tv The Presidency Pat Oliphants Political Cartoons - LBJ to Reagan CSPAN December 26, 2019 2:04pm-3:23pm EST
>> there's still time to enter. you have until january 20th to create a 5-minute issue. we're giving away a total of $100,000 in cash price prizes and a grand prize of $5,000. for more information go to studentcam.org. pulitzer prize winning cartoonist pat oliphant are the subjects here which has just acquired his cartoon collection. we hear from presidential scholars from uva's miller center. they focus on presidencies from lyndon b. johnson to ronald reagan. welcome. we're going to have for the next
75 minutes, a kind of meeting of two cultures. one culture is represented by the people on this stage, who are scholars associate the with the miller center here at the university of virginia and whose studie of the presidency is broad, long-term in perspective, balanced, and of course expressed in words in the written word. the other culture is represented in this room in one sense by the presence of pat oliphant, so please, greet pat oliphant with a -- [ applause ] but even nmore so by the work o pat oliphant which you'll see displayed on this screen.
the culture that he represents is not sort of broad gauged and long range by highly specific, daily perspective over the course of more than 60 years as a cartoonist, producing more than 10,000 individual cartoons five days a week for the denver post for several years, the washington star for several years. and along the way pat ol fant became the first to work independently of any newspaper. that's how popular his work was, and it was syndicated through newspapers all across the country out of his studio. so specific daily comments on events as they were occurring. far from being balanced, they were opinionated. that was part of their virtue. and obviously not so much in words, although there are words, but especially in pictures and the work of the art of pat ol
fant not just confined to cartoons but also to paintings and sculpture. now before i introduce our panel, let me speak some words of thanks on behalf of those who were instrumental in helping this program to come about. beth turner and molly squatsberg, cocuators of it, unpacking the archive. please take the time to visit the exhibition not only at the miller center but also at the special collections. thanks to the entire staff of the albert and shirley small special collections library, for all their hard work processing, preserving the collection, and preparing for this amazing exhibition. thanks to john unz worth, the dean of the libraries and university librarian, who has led the oliphant effort
throughout. and finally suzanne conway and patrick oliphant for donating their extraordinary collection to the university and making this event possible. i'm going to introduce the panel now and tell you about how we're going to proceed from now until the end of our first session, and the second session will follow the same format. kent germany, i'm introducing these in the order to which they're sitting on your right. and by the way, these introductions are going to be insultingly brief. you can read more in your programs and certainly you can go to the website and learn even more about them. kent generally, a senior fellow with the miller center who worked extensively on the john f. kennedy and lynn don b. johnson recordings as part of the recording project at the miller center. ken hughes also with the miller center who worked extensively and famously in some ways on the
lbj and especially the richard nixon recording project. chester patch, a historian whose research interest and products has encompassed johnson and ronald reagan, and bob strahm who was assistant when the miller center was conducting the jimmy carter oral histories. i'm mike nelson, i have an afigiation but my day job is in rhodes college in memphis, tennessee. there are no prepared present asians, no prepared remarks. we're going to be flashing over the course of this session 15 cartoons, just a tiny, curiated but tiny slice of what we could do if we had enough time. they'll unfold chron logically from the johnson administration through the reagan
administration. and then basically i'm going to throw the floor open to brief comments from these panelist, their perspective on what they're seeing and how that relates to what they knew about and now know about what was going on in these administrations at the time. so if we could have that first cartoon. all right. have at it. >> start by saying, this one stymied three out of the four analysts. so a little bit of background. this is 1966, lindon johnson has just undergone surgery. he's getting sort of teasing reviews from the press because he refuses to convalesce. had he had a polyp removed from his throat and had a hernia operated on. as soon as the anesthetic wroer off, he started calling cabinet
secretaries and white house aides, and he invited the reporters in to observe him recovering. his doctors had said for two or three weeks you are not allowed to drive. most just don't drive because they don't have to. but johnson liked driving around his ranch in johnson city. but johnson being johnson decided that four days out of the surgery, he would drive around the lbj ranch in johnson city, and so this cartoon is making fun of him. and i think there's one reference most of us will get. >> so thinking of lyndon johnson, he loved the newspaper, he loved seeing things about him in the newspaper, maybe not everything he saw he liked, but he liked to be the center of the attention. and if you look at the various things in this cartoon, it's a little snapshot of lyndon johnson and in the white house
