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tv   [untitled]    May 4, 2012 9:00am-9:30am EDT

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got hung up in the senate and never came out. it had work requirements and other more conservative elements and nixon described it in language that sometimes obscured its boldness but that was one.
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a second one was economic policy. closing the gold window was a really significant moment in economic history in 1971. and changed economics completely. at the same time, nixon imposed price controls, which democrats never talked much about for a long time. didn't work very well but he was willing to try it. the third thing is that nixon's -- i said this so often. i'll say it carefully. nixon's health insurance plan went beyond obama's. i worked on it a bit, i went back and read and talked to jim cavanaugh, who was nixon's health guy and it included and
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bragged about and centered on the individual mandate. ted kennedy said before he died that the biggest mistake was the health care plan. now we're told the individual mandate may be unconstitutional. i don't think that argument was even whispered about in the nixon years. they went to the 18-year-old vote, the volunteer army, end of the draft and osha, occupational health and safety act. i think a climb to the modern republicans stems in part from the great moderate thrust which had come down through the decade was interrupted and discredited by watergate. nixon couldn't really pass on that legacy. obama today cannot cite nixon as an example. there is a whole -- a whole tradition that's sort of off
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limits. and i think that's another of the cost of watergate. >> go ahead. >> can i pick up on that? the reciting nixon's domestic accomplishments brings to mind about 1970 where he said there's only two things i don't like about the nixon administration, its domestic policy and its foreign policy. [ laughter ] it's a great example one of my themes, the homogenization started with the democrat being party first. he and moynihan together are alarmed at what happened to lyndon johnson, toppled by the radcliffe girls. so an idea that milton friedman said close to what i have in mind passes the house but it dies in the senate. and from two sides, ronald reagan i discovered quite by
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surprise ferociously opposed it and lobbied heavily against it and secondly the left was again it. >> want enough. >> wasn't enough, right. i've got some quotes in one of my books that gene mccarthy is saying you can't even discuss this thing. then you get to the mcgovern years and it's legendary. and it turns out mcgovern really wasn't a mcgovernite. we know this. we've been empowered by interest groups, you point out the rise of the direct primary has empowered -- has sort of led to extremism on both sides. if you had the old smoke-filled rooms that we want to get rid of because of reform, you could preserve more of the breadth in the party. >> that's well put. >> and that's a big problem.
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but, yeah, you put your finger on the right thing. that's a key dividing line is nixon was not what -- nixon told buckley in '67, he said i learned when i -- doesn't make sense. i learned when you run for president you can't run for only the right wing, i learned when i ran for governor of california, you can't run without them. >> he called himself a pragmatic liberal when he started out in california politics. i have one memory of him when i think the worst moment in terms of moderate -- immoderate dominance of politics, the most dramatic moment was barry goldwater at the san francisco convention in '64, extremism and richard nixon had just introduced goldwater and was sitting right behind him with a wonderful introduction saying this is a man that has been known as mr. conservative, very
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nixony intro, known as mr. conservative, today he becomes known as mr. republican and in november we'll be calling him mr. president. nixon sits down. goldwater starts out with what nixon later called rubbing salt in the wounds of any moderate who were lingering and nixon carefully in that spotlight did not applaud that line. he was very much -- i had come to know him by then. he was very much starting to plan a '68 comeback. he had to -- he would and did support the ticket but he was not going to be drawn in to that kind of radical conservatism. he got into a very animated conversation with goldwater's son who was sitting next to him if you look at the tape. nixon always wand to play to a broad party base and to include -- to be as inclusive as
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he could and sometimes his lack of spontaneity made that awkward. reminds me of a current candidate who is trying to do that. >> that's a transition to -- dan on the campaign trail following many republicans around but our soon to be nominee. of course there are questions about mitt romney's past positions and past governance of massachusetts, how much he's a moderate. but i also want to maybe open that up later to the panel about his father. his lineage also has a very important -- his father, george romney, who was a very significant new york candidate for president in 1968 opinion can you tell us about mitt romney, his relation to his own past of moderatism and his lineage of hough he might govern.
