tv Presidential Leadership - Lessons from History CSPAN December 22, 2018 10:40am-11:46am EST
classroom to you. next, historian j winnick and doris kearns goodwin this quest the quality of care that they believe are essential for leadership in challenging times. much of the discussion focuses on president lincoln during the civil war and president roosevelt during world war ii. relationsl on foreign hosted this event as part of their ongoing lessons from history series. >> i am david gregory. what a great opportunity for me to be part of this conversation with these wonderful historians. when i had the opportunity i at the opportunity to talk with doris and jay.
we will have some discussion among the three of us and all of us will join in the discussion up herbrate and lift timely book on presidential leadership in the broader lessons of history. i want to point out that this is an on the record meeting and in about half an hour we will open up the q&a. these are two who need very little introduction. doris kearns goodwin is with us and her latest book is leadership and turbulent times. winnick, historian author.
april in 1865, the month saved america, and "1934." the former historian and president here at the council on foreign relations. thank you both for teaching us and enlightening us and making history so much fun to keep learning. we can all drink to that. i wanted to frame this by asking you both, is presidential leadership a distinct thing? is it something we should think of as different from leadership. in other domains. doris: clearly there are things about political leadership. you have to go to the electorate. you have to deal with congress, the supreme court and the checks and balances. if you think about leadership is mobilizing people in your team and within your organization within your country to a set of purposes, i think it is human nature. it is whether you have the
humility to acknowledge errors and learn from your mistakes. that is relevant in business, relevant as a university leader. whether you grow in office, that is relevant in all of them. whether a not you have the resilience to get through losses. whether or not you have self reflection. whether you can laugh at yourself at times there whether you have a sense of knowing how to communicate to the people you need to. it could be a business person. shareholders, employees. whether or not you can control your emotions. all of those things, i think, whether you can find time to relax and replenish your energy. the things i think about for political leaders, i think are relevant to aspiring leaders. it is what is leadership but
dealing with people? the framework is different. you don't have quarterly reports if you're in the government. you don't have shareholders in the same way. it still matters if you have the emotional intelligence to deal with the team. >> in presidential leadership, you had -- lincoln was probably the earliest to think about whether this whole idea of popular leadership was going to work. jay: one of the things lincoln really saw early on was the stakes of presidential leadership, of political leadership, are different from all other walks of life. you are talking about war and peace, the fate of the people. whether people live or whether they die. if you think about lincoln for a second at the start of the civil war, consider this. nobody could have been less prepared to be president, to preside over this great civil war than lincoln. he was a one-term congressman, a failed senatorial candidate. he had virtually no military experience. he had no executive experience.
he had moved in depression so great, as he once put it, he said that i fear carrying a penknife. when fort sumter was about to happen, he had to make a decision. do we negotiate or do something tougher? do we end up going to war? this is a unique province of presidents. lincoln in a sense was the first one to have to do that. david: the stakes are so much higher. it is the sense of presidents have a greater sense and calling to sort of define the destiny of our country in a way that others don't. doris: i think something happens sometimes when a person becomes president and they are aware of the other presidents before them. they are aware that some things they may do maybe he remembered over a long period of time.
i think they start thinking that way. the best presidents are those for whom ambition herself starts when they start running for office and becomes something larger. an ambition for a couple she -- accomplishing something that will stand the test of time. that is when you get a good leader i think becomes a great leader. when i think about the difference between lyndon johnson for example, he had developed -- gotten there from the beginning. he sought power and had a massive heart attack while he was majority leader. just having been done six months before. he asked himself the question, what if i died now, what would i be remembered for? then he went in a different direction. then he went for civil rights in the senate and then obviously for civil rights when he got to the presidency. had the war not cut his legacy in two, he would be remembered as one of the great domestic presidents. when you think about what he did, it's extraordinary. when i was down at the ranch working with him on his memoirs, he talked about that. once you get there, there is something different.