recordings, there's a lot of johnson in this cartoon that shows up in these recordings. he loved to stand on cars, get bull horns and stand on cars and do politicking that way. he liked bulls. he's got a lot of bulls stories about different body parts on bulls and how those compare to human being body parts and other things, and to cows quivering in pastur pastures waiting for bulls and that sort of thing, so this is a perfect cartoon. i'm not sure my daughter here, 18 years old, would know who popeye is but i think the west of us would know. popeye might make a comeback eating spinach and doing crossfit. so maybe there's a chance with this cartoon. >> i didn't have trouble imaging lyndon johnson's popeye. i kept thinking of lady bird as olive oil. that deidn't seem to work quite
as well. the notion that he would recover quickly and then do damage seems to fit. [ laughter ] >> i would just think about the timing. this is late 1966. image the depiction of johnson only six or eight months later, would he look so forceful? given that the war in vietnam had deteriorated considerably. this represents a sense of johnson as a powerful figure. but i imagine it's something of eye zine ikt or at least a decliner afterwards. the other thing that struck me in relation to the con va lensence, he was a notably unprivate man. i've heard from journalists how he would take them into the bathroom as he answered their questions. even he took an afternoon nap and he would shepherd them into the bead room and change into his pajamas. he did that in the hospital and overall. so in some ways that reflected the johnson personality.
it's not in the cartoon, but it's certainly in that convalescence. >> i'm going to invoke popeye, not only pre-spinach but post-spinach, where we see him here. although this cartoon is from 1966, i'll never forget reading something by david greenburg, a historian at rutgers, describing johnson on the day of kennedy's assassination. johnson up until that time had been a very unhappy vice president. he had let himself go physically and in other ways. and greenberg says once he got the word he was going to be president, he was like popeye after he ate a can of spinach. and so three years later occasionally that image once again seemed appropriate. >> i think we need to say a little something about hubert fum free, who you might not see, but he's the little baby crawling there, asking about tap yoka and barbecued spinach.
let's think a little bit about hubert. one thing to return, humphrey's son had had cancer before this. this was a major movement in their life. i want to put that out there. because in a few minutes we'll see hubert in some different forms that mr. oliphant created. >> let's move to the next one. >> i guess it's in the white house takes guy. i'll take this one. this is a preyed good depiction of lyndon's life. he was zoontly on the phone. you can go through his daily diary and see how many people and things he talked about and talked about them with a level of expertise that is dazzling. he would get upset with people taking up his time. there's an early conversation where johnson is talking about all of these -- i should ask,
apoumts that he has to do as he is trying to think. johnson spins his life, breaks his life into two days, as professor patch was talking about, he takes a nap in the middle of the day. somehow johnson was able to ingest enough calories to handle all of these crises. this is from 1967, if you remember the detroit riots and johnson makes the decision to send in the army into dezroit. so that's part of the context of what's going on here. >> and just to take off of that, we're all familiar about thinking about franklin roosevelt as the master of radio, kennedy the first president who masters television. trump is the first master of whatever it is twitter is. lyndon johnson is the master of the telephone. now, that's a private form of communication, not a public one. but in washington everything leaks, so it's a semipublic form of communication. and it really is a helpful tool
for thinking about his presidency, to imagine those conversations and because of the work the miller center has done, listen to a number of them. when you spend time listening to johnson on the phone, you know a lot about what kind of president he was. >> can i piggyback on that? thank the miller center. i teach at ohio university. what are my students doing today? they have to listen to three of johnson's telephone tapes that are on the miller site, one where he speaks to jackie after the assassination, and one in which he orders hager pants from the hager pants company. i urge you all to listen to those tapes if you haven't. they compared the public and private. and the two are just light years apart. even on the phone he can have very different personalities. >> and just in terms of the
circumstances of that detroit riot, this was in the summer of 1967. johnson at this time i think was still expecting to run for president again in 1968. his main rival for the republican nomination it appeared at that time was going to be governor george romney of michigan. and when the riots took place in michigan, a subtext of here, maybe contributing to some of what it turned out to be so complicated, was that romney didn't want to say he couldn't handle this situation and therefore needed federal troops. and johnson insisted that romney say he couldn't handle the situation. so even in the midst of a sat trosk set of events that resulted in dozens of deaths, hundreds of millions of dollars in destroyed property, you could not take that sort of political component out of it as two individuals who thought they might well be running against each other the following year,
wanting to make this situation reflect bad on the other one rather than on themselves. >> before we move off, i do want to point out some of the artistry in how johnson gets projected. he has very large parts of himself as he imposed on other people, the johnson treatment. the way mr. oliphant has presented his nose, there is this growing nose that johnson has in many of these political cartoons. if you pay attention to the body shape, one we'll look at after this, it's a dinctly different than any, not this one but the next one we're going to look at. >> okay. let's move on. >> well, that's bay bby hubert,d he's running for johnson.
