Skip to main content

tv   Kasey Pipes After the Fall  CSPAN  September 2, 2019 12:00pm-12:58pm EDT

12:00 pm
it's called america, turning a nation to god and i'll tell you, from washington to lincoln to john f. kennedy, reagan and i think our current president, they all acknowledge the role that faith played in their decision-making. there have been times in our nations history where we needed to be on our knees. lincoln talk about it, he said i'm so often written to my knees because i'm overwhelmed by the fact that i have nowhere else to turn. >> ..
12:01 pm
i'd like to thank all of our president society members for joining us this evening. if you're a member you please stand up and be recognized. come on. there's a couple here. there we go. thank you. the president society is an exclusive group of members that supports the ongoing works of president nixon's foundation, which applies the legacy and the vision that he had the opportunities facing our nation in the world today. if you're interested in joining leasing any member of the staff, track me down or one of the front desk associates, anybody can get you signed up this evening. i would like to tell you about a
12:02 pm
few special events that are on the horizon. august 20 we will host mollie hemingway and kerry severino for the new amazon number one s celica justice on trial about the cavanaugh supreme court hearings. september 11, we will host two programs, the first is an annual commemoration of patriots' day and then will host supreme court justice neil gorsuch that evening. at 7 p.m. for a discussion with nixon foundation president hugh hewitt. finally on september 13, former defense secretary and 4-star marine general james mattis will appear in conversation with hugh hewitt from this very stage. tickets can be purchased by visiting nixon this evening we're pleased to host the author of a new book on the postpresidential years of richard nixon it's important and little studied period of richard nixon's life of achievement,
12:03 pm
setback at come back, the serving of the book of its own. in fact, probably a series of books. not one to be written off, richard nixon rose from the worst of defeats to become america's elder statesman. in his 20 years of 19 74-1994 he reinvented what it means to be a former president serving as an advisor to every one of his successors. he made 29 for trips and worked with world leaders all across the globe. to tell this remarkable story of "after the fall" we are joined by kasey pipes. mr. pipes this and the story his previous book on president eisenhower is well acclaimed. he served in the administration of president george w. bush as a speechwriter and later he was a fellow at the eisenhower institute at gettysburg college. please join me in welcoming for "after the fall" kasey pipes. [applause]
12:04 pm
>> well, thank you all very much. thanks for being here and thanks for having me. thanks of kind words. i i want to thank jonathan and chris and the entire nixon staffer making us feel welcome today. after all the people that are coming up later this month or later this fall, i kind of want to come back. i want to hear neil gorsuch as well, so that's awesome. i also want to thank hugh hewitt, the president of the foundation who was indispensable to me in the writing of this book, and had me on the radio last week to help promote it. you could not be in better hands with anybody else than hugh. what do thank a couple of archivists that were quickly when is working on the book, greg cummings and pamela eisenberg who i understand retired. did great work in helping me get the files i needed. so we people help me along way. sandy quinn that you remember, ron walker, many of you
12:05 pm
remember. fred fielding, just a tremendous number of people helped make this possible. i also want to say hello to linda and larry who are right here. these are the parents of friends of ours in fort worth, kirk, the pitching coach and we live right around the corner from tcu. you guys get the work for traveling the farces tonight. they came to have hours to do with it so thank you for being you. i hope the book is worth it. let me know. i'll be asking you. and thanks to all of you for being here as well. gosh, it is great to be back. the first time i came to the nixon library was in 1995. i was an was an intern at the ronald reagan presidential library, and richard smith was a director of the reagan library at the time brought me down. his friend john taylor was running things down here, and john showed us around and i'll never forget it. it was wonderful to be here.