the first thing you get done, if it really makes a difference, and the civil rights act passes in 1964, you think i can do this. maybe i will do the next one. we do not know what that feeling must be like to have made a decision. the other side is you have people in a war and people are dying. you have to bear that legacy. i think you are right. the stakes are really different. jay: what presidents see is, they come to realize after a while after having these massive egos which is what enables them to run for president but eventually they realize they are part of something much bigger. much grander, much larger. they are just one link in a chain that stretches back to history. if we go back to lincoln for a one of the things that lincoln
thought about, why would he go to this terrible war that would consume so much time, bloodshed, and effort? he thought this was a great experiment started by the founders and he wanted to preserve that experiment. david: imagine you are lincoln and you are sitting in the oval office. he is president, he is looking out at the washington monument in its construction. which is such a great metaphor. this thing is still coming together. the country is still coming together. we are seeing if it will all work. we had to think about all of the leaders, all the presidents that you profile here. these were touch and go moments. this whole enterprise was going to sink or swim. doris: we think we are living in the worst of times now. just imagine what it was like for abraham lincoln coming in as jay knows, there is a question of whether the union will be held together? 600,000 people are going to die or even more than that. he said he was not sure if you knew what he would have to go through in those first months in office, he could not have lived
through it. he thought the anxiety would be so great. or even teddy roosevelt when the terrors of the industrial revolution were much greater than the technology shakeups today, a working-class was in real rebellion. they gap between the rich and the poor. they were nationwide strikes violence in the streets. it was unclear whether or not democracy would survive. of course, when fdr comes in if, you are living in that period of time and your savings have been taken away from you and you don't have a job, there is a guy who wrote to fdr saying once he got there he made them feel better. there is a joke that says, my roof fell off, my dog ran away, i lost my job, but you are there so i will be ok. somehow he was willing to take that responsibility when it was unclear whether capitalism would survive. even lbj coming in when racial tensions were escalating, there was no thought that there would be a bill to desegregate the south. the assassination had taken place. people thought it might be a conspiracy.
we're living in a complicated time, but i think that is what history can tell people is there is a perspective and reassurance that we went through these times but we had the right leader. david: that is one of the questions. does history make the man or does man make a history? is great leadership, the kind of leadership that would lead historians like both of you to write about these figures hundreds of years later, is it the opportunity that is born of crisis? jay: i think it is the opportunity born of crisis. but more than anything else i i would say man does make history. the leaders do make history. it is impossible to think about the civil war without thinking about abraham lincoln. it is impossible to think about the civil war or the emancipation proclamation, or the first inaugural, or the second inaugural without thinking about abraham lincoln. it is impossible to think about the birth of this nation without thinking about george washington.
we were talking about this earlier. when washington was facing this potential uprising among some of his officers because he thought they were not being paid enough, -- because they thought they were not being paid enough, i thought about instituting a coup. they went to washington and he said let me address your grievances. he pulled a sheet out of his pocket and he was about to read it and all of a sudden he said excuse me gentlemen, he reaches in and does something they had never seen before. he puts on glasses and says pardon me. it seems that in the service of my country i have not only gone gray, but i have gone blind.' on the spot, these potential plotters began to cry. they were so overtaken by the emotion of the moment. and you see washington talking about preserving the moment of this nation. david: a symbol of sacrifice? of leadership? doris: i think the opportunity makes a potentially great leader because the crisis and challenge has to be overcome.
it can can also produce great failure. to think about buchanan before lincoln, he was considered until a few weeks ago the worst president in the presidential legacy. [laughter] that is not me speaking. that is presidential historians. in the last poll, president trump was below buchanan. the great story and his paper was the beginning family was celebrating. they were no longer the bottom. [laughter] think about herbert hoover before roosevelt when the depression had started. he had a more fixed temperament. he did not have that optimism or willingness to experiment that fdr had. mckinley probably could not have done what teddy roosevelt did had he not been assassinated, we might have had a less progressive and more conservative movement to deal with all the turmoil to deal of the time. i don't think jfk could have gotten the civil rights bill through.
this was a southern president who understood the congress and was calling up the congressman at noon, 2:00 a.m., midnight. he says, i hope i didn't wake you up, the senator says no, i was just looking at the ceiling hoping my president would call. [laughter] if the congress was not there he would talk to the wife, or the kids. tell your dad he's got to go along with me on this bill. i don't see who else, beside him, could have together the majority with the republicans helping him to break the filibuster. david: can you both address the broader idea of emotional intelligence? you use that phrase in the book. the ability to master narrative for the country, to be a great storyteller. this was interesting because you write about lincoln this way, but we think about in the more modern history with lbj. having a sense of what people need. not the country. what lawmakers need and what the country needs. and why that contributes to great leadership. doris: the first part of your question, i think it is true,