i can't tell if those are flies coming off of his feet. the ranch is a big part of his life. he lobbed to look at the dear and the river. and he went to great lengths to acquire hundreds and hundreds of acres of property around him. and this was lyndon's johnson's favorite place to be. you've got hubert humphrey wearing boots which look like lady's boots. they're not texas. he's wearing kind of a femnized boots here. johnson with his bad -- he's skinny. this is toward the end of his presidency. he really was not that old. so one thing to think about lyndon johnson, he died before he was eligible for medicare. he's in his 50s during most of his presidency. he had had a heart attack, would have two more after his presidency. he is still relatively a young
person here in this. i love the image of the horse in the background. i grew up a little bit in texas and people love horses and love drawings of horses on their wall. when i said that i was immediately back in the texas in the 1970s looking at somebody's house with a picture on the wall. >> this is a painfully accurate depicts of johnson and humphrey. he had chosen him in 1964 because he needed to have a liberal running mate who's last name wasn't kennedy and humphrey was the choice. and it was it seemed like the best move humphrey comake at the time and it probably was the most deliterrious one in the long run because he had to completely subordinate himself to lyndon johnson, especially on the vietnam war. this cartoon was done in the month of the democratic national
convention in chicago, when humphrey tried to get a peace plank written into the platform, when that would call for a halt to american bombing of north vietnam in return for negotiations -- or as a gesture to get negotiations started to end the war. johnson tlaerchted to denounce humphrey as jeopardizing the lives of americans. while humphrey was becoming the leader of the party, he was still very, very much under johnson's control. i think this captures this almost cruelly. >> i was in college when all of this was going on. i can't read, i feel a draft, the way it was intended. if it was supposed to be about johnson being drafted for the nomination, i can't see that word without thinking else.
>> i think it reflects the contemporary perceptions of the johnson/humphrey relationship. but i think it's a tad unfair to hubert humphrey. i think humphrey really did try hard to carve out some independent space. the overwhelming personality of johnson made it very difficult. but just to see humphrey as the child in the adult boots i think did i minishes humphrey's stature even in the shadow of johnson. >> johnson wanted to be president for a very, very long time. but he came up in politics in texas at a time when being a senator from texas meant you were associated in it the minds of your fellow senators but also in the minds of the national press, the american people, when you were associated with the south. and no southerner had been nominated for president since
zackary taylor. even woodrow wilson was govern. johnson was going to move on to the presidential state to rebrand himself, no pun intended, as a westerner. and so this ranch was terribly important to his effort to carve out a new identity. he was inviting people from washington down there all the time so they would see him and associate him with the west which had no political baggage attached to it, rather than the south, which did. >> i love this cartoon. moving on to the nixon campaign. this is right after richard nixon has announced as a republican candidate for
president that he will end the war and win the peace in vietnam. so he is rebranding himself as a dove after having supported every hawkish escalation of the war up until that point. i think what this captures that the commentary at the time, and for years afterwards, didn't capture, was just how impossible it would be for any of the candidates to come up with a satisfactory outcome in vietnam. nixon was trying to avoid saying he was going to win the war because he knew he could not do that and it would not be credible. and he really didn't have much of a plan for ending it or winning the peace, as we'll get into a little bit later. so the idea of him scrambling to sort of pull a rabbit out of a
hat is perfect, i think. and i do want to draw everyone's attention to the facial expression on the rabbit, which i read as jaded. but others might take a different way. >> i found this one really curious. when i thought of the phrase tricky dick nixon, i never thought of a magician. i thought of someone who did other kinds of tricks. and the problem with richard nixon, i had always assumed, was not that he was an incompetent trixster but that he was way too good at it. >> yeah. i guess my reaction was tricky d dick too. i study eyes hour and know a lot about that. eisenhower always thought that nixon was too partisan and also immature. and so nixon did try to rebrand himself when he ran that second time for president in 1967, '68.