12:06 pm
i came again in 2007 with the release of the eisenhower book, sandy quinn was kind enough to have me come down. in 2010, once the book was out, i began -- once the book was inked and have a deal and is able to research, , i came here begin going to the files, and spent a number of months here in 2010, 11, 12 and 13 doing the research. it's been amazing. when i first started this project i wondered is a really an audience, is her market, do people care? last week we were the number one new arrival on amazon ahead of bill o'reilly. we have arrived. this is awesome. i did an interview last week in the dallas-fort worth area with a number one morning short and anchor is a football play-by-play guy, and i thought i'd better have my nixon sports stories but for this interview. he spent 15 minutes walking me through the post-presidency and
12:07 pm
reagan and gorbachev and yeltsin and clinton. at the end of it i said in an email at us and i appreciate you had me on today. he wrote back and said nixon is one of the most fascinating people, i've always been a fan of nixon. it's amazing how there are nixon people all over the world, and we don't even realize it sometimes. an amazing and an amazing career. my story as a historian has always been to try to tell the stories that a been untold, but need to be told. and to focus on stories that we know something about but we need to know a lot more about. and so for me the road less traveled in historical scholarships first let me the story of eisenhower and civil rights in a book called irix final battle -- ice final battle in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the little rock central high school crisis. and, of course, the road road s traveled has also led me to the nixon post-presidency. this is a story that needs to be
12:08 pm
told and it's a store that needs to be understood in a way that it is never been fully understood before. we have an idea of what nixon was doing. we have an idea that he was active. hopefully after you read this book you will agree he was even more active than you thought he was the we have an idea he was somewhat successful during this period. hopefully after reading this book you will realize he was even more successful and you could've ever realized. but before of delving into the book and talking about it and what's can take it, and then i'll take your questions, i think we have to understand how high he climbed as president to appreciate how far he fell at the end of his presidency. think about richard nixon in 1972. he's opened the door to china. he's closing in on a deal to end the war in vietnam. he has a detente with the soviets and he wins 49 states and the largest landslide in american history. he's on top of the world. and yet less than two years later, the public approval
12:09 pm
ratings hovering in the '20s. he's forced to resign. and he finds himself as he says really fighting for his life, as he talks about in this diary. we'll talk about that more in a minute. there have been entire libraries the books written about nixon's life. entire libraries of books written about his presidency. even the vice presidency and certainly about watergate, but there's been precious little written about the last 20 20 ys of his life. we have memoirs which are wonderful and detailed, the less four years. we have robert which covers the first few years in exile. there's never been a twenty-year volume that covers the entire story of what happened to him after watergate. now, historians will always debate whether nixon was a great president. i think this book makes clear there's no debate he was a great ex-president. nixon is one of the great
12:10 pm
stories in presidential history, and the history of his postpresidential years is the greatest nixon story that's never really been told. so why a book about nixon's life after watergate? and if it so important, why has no one done it before? the answer to the first question is simple. nixon is a shakespearean figure as we all know whose virtues and vices a all of our owns. we have all expressed try from tragedy. we've all suffered had setbacks that none of us would have experienced professional setbacks the way he did. so many since the story is about as. it's about how we all come back and we all find a way when we get lost. but the other reason this story has not been written is because the papers of course are privately owned either family. they are deposited here, and i was able to secure the cooperation of the family in writing this book. so not only is this a new book about a new period of life, for nixon, but it has new material
12:11 pm
into. i think that that makes it interesting and it makes it worth reading and were thinking about, because this is a very extraordinary period in the life of a very extraordinary man. when richard nixon left the white house in august 1974 he had no money. yet no future and yet no obvious way to make a living. within weeks of moving back to san clemente he faces a health scare that almost claims his life. after that he faced years of litigation and battled through a kiss of what was a most certainly depression. here's what he wrote in his diary in late 1974 about how we might climb his way out. write books, make speeches, and try to put things in the context. this is the roadmap that he would use for 20 years. writing books, giving speeches, television where possible, and putting things into perspective for the people and for history. and it's amazing how well he did
12:12 pm
this. he does it so well and becomes so effective and so well-known for his books and his speeches and his appearances that people begin to accept him back again. the public begins accepting back, and the president to do, too. part of the story in this book is a relationship with presidents reagan, bush and nixon, and his advice and counsel to all three of them and how it helped change policy and change history. let me quickly mention three changes you'll read about in this book. two changes that that occur because of nixon, and one change that occurred because of nixon. i think this is really the heart of what this book is about, is change. first, nixon and the post-presidency changes the very nature of the post-presidency. when nixon becomes both present, there are no other post president. they have all died. johnson has died in 73.
12:13 pm
73. truman has died and 72. eisenhower died at 69. nixon knew all of these men, but it watched what he did in their retirement, and what they did was very different than what he is going to do. they basically retired. that's pretty much it. he becomes a doting grandfather. johnson goes to his ranch. i mean, these are meant the basically accept retirement and go away. nixon has no such choice. he has no such choice because he has to make a living. he has no money. he has to resign from the bar in california. yes to reside at the bar from the supreme court. he wants to resign from the bar in new york that they won't fighting because they want the privilege of taking him out. he can't practice law. he has no way of making a living and yes to find a way. and what he does with no template in front of him, what it ex-president should do, is he intends the template that all ex-president to this date more or less follow.