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>> i guess the only way to describe his relationship with his own lineage is awkward. if you look at the romney who ran against kennedy and today, they could be running against one another. it's hard to know which would prevail. somewhere in between there is the real mitt romney and i think we'll find out more as we go through the general election exactly where he bants to come down. through this whole discussion, the elephant in the room, if you will, is how did this party that we are talking about that has, you know, lost every shred of moderation supposedly, in which there is no moderate wing, end up nominating a person like mitt romney to be its presidential candidate this year. now, part of what you can say is that he was blessed with a terribly weak field, which is certainly true. could you say that he had more money than anybody else and so the weapons that he was able to
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bring to bear against whoever kind of popped up at any given moment were far greater than that person had to defend himself as they were going through it. but also it's, you know, it's a reality that what romney decided to do or felt he had to do was become more like the party of today at least in some nominal way to get himself the nomination. we will see just how costly that is in the general election. i mean, the most obvious place is what he's done on immigration, where he went much farther to the right than i think most people believe he needed to. but i think if you step back and try to put yourself in the shoes of the romney campaign, i think they believe that rick perry was going to be a real tough opponent and in many ways a much
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more natural nominee for the matter than mitt romney would have been. so they took the perry campaign in a way they i don't think had taken anybody up to that point quite as seriously, they took that seriously and felt they had to knock it down. i think that they felt that the immigration piece was one where they could make him terribly vulnerable to the base and they went ahead and did it and then he went farther than that through the course of the campaign. so the romney who has emerged from the nomination battle is somebody who has tried to be comfortable with a two-party republican party and yet as you watch him and listen to him and just the general demeanor of mitt romney tells you that's not quite who he is and i think the struggle he's going to go through over the next several months is to try to present himself in the most comfortable way possible that also keeps the base of the republican party
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energized. >> i'm going to open it up to the audience. we have some microphones around. please identify yourself. we'll start right here in the back. >> roman buehler. i'm originally from california. and my question is one of the things that wasn't mentioned here was the new open primary law that passed by initiative in california this last year, which essentially puts the top two people on the ballot and practically empowers independence. now the nominees of both parties are going to have to compete not just with the partisans in their own party registration universe but with independence. of course california sends more than 10% of the delegation to congress. how do you think that will impact moderation both in the republican party and in the democratic party? >> i can take a fly at that as a fellow californian. i actually think it depends in
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part on how those district lines are drawn. i haven't followed that because we've been living back here. we had this crazy commission process. my reference in 1990. they passed term limits, which means you'll pass everybody out of the state legislature and you had special masters through the districts for everything in the 1990s in california and they actually drew them the way would you do in a civics textbook, contiguous cities and towns, two dktsin side, senate districts. my observation was, very difficult the first year where pete had thoo huge -- my perception was you had more moderate democrats and republicans because had you disabilities more competitive because of the gerrymandered
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disabilities. and you had the interest groups and the sort of extra party machinery. california is the california republican assembly, ramon, you know those guys well. my casual observation, you've seen the old polarization you saw in the 80s and in this decade whereas the 90s stands out as something different -- there's more than one thing. i think it was actually having a seriously competitive district and you saw a few in the congressional seats, a few more modern republicans in the valley. >> i think moderate republicans were largely behind the reforms that came to pass most recently. i think david packard of hewlett packard was one of the major donors of that. they used to dominate california politics when they had the ability to run in the democratic primary. earl warren was notorious for winning the delegates primary as
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well as the republican primaries. >> i have great hopes for that california reform. maybe my opens are much too high. >> the two go together, i think, the redkting element and the two inner element. >> i have to say i'm more skeptical that it will bring about what's anticipated or they hope. the republican party today in california is such a different party than it was historically. >> it's not that big. >> mostly because it's so small and has been so unsuccessful with the obvious exception of schwarzenegger and that odd recall election, becoming governor, of getting anybody elected is he te state wiwide
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level. it's going to be hard to see this play out in the way opponents anticipate. >> ron. >> ron brownstein from the "national journal". it's a question for everybody. but maybe start with jeffrey. what was the impact on conservatives of having a significant moderate weng in the republican party? for that matter the impact on liberals having a significant conservative wing in the democratic party, whether we're talking about congress or even the reagan administration, where they were voices on different faxes and different wings. how did feekt the way where these issues were issued -- sure i any conservatives had to think about what was going to appeal to people in their boston and then go on to sell it to the
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broader public as well. i think it's disciplined conservatives and made them aware of the need to persuade, rather than impose it over any kind of opposition. ronald reagan was the exemplar. he was the best vote getter. it was his lieutenant governor robert finch, and the only man familiar on politics reagan really respected i think. and i think reagan saw the need from -- after the goldwater defeat, that if republicans had to cooperate, and it to an affirmative conservatism that could some sof of the nation's problems. >> the reference was pretty terrible in the early 60s. it was reagan who posed this 11th kmanment.
