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tv   The Presidency Pat Oliphants Political Cartoons - Bush to Obama  CSPAN  December 26, 2019 10:05am-11:24am EST

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that you want the candidates to address during campaign 2020. we're giving away a total of $100,000 for a grand prize of $5,000. for more information go to studentca next on the presidency, former white house staff members analyze the work of cartoonist pat oliphant, and bill clinton and george w. bush and include barack obama's 2008 election. the university of virginia's miller center hosted the event. we're going to get started here of round two of presidents on whom oliphant was able to bestow his gifts and a country
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on which he was able to bestow his gifts by commenting originally and his words on those presidents. i'm mike nelson. i'm the guy you had to put up with during the first panel. fortunately, we have a new cast of people to add their voices to the wonderful voices you heard from the scholars that were on the first panel. once again, we have miller center people here, and the miller center. one of the main emphasis is to study the presidency in depth, historical depth with objectivity. in other words, we're all in the business of doing stuff that an editorial cartoonist is not in the business of doing which is reacting to events on a day-to-day basis as oliphant did as a cartoonist and whereas we all strive to be as objective as
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we can and the job of the editorial cartoonists and pat oliphant as well as anyone has done it to provide comment, to provide opinion and to provide something to provoke discussion rather than perhaps aspire to settle discussion. the panel today, this afternoon that would use george bush. i don't use the h.w. he was george bush when he was president. john adams didn't have to change his name so i'm sticking with george bush and of course, his immediate successor bill clinton and george w. bush, the one who came next and finally, we sort of dip our toe into the obama presidency, pat of which pat
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oliphant was able to capture in his cartoons and we're able to see at least one example of pat oliphant's gifts as a sculptor. we only get to see an image of it, but it's an extraordinary work and one ever our panelists, the one we'll introduce right now, mary kay carey can tell us about the sculpture. ma mary kate is a senior fellow and has been teaching in the politics department of the university she was a speechwriter and communication specialist of all sorts in the bush-quayle campaign and then in the george bush presidency. the former director of the miller center and a member of the history department here held prominent positions in both bush
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administrations and probably did other things that i'm not even aware of that are worth noting and then chris lowe. a senior fellow has worked over the years and i don't know how many people get to say that truthfully including seven years in the obama administration. so what we're going to do is the same thing we did the first time around. we'll take cartoons from each one of these presidencies in sequences. all of them oliphant creations that are now part of of the university of virginia collection and that are available in many cases for you to go see either there or over at the miller center where there are some others and let's start
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with that first cartoon. for those of you who can't read that far back because i know it's difficult. you have george bush on the top and what they tried to sell and then as he is perceived and then dukakis, what they tried to sell and then as he is perceived and it says altered egos and i can't read. can condition else read that? you got it? [ inaudible ] thanks. altered e goes on or how we think of them when we think of them at all. >> there you go. >> i was on the 1988 bush-dukakis campaign and i would say the top half is exactly not true how he was perceived and the bottom half is
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exactly how dukakis was perceived from our point of view. i remember being -- i remember having a t-shirt that said beware of greeks having lifts and there was a lot of joking about the difference in height between governor dukakis and president bush. i remember there was a "saturday night live" skit called dukakis after dark and it played upon this, that there was this other side of michael dukakis that nobody saw or knew about, but on the topside i would say the left side of what they tried to sell is exactly what we all perceived in george bush. a war hero, 58 combat missions and lifelong public servant, and i met david mccullough when
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making a documentary about president bush. it takes about 50 years for historians to render a judgement on a president and how glad he was to see that historians had come around on george bush and given him the credit and that george was alive to see it, and so i do think that he was admired widely especially by the time he died, and i do think the top of this is not accurate, but i also realize i'm a little biased. >> so what's been portrayed here. one of the challenges by the panel is for many of you, we don't need to explain what the references are in these cartoons because you see -- many of you are talking about it as a win factor. of course, for young people,
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nowadays they thought george bush was a wimp. why did they think he was a wimp? that's actually a really good question. the origin of the wimp factor label was a magazine cover that had president bush under the wimp factor which stung. at the time i had no campaign affiliation and i would go in as a detailee in the beginning of '89. it may seem like '49 now as i age and it all looks misty. but why was he labeled a wimp and why did the label kind of sort of stick? even if you're a bush partisan and just about everyone who
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worked for bush became one if they had not been before. it's interesting, when just as a side bar comment, you do learn a lot about these leaders by looking at the attitudes of the people in the circle around them and just -- he commanded a lot of loyalty from the people around him, so, but why? there is something about the thin, ready voice, having been kind of a second banana to reagan for eight years. the sense that on the campaign trail he was -- he was actually not in my view a forceful and charismatic public speaker, by and large. he actually is one of those people, actually johnson had a little bit of this, too, and came across much better in public than in private. reagan, by the way, and sometimes it's just the