was there the new nixon, the guy who was more mature, who could poke fun at himself. some of you may remember seeing him during the campaign during laughin' saying, sock it to me. only the new nixon could do that. but what we got was another version of the trickster. but still i think it still called back that image of nixon as the tricky dick. >> so i'll be the nose guy to point out richard nixon and his nose. and to tie it with johnson and to tie it with some opinion polls that were done at the time, it basically asks the survey respondents, do you trust the government to do the right thing in most cases? and so that number at the john kennedy/lyndon johnson level is bumping up at about 80%. by the time we get through richard nixon, it's dropping down well below the 50s and into the 20s. the noses in these cartoons are
indicating in the american public that the fact in the government, faith in the presidency, the sense that these author taitive leaders are lying to us, has become engained in american cul toou. it's the political cartoonists that let us know this ahead of time. we should listen more, i guess. >> nixon's great add vvantage w it came to vietnam was he was able to say, i'm not this, and i'm not that. i'm not going to be the president who got us into a war and deeper and deeper into a war, and now can't seem to find any way out of it. but i'm also not going to be one of those dovish politicians who, as he would put it, cuts and runs. so i don't even know if nixon spoke the words secret plan. but in effect what he was offering the voters was, i'm not either one of those guys. and or either one of those sets of guys. and you can't -- you could do a
lot worse than me. and a good bit of his rebranding of himself while he was vice president and then in the run-up to his revived candidacy in 1968 was to spend a lot of time touring the world and establishing a gentle reputation as somebody who was deeply familiar with foreign affairs. so when he said, in effect, you can trust me to handle this, that resonated in some ways with a selection of voters who thought, we can't do any worse than we're doing. this is a guy who seems to know his way around the world. and he was able to get away, in other words, with being very broad in general and nonspecific in a way that other candidates might not have been. well, this is actually 1972. now you all will remember george wallace, the former governor of alabama who ran as an
independent candidate in 1968, when nixon was a republican nominee and humphrey was a democratic nominee. and for a good bit of that campaign, it appeared that wallace might carry enough states to throw the election into the house of representatives, to deny both nixon and humphrey a majority. as it turned out, he did not. although he carried 45 electoral votes, which in a closer election might have done the trick. it would have thrown it into the house. but along the way, he got over 13% of the vote. and established himself as a national figure. in 1972 is when he decided he was going to pursue his presidential ambitions by running as a democrat, which of course was his party, during his career in alabama. and so having won the florida primary here, you see him kissing his on-again, off-again political girlfriend, the
democratic donkey. >> i just can't keep thinking of this phrase he would say, suedeo intellectual. [ laughter ] >> george wallace was the kind of candidate that we used to say could not possibly be elected president of the united states. [ laughter ] until events deprooifd us of the opportunity. it's worth noting he didn't win just the florida primary. he won michigan primary, maryland and tennessee. >> i had a similar thought. you could draw an updated version of this with donald trump kissing an elephant. but the difference would be you'd also have to draw a cartoon of the elephant kissing him back. [ laughter ] >> yeah, let me say a word about the donkey. you have to think about the
context too. the democratic south was starting to crumble, at least on presidential terms. there were -- south was moving southern voters, white southern voters, were supporting republicans. and how the democrats would maintain strength in the south became a difficult question. and certainly as much as the national democratic party wanted to keep that base in the south, if the base meant wallace or wallace-type candidates, it was a very, very difficult relationship. good thing jimmy carter came along. >> i was just going to make a note of the teeth, which will come up in just a second. >> this was a time when it was said of the democratic party that it was three georges wide, george wallace all the way on the right wing of the party, and then george meany, remember george meany, the head of the
