tv History Bookshelf Larry Tye Bobby Kennedy CSPAN July 6, 2018 6:35pm-7:38pm EDT
>> president trump will announce his choice for the supreme court on monday night 9:00 p.m. eastern. you can see it live on our companion network c-span. up next on american history's tv's history book show, author larry tye talks about his book bobby kennedy, the making of an american icon. this was recorded in 2016. >> tonight the mayor will join in conversation with the noted author and reporter who's been a whirl wind of activity the past several days. bill green became a congressman in 1964 succeeding his father william j. green. his father was instrumental in the election of president june
f. kennedy. bill green served as a congressman until 1976 during which time he took on the oil companies, helped defeat the oil depletion allowance. he became mayor -- the 94th mayor of philadelphia in 1980. i'm pleased to say that i was in his administration. and during his term he took on a lot of special interests, and actually implemented the first deadly force policy in the united states. he's also said a lot of interesting things which i won't repeat here about santa claus doesn't live here anymore and city council's the worst legislative body in the free world. we always had a debate, i shouldn't have limited it to the free world -- i should have said the world, but that's besides
the point. i might also add his son, wi william j. green -- you'll see a pattern in the names here" was at city council and helped fight back against the wholesale closers of the free library branches. it's my privilege to welcome bill green. [ applause ] >> phil, thank you very much for that introduction. phil and i are very good friends. we've worked together. he was the head of policy and planning while i was mayor and has done more for this city than you might imagine. he was the director, ran the park, headed all those institutions and more. he was a pulitzer prizewinning report for the philadelphia inquirer. [ applause ] phil, thanks again.
i'm pleased to be part of this presentation. as you will probably find out tonight some of the most memorable days and happiest days of my life were the times i spent with robert kennedy. let me begin by offering praise for larry tye and his book, "bobby kennedy, the making of a liberal icon." what larry offers us in the book is the result of expensive research including previously unpublished reports and materials from the kennedy library and access to people that other authors didn't have, most notably to ethyl kennedy. larry made his career at the boston globe as an award winning report, a "new york times" best selling author including the book "satchel" which a biaugury of the baseball legend satchel page. his many books on such various
topics as railroad car workers, super man and jewish renewal in different global areas come to life for readers not only because of his steep research but also his captivating style. he also runs the boston based health coverage fellowship, which helps the media do a better job on reporting health issues. "bobby kennedy, the making of a liberal icon" is not a valentine. but bobby's strength, compassion and courage shine through any perceived shortcomings with each trait chronicled in what i would say this largely admiring portrait. the book has drawn praise far and mind to the former secretary of state henry kissinger.
"the new york times" book review praises in this fashion. we are in larry tye's debt for bringing back to life a presidential candidate who for a brief moment instilled hope for the future in angry and fearful americans. what we will never know most certainly not from a thousand books is what might have been. no one can say. no nixon, no watergate, no one knows. but i do know this from the crushing pain that followed his brother's death he emerged a wiser and even more compassionate man. as president he would admit his mistakes. war would be the very last resort. we would talk to our adversaries and listen to them.