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opposite. so there are qualities there and there's an occasional quality that would leak to the surface and a sense that on the campaign trail he would spout the convention conventional pablum and people who had to say to different audiences and therefore people had trouble getting a firm sense of him and then some people both on the right -- the right wanted him to be a more muscular conservative in one image of him and he didn't fit that, so there's something in the image of him that people are perceiving. i'm not sure that mr. oliphant would have drawn bush more, and
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he sticks with this for a while because the caricature seems to capture something that resonates with a lot of the american people and you have to face up to that and understand it. and this is is why these are voe valuable as historical items and they capture something about the way people are perceived in their generation that will then be lost 30 years later and by looking at the cartoons you can recover. >> what i find interesting is how it gets to people's minds and the honest campaign recognizes your liabilities and tries to push back against that. you try to push back against the unforced errors and of course, the most famous unforced error from the '88 campaign was you
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all recall michael dukakis riding around in a tank with an ill-fitting helmet. no candidate would ever do that now. that could he'sly have been the perception and mary kate could talk about it better and some of the important moments of george bush 41 and the grocery scanner thing where he didn't know how that worked and the famous moment in the 1992 debate when he looked at his watch and seeming to be bored and whenever we prep a candidate for debates or tell them to never, ever look at your watch. i remember when i was working for john kerr ney 2004. he was doing presidential debate prep in wisconsin and we wanted him to go out and do some public event and we wanted to highlight how gas prices were high and we
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wanted him to fill out a gas tank and to avoid the dukakis moments or the george bush grocery scan we actually check, do you know how to fill up your gas tank, but that's one of those moments that you didn't want to happen and because of these moments in the campaign you double and triple check every time you put your candidate in public because you don't want these visual images to stick in the people's brain. >> one thing we haven't noted yet in every cartoon we will see and the right quadrant punk, the pigeon who is a de facto greek chorus -- not a pigeon, a penguin that pat oliphant include individual of his cartoons to provide an additional dollop of commentary.
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for me, the joy of these cartoons is on the one hand they are snapshots of a moment, but on the other hand they are windows into a period and what we start to see in this cartoon is the departure from the era in which we regarded presidential elections as contests with the giants and think of the making of a presidency in 1960 where they were once again meeting on the field of battle, two titanic figures, either one of whom was worthy of trotting on a heroic stage and now i think we see by 1988 we're looking at presidential candidates as diminished and even comic figures and that in some ways has become a default setting ever since.
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>> so this is actually a very nice cartoon and this is george bush and george washington walking down pennsylvania avenue on inauguration day in 1989 and that was the 200th anniversary of george washington being sworn in at the same time that george bush was sworn in and president bush was very honored by that and got sworn in using two bibles, one stacked on top of the other, one was the bush family bible and the other was george washington's bible and he started his inaugural address by pointing that out because he was so honored by that and one other comment and that same conversation with david mccullough, david mccullough believes that george bush was the most qualified person to run for president since the founders
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at the time and didn't say it at the time, but said it after wards and that brought it to mind, as well and all of the jobs that president bush had done in service for the precedent perfectly prepared him for the moment and we got through the cold war without a single shot being fired or end of the cold war, excuse me. that's what jumped out for me. he was very proud of that moment. >> the only thing i felt amused by that one is the old post office which is now the trump hotel. and what is interesting about this and i would simply -- without talking about the current president and mary kate and others -- and presidents, i think it's seen as bad form to compare yourself to previous presidents and i'm not sure, and while it was perfectly
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appropriate to pay homage to george washington with the bible. it's not the classiest thing to say i'm the greatest president since -- no, i was referring to somebody else, actually. simply to say that there are subtle ways that presidents reference other presidents. some don't see what punk is saying. beautiful, ain't it, george? the second george is written in a different font, and i guess you'd call that -- what is that font? 18th century font and a pun on two georges and the 18th century font. i'm struck with the image of the other president in this picture, george washington who has come down to us, i think largely because of the pictures we have
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of him as this sort of bland and even boring figure and the solid and virtuous in every way, but no spark of life do we see in any of the pictures that we have in george washington. just take out your dollar bill and look at that whereas in truth i don't think any american in history has had such excitement and advation in his own generation as george washington was in his. people were crazy about washington and they thought he was an exciting guy, a sexy guy, but george washington is the bland figure that his portraitists portrayed him as.
