never said, junior, you're going to do this or that. it just didn't happen that way in the bush family. but it was three -there was a certain sort of expectation that you would make something of yourself. and i think that there was some of that was tacit and some was self-imposed. he was ambitious, took him a long time to find his way. in a way it's interesting, both he and his father are products of their generation. that explains the differences between them. george w.george w. bush was a mf the great generation and on his 18th birthday he signs up to go into goo the nave, much to his father's should grin himself father wants him to go to college, become an officer and go into the service he decided
he wants to get right in when his country needs him in the fight. comes back, opportunities duke about it. doesn't rebel. vetch much in keeping with his generation, george w. bush on the other hand, while he wasn't the hippie that you saw on the campus of harvard university, typically in the late '60s, early '7 associations didn't give him a space to kind of find himself after college. didn't impose great ambitions on himself. kind of wandered around and he said -- talked to me about, i depend have many possessions, didn't want any possessions, didn't want to be involved with anyone or tied down, and i think he really just gave himself time to find himself. >> and it is a remarkable -- remarkable character studies, even outside the remarkable parental relationship. so, 41's presidency ends in a loss and it's pain. expecter that's painful for the
family and that healing seems instructive, and then w. gets so the gaming a serving as governor of texas, and this is what is interesting. so you have w. as governor, running for president, and jeb is now governor, too. and the father writes him a note, saying, there's going to be a time who you need to be your own man and you may be called on to criticize me, and it's okay. know you love me no matter what. it is a document unlike anything i've ever read in terms of the real generosity of spirit and i wareness of the hard ball nature of politics. >> george w. bush is defeat -- george h.w. bush bush is diet fated by bill clinton and is dejection, and george w. said it wasn't depression but deflation.
his fatherhunt finished the race he was running, and he kind of has to find himself again. but one of the ways he does that, one thing that really galvanizes him is that his son, gets into politics. both run for the governorships of their senate 1994. it's expected that jeb will win the governorship in florida and it's sort of expected that george w. bill lose against the popular an riches in the state and the opposite happeneds. that's the surprise in the family. not that people expected jeb to win because he this political heir apparent. they look at the races and handicap them and say ann richards is a formidable candidate. >> barbara says you're going to lose. >> she said, you're going to lose, and it didn't matter to
george w. bush. it didn't matter. and that is the other thing that his father teaches him. failure is not failure. because you can learn from it. and that's exactly what had happened to him. i'll can go be a just for a second. a guy who throws his hat in the ring for the president? i 1980. very little name recognition and gets defeated by ronald reagan ultimately. they beg emerge that's front runners after some tough primary campaigns, and reagan outmaneuvers him, which is almost what happens in new hampshire, and he goes to the convention, wanting to support ronald reagan, like his mother, would want, you extend a hand whether you're defeat or lost, to the person you every vanquished or were defeated by, and thinks that's the end of his philosophy public service and gets -- of his life in public
service and gets a call from ronald reagan asking him to be his running mate. so defeat wasn't defeat. it led to something else. so george w. bush throws caution to the wind and he knows he is going to win. i asked laura bush. i said, did you think he was going to win? she goes, yeah, never had any doubt. i do believe she felt her husband had that will to win. so, the public lives of jeb bush ultimately jeb bush loses the race for the florida governorship in 1994 and goes back to win in 1998. his getting into politics and? a. yes, sir w. getting into politics gives george h.w. bush renewed life. >> totally, and the sublime triumph when the son is elected president after that intermable florida recount. and he health nikolas an interesting way. he basically -- w. basically
delegates it to jim baker, just checks out, fatalist likely. the great pride the father feels after the first inauguration was struck by w. use the phrase civility six times in his inaugural which we don't hear much today. they're very tight especially whiff be president's -- bush 41's reputation as being the great statesman, foreign policy leaders. nobody expects that from george w. bush. then 9/11 happens and then iraq happens and then what is really fascinating to me and you detail is, the apparent split -- not public but private between 41 and 43, played out through proxies. and the two big things are, when brent scowcroft, bush 41's national security adviser writes an op-ed that it interpreted as
being tacitly 41's criticism of the president, and then their utterly different interpretation of the relative power of dick tcheny. s that rick cheney. that false line is -- has massive implications. dig in own fault lines. >> this is what@as an historian what you want to know. what transpired between the two men, particularly as it relates to policy in iraq and it's not the story we thought it was. john is referencing an op-ed written by present scrocroft on the everything of our going to war in iraq and appeared in the "wall street journal" in august of 2003, and the headline is: don't attack saddam. i believe that's the headline. and the -- >> it was 2002.