12:14 pm
he writes books. he travels the country in the world giving speeches. he stays in contact with other world leaders to key stays in contact with political leaders in washington. he talked to president vicki uses his ideas, the power of his ideas, the influence events in washington. think about the post president today. you think about clinton with the clinton fun picky think about george w. bush with his own think tank in dallas, turning a policy proposals trying to influence policy. think about barack obama writing books. they are all in some way following the nixon model. nixon didn't have the option of retiring. he wanted to remain active. he told john taylor during this period that had remain active for his own health. and to keep his mind as sharp as he wanted it to be. he spent years writing book after book on his main area of expertise, foreign policy. and he a trusted advisor and
12:15 pm
confidant to three presidents. he doesn't just write books. he writes books that matter, books that people read, and people absorb and they pay attention to. he didn't just say something. yet something important to say when you've you for writing ths and when he was speaking. and he showed through this process he still had an important role to play as an outside counsel. ronald reagan read the real war in 1980. it was a spider bite. it confirmed his own view of the soviet union. he carried it around with him. in many ways this led him to have an even closer relationship with nixon. and nixon relished the chance to use the only thing yet left, , e only power he had left, which was his mind and his ideas to influence policy. he gives counsel to president. he influences them with his ideas on things big and small. so let me give you an example of
12:16 pm
something small that nixon did that we've never known before. nixon shortly after reagan becomes president wants to find ways to take advantage of reagan's ability to mix it has great admiration for reagan. i had a conflict in relationship, all politicians do, but nixon said to his son-in-law adcox, i have great mind. reagan has a a great got. this is a guy with tremendous political ability. he could speak to the country. he can rally the country and nixon sees this and he wants to take advantage of it. so early in the reagan administration, nixon sent a memo to mike deaver, reagan's longtime community advisor, urging the creation of a weekly ten minute radio talk to allow the president to dominate the monday papers. nixon suggest they do this on sunday. the the saturday morning radio address is born. the last of 1982 all the way to
12:17 pm
2018 winter told discontinued it. we've always known reagan started it. we've never known the idea came from a letter from richard nixon. but his real contributions to reagan came on bigger matters of substance. when gorbachev comes to power, nixon meets with gorbachev. he finds that this could be a man the reagan as margaret thatcher said could do business with. he senses there's an opportunity here to move forward and perhaps in the cold war command you want to reagan to meet with gorbachev might want to reagan to do it from a position of strength. so when reagan announces intentions to build a strategic defense initiative, nixon immediately doubts the science of this. he doubts that the technology of it will ever work. but he loves the idea of using it for leverage in negotiations. and almost from the beginning he sees it as a key bargaining chip for reagan.
12:18 pm
later on when gorbachev threatens to pull out any further negotiations unless reagan abandons sdi can remember at reykjavík gorbachev walks out after the essentially strike a deal because he tells reagan this is contingent upon you getting rid of sdi. reagan says no. nixon helps come up with a solution. nixon suggests the bud macfarlane, reagan's national security adviser, quote, i feel very strongly that the president could pull off a real coup by formally offering to mutually share with the soviets the results of our research on sdi. this, he wrote to macfarlane, would undercut gorbachev is position. he was right. reagan took the advice. he offered to share the technology with the soviets publicly and essentially boxed gorbachev in and bought it back to the negotiating table. this one over helped the negotiations continue forward and played a role in getting the soviets to agree to the inf
12:19 pm
treaty in 1987 where an entire class of nuclear weapons were eliminated. with president bush, nixon privately went to china after the tiananmen square tragedy, taking events of the goodwill that people had for him in that country, he met with chinese leadership including deng xiaoping, and spoke brutally blunt language to it. tiananmen, he told them, would be the quote death of the relationship with the u.s. if it happened again. upon returning home he reported back to the president, who was faced with a political crisis in washington. democrats and many republicans want to put sanctions in place on the chinese, something the president didn't want to do. something nixon did want to see happen. but the fact nixon delivered the message helped diffuse the situation and help the president out of a deep crisis. and, of course, with president clinton, politics mix for strange bedfellows. here's richard nixon and bill clinton working together to
12:20 pm
assist for its yelton, to assist the fledgling democracy in russia, to assist the emerging baltic republics, the breakaway republics. putin later said after meeting with nixon at the white house there was quote the best meeting i've ever had as president clinton marveled at the wisdom that nixon gave him as he urged him to be brave and to support the democracy movement in which frankly he didn't believe resident bush had done enough to do. so he changes the post-presidency. he changes policy through his work with reagan and bush and clinton. most informally this book shows in many ways nixon changed himself. during this 20 years he comes to terms with all he had achieved and all he had lost. the conventional wisdom says he accidentally confessed during the watergate section of interview with david frost. this of course has been a myth frost and others have perpetuated for some time. the reality is quite different. i was told, the talked about it
12:21 pm
in advance, when you want to say when this question came up. and he apologize for his moral failures. he said i screwed it all up, but he would never admit to any criminal wrongdoing because he didn't think he had violated any criminal laws. this would be the message he would use the rest of his life whenever he was asked about this topic and again as an accident during the frost nixon interviews. it came as as a plan answer toa question that he and that they had worked together. the moral failures weighed on him. and he dealt with it in his own way. he dealt with the by beginning to reveal himself more and more, and to come public with people. when hubert humphrey is apart from 1960 election called a leading know he was dying of cancer, nixon consoled his former rival. this is faceted. when the two manhunt up the phone, nixon turned to his aide jack brin is that i don't care what it takes, i'm going to his funeral. start working on it.