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so i had to ask -- i guess i should read this out loud. here is apparently dan quayle in the baby carriage saying gug, gug, and punk saying you must be so proud. and this, apparently, i had to ask was a reference to the tower nomination and that dan quayle said that the people opposed to john towers were engaging in mccarthyism. i find this very unfair and i think there is background that george bush met harris county
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republican chair in houston which was quite a big deal and john tower decided to run for lyndon johnson's senate seat in a special election after johnson left to become vice president, and that's when the two of them first became friends. so at this point they'd been friends for almost 40 years. in 1968, i think there was a discussion earlier on the earlier panel about nixon's short list for vice president ford, but in '68 john meacham's book about bush, "destiny and power," nixon's short list for vp was john tower, george bush, spiro agnew and one more, ronald reagan. wouldn't that have been something? so then now comes 1989. at this point, tower is former senator tower and former chair
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of the arms services committee in the senate and bush names him his old friend to the secretary of defense and it comes out that there's concerns about -- as her apartment put it, his love of women and booze and there was also some sort of conflict of interest investigation, as well and this was the first time since 1959 that a cabinet officer was not confirmed and the senate at that point was 45 republicans and 55 democrats, i believe, and the vote went down 47-53. no and so that to me means two democrats crossed over ask voted yes or more republicans voted no, but it was due to the fact that the democrats were in the senate -- in control of the senate and that is why tower did
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not get through. george bush felt strongly that loyalty goes down as well as up and it was tremendously loyal to john tower despite the flaws that were exposed. in meacham's book he tearfully says to john tower i will not pull the rug out from under my friend and stuck out to him and it also set the stage for why he was so tremendously loyal to clarence thomas' nomination, as well. he, i believe, inaccurately is depicted here as treating dan yail as some kind of baby and that couldn't be further from the truth. he wenta, genst everyone who went for quayle in a surprise move and treated quayle as an equal because he himself had been a vice president and he wanted the same treatment for his own vice president and
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continued his tradition that he'd started with president reagan on having lunch every week with the vice president. they had a very close relationship, and i think he was this is not the way he looked at dan quayle. >> this is about a speech that quayle gave. >> i take a more synthetic view to the cartoonist perhaps than mary kay does this. i do not join the dan quayle rehabilitation lobby. i agree that bush tried to treat quayle the way he thought a vice president should be treated and with appropriate dignity, but do not think that dan quayle was one of the key insiders of the bush administration and though he was in a lot of meetings.
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bush treated him appropriately, but he was not a very influential person, i believe, in the senior ranks of the administration and here's what happens. this is early '89 and quail gave a quite nasty speech basically saying tower was defeated because of mccarthyism. the investigation of tower had been run by sam nun who was the senator of the senate arms services committee. for not knowing anything about this panel, i was with sam nunn and jack reed for other reasons and nunn kind of basically for some reason started reminiscing about the tower fight at some length, and he to this day knew
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what to say in the senate and he worked with him on armed services for many years, and a lot of investigation was done confidentially and it was ever made public. and so to accuse basically sam n nunn of being the latter-day version of mccarthy was not a wise thing to say and it was not as george bush might be caricatured to saying. it wasn't the prudent thing to say so bush would be depending on people like sam nunn as an essential partner on anything he would get done on national security issues. including handling the confirmation of the person nominated to take the tower which was dick cheney of wyoming
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as secretary of defense. so here, people noticed that he'd been mild mannered on the campaign trail in '88 and here he is making his debut in early '89 in the hitman role like people had associated or gore would later do a little bit of this for clinton, and it was -- it was not an attractive role for quayle, and it was want an attractive role to have quayle may and i think oliphant is calling him. >> whether one thinks dan quayle is underrated or for the first time tonight, overrated -- [ laughter ] this to me is a brilliant example of caricaturist art and
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we've seen where noses and chins and eyes were treated in typical caricature fashion, right? exaggerated and here we don't even see dan quail the impression being that he is an infant and therefore of no significance at all, but to not show a character as a form of caricature i think is really interesting. >> the baby carriage has that fancy monogrammed initial cue. like it's the super fancy baby carriage from a very wealthy family. right. that's a nice little touch. >> you know, the -- i forgot to say earlier and signifying the invisible dan quayle reminds me of doons bury at the time and
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had skippy, the evil twin and he was an as terrific or feather in the white house and president bush got a kick out of it and there were prank photos taken of john sununu and bob gates and dick cheney talking to an empty chair, talking to the podium when nobody's at the podium and they would sign it and send it to the president and it would be this bik joke ag joke and dana doing hilarious impersonations of the office and he invited dana carve t dana carvy to the white house and did impersonations with him and the beginning of the great friendship and both of the doons bury cartoon and the oliphant cartoons and some of the dana carvy stuff is at the bush
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library because it was such a long time in office and self-deprecating humor. let's move on to the clinton years. >> we do? so in one week, after he left office it was the funeral of president ford was at the national cathedral and i went to it and a tremendous number of boy scouts were at the cathedral and jerry ford was an eagle scout and so my children went to the cathedral schools and knew some of the choir boys who sang at the state funeral and president bush gave a eulogy among other presidents and the choir boys i ran into the next day said mrs. carey, we want you to know we had a vote and
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president bush gave the best eulogy of all the eulogists. i said oh, my gosh, boys i'll tell the president he would love to know that and in hindsight, i told the story years later that president bush knew there would be boy scouts in the aisles and so the tone of the eulogy this was is what young people can learn from jerry ford and sure enough there were choir boys there and got the message and loved it and i go to the portrait gallery that opened the presidential portraits ring and this sculpture by pat oliphant is right in front of the official portraits of president bush 41 and 43, still there, and i loved it and it was funny and it captured his love of horseshoes and athleticism in a lot of ways, and i wrote him a lot of notes and i wrote a lot