don't attack saddam. and there's great speculation that the old man has talked to his pal, brent scowcroft, national security advise ier while he was president, asking him to come forward with this op-ed to reflect his own views and to tell his son how he feels. that's not exactly true. that's too much of a shakespearean match nation to be true. what -- mash nation. what happened wasco croft called the eller bush and told him he was think offering writing the op-ed. speaks volumes about george h.w. bush that he doesn't stand in his way. her feels that brent scowcroft is a loyal public servant and great american, earned the right to express his opinion, even though it might oppose the current policy stance of his son. >> so -- and scowcroft sends a copy to george h.w. bush
afterwards as a courtesy. now, george w. bush is hopping mad about this. and he calls his dad, and he says, essentially, what the hell? what happened here? and his father says, brent is a friend. and george w. says, some friend. but, again, it says something but his dad he wasn't willing to stand in brent scowcroft's ways but is hurting because he knows it hurt his son. trying to do the right thing on all sides. i'm abundantly confident that george h.w. bush did not see that op-ed before it was written. and i. >> what about the retrospective fight over cheney. this gets really personal, too. obviously 41's defense secretary but barbara says i believe in one of your interviews, just criticizing cheney in very personal terms about the power and then w. comes back and says
that guy didn't make one fing decision. it's really fascinating to see the split in the family over whether cheney grabbed too much power. >> i think that president bush goes to the white house with a clear understanding of domestic policy and he wants to be the education president. that all changes on september 11, 2001. he knows he's going to be a war president. knows that is what will define his administration. feels he has good people around him and is enticed by the notion that dick cheney ash tick late, you -- articulates you take out saddam hussein who has been a thorn in the side of the united states, including his father, george h.w. bush, and
democratize iraq, and george w. bush emulates not his father as president but ronald reagan. her admires the grand vision that reagan had to defeat very unambiguously soviet tyranny and he -- i think he is intoxicated by that notion. now, as we know now it was botched experiment, and it becomes american adventurism, but cheney has this great influence in the administration. what barbara bush told me is that george had great faith in dick cheney, and in? a. yes, sir w. to make the right decisions given the still generalization he was getting and george h.d. did not intervene but one reason he doesn't intervene, say, junior, you're doing it wrong, is because he understands the office of the presidency.
he also understands he doesn't want to be another burden to his son. there are so many burdens inherent in that office, he is not going to be -- contribute to a additional burden for his son. but i do think he has hesitation but the direction that dick cheney is taking his son in. >> he moved really far right and then w. bristles at the narrative that even shared by his family, that cheney was too powerful. >> it's true. if you look at -- george w. bush is the self-proclaimed decider. but those who know george w. bush knows that he has this almost confidence in his ability to make decisions and can hear -- a very quick study and can hear things and coalesce them in his mind and spit out a decision and usually a pretty informed one. so this very notion that his
mother believes that he is not making his own decisions that dick tchenis the machiavelli puppetmaster, fines its utterly preposterous and said to me, to borrow the phrase, cheney and rumsfeld never made one fing decision. one motor vehicle friend in the audience says i love the fact you got to say the f word on cnn. but that shows how stride. ly that? a. yes, sir w. had but the misconception that somebody else was make thing doings. >> and family, fighting the narrative in his family. 2 4 george w. bush this world's least likely folk painter. donald trump is running for president against jeb. and around the time it looks like he is going to secure the
nomination, w. muses, wonder if i'm going do be the last republican president. it that it your inspiration behind the tightle and the interviews with both are wiggerring. you broke the news that 41 confirm that he voted for hillary clinton which is like anathema for bush family view values before 2016. talk about their comments to you about the rise of trump. the dispagerment oft their brother jeb and what that means for their republican party, what was their republican party. >> the title came in the spring of 2016 before george w. bush purportedly said to aides off the record, may be the last republican president. is was clear regardless of who won the nomination in 2016 there
was a kind of republicanism that was dead. when he said that -- i talk about -- i sort of hit my head. i now i can't call it that. thousand wait a minute, all the more reason to caught it that. he said the same thing to me, i may well be the lost republican president. you think about donald j. trump he is anathema to the bushes. george h.w. bush campaigned nature platform of trying to create a kinder, gentler nation, george w. bush campaigned under a platform of compassionate conservativism. when we were attacked, even after 9/11, george w. bush resists taking the path of least resistance and sounding this message of xenophobia and nativism and instead visits a mosque to emerge and say that islam is peace. it's quite remarkable in today's -- by today's standards. to take this further, if i may,