detaining nuclear weapons would be a major urgent focus. he would be welcomed around the world. he would fight the corrupt and challenge the greedy and comfortable. most of all he would remember the forgotten, those stuck in urban ghettos, mostly black, those in rural hollows across the land, mostly white, and those picking our crops, mostly pa hispanic. better yet they would know it. they would see it in his face. that is what might have been. robert kennedy said we can do better. he was right. never have those words, we can do better, been so true as they are this night. larry, you are a great writer. you have written a great book, and i am pleased to introduce you to my fellow philadelphians. [ applause ]
>> so what i'd like to do in trying to introduce bobby kennedy to you, and assume a lot of people -- how many people in this room had lived through bobby kennedy's campaign in '68, so everybody. so i'm going to call all of you up here to tell your stories in a minute. what i would like you to do is take you three moments in bobby kennedy's life that i think were really indicative of how he changed and who he was at three critical times. and the first one starts out in 1957. and bobby kennedy's friend and his first boss, senator joe mccarthy, from wisconsin had died and was being buried in a town called appleten, wisconsin. and for anybody who's not old enough to remember this was the cable thumping, red chasing senator who basically saw a
communist behind just about every pillar in the state department. and there shows up at the airport in greenbay, wisconsin, the day of the funeral this enormous plane that comes in from washington. and off that plane stepped 19 u.s. senators, mostly u.s. republicans, mostly conservatives, seven congressmen and a bunch of other d dignitaries. and all of them do what dignitaries do when they get off a plane. they get off the plane and whisked away in a limousine. and when there's an especially clear notion that nobody else is going to get off the plane, one last person does. and it is a thin young congressional lady named robert f. kennedy. and he bums a ride from a reporter there from the
wisconsin newspaper. at the funeral in the church bobby kennedy watches from up in the choir loft. at the graveside service all the d dignitaries are over here and bobby kennedy is quietly over here. what he managed to do after the service in a way you could never get away with doing today, but anybody could ask a reporter and ren generally you'd be obliged back then, he got the all reporters covering the funeral to lead back then there was this guy who was there. and because he was a kennedy he generally got his way. what that story does, what that moment does at that funeral to me, it says two things about who bobby kennedy was back then. one thing it says is that he was the loyal friend of joe mccarthy who understood not just that joe mccarthy was his dad's friend but joe mccarthy gave him his first job.
and in an era where much of america thought much of communists was a huge flet twrsh there was one person. bobby kennedy did what he often did with jack's advice in those days. he ignored it and he wept and he was going to stand up up for his friend joe mccarthy. you can say i don't know what you think of joe mccarthy, but you can say there's something noble about his being there with the potential risk. bobby kennedy who knew someday he wanted his brother to be president and knew someday he might run for office himself. so he went to the funeral, showed up for his buddy joe mccarthy, but he darn well-made sure no one wasn't going to see him. so the two sides of bobby kennedy, the loyalist side, the
realist side and that's who bobby kennedy was back then. so he starts out as the ultimate cold warrior much like his dad joe kennedy was. i want to take you from that year 1957 to a moment that i think was if bobby kennedy had any single epiphany moment in his life, that was in november of 1963. bobby kennedy on a november day in 1963, he had come home from work at the just department with a couple of aides. and he had had a swim at his pool at the estate in hickory hill just outside of washington in plain, virginia, and he was settling back to have a great lunch and eventually to go back to work. at that moment when he just started eating lunch, the phone rings and it is the hot line to the white house. and by the way, there were more hot lines to the white house in
his estate in hickory hill than there were in the vice president's residence back then, which was a huge bone of contention for lyndon johnson. but anytime that phone rang it was generally not good news. and it was not good news when the guy on the other end of the line the way it was that day was one of the people bobby kennedy most hated in the world, an fbi director jay edgar hoover. in a voice that bobby kennedy would generally describe as a monotone, that it was like j. edgar hoover had found another communist, he says in that monotone voice, your brother has been shot. an hour later somebody calls back and says your brother is dead. and that moment changed bobby kennedy's life in a way that was different than just losing his brother. he had lost his brother. he had lost his best friend, and he had lost his whole sense of
purpose. bobby kennedy had been close enough to his brother from the time that they went overseas that they were both in their 20s that the idea that jack kennedy was gone was a world charj for him. and yet something happened naturally for the next month that the kennedy family was as you'd imagine was totally distraught, and somebody had to take charge. and it was bobby kennedy for the next month, he gave out assignments to the family -- you will take care of mom, you will break the news to dad who just had a stroke, you will do all these things that need to get done. it was bobby kennedy who went to the white house and decided whether or not it will be an open casket. it was bobby kennedy who held the hand of jackie kennedy and john john and carolyn when they were devastated. they had lost their father, and in jackie's case, a husband. it was bobby kennedy who helped
a country that was going through a kind of mourning that for their young president was deeper and more profound than they'd ever had happen, was bobby kennedy who was the nation's mourner in chief for the next month. and that was quite an extraordinary thing that he managed to do given how devastated he was. but almost a magical moment, exactly a month out from the death of jack kennedy, when the families started pulling back together and they went back to work to their lives and when the country had ended their period of mourning, and they were starting to pull it together, bobby kennedy when lost it. he wept for the next seven months through something that today we would describe as a clinical depression and that ethal remembers 50 years later like it happened a moment ago, he basically would go out in the middle of the night and drive around in his car not knowing where he was going. he would go to work and couldn't
sustain any attention at the meetings to the justice department. he had essentially lost his sense of what he was doing in the world. he debated about whether he should have become a college professor. and i'm convinced he wouldshoul take the $10 million inheritance and go out and traveled the world with his wife and kids. he debated about a lot of things and what he ended up doing was running for senator from new york and it wasn't until the middle of that campaign that he really started coming out of his depression. it was at a moment when he realized he could actually lose an election which would have been the first for a kennedy. he started having a sense that he had something to contribute and the other was people responded to him and turning out in droves to all of his rallies not because he was jackie kennedy's brother but because he was bobby kennedy's and he had something to offer.