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of notes over the years and he would write back and i brought it with me and i wrote him this note, first of all, you won the choir boys' vote and next time you have to go to the portrait gallery the next time you're in town and you've got to see this thing. he wrote me back, and i thought i would read it for you. dear mary kate, overel whenmed am i, yes, i would love to go see the newly opened portrait gallery with my new hip in place which he'd just gotten. i have to go out right now and kick some serious butt. thanks for writing, love, g.b., and i just thought the next thing you know, he did not come to washington to see it. he saw images of it and the bush library had the second one purchased and there was one at the national gallery of art and
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it was at bush library and it was one of his favorites and he enjoyed that sculpture and i want to say thank you to mr. oliphant for creating it. there you go. any other comments on this marvelous sculpture? >> let me take this one. >> i love this cartoon and let me try to describe it to you. it's depicking a couple of used car salesmen. on the left it says conservative health care and it's kind of a thuggish-looking salesman. the sign says like new, runs real nice, needs cosmetics and then you have bill clinton and it says imagine your new car here and clinton financed and
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then punk in the middle says who do you fancy we should buy a used car from. the reason i love this cartoon is that it's incredibly timely and this is from the 1993 health care fight, and you can fast forward and you can basically take the affordable care act, oba obamaca obamacare and put it where health care is and you can put medicare for all there. the we finance is perfect because that's the criticism of big, progressive health care plans like medicare for all. it depicts the challenge that we have with health care in the system. we have a series of not very appealing options that are presented by politicians and what it could look like if you
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finance it that way and a lot of the cartoons are timly and this one is especially timely. >> when we add to that the fact that the republican car is an old gt. it's got the fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror. [ laughter ] i just think this is the best cartoon i've ever seen about the clinton administration. that image of clinton and the whole way that's portrayed captures something deep that only a picture like this imagined in this way could do. one of the thing that the miller center has conduct side reading through the ones that have been released including most of the interviews for the clinton project. you may recall and it sort of worked its way into the popular memory of that election that
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james carville wrote at their headquarters in little rock. change verses more of the same. it's the economy, stupid. don't forget health care, and a lot of people concluded from that that one of the issues that clinton had emphasized when he ran for president in '92 was health care. it comes through loud and clear in these oral history interviews that you can access through the miller website that they didn't talk very much about health care and he talked about welfare reform and other issues, but when he became president he sort of inherited this imprelgdz that health care would be a major part of his agenda. he bought into that and it it wered out to be the biggest political failure of his first term. let me lead off on this. the day is important and it's october 1993.
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to help you remember, late october 1993. this is the black hawk down and the somalia catastrophe. this was a really bad month in clinton's first year in foreign approximately see and the haiti mess. also, what you've got here is blindp and the haiti mess. also, what you've got here is blio and the haiti mess. also, what you've got here is blil and the haiti mess. also, what you've got here is blii and the haiti mess. also, what you've got here is blic and the haiti mess. also, what you've got here is bliy and the haiti mess. also, what you've got here is blind man clinton in the darkening park and his seeing eye dog which is also blind says yes, sir, i believe it is. of course, christopher, his secretary of state and then you have punk in the bottom right-hand corner letting them know that the bus is coming. next up, bosnia and they're in the dark and they're blind as to what they're doing and where
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they're going and they're looking for that best of foreign policy -- right. that particular moment in 1993 just kind of catches it. >> one of the things that clinton learned by virtue of being president on the job was that he could make unpopular decisions on foreign policy is matters like haiti, bosnia and mexico and he can make decisionseses, and he knew he could be unpopular and being admired as a president who was willing to make tough decisions and clinton, his own way of making sense of the fact that by the end of his first term people thought of him with much high regard in foreign policy than they had before and he said it's like taking your kids to the dentist. they never want to go, but they
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appreciate the fact that you took them there when they were kids and he learned something about foreign policy and the president overseeing foreign policy. so i will start with this one, incredibly timely and this is after bill clinton is acquitted on impeachment. he is dancing on the left, playing bong owes and smoking a cigar, saying free at last, free at last, break out the broads, i'm free at last! and then you have history writing in the book and punk is saying thing finger right and having writ is wrong. people remember post-impeachment and he left office fairly
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popular, history doesn't just write once and we've seen the way history has continued to reevaluate bill clinton and his perceptions have changed over the last couple of years, as well, but it does sort of show that even an impeachment effort that fails still leaves a mark in history and that's something that is not to be underestimated either in 1999 or 2019. what really strikes me ask contrast this with the cartoons of '93. in some respects both those cartoons you just looked at, clinton is portrayed and they're poking fun at him and there are sides of the cartoons that are affectionate and i must say this strikes me as a bitter cartoon and the view of clinton has soured in some deep way and the way he's portrayed down to the
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bongo drums and the beatnik side of things and this is an angry cartoon and the contrast with that and the health care cartoon which in a way is really so affectionate and this image is powerful to me. >> my previous panel, there were discussion of noses and clinton's nose has evolved here since 1993 and the cigar, he kind of looks like he's naked to me and only wearing socks and the bnong ow bongo drums and me mother, i'm, like, eww, and the sense of disappointment how bill clinton ended his term with hifthif history looking at him like that and i agree that the assessments
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of when he left office is the way it was now in the opposite way as it was george bush. as i recall, bill clinton in a post-acquittal revelry going to africa and playing the bongo drums and smoking a big cigar. that actually happened and there's something about being gracious in victory that i think is appealing to americans and not dancing on the berlin wall in george bush's case is off-putting and pat oliphant captured that moment of wait a minute, you know? yes, we didn't force him out of office and yes, we think he's doing a good job as president, but come on. i'll take this one.