what the leaders provide is a story for the country. people need a narrative. lincoln was asked why do you tell so many stories? he would tell funny stories but he would also tell stories in all of his great speeches. this is where we have come from on slavery, here is where we are now and here was what we have to go. he said people remember stories better than they do facts and figures. i think it is hardwired in our brains, they would tell stories from one generation to another. to provide a narrative to the country but then to be able to figure out how to get the people around you to go along with it. it will take a lot of deals, a lot of pragmatic stuff, being
flexible, as it was for lincoln to get that cabinet to go together with him on emancipation. they did not want to at the beginning. david: in the modern context we talk about president trump, hardly a man of the people. yet, has a common touch in ways that can confound people. reading about fdr you think about the same thing. this partisan background but he was able to cultivate a sense of what the working men and women wanted. jay: he would give these fireside chats for example. people out there who were destitute hungry, poor, who in many ways, had nothing left to live for, he would speak to them in such a way that it would touch their heart, head, soul. they felt that when they heard him, they had a friend who was looking after them. doris: what he imagined in his mind was he would picture was a shopgirl behind the counter or a mason, construction worker, he was talking directly to them. they talk about walking down the street on a hot chicago night when one of the fireside chats was on the air. you could look in the windows and people were sitting looking at the radio. you could hear his voice coming out to the street. you could keep walking and not miss a word of what he was saying. there is the story of a construction worker coming home
early one night and his partner said where you going, he said my president is coming to speak to me in my living room tonight. it's only right to be there to greet him when he comes. i think the bond fdr established with the people through the fireside chat, they felt he was their friend. when he died the "new york times" reported strangers were hugging each other. they said my friend is gone. one person wrote it was amazing that one person dies and 130 million people feel lonely. that was the key to his leadership. he understood he had to create a bond to take them through the depression and then through world war ii, but he used it to educate them. fireside chats are pretty meaty. they really talk to about the banking crisis. i had forgotten it was the first fireside chat until i did in
i put it in this book the banking crisis was where people were taking deposits out of the bank. banks had closed. he called the bank holiday -- euphemistically named the bank holiday. he got a week until they were going to open again to figure out a banking bill to shore up the weaker banks and keep the stronger ones going. he describes why the banks did not have enough money. he tells them the reason they do not have the money is because when you give your money, it does not go into a vault. it goes into mortgages to keep the economy going. some of these banks invested in the stock market and their money is gone. others did not but they would their assests were not strong enough. they get the currency back. he ends up saying it is safer for you to bring your money back to the bank, i promise you, then to keep it under your mattress. the banks open next monday and everyone is terrified. well they come and take the money out again? long lines. they are bringing satchels to bring it back to the bank. it is amazing that you would
trust a leader that way. jay: we sometimes forget how difficult the trials are that they are going through. when we look back at history, some of these things seem inevitable. if we look at lincoln for one second, as late as 1864, this was almost a year after the gettysburg victory, there was a battle of the wilderness. in this battle, in the first battle of cold harbor, within 10 minutes the union would lose 10,000 men. over a six-week span, the union would lose some 56,000 people. that would be as many as we would lose in the entirety of the vietnam war. while this was happening lincoln was pacing the halls of the white house. his hands were behind his back. his head was furrowed. his eyes were baggy. he kept repeating to himself, almost like a mantra, i must have some release from this anxiety or it will kill me. it almost did kill him. but when the country began crying for his head and saying
grant was a butcher, and that from lincoln's wife, they were calling for peace. general mcclellan, the former 1864, general ran against him on a peace plank. somebody said you have to get rid of grant, he is a butcher. lincoln said, i can't spare that man, he fights. they can peer over the horizon and see things that we cannot see. david: are these leaders and doris, you are writing about lincoln, roosevelt, fdr, teddy roosevelt, and lbj. are they visionary leaders? i use the example of steve jobs in the context of business and technology. he was able to see things that we wanted and needed that we could not see. do you think these are men who had that? doris: lincoln was later asked at one point did you ever think we might lose the war? he said i did not think that. he envisioned somehow -- i don't think he knew how it was going to happen. i think about lbj, the first night he comes into the
presidency, he is lying on a big bed. they are watching the assassination coverage afterwards. that night he says i know what i'm going to do. first i'm going to get a tax cut passed. i'm going to get kennedy's tax-cut. then we will get the economy expanding. then i will get the civil rights bill to desegregate the south. then we will get voting rights. and then i'm going to get education, because every kid should have the education they want. finally, i will get truman's medicare through. in the first 18 months he figured out the timing of each one of those. he had a vision of what the country might be like with a social foundation that expanded with the new deal was. i don't know that they all have that. i would like to go back to what you are talking about. i think we forget about the anxiety of these people and how
they sleep at night. the way lincoln could sleep in the midst of that terrible worry at the war, he would read a shakespeare comedy and would go to his aid and read it aloud so he could laugh when he went to sleep. thinking about something funny, rather than thinking about the anxiety of the war. when teddy was worried about winning an election and whether he might lose or not, he would write dozens of letters to his friends and family saying don't worry, if i lose it is fine. i have had the best run of anybody. it would be selfish to want .nother thing he would not have to feel pity if you lost. fdr when he couldn't sleep at night, he had this amazing ritual where he would imagine himself a young boy once more and his sled would go down the hill. here is this paralyzed man imagining sleds.