during the period when he was coming out of his depression, he came out of it the way bill suggested in his introduction. he came out of it is a different person. he was a jackie's suggestion leading greek tragedy. this was a guy who for entertainment generally went out and played a running nose kind of touch football game and that is what he called a distraction. he was closet eating himself in his room and reading greek tragedies and reading about the kind of things that he realized he had had thinking that the world was there to do with what they want and suddenly it crashed around them. he came back in the world with a kind of empathy that he had never quite had before. we are all, we are all balanced between tough and tender.
he started waiting for the tough side and understanding and being empathetic to the underdog in a way he never done before. he in 1963 came out of this miserable experience with a whole new way of looking at the world. it was a good thing because all of the kennedy power that went with being the presidents brother had disappeared and he had to find a new role for himself. he started out and 67 with a tough guy called warrior bobby kennedy and in 1963 he went through a dramatic experience that changed him. where i want to take you for the third story is who bobby kennedy was when he ran for president in 1968. that is the story that has residents today as we look around and try to get excited about the candidates running for president today. i want to take you to one night in the campaign.
do you remember what the first contested primary was in 1968 when bobby was running? >> indiana.>> he has not been coached and a great memory.>> just say indiana. [ laughter ] >> if you picked a single spate -- state were massachusetts politician did not have it -- a contested primary would have been indiana. he had no idea on anything on the midwest. he was in massachusetts born and bred guy with the senator from new york and this was it new territory. he was about to, one night in this indiana primary just before the primary, he was
about to fly into indianapolis and go to a very important rally in the middle of the city and that was the night that when he flew in and landed in indianapolis he was told, he was told that martin luther king had been shot and killed. the mayor of indianapolis was a guy name richard lugar who became a powerful u.s. senator and he had one piece of advice which is you will not go into the african-american ghetto tonight to hold a rally. you will go there because i am worried about whether you will come out alive and because i am worried because you will create a right. bobby kennedy went down in 1967 . he said that is great advice and it he proceeded to to the rally he planned to go to all along. he ends up having a police escort peel off before he gets
to the ghetto and he stands up on the back of a flat bed truck and for the next five minutes, he gives one of the great speeches for the greatest speech in the history of american political oratory. he is telling the audience that night, several hundred people, he is telling 90 % of them for the first time that their slain leader has been killed. luther king is gone. you can hear if you listen on youtube to the speech. you can hear gasps from the audience and people are devastated. he proceeds for the first time in his life to talk about what it was like to lose his own brother and the anger he felt when jackie kennedy had been killed and he said our temptations are to want to -- strike out. we have to come together as
people in the audience and as a country at this moment. what happened that night in indianapolis was extraordinary. in a country that night of martin luther king's death when there was race riots and more than hundred cities went burned down. there was one city in america that had a sizable african- american population. it stayed peaceful that night and that city was -- >> philadelphia.>> indiana. >> indianapolis stayed peaceful the night because bobby kennedy found the first -- perfect tone to into the ghetto and use. it was the time that was predicted when much of the civil rights unit -- movement was given up. there was one
person who had faith in him and said we have to stick with this guy because someday he will get it and that person was the guy who was killed that day, martin luther king. martin luther king was proven right that night when bobby kennedy gave exactly the speech that i think that hillary clinton and donald trump and barack obama delivered in the last month. they have all looked for just the right tone after dallas, baton rouge, st. paul and none of them gave long-winded oratory. they could not find the time that bobby take -- bobby kennedy had the night in indianapolis. from that moment to the end of the campaign i can say with any -- without any hyperbole that bobby kennedy was easily the -- most popular white man in black america. there was a very short time -- sign that set it all.