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this is george w. bush surrounded by republicans saying i'll have to reposition myself away from you guys. i'm a compassionate conservative. one of them says what the hell is that, g.w.? i thought you said you'll need all of the help you can get and this was before the 2000 election. so this was -- right? october of '99. right. so i remember at the time when he first labeled himself himself a compassionate conservative and there were many of us on the right who said, hey, wait a minute, are you saying the rest of us aren't compassionate that that was not helpful that he did that, and i can see why it was fodder for humor because it did step on a lot of people's toes and it's not a very nice portrayal of the other republicans. they look like something out of "the good, the bad and the
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ugly," but it does make a good point. what's your take, philip? >> well, you'll see. he's given bush the big, white hat and he'll use this motif and at this time bush -- the white hat seems roughly appropriate to bush's size, this too will change, in the portrayal so i'll just stop there. let me add one thing and this is october of '99 and it's an interesting dynamic when the run against washington and run against his own party and he's saying look, i'm not like these other people in washington and this is not consistent with the way barack obama ran for office and i suspect if you were to draw the same cartoon four years into office they all would have the same color whether it's white or black, depending on your perspective because as
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presidents learn you may run against these people and these are people that will get your legislative agendas done and they'll help you fight your battles for you and it doesn't become your us verses them mentality once you're in office. >> there's a real trajectory to george w. bush's other republicans and he in some ways defined himself in distinction from the prevailing image of congressional republicans who were seen as hard edged and callous and not at all captured by the word compassionate and he was, in a sense, running for president by running against his party. while he's president and after he wins and is re-elected, people are saying he's the true incarnation of ronald reagan than he is like his father. so he was embraced by the republican party and since then with the rise of donald trump, george w. bush is essentially an
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outliar once again. i remember bush quoted once again on the issue of immigrants crossing the border without documentation andwas, if they'r willing to cross the big bend, we want them. can you imagine a republican saying anything like that today? so bush is a president who often said i'm not going to try to evaluate my performance in office. i'm going to leave that to history. history is going to have an interesting time with his change in reputation within his own party. >> incidentally, perhaps one of the most eloquent writers if you're thinking about this, carl cannon wrote a terrific book on all of that. i'll give a little shout-out to carl. >> what is it called?
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>> i think maybe, reagan and bush, both those names are in the title. >> that's your homework. >> this is six days after 9/11. if you can't read the little boy is wearing a t-shirt that says civil liberties. there is no punk, there is no comment. and the cartoon needs very little comment from me. except one thing is, it's an ambivalent cartoon and very sensitive. you see, there was a way this could have been done in which uncle sam is portrayed as being overbearing and too muscular. actually uncle sam in the cartoon is portrayed as a noble
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heroic figure. but watch out for the backswing, kid. >> again, i don't know if this is unintentional, uncle sam looks a like like abram ham lincoln. that may have just been me reading too much into it. >> i thought the same thing, looked like lincoln. it goes to the continuing debate between privacy and security. and this sums is up perfectly. >> it is interesting, though, that six days after 9/11, that pat oliphant would realize civil liberties are going to be part of what we're going to have to end of thinking about and being concerned about in our understandable and immediate desire for safety and security and order. and i think, you know, if you recall that time, there was not just a trauma of the actual events. but there was the almost
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predictable or we were all predicting that 9/11 would be the first of a series of attacks. so that was the beginning rather than the end of a series of similar attacks that were coming out of nowhere, and even worse coming out from within the united states. and the idea of being -- of saying, don't forget civil liberties, and uncle sam being a -- to civil liberties, telling civil lirgts to watch out for the consequences of wielding the sword, i think that was an extraordinarily timely comment at a time when most people weren't even thinking about that. >> all right. so, okay. >> there he is.
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[ laughter ] >> all right. all right. now we've got our act together. so this cartoon requires a little bit of explanation. this is i don't know how well you remember this episode, may y kate, about the u.s. attorneys in '06, '07. >> i remember that, but you go first. >> this is march '07. a little context. in the winter of '06, '07, the white house and the new attorney general, al gonzalez, come up with the scathingly brilliant idea that patriot act at the time had been passed in a way that allowed u.s. attorneys to be appointed without senate confirmation if needed. and there was a little -- someone had the idea, let's fire several of them that are kind of obnoxious to us for one reason or another.