lbj could not sleep. that was his problem. he would go to the situation room and worry about whether he made the right decision. he said he and the truman who said i made the information -- the decision on the information i had and i don't second-guess it. david: we talk about these men of destiny and purpose and unity, what about this raw ambition and insecurity? i think of lbj and he was trying to measure up to these who had been in the ivy leagues. teddy roosevelt overcoming physical frailty in a different kind of point with the dawn of the american century. we talk about the lofty ideals. what about the base insecurities and the ambition and ego involved? jay: i think it is clear, to be president you have to have all
of those things. i really believe the presidency is a transformative experience. they be not the first day, first week, maybe not the first year. at some point, most major presidents get hit by it. the event of cataclysmic proportions. they realize they have to become stewards of this nation. you see that whether you are looking at presidents 150 years ago or to this day. i wrote in the "wall street journal" about donald trump and i don't know how right this turned out to be. i wrote that when he gets into office, he will feel there is something much larger and grander than him. as a result, it will be humbling. it will stitch them into the fabric of this thing called the united states. doris: where ambition comes from is still a mystery. if you could ask yourself where did your ambition to become what you became start? sometimes a comes from insecurity and the desire to get back at something.
when i did and interview with president obama, i asked him about his ambition. lincoln amazingly at the age of 23 said every man has peculiar ambition. minus to be esteemed by the fellow man. he said maybe mine was to something to my absent father or maybe because of my race i -- was to prove something to my absent father or maybe because of my race i wanted to prove something. or lbj it was to want to put something. sometimes it is you were so confident and you love being the center of attention, you want to replicate that. they said teddy wanted to be the baby at the baptism, pride at -- the bride at the wedding, and corpse at the funeral. you are so used to that, being at the center, then where better to be at the center? jay: fdr was overturning something started by george washington himself. when you think about that with george washington, after his second term he decided he would step down and it was going to be something quite unique in the annals of history.
transferring power peacefully from one person to another person. when he did that, king george said if you do that you will be the greatest man in the world. that is exactly what he did. with fdr, he thought he would be the greatest man but a four term president. such it is with egos. doris: 1940's, western europe had been -- he thought they did but they probably did. if there had not been the war that had already begun in europe, there is no way he could have won. or even run. remember when he decides for the fourth term, he was ill and it was a real question in history. d-day had not happened yet when he had to decide. there still was going to be terrible battles.
they wanted to figure out what the peace would be. i think it was that he loves to be there and did not want to leave it. that is true for teddy too. he comes back in 1912 because he couldn't bear not being there. you would rather them a love it. my husband once was clerking for a justice and he was not so happy about a young john kennedy because of the father. he said to my husband you tell that man of yours -- he was going to leave and work for jfk that the only presidents that are any good are those who love the job and take joy. jfk said to my husband you tell justice frankfurter i will love the hell out of it. you have to be able to get fulfillment of it and feel joy in the exercise of people and being with people during the day. david: we want to hear from our members here in the moment.
we talked about the qualities of leadership. you write about perseverance, overcoming adversity, start there and also view identify the other essential quality that makes a leader. doris: think about lincoln, that first time he ran he said in the same statement to people i don't know whether you will vote for me essentially. i have no popular relations to recommend me. he had to scour the countryside for books to get any education he had. only 12 months of full schooling. he said if i do not win this election i will not be too much disappointed as i am familiar with disappointment. his life had been so hard. he said i will try five or six times until it gets really humiliating. then i promise i will not try again. he overcame so well before, he loses two senate seat and
becomes the dark course -- dark horse candidate for the presidency. teddy roosevelt, he had asthma , so he had to make his body. so he learned to come from a timid child to become that strenuous person he became. also, when he loses his wife and mother in the same day, his wife gave birth to a child and died at childbirth. the wife had come take care of the mother and child and she died of typhoid fever. he leaves the state legislature and becomes a man of the west. he said he never would have won the presidency if he had not moved from the elite person he was to a man of the west. we know about fdr, he emerged much more warmhearted, able to deal with other people because of polio. ernest hemingway said everyone
is broken by life and afterwards some people are stronger in the broken places. all of these guys were. jay: there really was something to them that i think is indefinable. we can talk about perseverance, tenacity, intelligence, emotional as well as practical. why is it for example that some presidents can win loseable wars while others lose winnable wars? why is it that they can take people to do things they never thought they could do? why is it that they can take an international setting and change it around? if we bring it closer to date with ronald reagan and the foreign policy, with our relations with the soviet union should be there to rise as -- should be characterized as peaceful coexistence. it was a 40 year conflict most people thought would go on and on and reagan comes in and everyone thinks he is a nuclear cowboy. instead, he says if we push the soviets they will fall. and they fell without a shot.