there are many white politicians the people in black america would have said that about in 1968. what i want to do is take you to who bobby kennedy was and why we should still care about him a half-century after his death and i think that many of us have spent the last 50 years looking for somebody that was able to do with bobby kennedy came on the verge of doing back then in 1968. at a moment where the country was equally divided with equally stressed out with what was going on in vietnam, bobby kennedy was on the cusp of pulling together the kind of coalition that we have never seen in this country. it was a coalition of the blue- collar white supporting him as
his early days as a joe mccarthy called warrior. it was the mission of the blacks who listened to him and stayed peaceful that night in indianapolis. it was a coalition of a group that no politician ever spoke to . bobby kennedy was the only one who went to california in the only politician in america who went to california and stood with cesar chavez during the hunger strike's and he reached out to hispanics in a way that they awarded him with 100 % of the vote in the california primary. he was bringing together the group that we dream about doing today. the people support donald trump and the people who support hillary clinton. he seemed on the verge of becoming precisely the tough liberal or if you prefer the tender conservative that i think we are searching for in america. before i go on and before we open it up to questions, one of
the most tender moments i have seen anybody describe about who bobby kennedy was in the later years was a guy name -- named bill greene who talked about what happened after his dad died. would you tell us about that? >> my father died one month after president kennedy. can you hear me? you couldn't before? >> would you mind reintroducing me? [ laughter ] after my father died, i will tell you a couple stories about that. when president kennedy died, my father did not want to go to washington because he did not want to interfere with the candidates. he did not want to intrude on their moment of star and my mother said to him, bill, you should go down there.
he went down and he went to the white house and he came home and he told me this story that he came on the first floor of the white house and he was walking up to the second door and bobby was walking down from the second to the first. they took one look at each other and they both cried. bobby kennedy really was extremely grateful to my father. i had that experience because when my dad died a month later, robert kennedy on christmas eve, left his then i think, eight children in virginia when he came to philadelphia on december 24 for my father's funeral. he brought with him a letter from jackie kennedy which he had basically gotten from her the day before which is as beautiful a letter that you will ever want to say.
he was, first of all, he came to the funeral and he heard that he was here and i was here for my father's funeral. a week later i got a call and he said to me, i understand you will run for your father's seat. i said that is correct and he said i sent kenny o'connell up there and he has looked at that situation and i know a lot of the organizations your father are lined up against you. if they take you on, i want you to understand that we will be there and he said can i ask you a quote couple questions. explicitly what does we will be in the mean? he said to me, if they take you on the kennedys will crawl all
over your district. this was a month after the presidents when -- several months later robbie kennedy went to 15th and chestnut and there was 30 or 40,000 people going from 19th street to 13th street and it was a mob scene. even do that do -- even during that period i said what can i tell. he said tell them all. what he was really saying is, you can tell them i'm the attorney general also. we're not going to lose. he did not say that but bobby would not be in favor of doing anything but making sure i one.>> the next question was, do you need money and i said no. i said i don't think so.