12:22 pm
humphrey hung up the phone and turn to his wife and said, no former president should have to live in exile. he wanted nixon to be seen in public at his funeral, because he knew it would get him a sense, it would give the country a sense that it was forgiveness, that there was grease. that if humphrey was okay with nixon, other people should be a slow period and the funeral marked nixon's first public appearance in washington since watergate. ten years later nixon publicly emerged at another funeral. this time deliver the eulogy for his friend, former ohio state football coach woody hayes. this is what nixon said in his eulogy of his friend. he was never satisfied with success, and he was never going to be discouraged by failure. there's a role in life, nixon said, if you take the risk you will suffer no defeats. but if you take no risks, you will win no victories.
12:23 pm
nixon certainly was describing woody hayes, but almost just as certainly he was describing himself. when ronald reagan stashes could advisor but mcfarland survived a failed suicide attempt, when he woke up in hospital, the first person he saw sitting by his bedside was richard nixon. you will need an anchor, nixon told the recovery mcfarland, pointing at the bible on the nightstand next to the bed. your strong faith will get you through this. finally, after the dedication of his presidential library in 1990 where we are today. nixon told friends who gathered around afterwards about the time that his grandkids asked him what name he wanted to be called. you can call me anything you want to call me, he said. because i've been called everything. this period of his life shows
12:24 pm
nixon as a human. chosen as somebody who struggled through the failures of life, struggled to the setbacks of a medical career, and yet came out on the other side of it. nixon in exile as a different man. a man in full, , a man who could look back on success as well as failure, on tragedy as well as triumph, on defeat as well as his defiant response. he never gave up. and there's a lesson in that for all of us. it's remarkable to think in august 1974 when he left in disgrace and write a few miles from here in san clemente, not even richard nixon could have imagined that he would be back inside the white house giving president reagan advice, or going to get them and squirt a message that was important to the bush administration.
12:25 pm
or meeting with bill clinton and becoming friends with bill clinton to the point that in april of 1994, bill clinton arrives at the funeral to deliver a magisterial eulogy in which he said, they today of judging richard nixon only by watergate come to an end. nixon himself said, only those who have been in the deepest values can appreciate how magnificent it is on the highest mountaintop. in a life spent constantly navigating the political peaks and valleys, nixon in his last 20 years could finally look back on his entire life, and for once enjoy the view. he had made it back. that's the story of "after the fall." i hope you read it. i hope you like it. i hope you know how grateful i am looking here and without i'm happy to take questions or comments. [applause]
12:26 pm
>> thank you, kasey. we will take questions. if you will just raise your hands have come with t with a microphone. ask the first one though. can you give me what you think richard nixon with think of the current media arena? what i mean by that is, what i mean by that is, in this day in age we have media that is so instant, so quick, and spread viral instantly with social media. can you give me your take up what he would think of that and how he would use to his advantage or it might be a disadvantage to him? >> well, , he certainly would be more diplomatic about that our current president but don't know he thought much more highly of them that are current president does. there's a story in the book in
12:27 pm
1990, the "new york times" earned a favorable review of a new biography, a book written about nixon and richard norton smith was one of nixon's favorite historians wrote a review. and bring in the "new york times" and was very positive about nixon. nixon read the review in his office and says to staff, you know, the "new york times" once a decade will write something nice about me. i guess because of 1990 they just wanted to get this decade out of the way. i mean, he always had a very skeptical view of the role of the media, and i don't think that improved over time. obviously, the meaty and violent today is very different with all of the different platforms, social media platforms. he was an innovator. this is the whole concept of him developing the idea of saturday morning radio address. he wanted to find ways to communicate more effectively. and so i think he would be
12:28 pm
somebody looking for ways to use those tools to his advantage and to the president advantage, whoever the president may be. i think he would probably be uncomfortable with how this president goes about that. i just, i can imagine he would enjoy reading some of the trumpian tweets. >> thank you for coming in telling us about your book. i was wondering if nixon ever acknowledged, publicly acknowledged the sacrifices that resident ford made by giving him the pardon and completely short-circuiting any legal process, no doubt about it, it caused forward quite a bit. >> it did, and there's a scene in the book where ford comes to see him them in hospital in ocr of 1974 when nixon has his health scare with phlebitis.