to get back to this idea about ambition, i am thinking about lincoln for a second. carl sandburg once said there are 30 three rooms in the white house and abraham lincoln would feel comfortable in any of them. he had ambition in one hand and humility in the other. i'm not sure that is something we see in many presidents. david: humility grows, doesn't it, over time -- just as you are awed by the office, your humble by the responsibility and setting the nation on a course. doris: somebody was talking about the pressures fdr must have faced during the depression and war. he said if you spent two years trying to move your big toe, you can get through all this. if you have gone through some personal problem and you have overcome it and come out stronger, somehow you bring that knowledge with you to this larger domain.
jay: in fdr's case we know that during the phony war of world war ii, fdr had a small heart attack. up in thehed press. his wife was already in peril, we know that when he went to the summit and met with joseph stalin for the first time, all of a sudden sweat was coming down his head. he was unable to speak. he was almost paralyzed. his eyes became glossy and he basically almost fainted. they brought him into a acronym -- into a back room and they told everyone it was indigestion. we note was the beginning of congestive heart failure. when he got back to the united states, his health was so bad. his eyes were glazed over, he fell out of his chair several times. they all told him, if you don't do something, you will die within a year. it never stopped him. not only do they become humbled
by the office, in a sense they become -- they will give their life to the office. we see that in the great president. david: let's widen the conversation to our members. before we take questions i want to point out this wonderful series on presidential leadership is made possible by david rubenstein. we want to thank him for that. >> this is great, thank you. my question is this, how important is empathy to a successful president? what is the relationship between sanity and quality of presidential leadership? [laughter] doris: i will start with the empathy. i will leave the sanity to j. i think that could be one of the most important qualities that a leader has. it is interesting when you think about teddy roosevelt, he
acknowledged that when he went into politics he was simply going in for an adventure, not because he thought he could make other people's lives different. politics took him to a place where the person of his background may not go. he disguised himself at night and would walk around. as a soldier he saw his fellow soldiers. those experiences broadened his feelings. he said at first you may feel a little self-conscious but after a while it becomes conscious -- it becomes unconscious rather. he argued that it had something to do with today in some ways, people are in different regions, parties, religions, and races begin to feel about each other as if they are the other rather than common citizens. that is the divide we are facing right now. on a smaller basis, you have to
see what other people are feeling and thinking in order to bring them around to a common purpose. i think fdr's empathy grew exponentially because of his polio and bringing the patient's to warren springs. they would have cocktail parties at night, they said he made them feel -- even though they were disabled, that they could live a life again. he understood that. i would say that as a leader, that ability to imagine what other people were feeling and thinking and bring them together was perhaps one of the most important traits. jay: one can't put it better than doris just did. empathy is terribly important because it is a way of a leader connecting with the american people. sometimes policies work and they don't work. if you give them a sense of hope, strength, it still works.
i'm thinking from the end of the civil war with abraham lincoln, the scene is 1865, it is april 4. the war is about to come to a close. at that point, lincoln decides he wants to see richmond with his own eyes. he steps onto richmond soil and hears all of these shouts. he is surrounded by a sea of voices. these are slaves that have been freed. he says glory to god. one of the former slaves throws himself at lincoln's feet and hugs his foot. he waves a finger and says from now on you don't kneel to me, you kneel to god, your creator. that is empathy. david: keep in mind, the question related to temperament
as well. >> in the current occupant of the white house, one sees no evidence of some of the attributes you have been talking about. particularly humility. certainly on the contrary we have seen only a greater sense of certainty that he is the best ever. he has set a number of times that these are two years unlike any other in the country. i would ask you and certainly no capacity whatsoever for reflection of any kind, i suppose the sanity question comes into play but i would ask you as historians of the presidency, is there any precedent for what we are seeing today at all?
david: thanks michael. jay, would you like to begin? sanity, temperaments. does president trump have these qualities? the one thing that is true to add on to what michael is saying, at this point yet you don't see in president trump someone who is looking towards his predecessors as mentors and away we might have seen with -- in a way we might have seen with some of his predecessors. that may change. jay: the one thing i can say is his time will come. i believe the weight of events, the suddenness that things happen often on the international stage, at some point he will find that he wants to know what previous presidents have done. he will find sustenance in what they have done. he will find lessons in how to conduct himself. i can't imagine it being otherwise. country feel he was on a their side.