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it tended to moderate the conversation and probably the philosophy a bit, too. >> al has a book coming out in the next couple of years on william buckley. >> thank you. >> okay. from new jersey originally. in jeff's book he attributes one of the causes of the moderates' demise to their inability or lack of interest in doing precinct work, organization ability. lee talks about conservatives taking over the party machinery, which they're relinquished. my question is and i looked back at that period, you had about a third of the senate called themselves moderate republicans and they had two dozen governorships. i'm from new jersey, not california, but the same story. went down from maine to maryland, couldn't find a state without one or two republican senators or republican governor. why are they so allergic to
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doing precinct work? and is there any reason for this. the second is do they have any appeal at all. nixon, silent majority. they were not all against nut deal. many were rockefeller voters. there seemed to be no connection between republicans or either what we call reagan democrats, union voters, northern catholics. reagan may not have been the leading vote getter in california but he went by a million votes and a lot of them were democrats. we didn't see a lot of them. i wondered are they ever going to learn how to give out flyers and envelopes and all the stuff we see obama doing now. where are they? >> this was our original complaint, when you're carefully looking at both sides of the
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issue, you see the pastel shieds and not the bold colors. conservatives have had various -- i think jeff talks about the feeling of marginalization that conservatives really had kind of driving this energy and this -- almost desperate effort to get back in control. or leave. and was always the threat of leaving that i think helped to also advance their cause. maybe on the civil rights issue in the 630s. that was there. i think one element we haven't mentioned that has helped to make this dispeter even more intense is the rise of the religious right and propelling the motion on the conservative side of the spectrum and unusual
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energy -- what's the right word? yes. the sense that everything hangs on this, my own identity in my life. moderates have many lives. i wound up leaving the country for a couple of decades. i think that's one dimension of the fact -- >> and doug bailey, who was another founding member had a great quote which is moderates are moderates, the idea of raising the sword of moderation and waving the bloody shirt of moderation. it's just a contradiction in terms. and the things about moderates is they have doubts. they see the world in shades of gray. if you have no doubts, whether this kms from religious certainty or political certainty, you're going to do whatever your view prevails. you'll make the perfect inventment.