12:29 pm
it's an emotional scene. i think it's probably as close as he ever got to thinking him. -- thinking. the whole concept of a pardon was a very difficult thing for them because he did feel bad about it. as a mature before he publicly expressed remorse for what had happened but he also didn't feel like he had broken any laws and didn't feel like he had directly, as he said to frost, my mistake was i wasn't every good nature, to get rid of people when they do things. he was trying to help his people and is you. he had very complicated feelings on this topic, and i don't know that it's something that he would have ever thought to sit down and talk to gerald ford about. they didn't have that kind of relationship in the first place. it was kind of a a formal relationship in first place. i think the scene in hospital in the book between the two pac-man is probably as close as i can get to it, and worth reading,
12:30 pm
and he certainly, he was in an emotional state. he almost died and here comes the president of the united states who just issued this pardon. it's a great scene and i would recommend that. but other than that i don't know that there was a lot of direct conversation between the two. >> could you talk a little bit about some of the post resignation relationship? there was that group. and then specifically henry kissinger, however those relationships after? >> i mean, they were all very different. the kissinger relationship has been well-documented. there was a book about this, have two men kind of jockeyed for credit over different foreign policy accomplishments. it was a complicated relationship, for sure. i think his relationship with some of his aides was a little
12:31 pm
more personal. and again he felt their suffering very personally, particularly the ones who went to jail. you know, mitchell and ehrlichman and haldeman. these are things that wait on them and there are stories in there where he occasionally reaches out. when haldeman gets out of jail and nixon calls him and it's a pretty emotional conversation. he felt their grief very personally. and so there are a lot of thosee stories in your and a lot of those conversations. the heart and soul of the book by design is really to show him kind of emerging from a this emotional state in 74 and 75, and really focusing on his policy objectives, and really sort of taking them seriously as the next president and what was
12:32 pm
he trying to achieve. what he was trying to achieve was to be, a counselor and advisor on foreign policy. most of the book tends to focus on those relationships, reagan, reagan's team, scholz, al hague, macfarlane i mentioned earlier and, of course, bush and james baker and then bill clinton. those are described in more detail but there is certainly a good amount of him reaching out to his former aides, visiting with them and you just, you get a sense through the dialogue and some of those conversations of how much it wait on it. he definitely felt a burden for each of those men. >> to your right. >> hello. i'm a republican woman from northern california, and i just want you to know that i'm a naturalized american, originally born in taiwan. i have two questions for you.
12:33 pm
number one, i was here for my sons sports activity, and when i was going to the museum i was very puzzled, why is it that president reagan, or president nixon later on would go to china and established that kind of relationship with china, knowing that china is a communist country? when i saw in exhibit in 1947 in his memoirs he said it was clear that we had come to a continent teetering on the brink of starvation and chaos. europe would be plunging into anarchy, revolution, and ultimately communism. so that tells me he was very uncomfortable with communism. so why is it that later on he would feel so comfortable, i want to say, with a communist
12:34 pm
china? my second comment is, growing up, i don't think i was taught properly in public education. i really feel after going through the exhibit here that i don't think president nixon did anything wrong. i don't feel that he needed to resign. i wish she had just stayed on and then let the world know what kind of person he really is. the real criminals with those who broke into a building. he asked the president, i wonder if he felt compelled to do what he did because of national security? because back then we were dealing with a lot of communism that came from left over world war ii, you know, you know, problems. so those are my two comments. thank you. >> there's a lot to unpack there. let me start with the first one.