the friends of my father will back me in this process. he said if you don't have enough you write the check and we will sign it. i would like you to come to see me in washington and i went to washington and i walked him to his office. i almost could not control myself. i had never in all my life and not until this minute seen a face that sad. he was absolutely crushed, heartbroken but not so heartbroken that he could not function and be at my mother's funeral and not so heartbroken that he could not say, i can't tell you what this means to me. a lot of the people that my father helped in philadelphia are against me and you with all that is going on in your life
is for me. he put his head down and he said to me, don't you know what your father did for my brother? don't you know what your father did for my brother? what he really did was not -- people credited my father for producing the victory. my father would laugh. he would say the people and politicians when primaries. 1960 at the democratic convention. i am talking about the kennedys and you cannot talk about one without the other.>> that was aligned robert kennedy with what you had done. they were like that to the point that ethel kennedy described the fact -- there is
a clichi that people are so close they can finish one another's sentences. they were so close they could just pick up one another's expressions and that is why the closest thing -- there is another clichi that people talked about. before people elected and they are on the ticket together they say this will be the closest working relationship we have ever had between a president and a vice president. no president in their right mind ever gives up power to a vice president or anyone else is a copresident. the closest thing america has ever had to a co-presidency was on bobby kennedy was jack kennedys internally -- attorney general. he was is cia director he consulted bobby kennedy more often than the secretary of state on foreign affairs. he was the guy that jack kennedy knew he could go to whether it was the bay of pigs or civil rights were the cuban
missile crisis. he could go and bobby would have his back pick he would look out for what was best for the country and what was best political leave for jack kennedy. that was an extraordinary relationship. he knew if he was seen at the funeral, he had to be there because he was loyal but he knew if that was published it would hurt jack. trying to have it both ways but he was always trying to help his brother and he did. >> he also wanted to be loyal.>> he did. there was a magical moment and i am not sure when it happened. 1957 where bobby understood when jack was alive that he had a political career himself and they joked that after he done it for eight years, you know
joe kennedy had aspirations to be the president and during world war ii at the start of world war ii when he was the u.s. ambassador to great britain he not only had the opportunity and that eventually became public and never denied it. the boston globe helped get him fired. the moment that joe kennedy knew it could not be him it was going to be his son and in order of birth. joe junior until joe junior was killed in a courageous mission trying to take out b-2 bombers in europe and the day that joe junior died the mantle was passed to jack and when jack was tragically killed it was clear that it was going to be bobby.>> president kennedy was here in philadelphia on october 31 1963.
the 30th through the 31st and i was in an elevator in him -- with him and my father and i had no opportunity -- actually i did once when he was running and i attended a meeting. he turned to my father and said what are you going to do with him and he said what are you going to do with him, billy. i called him billy. everybody had larry it was natural. my father to -- said to him, i don't know, what do you suggest? what is so incredible about that is a month later i was running for congress and they were both gone and bobby called me to help. there is no way for me to explain to you how not just
indebted but how admiring of i -- i am of both the president and bobby. i think they are lost, both of them and bobby just comes out from what happened to the president. it was so harmful to this country that it is hard to imagine and one of the things they did and one of the things i have always believed is that words count. you mentioned what he did in indianapolis and what he did in south africa every time a man stands up against injustice. he sends a ripple of hope. to go to the berlin wall, my father's advice in the short period between the president's death and my father's death and my father went to new york on
december 8 so we're not -- now talking december 4. i think some of the big city democratic leaders in the north were perhaps a little concerned. johnson might not be the candidate that bobby would be and i don't know that bobby ever expressed any interest in running for president at that point or gave it any serious thought but i know there was a discussion. joe must have heard about it because lyndon johnson asked the governor of pennsylvania to check out something. that convention where lyndon johnson was nominated in 1964, i think at that moment bobby kennedy had no interest but johnson was
too paranoid. they had agents check out what was going on in the kennedy camp and be stationed at the convention and report back to him if they picked up any -- anything. the best speech at the convention was at the speech that bobby kennedy delivered. it was, depending on who's count you use it was the -- as long as 17 minutes of interruptions of and paul's -- applause. they talked about the loss of his brother jack. the end of the speech was the most rousing endorsement of lbj. bobby kennedy was three things. he was a catholic, he was joe kennedy and rose kennedy son and loyal to the kennedy family and the third, the pillar that he stood on was he was a