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and put together a list of them. and they can we can just throw appointees in their place without having to go through senate confirmation kickly. and they actually began this process i think notoriously fired eight of them. and then in defending that they fired eight, there was talk of, well, you know what, we could have have fired all 93 of them as presidents do always at the beginning of their first term. but this was not the beginning of the first term. this was not even the beginning of the second term. this is well into the second term. so there is an outcry that's going on for a couple of months by the time this cartoon is written. investigations have at first various people at the justice department said, the white house had nothing to do with all of this. all the staffers who uttered such words would later have to resign. one of those staffers had come straight from the white house
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and become gone soeltz' chief of staff. he had to resign. and then another woman like that at the justice department who uttered words had to resign. it turned out there were political issues, some of this did link to carl rove who was putting maybe a little heat on the u.s. counsel, harriet meyers. here you have this cartoon. as all these emails were coming out and the white house and rove were involved in some degree in these so-called nonpartisan toernz, fire all the u.s. attorneys, all 93 of them. we can claim it was harriet meyer's idea. deny it was politically motivated. you see dr. strange rove, punk on the bottom left saying another brilliant idea. and then you have dig cheney, notice now bush portrayed as practically you can barely see him in his seat in comparison to
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cheney. carl has a brilliant idea. so there you are. one of the interesting things to me as i read this in march of '07, on the inside cheney's power is already really waning a lot in the second term. the public image hasn't caught up to that reality yet. and actually i in my view rove's influence is also waning some. and this particular episode didn't help. bush himself had to go out and publicly state that he thought the fiergz of the eight had not been handled well. that famous expression was uttered, mistakes were made. so no one involved in this came out looking good. of course they did not go fire all 93 u.s. attorneys. >> the next step that happened amp that in the aftermath was there was somebody at the
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justice department who was interviewing new u.s. attorneys and saying, how much do you love our president? please tell me. do you remember that? >> i do not. >> there was sort of a loyalty question that was added to the job interview. and that hit "the washington post." and there were rogue line prosecutors who saw an opening, because they felt that the justice department was, you know, on the rocks a little bit. and they indicted senator ted stevens. and that was the beginning of how that indictment got through. because they thought nobody at the justice department would stop the indictment of a republican senator as this was going on. as we all know, that was a completely mishandled prosecution and got later overturned by the obama attorney general once he got in office. and but there's a longer story with all that. the thing that struck me just looking at it from a sort of a comic point of view, was that carl rove there looks so evil,
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and it's actually kind of rehabbed himself over the years. it's just sort of another nice guy talking head kind of on tv. meanwhile i don't know if you saw that cheney film that came out, but cheney has been completely vilified. it's interesting to see cheney looking benign and carl rove looking evil when nowadays it's sort of reversed in the pop culture. >> one other thing i think that's interesting is if you ask most americans, at least at the time, the perception was, carl rove this evil genius, dick cheney pulling the strings, it will be interesting with hitry. if you've been to the library it's a wonderful place to visit. they try very hard and philip knows better than anybody, to push back on this narrative,
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that his decisions were controlled by other people. and again, it will be interesting to see how those public perceptions change as history goes on. >> yeah. i recall very personally one occasion where this played out. i was the director of the 9/11 commission. we interviewed both of the relevant former presidents, bush and clinton, and the vice presidents, cheney and gore, in the course of our investigation. arranging these interviews was difficult. but any way, we go to the white house to interview bush. bush and crenney had asked to be interviewed together at the white house in one lengthy session. we had acceded to that request. the fear of the -- it was basically ten commissioners and me. and then the president and vice president had their note takers. the commissioners some of the
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commissioners, the democrats were very upset by this is ground rules because cheney would dominate the conversation and they wouldn't be able to hear from bush. of course exactly the opposite happened. bush completely dominated the conversation. and actually you had to work hard to actually get questions in to cheney and get cheney to talk. afterwards the democrats said oh, maybe that was cheney's plan all along. [ laughter ] but it was -- by the way, people who knew bush a little bit and knew about this relationship, this was not a surprise. for sure it was not -- and this was in the spring of '04. and bush is not a shrinking violet. and he's quite articulate and he has a characteristic decisive style. by the way his style in talking to him is quite entirely
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different from clinton, who also fills up the room conversationally. but dloint is just full of wandering digressions and musings and speculations. and just burns the clock up on you when you're questioning him, which i did. and bush by the way is zwruft not like this at all. bush is incredibly direct to the point, this, this, key point, boom, boom, boom, next. and that was very much the pattern when we actually talked to him in '04 about, here you are a few years later and you know why. >> let me ask a question of all of you, but i wonder, is there a certain -- there are certain presidents of whom the public perception forms that there must be somebody in there administration or somebody in their white house who's really making things happen. that perception doesn't arise for all presidents. so for example, it arose for
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george w. bush, the perception it's cheney or rove, somebody is pulling the strings, president trump, steve bannon. nobody ever said that about barack obama or bill clinton. is it a partisan thing? the press tends to think republicans aren't smart enough? there must be somebody behind them? >> you just answered the question. why do i need -- [ laughter ] >> that was too easy. >> my question is, don't you agree? >> i did not work with bill clinton although i spent time with him. barack obama you could say many, many things about him. on his face very smart, very, very smart, you know, very professorial, clearly had his hands on everything, to his fault probably on a lot of different things. it's also part of it is the ethose of white houses as well. we could talk a little bit about