-- david: does he have any of the qualities being discussed? doris: the one thing he was able to do during the campaign was to make a large group of people in the country feel he was on a their side. that is something roosevelt did during his presidency. it may be a factional group of people. we would hope that when you get into the presidency after the moment of triumph that you expand your base, rather than continue to talk to the base. teddy roosevelt went around the country on a train tour so he could go to all the states, even once he lost and ones that he won to make them feel a common sense of identity. i think getting out of washington and doing that, not just going where you are. humility is very important, it is being able to a knowledge or limitations and learn from them. that is how you grow in office. it looks like it is part of our political dialogue today that it is a weakness to acknowledge mistakes. it is the only way you learn. president trump said something funny when he was a candidate. he said the reason that he loved
pope francis so much was that pope francis was very humble, just like him. [laughter] david: like fdr, the idea of the forgotten man was coined by fdr. doris: he understood that. when you were talking before about political diagnosis, he diagnosed a group of people in the country who were feeling they had not been listened to, there were a lot of rural people feeling that people in the cities were different than them. they were worried about immigration. he spoke to them and was able to win enough votes in the electoral college. jay: he says i am your voice. i think in a sense for that segment of the population that he represents, if you think about it, he comes alive when he speaks to them. one of the things i will say is this is a very early. we are not even two years into
the presidency. it is hard to diagnose and assess what the trump administration is what will come to be seen as in history. we were talking about andrew jackson briefly the other day on our call. if you look at the jackson administration, it is funny that the great statesman of the day like john quincy adams, their heads almost exploded at the thought of andrew jackson becoming president. they said democracy as we know is going to come to an end. as it turned out, andrew jackson turned out to be a pretty good president. a little contentious, but none the less a good president. among other things, he founded the democratic party. david: i covered george w. bush and i remember i went to see him after he was out of office. we talked about a book that a colleague of mine wrote which was a great book about the bush-cheney years. i said this is good, you should read it. he said let me tell you, you could not write a memoir of my
time in office, because you were there. so we need more time. doris: that is great. >> my question is for doris. why didn't you include harry truman among your presidents? after all, the korean war which is similar to other wars, and he was a president of change and certainly he was a president of humility. it seems to me he was ideal for inclusiveness. david: doris can only spend time with so many of these presidents. doris: when i was deciding what to do next after i finished the book with teddy and taft. i had a choice i could have found a new president like harry truman, i think the world of harry. i could decide to keep my guys, i could not let them go.
each time i left one as i went from fdr to teddy and taft, i would have to move the books out of the room. i felt like i was leaving an old boyfriend behind. i figured take the guys i know the best. i spent 10 years with abraham lincoln and another five years on a movie with abraham lincoln. i spent seven years on teddy roosevelt and i took longer than it took world war ii to be fought with fdr. i wanted to look at them through this lens of leadership asking a question that i have not fully asked myself, where does ambition come from? are leadership qualities born or not? i spent so much time with them that i felt it was weird to spend days and nights with them and think about them so much. i feel in the afterlife there will be a panel of the presidents i ever studied and everyone will tell me everything i missed. the first one of the lbj. they were my guys.
>> if you look at history, other countries had leaders too. some of them very destructive leaders. you might say it is easier to destroy a legacy than build one. your idea of leadership seems to be on the premise of creating. how do you take account of leaders who want to turn the clock back, destroy legacies, put people against each other. if you were going to write about destructive u.s. presidents, who would you write about? doris: i will take the definition. it is very complicated thing what leadership is defined as. a great political scientist wrote a book about leadership. he would argue that destructive leaders were power holders. they held power but he would argue there was an ethical bias
to the word leadership. this is an interesting way of thinking about it. david: they did not earn power, they took it. doris: even if they earned it and used in a way that was going to be destructive, they were simply holding the power rather than a leader. jay: do you have anyone in mind? >> i know other countries better than america. [laughter] >> i think they are leaders and i wonder if you don't have a bias that this has to be a positive following? doris: that may be true, i am not sure if i agree but that is an interesting thing. >> he doesn't want to do the things -- how do you fit trump in?
doris: i don't want to live with him so i will not write about him. i would never write about mussolini or stalin or someone i did not want to spend days or nights with. david: there is a bias in that question about trump and wanting to position america differently in a way that a lot of people would not agree with. in terms of where america is with the rest of the world. jay: i want to get back to your question but historically a little bit. in my book "1944" which was about fdr and d-day, also the holocaust. i spent a lot of time writing about the nazis, and hitler, i thought it was very important to delve into hitler's's psychology and his world. he was such a significant figure, not a good way, in a terribly bad way. he was certainly a profound figure. he was the reason all of this
was happening in world war ii. the nightmare of imperialism, genocide, you had to understand hitler's. when i wrote my book "the great upheaval" i felt myself being captivated by maximilian robespierre, the mastermind of the guillotine. in some ways they were negative leaders. i tried to write it in such a way that if they were to read it, they would say he did justice to me. inevitably, i would say my bias would creep in because these were people i would never want to see in this country. >> building on where we have been going, including toby's question, is the notion of empathy and the example of franklin roosevelt was my friend and we all lost a friend, this ability to have this empathy.
it seems to me that donald trump also channels this notion that is empathetic with those who are feeling left out, resentful, and very much forgotten if you will. him it is not the empathy -- i'm just wondering if you can move from that characteristic which seems to be important for a leader into this more normative question of do you empathize with resentment of the little man?