democrat and he was going to support even though he detested lbj, he was going to support him in 1964. we have microphones. people have questions they would like to ask. maybe you can get the microphones over there. do you want me to pass it? >> right here. >> weber kennedy was thinking of running for president . wrote him a letter. stay out. you're going to divide the antiwar movement. three weeks after he announced
he sent me a letter and he said , as you see i have entered the race. [ indiscernible ] >> as you can see, i have entered the race but i disagree with you. i am adding my voice to the antiwar movement. i said to myself, you just -- he just signed his death warrant. when he announced he was going to run, that was it because there was no way that the people
were going to allow him to be president. >> i would like to make a couple, -- >> i would say there's no way to get around the fact that it was a very awkward entry into the race and i would have preferred if he was going to do it that he did earlier. >> he did it after mccarthy beat lbj in new hampshire. new hampshire. we are talking about mccarthy beat lbj before robert kennedy got into it. the truth was, he gets into it and he looks like the ultimate, the cutthroat politician who
let mccarthy do the tough work in new hampshire and bobby kennedy takes his mantle away four days later and the national columnist sent a telegram to ted kennedy saying that what you just -- what your brother just did in new hampshire shows patrick did not drive all the stakes out of back and look at what happened, the evidence is clear. bobby kennedy decided to enter and he decided it was only fair that mccarthy was fighting new hampshire for a long time. it was only fair to give mccarthy the clear shot before he came in. when he was being a gentleman and doing the kind of thing that the political campaign manager and him would've asked him to do he ended up hurting myself deadly with the brush and it took almost the entire campaign for the reporters to come around and trust bobby
kennedy but by the end of the campaign one of the other ways that that campaign offers a dramatic contrast to what is going on today in 2015 is the way the press had a relationship with the candidate. today as we on a donald trump starts out by bashing and actually banishes the press from his event. hillary clinton said -- spent much to money -- much too much time with reporters. bobby kennedy started out with reporters being skeptical of him. by the end, something strange happened and it was one of the things that drew me to the bobby kennedy story. the reporters fell in love with him. my mentor in journalism who want a pull towards her -- pulitzer prize and covering then campaign for the washington post was assigned to
cover the campaign because he was very cynical. he despised bobby kennedy and he would never be one over. by the end of the candidate -- campaign richard made a play to ben bradley, take me off of the campaign, i have fallen in love with the candidate. and ex-marine and as hard as is you can get. the reason the press fell in love with bobby kennedy is what they are looking for today. it was a candidate who was authentic. it was somebody the political press in those days like today has a better sifter for who is real and who does not seem real. they decided by the end the bobby kennedy was the one who had the courage to stand up in the senate and say my brother jack and i have got into vietnam and we were wrong. and that is not something that they had the courage to stand up
for and say what we are wrong and not something many political figures do. the way he shifted from the cold war that he started out with to the hot-blooded liberals he became in the end was off and defining the day to do that. that was something reporters want to say and something that i think the public would have liked to see and probably something mayor green and i would have agreed on. after his victory that night in california, the night he was killed at the ambassador hotel in california, after his victory, he was scheduled the next morning to go to chicago and the son of the mayor said that next day his dad was 70 % -- his dad had a 70 % chance to
endorse bobby kennedy. i think if the mayor endorsed i think bobby kennedy would not just have become the nominee but there was nobody in america who understood richard nixon's vulnerabilities better than the guy who eight years before that his brother's successful campaign against richard nixon. i think it is not too much of a what if to say that bobby kennedy would have been the nominee, would have been the president and would have from day one was a guy who was passionate and too impatient to get things done and from day one he would have made a difference. >> if you did not mention that or get into that at some point, i was going to say that one of the things that i did not know
or see anyone else write about was the fact that he may have endorsed him. with his son saying that, i can tell you the night before robert kennedy was killed, i was with him. i was strategizing for what we would do. i went in and we spent a half hour alone strategizing how we would deal with those in philadelphia who were against him. i sensed that night with robert kennedy that he was going to be with him. he said i would see daily tomorrow and i think he was confident that daley was going to endorse him. i left the next morning because i had work to do. i got home and watched the speech on television and went to bed and at 4:00 the morning
i got a phone call. what you have to say about the can anything? this is 4:00 in the morning. can't this week? i didn't know. the reporter said he has been shot and i cried and could not go any further. i prayed and eventually i fell asleep. i believe now that there was -- if deli would have been there it would have enhanced his chances of pulling it off. we will never know what could have been but i think it could have worked.>> since nobody can prove me wrong i want to add one other of what i think happened. i think what would have happened is that in those days the candidates are united after a struggle in the primary and i think that it would have been a robert kennedy hubert humphrey ticket.