you look at ronald reagan, ronald reagan is the republican icon, the emblem of republicanism, and is called the great communicator. his most famous rhetoric, stand to go brandenberg get a, and saying, mr. gorbachev, tower down this wall. they tear walls down north build them. and then you have -- [applause] applause. >> if can take it just a little further. look at ronald reagan's policy toward the soviet union. which was trust but verify. when he was talking to gorbachev in the course of his administration would say to
mikhail gorbachev, trust but verify. it's so much that gorbachev got sick of it and stood on the stage talking about holiday sick -- how sick he was of ronald reagan says trust but verify. trump's policy toward russia is trust. trust vladimir putin. not trust his own intelligence apparatus. that is remarkable. at that time is absolutely astounding. that a republican would say, oh, this whole business about russians meddling with our election is over because my counterpart denied it. think about -- that sound you hear is ronald reagan rolling in his grave in simi valley, california. but -- >> i want you to -- >> sure. >> john was just on stephen kolbert and you articulated this so well. talk about you viewers -- we
might have to switch chairs. then i'll be totally comfortable gain. very dyslexic for me youch spoke eloquently about your views on the republican party. i'd love you share that with the audience. >> sure. i mean, look, if you look at the party of lincoln, that is a nice notion, right? the party that george h.w. bush i foundation head would be the inheritor of in 1980. lincoln, teddy roosevelt, eisenhower, that party does not exist. if you're a member of it you're politically homeless attest and of course the ultimate historic irony is the base of the titular party of lincoln is in the states states of the confederacy but more than that. it's about conservative populism as a constant force throughout american history that the republican tradition, i think
the bush represent were a check on. about civility as a virtue, about service, it's about humility, about being part of something larger than yourself. it's not about -- it's about appealing to the better angels, not our worst instincts, and the politics we have seen from donald trump are the opposite of that tradition of the lincolns, teddy roosevelt, eisenhower and bushes. it is all but me, not about we. it is about attacking the people you disagree with north trying unite the nation. so, civility and freedom are words you rarely, if ever, hear from this president. let alone embody them. the freedom part in particular. people miss this. this is not a freedom administration. this is not a virtue -- for w., who so consciously tries to make that word the cornerstone of his second inaugural and his foreign policy this, word freedom is
absent from the rhetoric of this administration as a virtue and value. >> as are human rights. >> yes, of course, didn't want to get too jimmy carter about that. >> right. >> we're watching a major role reversal that hays left a great american tradition in the people that follow it homeless, including the two presidents who led this party within living memory. and i think the question becomes, is it a whig style moment where a party sells out principles to achieve power and ultimately receives neither. is there a broader re-align: are we really three party system in our hearts, radicals, racket areas and reformers, not liberals and conservatives. but the animal spirits-out and the virtues and i mean that word personally and politically that the bushes exemplify at their best -- and you can criticize them on policy and we're all
imperfect human beings as they would admit, those virtues seem to have been lost for the moment in our discourse, to i think our great detriment as a country, as a republic and the republican party. >> when i talk to the bushes about this, you mention one -- what made headlines a couple weeks ago was the bushes coming out for the fitter time publicly about their didn't their views of bush. i got those interviews before donald trump became president and i think that's important to mention because the bushes would never talk about any president, republican or democrat, and disparage them while they were in office. too much respect for the office of the presidency and know the burden that office has. >> w. gave a speech without naming trump. >> true. >> but the did talk about trumpism. the trump era more or less, and
the protectionism, nativism. >> he calls it the 1924 immigration act in an interview which i was stunned to see him drop that. unexpected. >> the america first -- >> america first i kind of expected. the 1924 immigration act, that was a deep cut for w. >> i was impressed. >> yeah. >> george w. bush is far more -- i think far more intellectual than people give him credit for. one thing he does very successfully throughout the course of his public career is he keeps expectations low. i'm serious. strategically, yeah. and in fact when he is flying to iowa to announce his candidacy for the presidency in 2000, he
says, welcome to low expectations airline, please keep your expectations stowed. wonderful thing he said. but to go back to the bushes and their feelings about trump. george w. said when he is asked but what makes a great leader hi says, not surprisingly, humility. when donald trump said, i am my own adviser, he thought, wow, this guy doesn't know what it means to be president. george h.w. bush was a little bit more blunt. i saw him in may of 2016, on the day that john kashich pulled out of the race so we just had donald trump, who is pretty clearly going to win the nomination, battling against ted cruz.