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this. we had a mantra, no drama obama. we didn't leak. we didn't write books after we left. it was all about what was doing -- what was best for the president. and so it's not to say that there weren't people who were strong advisers before him, but that just may never have come out. >> yeah. this is, boy, this next one is -- this one is a little harsh. >> well, we're now going backwards in time. this is july of '04. and punk in the bottom right-hand corner has nothing to say. i think you can read the caption in the upper right-hand, it's bush who's wearing that white hat that you saw in an earlier cartoon, but who doesn't fit that white hat quite so well in this image. would it make you feel better to
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know we had inaccurate intelligence? he's saying to the dying soldier. and of course you have, look how big dick cheney is standing over, he has nothing to say in this cartoon. again, it doesn't -- the image doesn't require much commentary from me. six months after this was written i would start spending quite a lot of time in iraq, and did for the next couple of years after that. and so a lot of these issues are very close for me. i'll just say that, just to help you set the context, july of '04 is really a point at which the war in iraq starts to go south. things were not going well and had been kind of gradually
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unraveling. the u.n. envoy was killed in a truck bomb. and then things began to degrade in a slow incremental way. but really the whole country bursts into flames during these -- second half of 2004. and actually things had gotten so bad that when it busts in flames, frankly, we had a very bad fight in places in iraq, just a hold the american position. we almost lost the war in the second half of 2004. and the fighting was very bloody in the second half of 2004. that was just getting going here. at the beginning of '05, they've stabilized the situation a bit, and then they start getting overly hopeful again. and we go through some more cycles like this. but here we are this cartoon is really set at the country is
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really beginning to visibly exbloat and olei fant thinks it's time to offer this image. >> for those that don't know the reference, i did not know the reference, i had to look it up, is it pieta? >> pieta. >> it's a famous statue that's in vatican city where mary is holding jesus. and so it's -- and it's -- this is i think one of the most insightful but i think perhaps one of the harshest of the cartoons we had a chance to look at, might be one of the truest, i guess. >> there's an irony here, which is, you see here president bush with i think an expression on his face that includes compassion, holding this fallen soldier, and the irony is that after leaving office and ever since leaving office this has been a major activity of former president bush, the wounded
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warriors program and so on. i'm also struck in this picture, totally different kind of comment, but whenever cheney is portrayed there's no characcature to it at all. this is sort of a line drawing of vice president president cheney. i have no idea what to make of that. is it that you can't characcature cheney? i don't know. it's kind of interesting that yen cheney is always just the way somebody would draw him if they weren't character katuring him. >> so i -- the resident obama one, i'll take this one. this is from march of 2007. so this is a month after barack obama jumps into the race to run for president. on the left it's hillary clinton and barack obama wretseling over the black vote and clinton is saying the black vote is mine. i've pandered to it for years.
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obama says it's mine. who has a greater right to it? and notably bunku punk in the lower left says or the black voter says, who asked me? and punk says, you'll be told later. so an amazingly harsh view about how democrats view the african-american vote as something that we fight over and it's a monolithic thing and someone owns it. the context for this was barack obama ran for president, first african-american to become president. not seen as the african-american candidate at first. he ran as a post-racial candidate, didn't talk about race. the clintons had this amazingly good will among african-americans from bill clinton's time in office. it wasn't until after barack obama started winning races, particularly the iowa caucuses,
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that african-american votes started to come to him. and then it became a critical part of his political base. but at this point it was really kind of a coin toss as to who would be able to win this critical voting block. and, yeah. >> the only thing i would add is, this is exactly what republicans thought was going on at the time. and that whole perfectly captured sense of entitlement that seemed to pervade mrs. clinton for many years. and i just think it's very funnily from the other side of the aisle, i think it's very funny. >> at this time in very, very early in the battle for the 2008 democratic nomination, which was a year and a half yet to be decided, there was sort of uncertainty about obama, among
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many african-americans, not so much about him per se, although he was a relatively new figure on the national stage, but rather, could an african-american be elected president in the united states of america? and obama, as chris pointed out, did not run as jessie jackson had run, as essentially the candidate of black american. obama ran in a more transcendent way. but what validated him among many black voters, you see this reflected in the polling, is when he won the iowa caucuses. because then the messages to states in like south carolina where in the democratic party, they constitute a majority, was, white people will vote for this guy. he could actually win. i think that had a lot to do with his winningness tug-of-war with hillary clinton wore the black vote and getting the democratic nomination. and of course being elected and re-elected as president.
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>> so this one, it's dated 2008 but i'm going to say it's april because i know when the pennsylvania primary was. in the upper left it says pennsylvania, hillary instructs barack on the finer points of being a regular guy. she's kind of wearing these low-riding jeans. she's got a tattoo on her right arm. and she's saying -- >> an anchor. >> beer and a shot, toss down the shot, chase it with that beer, and don't raise that pinky when you drink, that's elitit, obama wearing an out of place suit in a trucker bar, his pinky is out. punk is saying, not to mention dangerous. when you drink that's elitist. not to mention dangerous.