>> can you hear me? you described the hierarchy of the kennedy brothers. what was of the relationship of john and bobby to teddy? >> in the hierarchy of the kennedy brothers, first of all, can you repeat the question.>> what was the relationship of the kennedy brothers in terms of the hierarchy. where to can -- tech kennedy fit into the relationship? rose kennedy green was going into the priesthood. if jack kennedy went into the priesthood he would have been pope because that was the guy that jack kennedy was. he was intellectual and roads about things. bobby kennedy would have been the parish priest because that is who he was. he was grassroot. ted kennedy's question would never come up. tech kennedy i think and i am a
massachusetts guy and ted kennedy was, when i was at the boston globe for 15 years, i continued -- i think ted kennedy was one of the greatest senators ever. they called him the lion of the senate 50 years in the senate not trying to emulate his brother. check was a short-term senator and did not make much of the waves in the senate. i think he tried to be bobby and he adored his brother when they were senators. ted was the senior senator and he was elected before bobby. the only time that the staff never knew where they were was when they were visiting the offices and ted kennedy gave bobby, he was the older and the kennedy family, everything mattered who was the elder and bobby kennedy got the key position.
he chose vietnam for his issue ain't ted kennedy looked to others. they adored one another and ted emulated bobby and when bobby died, ted kennedy for the rest of his life felt the pressure that i mentioned before when one of the sons died, the mantle fell to the other one. i think ted kennedy never wanted to run for president or wanted to be president but that was something he had grown up thinking it was his responsibility. the party kept turning to him and he was happiest in life and as a u.s. senator when he unsuccessfully challenged jimmy carter and he went back to being senator. >> it's my understanding that j
edgar hoover got permission from bobby kennedy to put microphones in the motel and tape martin luther king and blackmail him. is that correct? >> the first half is correct. j edgar hoover kept going back to bobby kennedy asking permission to wiretap martin luther king. the reason was because there was a fear and a fear that hoover fanned i think without any convincing evidence that there was communists in martin luther king's hierarchy and that moment j edgar hoover survived through attorneys and presidents because he had always -- he always had dirt on someone and he always asked what he wanted. he asked repeatedly for wiretaps. in the end, bobby kennedy gave
it to him without defending the decision. he gave it to him for district -- strategic regions -- reasons. a major civil rights bill and the most embarrassing thing would have been if a bunch turned up in martin luther king's camp and j edgar hoover would've used that information to embarrass the kennedys. the idea that the wiretaps which provided embarrassing information about king, the idea that bobby kennedy wanted that circulated is the opposite. he realized what was happening and hoover was using it to tarnish martin luther king's reputation pick he tried to withdraw the tape from the transcript but was too late. remember the story? the story from indiana was that that the one who forgave bobby kennedy,
who understood the goodness in him and to forgive him more than anybody else was martin luther king a point where his protigi said, this guy bobby kennedy is no good. martin luther king was right. it became much more. by the end of the tenure as attorney general, bobby kennedy was calling his federal troops to stand up. most of you are old enough to remember george wallace's famous stand in tuscaloosa. bobby kennedy learned from his mistake. you had to call in troops early because you weren't going to appease the segregationist. by the end bobby kennedy understood that. there is nobody in america who did more during his lifetime. for the great passion of martin luther king's life which is
ending poverty. one last thing i want to say about jack. this is more than you wanted to hear. he had four great yemenis -- enemies. jager hoover. another enemy was a guy we had discovered in recent months who was a tutor of donald trump in his early days. bobby kennedy despised him. he blamed all of it on loiacono. it was his responsibility. he hated him and he hated j edgar hoover. he detested the head. those people are a great tragedy. were so different. one was a harvard educated guy who grew up rich in massachusetts.