or can you empathize with the little man in some sort of a positive way? david: it is related to something we were talking about before. stoking resentment and decision for a mean of leadership. to create factions and build on the factions. him him him the idea that if you are not necessarily pursuing national unity, you can leave in another direction. jay: yes. [laughter] doris: it is great that you guys are building on each other. >> i would like your historical
perspective not on the persons but on the times. i would like you to compare the kind of challenges we are facing today with some of the previous ones that we have discussed. not only political division, economic inequality, things like the specter of climate change, even artificial intelligence. on our scale of crises calling for effective leadership, where do we stand today? jay: what i would say about that is whatever it may feel like today, we are buffeted by the media, cable networks, the social networks. him him we have been in much worse times. we are not involved in a civil war. we are not involved in world war ii. we are not involved of building a new country out of scratch. in each of those cases, those presidents and leaders and the people faced great and profound challenges. the first meant america might have never gotten off the ground. in the case of the civil war we might have a wound up as two countries. in the case of world war ii, had we not had fdr, we might have a wound up with europe being under the permanent thumb of nazis.
all of those things i think are much more profound than what we face today. today, the issues are real. they are serious. i think they feel worse. i think we need history to give us perspective. doris: the climate about climate change is very important. the scale of the entire planet could be in danger. that is something larger than any of these. fdr used to say problems created by man can be solved by man. we assume we created some of these problems and there are somewhat answers. david: that issue goes to the issue of urgency versus importance.
government does not do well with issues that are important. they deal well with urgent issues. with world war ii we didn't get into it when it was important, we did when it was urgent. >> hi, i am a historian and a former white house fellow. drawing on your expertise of presidential leadership, i'm wondering if you would look at the leadership style of the last soviet president or vladimir putin? doris: i wish i knew about that. i studied russian 14 w oh years in college and i cannot speak a word of it. jay: i think mikael gorbachev is a fascinating figure in history. we talk about ronald reagan winning the cold war to the extent that reagan did that, he
did it because he had a willing and thoughtful partner in mikael gorbachev. he is not adept at handling media, he does not keep himself in the spotlight. all of the things that are part of the celebrity age that we live in he is not very good at. he in many ways lost the support of his people. there must be somewhere in american literature that would define him. him him hi in the end, i thinkl come out as a significant leader. i will give you an analogy. i don't want this to be
mistaken. abraham lincoln did what he did in the civil war but at the end of the war, we could have evolved into guerrilla warfare and had a divided country for many years to come. thanks to robert e lee we had a willing partner, once he resigned and surrendered he tried as best as he could to be a good citizen. even though he never became a citizen of the united states. i see mikael gorbachev being in the mold of somebody like robert e. lee. does not get the credit he deserves but deeply historic. the other person you asked about was vladimir putin. i don't know enough about him but he was a strong leader. one person i do know was catherine the great. he is catherine the great without the charm and the culture. she was a great imperialist and i think what he's trying to do is enhance, in rich, and strengthen the russian empire. david: i wonder a little bit, are we living in an age at the biggest level that feels a little bit more like the 19th century.
great game atmosphere. i think about the saudi arabia story, the awful murder of jamal khashoggi, we are looking at this as an instance of maybe whether we have influence over the saudi's to use against iran and our other priorities. we have always been pragmatists but to step away from asserting u.s. values. jay: i think that would be a shame, it is those values that have separated us from the rest of the world. the rest of the world was trying to resolve conflicts and they did it through bloodshed and violence. we have done it through peaceable discussion and through respect and caring for human rights and dignity. and for bringing democracy to all of the american people. it is a dream we have had in our country and it is a dream with the rest of the world. david: we will take two more questions. >> one question as you look past your guys in history, it has
been fascinating, thank you. at some point the american people chose somebody else right after them. they either liked or didn't like the qualities you have been talking about in leadership today. putting that in the context of two years from now, not to ask you to forecast to the american people will choose but what qualities do you think that person will have after this presidency? doris: i think you are right that there are certain cycles. they used to write that there were 30 year cycles where you have a movement of the citizens, whether it was the anti-slavery, progressive, new deal, civil rights, or the citizens wanted to have an active government and want to be dealing with the problems of the times.
other times -- post world war i, they wanted to go back to private lives and not think about public issues. in the 1950's you could argue the same. a leader might be chosen to reflect those larger changes in society. there is some type of reaction against the person who was there before. even in the presidency i think that is going to happen. it is something that is not conscious i suppose on people's part. they reacted against an imperial president in nixon and get jimmy carter. he wears the sweater and says i'm jimmy carter.