hasn't moderates, anti-establishment politicians. and he was -- actually i told him that kashich just dropped out and i asked him about trump. he he said, you know, i don't know him but i don't like him. and i'm not excited about him being a leader. and then he said, he's a blow hard. and -- but the most resounding statement both of those men made was not a statement at all -- well, a statement but wasn't verbal. it was by casting their first ballot -- well in george h.w. bush's case, casting his first ballot for a democratic candidate. never registered a vote for a democrat in his life. george w. bush voted republican down ballot but abstained from voting for president. >> which is remarkable.
especially while they've all kind of adopted bill clinton, -- they call him a brother from another mother. >> brother from another mother. >> and i think 41 almost feels like he has become a father figure to bill clinton in a funny way. those feelings hadn't translated to hillary but she got 41's vote. >> 4's vote and he thought she did a good job at secretary of state. interesting the relationship between bill clinton the clintons as john said, went town ken bunk port and marvin bush, who is the least known of the bush offspring but the funniest, my brother from another mother so that became the nickname for him. bill clinton has had a lot of sponsors in his life, a lot of mentors, but really hasn't been a father figure. so it's so -- it's touching in a way that the man he defeated for
president would become almost a paternal figure in his life. >> i don't want to end on this but i three over ask you. because -- i have to ask you, because 41 is such a father figure to so many and so refereed and so respect -- refereed and so respected. some of the allegations coming out now about inappropriate grabbing and -- this is i think people -- do a disservice when we con plate with scandals but it's so counter to the impression we have of him as a person, left alone a president. how do you reconcile those things, understand them, man of a different era and time? >> i don't -- if you look at the character of george herbert walker bush, doesn't square at all. an older man, we had heard he did things like that. in fact he was just a bad joke. if he believed he was really finding somebody, he probably
wouldn't have done it. but i don't -- there might be other revelations that come out. what -- the man we know now is not the man of yesteryear, and he sits in a wheelchair, poses for pictures. all people who have posed with him in quick, meet and greetes, grip and grin, and he sits here and often it's kind of awkward where his hand are. i think we probably have to give him the benefit of the doubt and there's a revelation that it couple in the daily beast about george h.w. bush doing something in 1992. don't no whether there's any -- >> cnn. >> but again, it's so out of character for george herbert walker bush. i can. >> i think the word characters is the key word. one of the lines that keeps resonating to me in our pollute
cal rear as a movie from pulp fiction, just because you are a character doesn't mean you have character. >> in the case of w. you had both and is it about character and values and a've- -- a love store unlike any other in american history do. you despair of it bag museum piece or do you see a possible resurgence of this great american political tradition? >> i hope that the tradition of civility and humility and decency and putting something above yourself, thrives in -- frankly, we don't see much of it in washington today, but we shouldn't despair completely. we're seeing so much of that throughout the rest of america. plenty of examples of that. i hope it is restored with
alacritiy to the oval office. this is an office that i revere. was a steward of the great or of being the steward of this institution for eight years, and lbj, i say this respectfully with my dear friend lucy johnson in the front row -- lbj is a flawed character, but as president, he subordinated his own concerns for those of the nation, and he did so admirably. he promulgated a great society which i think is the foundation for modern america. that kind of service above self. that kind of thinking about the greater good. that sort of ethos, is what makes america exceptional. i don't think we have lost that, but i'd like to see it return to the highest office in our land. >> thank you for joining us. >> thank you so much for being here. >> great book. >> thank you.
[applause] [inaudible conversations] >> that was mark up degrove discussing the relationship between george h.w. bush and george w. bush, and the impact the bush family has had on republican politics. former president george h.w. bush died on friday, he was 94 years old. book tv has covered several programs about the 41st 41st president, including an interview he did on book notes
in 1998 which you can watch online at booktv.org. >> in 1999, former president george h.w. bush read from this collection of letters, memos and diary entries. the impression -- we are very close to the front. when the goose stepping arm swinging elite guard marched in i at firsts saw only hostile troops and power. we had a little wait and i watched the change over the guard looked at the faces and then i saw my sons and yours, george, jeb, neo, marvin, mike, and ron. i saw other funeral without tears save for the need pamly. i saw funeral without god thought how sad, how lonely and i can't speak for george schultz but let me say two things now. first, thanks for sending us on an unforgettable mission, second, we must succeed in our quest for peace.
>> former president george h.w. bush died on friday. he was 94 years old. >> now on c-span 2's booktv, more television for serious readers. >> good even, and become to the strand rare book room. i'm nancy bass ywden. for a little history the strand was founds by the grandfather in 1927, and then passed on to my dad, fred bass, and now on to me. it was part of an area called book row