12:35 pm
so you mentioned richard nixon been a cold warrior, and he was, and the china play was a part of his cold war strategy. i think this is misunderstood in some places, that nixon was naïve about china or he just want to have good relations with them and bring and this back to our zoo and get the photo op. this was realpolitik. this was a man centered trying to drive a wedge between the chinese and the patrons soviet union. in that sense it was a brilliant strategy. the other piece of the strategy was, as nixon himself said at the time, you can't simply ignore my country, at the 750 million. you have to have some sort of engagement with them to try to influence events there. there is a story, i can't member what read it and it may be apocryphal but it sounds true, about reagan visiting with some taiwanese leader around this time, and reagan saying to them,
12:36 pm
somebody is going to recognize china sooner or later. you're better off that it was nixon. and there's a lot of truth to that, that this was, he was doing this on a position of the great cold warrior. he was not naïve, with the chinese were doing. and as an engine, was capable of being very brutally honest with them, even in later years after tiananmen square. he viewed it as a cold war strategy, as a way, in some way separate them from the soviets, and people can debate the wisdom of that, but that's what he was trying to do. in terms of watergate, i can only tell you what he himself said, , which was he certainly felt that he had made more mistakes. he had let people down, as he often said i screwed it up, as he often said. but you're right. i mean, he viewed his role in this as essentially trying to
12:37 pm
cover for his friends who are doing these things. he resigned because he didn't believe he had enough support to sustain himself in the senate, and i think he resigned because at some level he knew it was best for the country. that was part of his factor, that factored into his decision as well. but those are questions that historians will debate forever, and hopefully this book sheds some new light on it. >> can you please share with us the role that nixon had in president nixon's reinvention and his rise from ashes? and what was her perspective of him going back into the political arena? >> she was his rock. just as she was when he was president. she was his biggest cheerleader and uzbekistan. she felt he had been dealt a really bad hand, always did feel
12:38 pm
that way. and they remain enormous a close during this time. of course she has a series of health setbacks that only bring them closer, i would argue, including the stroke and 76. and it's interesting. there's a fascinating pat nixon story towards the end of the book where she's watching television one day in the late '80s and she's watching the phil donahue show. of all things. and who shows up on the phil donahue show as the main guest but new york businessman donald trump and she watches the show and she suppressed. she tells her husband, you know, i watched donald trump on television. he was answering all these questions and talk about policy issues. he was i could kind of good. nixon rights trump a little. he's taking his wife's word for it and says my wife says she saw you on television. she says your great, and if you ever decide to run for office someday, you're going to be a winner. that letter is no friend and
12:39 pm
it's in the oval office today. it's one of trump's prized sessions. you know, it's interesting, nixon never quit handicapping politics. he never quit looking at races and potential leaders. even all the way through his death. i mean, so he obviously wants bill clinton to deliver his eulogy. he realizes the symbolism of that having a democratic president deliver this magisterial treatment to him. we also wants bob dole and pete wilson to deliver eulogies. why did he do that? those of the people he thought would run for president in '96 and be the best candidates and you want them to have a national audience. bob dole speeches magnificent if you recall. he stages that essentially that they would get this platform and wilson does run for president. he doesn't run very well, as you recall, but bob dole inns of getting the nomination, clinton versus dal which is basically what nixon predicted it was going to be. just fascinating how his mind
12:40 pm
worked and he's always thinking several steps ahead. >> i appreciate your scholarship, and it went as this all due respect, because i know i'm in the nixon library, , aftr all. i know you wrote a biography on general eisenhower, and i just finished, i just finished jean edward smith biography, eisenhower in war and peace. and in that there are all sorts of tidbits about nixon and it doesn't seem like nixon was very well-regarded by president eisenhower. i know one question was asked of general eisenhower, vice president nixon doesn't contribute your administration. he said give me a a week, i'll think of something. there's a legacy with his dirty campaign against douglas, the
12:41 pm
racial epithets that are caught on tape with, during the watergate scandals. so many ways a very checkered dark, dark character and you talk about his redemption and his efforts at redemption. my question is, what is the heart of nixon? what kind of a person was he really what was he really aiming for? because i can't quite make up what his objective was in life. >> before he answered that let me tell you my favorite story about my eisenhower book, which is straight up eisenhower and civil rights. in 2000 and after the bush administration was over i went over to the al-sisi my former boss, to see the president in his office in dallas try to give a copy of my book. i'll never forget, i handed in the book and he said, he's a very blunt man. he said what is this? i said it's a book about eisner and and civil rights. he said the price it's not a shorter book.