they feel jimmy carter has been to imperial and then they get a ronald reagan. if there is something that will come out of this divisive time, if it continues divisive lieff think we will look for somebody who can heal those divisions. i think why the military is in such respect right now, for one institution, congress is at 11%, the military is at 70% or 80%. they understand the trust is on the line and are working together. my hope for this country sometimes is that there will be a national service program. teddy roosevelt wanted it, eleanor roosevelt wanted it. there are people arguing right now that after they come out of high school they can work on it mission with a host family in another part so they could see each other as other people working together. we need to restore that sense of not just stability but understanding of different people. sweet and feeling we are americans again without a military crisis to do it. we have to create a situation that will make it possible.
david: final question, yes. >> i want to first pay my respects. i knew richard goodwin, your husband, back in the day. doris: he was the best. >> a great man. what i wonder if i could read richard goodwin's prose, i have always wanted to write a play about the pope and galileo in which the pope emerges as the hero. what difference does it make that we know the earth moves around the sun if it destroys our faith? i guess this question from this lovely soliloquy was whether this cynicism is from donald trump seeming so irrational in certain circumstances?
or whether it is deeper cultural self-doubt that pushing hard other than making money is not worth the price? doris: i would love to have david talk about that because he has written about faith. when my husband died last spring, he had been working for several years on a book that talked about what his public service meant from the time he was young and how honorable a was to give one's life essentially to public service. he really believed -- he really was in love with the idea, we would tease him that he should call the book my love affair with america. he saw what was happening and he was so troubled by it. he had written a series of "los angeles times" editorials about the squeezing of the middle class. he thought something was happening in the country that it was not living up to ideals of mobility and education. at the end, he had lived through the depression, world war ii, he worked for john kennedy, he had gone assassinated, he had been with lbj, he love the domestic
-- gotten assassinated, he had been with lbj, he love the domestic stuff so much and was considered a traitor for having done that. he said america is not as fragile as you think. we are going to survive. jay: on one hand what we are talking about is great presidential leaders and the qualities and what it does and looks like. one final thought that i think is worth leaving you all with is what america is and the strength and genius of the institution of america. we have survived a great civil war, two world wars, depression, an attack on new york city on 9/11, bad presidents, there is something about the genius of this american experiment. not only do we have the best people when we most have needed them, we have institutions that have strengthened us and guided us when we needed them. doris: it is not just the leaders.
what my husband was arguing and what i believe in too, most change has taken place in this country when citizens band together. lincoln said don't call me the liberator, it was the anti-slavery movement that did it all. without the civil rights movement, lbj would have never been able to do what he did. without the women's movement, environmental movement, the gay-rights movement. whatever we are feeling about the country, it is the citizens ourselves that have to band together and figure out what we want. as fdr said, man creates problems, we can solve problems. leadership is a two way street between the leaders and the citizens. it is up to the citizens to perform the political systems. the things we can do and we have to do.
david: maybe the fitting way to end is that notion of what lincoln understood as the fragility of this thing we call america. it is strong and robust, but still fragile and always growing. it is our responsibility to keep growing it and moving it forward. thank you both so much. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> interested in american history tv? visit our website, c-span.org/history.
you can view our schedule, preview programs, and watch college lectures, easy them , archival films, and more. american history tv at c-span.org/history. >> in late december, 1968, apollo eight with three astronauts aboard reach the moon's orbit for the first time. the christmas eve live tv broadcast ended the tumultuous year and the mission successfully cleared the way for the 1969 moon landing. to mark the 50th anniversary, this monday, american history tv features oral history interviews with astronauts, discussions with authors, and archival films from the reel america series. here's a preview. watersgod said let the under the heaven together together in one place, and it was so.
and god called the dry land earth, and the gathering together of the waters calling seas, and god saw that it was good. apollo eight,rew we close with good light -- good night, good luck, and god bless all of you on this good earth. wereose words in genesis scratched on tablet and parchment many years ago after man crawled out of his caves and began the ages long process of exploring his universe and himself. hasy, a great new chapter been added to the story of creation of growth. man literally has wrenched thatlf away from the earth bound him down to the millennia and he has soared to the moon, he has enough and come back safe. >> you can watch world history
interviews with apollo eight astronauts, author discussions, and archival films from the reel america series at 10:30 a.m. eastern monday and earrings around the day and evening. it's american history tv marking the 50th anniversary of the 1968 mission to orbit the moon. >> history professor erika bsumek talked about land use and water access on the colorado plateau, highlighting the differences between navajos and mormon settlers in the 19th century. she also described how 20th century dam projects affected the area. american history tv recorded the interview at the western history association annual meeting in san antonio, texas. >> joining us from san antonio, texas got a professor of history at the university of texas at austin and your paper, your presentation is titled as follows, droughts, dams, and the attempt to stave off the disaster on
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