the other was a guy from east texas who grew up poor and resented anybody who was harvard educated and talked like bobby kennedy talked. and had they ever united in a coalition, they could have gotten more extraordinary things done. they both wanted to end poverty. every time he gave a rabid antiwar speech, it seemed like the next day, lbg increased the bombing of vietnam. >> one of the things that struck me in -- >> i'm the only book in america that read his book
twice. his wife read it five times. every day he says, did you read it again? >> one of the things in the book -- >> what lyndon johnson did with his bill was put bobby in charge of getting it through. >> that is so true. >> the purpose for doing that was, if it failed, he would have bobby to blame. i think there were two purposes. one is exactly the purpose he said. >> until he wanted it. >> he knew there was nobody better who could play off the dead president's memory. you also have to understand, jack kennedy filed that civil rights bill. lbj ended up with. it was jack kennedy who filed that bill. the only one of jack kennedy's advisers who told him you aught to file a civil rights bill, he
wanted to wait until he won reelection in '64 to file a bill. bobby said, you have to do it now. that was who bobby kennedy was. he came from essentially there were only a couple years apart in age. it was a different generation. jack kennedy was from the world war ii. we know what life is like generation. bobby kennedy was enlisted in the navy and he saw active duty going out of port and coming back to port and i think falling once and nicking his lip. that was the one injury bobby kennedy ended up with. the rest of his life, he felt a little bit inadequate because he hadn't fought in the war. he spent so much of his life dealing with what he thought were inadd question inadequate. bobby is the one his dad described as the runt of the litter. the one who was least likely to
be able to do anything and bobby spent his life working harder than any of his siblings to show his dad that he wasn't the runt and he could get things done. in the end, joe kennedy acknowledged that the kid was most like him, the kid he most adored, i think in the end, and the kid he made executor of his estate. there was nothing more important than joe kennedy to execute that estate was his son, bobby kennedy. so, we have time for one more question. one more question. >> thank you very much. so my question is, the questions written about this journey, what do you think the
older for lack of a better word, bobby kennedy would have thought about the younger bobby kennedy, which was much more conservative and very judgmental. >> i don't know this woman, but that was the perfect last question. the question was, how would the older bobby kennedy -- when i thought i was being tough on bobby kennedy and wonder if i was too tough, i used that standard, what would the later bobby kennedy said about the earlier one? he would a said about the mccarthy era, that yes, america was anticommunist then, and yes, joe mccarthy in the early days looked like was standing up legitimately against communist threats. the early bobby kennedy was tone deaf to all of joe mccarthy's victims in a way that the later bobby kennedy would never let him get away with. he would have said that about
vietnam. the early bobby kennedy went to vietnam. instead, we will stand by you, because we think you can win this war and it's an important war to fight. one of the primary authors of the u.s. counterinsurgency strategy was bobby kennedy. he stood up. he stood up in the u.s. senate and said, i was wrong. and he did that on issue after issue and so that is the standard. it's the later bobby kennedy, the good bobby, called the bobby twins. he said there's a bad bobby and good bobby. by the end, the good bobby was the dominant personality and the one running for president and would have made one of the great presidents. it's not accidental that barack obama and i think hillary clinton, looked as their role model more than any politician in american history to bobby kennedy the one they want to model after. in the end, i would like to just say one last thing.
bill green introducing jokes i have written books on strange topics, including a guy named superman. i would like to just present this shirt to bill green. i won't make you put it on tonight. but we give him a wonderful round of applause. if nothing else. thank you very much. you couldn't have known. that's what everybody called me when i was mayor. >> there will be a book signing for those of you that have books. you can line up along the gallery.
president trump will announce his choice for supreme court monday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern. you can find the announcement on our companion network, cspan. cspan, where history unfolds daily. a public service by america's cable television company. and today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress. the white house. the supreme court. and public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. c span is brought to you by your cable and satellite provider. you're