12:42 pm
[laughing] it's like that's why you need to read the book. he did more than you think. in terms of getting to the heart of nixon and what kind of heartbeat nixon have, i think in the same when we all do. there's good and bad in it. that's the human condition. that's why this period . microsoft faceting to me because this period of his life, his last 20 years is very tantalizing. you know, watergate, the book starts after watergate. i don't spend a lot of time focusing on that because i didn't want the baby a part of the story. i wanted to be okay, watergate happened. we fed libraries of books written about it. what happened at that? how did he do with it as a man and as a human? i think you don't like with any of us would. the successes and failures along the way. he certainly wanted to reestablish himself that he never used the word come back or anything like that with his family for his friends but he wanted to be, he wanted to be
12:43 pm
useful. he wanted to have a role to play with the rest of his life, and the one thing he still had after he had lost all the trappings of power, all the levers of power is the lead the power of his mind and the power of his ideas. and as a tribute to have effective that might was a no effective those ideas were, that he was able to persuade president including a present of a different party that it's something worth listening to. it's a remarkable achievement that this is person that no one would touch in 1974, but into this life, president are calling in asking him what you think about this? that's quite a comeback, and you know, what his internal motivations were, i mean, i can't get inside his mind any better than anybody here can. i only know he was very human and he certainly wanted to be relevant in the last 20 years of his life and do something meaningful. i think this book argues that he
12:44 pm
did. >> just as -- >> i like her shirt. >> as richard nixon post present he has not been studied that much. i feel reagan's residency, his post-presidency has also not been studied. there's more to it than just alzheimer's. he left office in 1989 and it was in november of 1994 when he realized, when he released that letter. do you think this will be a good topic for a book? >> i do and there are a couple. craig shirley has a book on the reagan post-presidency. bob fits has a new book which is a full life cradle-to-grave has a lot of new material on the post-presidency. there's an amazing story about reagan's doctors come into the house in bel air to tell them their diagnosis, and while they're talking with mrs. reagan and others, he gets up and goes over to a table and start writing this letter. that's what he wrote the letter
12:45 pm
that was released to the public right to add to the doctor had just told him. and he later gave it to an eight and said more to clean this up and send it out as a press release. he said no, it's perfect as it is. so they released it as it was in his own handwriting, just amazing story. but no, i think in general post presidencies are fascinating because you're looking at, with presidential biographies you are looking at the use of power. with the post-presidency you are looking at the loss of power and adjusting to life without that power. in this case in a much more dramatic way having it taken from him. i think it's a fascinating topic and we also now have presidents who are living longer lives. i mean, george w., based on his genetics, one of well into his '90s. he's on in his 70s now. barack obama is a healthy, fairly young person. i think it is definitely an
12:46 pm
interesting area of scholarship that is probably underdone and i suspect we will see more of it. >> a couple questions. did he reach out to the former presidents, you know, correspondence and asked if they needed help? what one or two things did you really learn, i've been unlike -- he was at the cusp of so many different things. did you learn anything in your book or he was even the curve again? and how was he competent? ycp as a consultant? how would that go? >> the finances are difficult to track down. obviously his books were bestsellers. he made a lot of money doing that. the frost interviews were paid, that was a $600,000 gate. dollars gate. there was money out there. but in terms of his relationship with the president, he never, that i saw, ever called and said hey, let me help you out. it was usually in the form of a
12:47 pm
memo or a letter that says, in the case of reagan, you did great in election come here some things to think about, building your team and, of course, remains a bunch of people, al hague he suggest for secretary of state. it usually came in writing. and then that sort of builds to relationship a little bit and then the phone calls start. the phone calls are typically from the white house to him. they are calling him asking for advice. it's bill clinton who reaches out to him in 1993. so it's a very subtle process. it's a very gradual process. and again the thing that's driving it is he is saying things that matter. he is saying things that no one thought about before. the sdi example i gave earlier, or even the saturday morning radio address. he is offering ideas that these presidents, and for the most
12:48 pm
part their staffs find very useful. it's a real tribute to how he uses his intellectual abilities in those last 20 years that he became a trusted confidant for these men. >> just to your right. >> china on the world stage today is extremely ambitious and extremely aggressive. should president nixon be alive today and he is called in by the white house, what kind of advice or comments you think nixon would have to offer? >> you know, it's hard to say. i mean again, nixon you did first and foremost, he did china in the context of the cold war. and so that context has sort of gone away now. it's very difficult to judge that because that was motivating so much of what he wrote in what he said. but i think in some ways tianamen episode is kind of insightful. it shows in not willing to speak
12:49 pm
in tough language to them, to tell them to knock it off on occasion when they are out of line. he certainly believed that a nation of more than 1 billion people now could not be told and they were outplayed on world stage, they were not going away i would might as well have some kind of a relationship with them for own sake. i think he would try to preserve the relationship as best he could, but with some tough love sprinkled in as well, would become that's probably as good as i could do on that. great question though. >> i'm from texas and it did hear you on hugh hewitt. >> oh, good. >> but anyway, i was curious with chuck colson becoming a christian after watergate, if he had contact with nixon. and the other one was, i think