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the funny part about this cartoon, this is barack obama, he is not the person you hang out with at the neighborhood bar. it's the portrayal of hillary clinton, because you'll recall during her time as first lady she was seen as out of touch. when she ran for president again in 2016 she was seen not the choice of working-class voters. but at this particular moment in the 2008 presidential primary, barack obama was winning a lot of swushan voters, was not winning that kind of white working class voters that ended up what into the end prolonged this primary contest. we went all the way until virtually the last presidential primary. after those initial victories that obama won, he lost a huge nieb of states in the midwest. the irony at this particular moment, probably the only one in her campaign, she was seen as the champion of the white working-class voter.
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>> this looks to me like, you know, harvard and yale law school at the bar trying to figure out how to drink a beer. it just made me laugh. guy with the hairy back over there and his pants falling down. the whole thing makes me laugh, because it totally hits a nerve of what people per receive those two as, both elitist, one telling the other how to drink a beer. >> and, you know, there are off hand comments that i think often stick with candidates for president, so basket of deploerables, the 47%, thinking back to mitt romney in 2012. it was about this time, wasn't it, lchris, obama trying to explain why it is that so many white working-class people were drawn to his opponent and to in some cases to republicans, when he talked about, they claim in
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their desperation, they cling to their guns, they cling to religion. i don't know what the context was for speaking that or how it came out. but it became sort of, see, this is what he thinks about the kin of people who were in this bar. >> i would also say it was at this point in the campaign somebody had the bright idea to send barack obama bowling and i think he bowled like a 47. you so could tell he was not a bowler. don't put your candidate in situations they're not comfortable with. >> there was a time in the 1980s primaries that candidate bush went bowling. back in the late '70s, bowling shoes had different soles on them so that you could slide with one foot and put the brakes on with the another. the secret service didn't know he was left-handed and therefore left footed. he went flying as soon as he
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flew the ball. he jumped up and said nobody said this was easy and nobody was right. i love that quote. >> we'll go to the last one. so this is obviously a big statute head of barack obama, the masses are chanting, obama, he's come to save us all, please, please save us, all hail barack obama, oh, great messiah, pufrpg or donkey in the left is saying all else i've got is kerry or ugh, hillary, i'm guessing this is 2008. again, this is the last one, and this is a good one to end on. you could probably do the same cartoon about how democrats feel about barack obama. they idealized him. probably outsized unrealistic he can peck takes.
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i think this also plays on the critique of obama as a celebrity. this was a constant theme that came up earlier in the 2008 campaign. you'll remember sara palin fan mocked him. the famous campaign john mccain, titled celebrity. obama when he accepted, he did it with these giant greek columns that made him look almost godlike. this is i think a fairly mocking probably the -- that the passionate way a lot of democrats look at obama and probably unfairly, you know, the lionization of obama. >> i do want to note that among the different ways you could have portrayed obama on the peddesstal, notice the use of
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the easter island statue, does evoke that sense of pagan's worshipping the idol. of course the pagans are going to be ban ishtd. you wonder if this civilization has vanished. >> yeah. >> and is being reborn on some other island in some other form. [ laughter ] >> well, i look at this photo and the easter island imagery to me suggests that there was some mystery. we don't know what the eastern island figures were about. i think a lot of people were having a hard time understanding, what does barack obama mean? what does it mean that we elected somebody as president unlike anybody before? is he some magical figure? is he some godlike figure? another way of looking at the crowd that is beneath him is that in effect, that's the body
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politic, like to the extent that this head has a body, it's the people who have somehow folded their own identities into his. and i think it captures something. if you think back to november of 2008 and the months that followed, i think it captures something of the sense of hope, of not knowing how high obama could lead us. and naturally as happens with all presidents, but maybe in his case to an exaggerated degree, the ensuing disappointment when you realize he's very smart because he's a mortal man. i thought this was an astonishing cartoon. >> and it's the last of our astonishing car toonz. and you all have been wonderful to bear with us through all this. let's thank our panel. [ applause ]
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and please before we leave, item expression of gratitude toward pat oliphant who is here in the audience. [ applause ]
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hi, everyone. my maim is adam cook. i'm a 2018 c-span student cam winner. i'm here to encourage you to wrap up this competition as the deadline is getting pretty close. you'll still have time. this is about the time that i started filming my documentary the first year that i entered it. i'm in the d.c. offices roo right now and i'm going to tell you it was an incredible opportunity for me to express my thoughts and my views about political climate in the current day as well as connect with some local and state leaders and political office. i'm extremely excited that you all are interested in this and are pursuing this because it's the one in a lifetime opportunity. i'm so excited that you're all under tagging it. >> there's still time to enter. you have until january 20th to create a five-to six-minute documentary that explodes an issue you want the candidates to express during campaign 2020. we're giving


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