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moderates, kind of pope. i think there's another aspect of this. >> if you this of it the other way, the -- so every movement had to crack the establishment had to do it from the bottom up. that's how goldwater did it. he had to organize the grass roots. the religious right, as lee pointed out, did the same thing. now the tea party. in all cases, any effort on the part of conservatives to battle the establishment has had to go through the grass roots rather than from the top down. so it's not that moderates were immune to or against doing this. they never really had to. they assumed they were, you know, sort of the historical basis of the republican party so it was the others who were
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crashing the party. >> just one quick observation. i think individuals make a great deal of difference, without ronald reagan and william f. buckley, the conservative movement would have looked a lot difference. one of the problem with the moderates is they didn't have thomas dewey anymore. he understood the necessity of organization and got moderates to organize and take over the party apparatus. >> and nibson talked about picking it up but even if he had been able to and i doubt he would have, watergate disclosed him from doing that. >> thank you very much. john price. the question looks more to the future than to the past. we've spoken about how the moderates were marginalized in both parties and i'm hearing something i spoke to someone last night about this effort in this election cycle to have an internet-based third way. and i wondered whether it is time at least to think of the
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demise of the whigs and of an evolution and/or metamorphosis of the parties or at least within of them or the grass roots or somebody is gig gg to take the initiative which will event u wait into a moderate party. >> so no labels. >> no in short. we have a two-party system, we're stuck with it, it's not going to chamber of commerce. that's the basic answer. the parties get taken over within. my book is provocative in title. could you call it creative replacement.
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if it's going to have an impact in the future, it's going to have to have through one of the party. >> i think that could happen if there was space in the sensitive, if both parties went to extreme. clint clinton. >> i degree with jeff again. with this wrinkle, more people are unaffiliated with a party. though most lean pretty heavily or the other. we did see at least 20 years ago the angry middle that was mad at both parties. their champion unfortunately was ross perot. extreme in certain other ways other than idea ol jirks flawed messenger. i talked about the radical historical contingency. suppose we face three, four
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years from now, especially if you have divided government, which voters seem to like. it seems to express the saep racial of powers now on some level and. we have the european style financial krifs where the markets punish the company and this condition p -- the way the whole political system operates makes it almost impossible for that to succeed. >> i think there's even less space in the middle today than it was when perot rose up. >> could be. >> there's enough in each party to make them think with the next election they can gain the foot hold they want. as long as there is that balance, i think the energy that still is within the basis of the two parties and not third-party movement. the ingredients are certainly there in a lot of ways because
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they're discussed with washington generally. but i don't see it having enough critical mass to really rise up at this point. >> and there's this valid access thing that's going to do an internet poll and put somebody on the ballot if that somebodyception to go on. but that's a hidden factor in this election. >> i was once a conservative. in '64 i campaigned for barry goldwater as a senior. i just voted for my last republican. john huntsman was on the ballot in maryland. i saw him the next day and told him i voted for him and i can say that proudly.
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i consider myself a rhino but you have to consider one thing. you have an elephant and you have an elephant. you have a jack ass and you can ride a jack ass but a rhino only has a point to make and has a very solid point to make and does it. i mean, no labels is around. that's almost the in between now and that's by mark mckinnon who was '43's public relations person. so where is the moderate wing and how does it really come back? because a lot of us think the democratic -- the democrats are too -- i hate to say this word -- liberal. and that now the republicans are too something or another. i can't figure out what they are. >> so are moderate republicans homeless? fair way of putting it? >> yes.
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>> are yesterday's moderate republicans homeless? >> sure, why not. i mean, the polls say that there's still millions of moderate republicans out there. by some accounts about a third of the membership of the republican party. moderates are also a plurality of the american electorate, depending on which poll you would choose. and yet they don't feel that their preferences are adequately taken at of. this is largely because of the political system we have. with only two parties, which are tending towards ideological vehicles or ek lektory of being left out. the term generation x comes from the douglas kobland novel but he took it from paul fussel's book "class," people who are eclectic, whose views and beliefs and lifestyles come from a lot of different sources and they don't really fit. that was the kind of politician i liked looking back at the
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1960s, someone like charles wayland who died recently but was one of the most liberal republicans and hardlined andy abortion activists in the house. someone who feels eclectic is going to have an increasingly harder time. >> a wild proposition just came to me. it may be a certain aspect of the old moderate wing of the republican party is being reborn in front of our ice. look who the last nominees have been after reagan. bush, dole, another bush, john mccain, who talks to known democrats and now mitt romney, right? these are not the -- how come we can't get another ronald reagan, right? i've had this thesis for a long time i really need to develop which is among the differences of the party is the republican party has been a more executive oriented party for a long time and the democratic


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