12:50 pm
i'm right, nixon and carter came to the iran-contra hearings. and whoever was speaking said that carter was kind of all over the place, not organized, but nixon had it -- and that has stuck with me so many years, that he was a brilliant man, very organized in his thinking. do you have anything like that in the book? >> so on the colton question first, they did remain fairly. colson remained a defender of nixon to the very end. of course he was preoccupied with his prison ministry, but there is some relationship there that this document in the book. the iran-contra hearings is fascinating, and a right about this quite a bit in the book. because nixon had a unique perspective on scandal. i don't know if this is the
12:51 pm
exact store you referring to but it's in the book with delivering a speech to republican senators that the "washington post" gets -- this is a leaked to the post and the write a story about this. and he basically says to the republican senators, you need to have reagan's back on this. you need to stand up for him. if his staff made mistakes that's one thing. he wasn't trying to do anything wrong, and don't cut and run from them on this. it's fascinating to watch him kind of reflecting on his own experience and speak to that. i'm not aware of the carter story at all. carter is not somebody that nixon thought very highly of. that's will document in this book. he is just sort of mortified at the hostage crisis piggies mortified how the shop was treated after that. but he sort of senses this is all setting the stage for
12:52 pm
reagan, and for big things to happen in the '80s and, of course, he's right about that. carter does appear in the book but not in terribly flattering light. >> here we are a couple decades after richard nixon's becoming relevant and were learning he has become relevant in -- building in diplomacy and foreign policy. do we, do you have any feeling that he had any sense that, if it wasn't publicly acknowledge in his lifetime, , was he satisfied that he was relevant or not? >> i think he certainly sensed how far he had made it back. i don't know that a person with a kind of intellect and ambition, i don't know satisfied his word i would use.
12:53 pm
you're always one of the more, but he certainly realized he had come a a long way. and he certainly realized that the policies he had been a part of as president, namely in fighting the cold war and the policies he had sort of helped craft with reagan, or at least advise reagan on in the post-presidency. he certainly lived to see the triumphs in the cold war. there's a story in the book that i retell where he says, remember when they had the kitchen debate and khrushchev said we will bury you. that moment of realizing he had been on the right side. his site at one, the west had one. he got to live to see that and i think that was pretty remarkable for him. and i think he enjoyed that. i think he appreciated that moment. in terms of his personal come back, i didn't know that
12:54 pm
satisfied is a word he would use. i think he certainly believe it become relevant again. he enjoyed being able to use his expertise and his intellectual powers, but imagine he probably wanted even more. >> thank you for giving us this insight on the past president. one of the things i have noticed about him was he came from very humble beginnings. unlike most presidents, they have great support for the even get the office. nixon moved rapidly through the ranks from senator on through to the vice presidency and, of course, the trials and all things to give them more nomination. but his perceptiveness is what i -- i believe the men had vision, so far out beyond what we were thinking at the time. i think he saw that 750 million chinese, which we had ignored for 25 years, no spokesmen have
12:55 pm
even gone to china, he saw that teaming up with the soviets. what an overpowering force that could of been had we not -- and he saw the opportunity to talk to china at a very important time, and that scared the russians into saying maybe we ought to talk about the defense moderation. i think he was very perceptive. i also think when the gold standard, we lost many tons of gold at the end of the '60s, thanks to too much spending during the '60s. and so we had to take us all the gold standard. and so my question is, don't you feel that he felt very satisfied at the changes you made? because of the contributions he made which are still lasting, including epa and clean air, all the things i can't believe the myth wasn't totally satisfied.
12:56 pm
>> i think, again, i think he certainly appreciated how far he had, and how far the country had come. i just think i've had the privilege of being around some elected officials, i worked for presidents. they are wired although different than you and i are as a general rule. they get up in the mirror and look in a mirror in the morning and say i want to be president. just not a very rational thing to do, honestly. [laughing] and so i just, i just, my senses he probably wanted a little more. and i think of nothing else, and this is in the book, he talks about his term being a brief you to. his presidency being abbreviated and not being able to finish it. and so i think some of those feelings come out. i think he wished he had been able to finish it, but this is sort of the next best thing, if he could help others. i think, again, it's a remarkable story. >> mr. pipes, thank you very much.
12:57 pm
ladies and gentlemen, let's give him a round of applause. [applause] >> i think i heard at least a half-dozen times, it's in the book. that book is fortunate available for sale in a museum store. hiccup a copy on your way down the hall, and kasey will be up in our front lobby to autograph it. thank you for coming. we will see you next time. >> thank you all very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] booktv recently went to capitol hill to find out what books are on the reading lists of members of congress. >> congressman darren soto, what are you reading? >> so right now i'm reading for whom the bell tolls why ernest hemingway. and, frankly, i can't go back and forth between


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on