afl-cio, and then george mcgovern at the left end of the party. wallace was clearly winning primaries in a way that frightened both of the other two wings of the parties. and of course it was on the day that he won the maryland primary that he was shot in maryland, and with such disabling wounds that he had to end his candidacy there. there's no chance at all he would have become the democratic nominee, and it's hard to see how he could have made things worse for the democrats that year. they ended up losing every state but one when nixon ran for re-election. but he at least for a time, kind of reminiscent of huey long in the mid 1930s, although less permanently, his being force the offer the national scene probably changed things in ways we'll never be able to fully understand. >> another cartoon i love, this
is from right before the 1972 presidential election, when a lot of the press coverage was about how richard nixon could not possibly get the settlement terms that he had demanded from the north vietnamese. and nixon was able to surprise his critics by getting exactly those terms. unfortunately those terms were not peace with honor, as nixon and his i want to say accomplice, but there's a different word for -- magician's assistant, henry kissinger presented to the public. we now know from nixon's white house tapes got a decent interval deal with north vietnam that would keep south vietnam independent for a year or two after nixon withdrew the last
american troops, and tapes from this time show both nixon and kissinger realized that their terms would doom the count so they really didn't count as peace. nonetheless, right before the '72 election the north accepted those terms, realizing that they would lead eventually to victory for the commune its in vietnam. nixon announced the piece is at han -- peace is at hand. i think this captured what was going on, which was a massive trick. >> in all of these i try to imagine what would the subjects have thought of the drawing appearing in the newspaper. i'm not sure nixon would have been bothered by this one. i think he might have thought, oh yes, i am, in fact, pulling it out of the hat. henry kissinger would not have liked it. [ laughter ] >> i thought about the
nixon/kissger relationship where here nixon is the magician and henry kissinger is the invisible figure behind the nixon sign. how that changed over the course of a year, really, very quickly, where kissinger became the magician, kissinger became the guy who did all these marvelous things that no one could imagine. or kissinger became the central figure of stability at a time when the nixon presidency was crumbling. so while kissinger was just the magician's assistant here, he became the main act very quickly. >> one thing i want to point things toward is the value of patrick oliphant's ar krooifb for us understanding this entire era. because we have right now today 15 cartoons that give us a really nice snapshot of this period in history. and what's striking me even as
we're talking here, as i would think about teaching students, about the value of perspective, maybe we're in a post-truth phase of american life, i don't know. but history is one of these things where everybody has their own opinion about it and we use our evidence. to be able to look through this lens of art and commont tarry that's represented, i think is wonderful. i'm just in the 20 minutes we've been here i've begun to see something coming through patrick oliphant's pen here. if i had a hat, i don't know, if it's a tammish hat, i'd tip it to you. so thank you. >> one of the criticisms sometimes you hear of cartoons is that they are die dakttic, ter telling you exactly -- they plant one thought in your mind. it's interesting because when i saw this cartoon i had a very
different reading on it than my colleagues. which i think may be an example that oliphant was a more subtle cartoonist than is the charactercature of cartoonists or it may just mean that i missed it. i got from this that nixon was the front man, that kissinger was behind the scenes actually making things happen. and of course that was an image that kissinger cultivated in his back channel conversations with reporters and other members of the washington community. but i wouldn't, did i just miss something there or could one read the cartoon that way as well as the way reading it in a more nixon-centric way? >> just right now, after looking at it, it looks like nixon is being eaten. there's a monster consuming him. maybe it's richard nixon consuming himself. >> i think kissinger thought of
himself in exactly the way you described. but this cartoon presents him held underneath, handing the bird. that's not exactly the portrait of power he would have wanted. well, i yield to my betters here. we've got another nixon cartoon i think, at least one more. >> this is from right after nix on's most famous and self destructive press con frents, the i am not a crook press conference, which needs no further introduction. this is another one that i love. nixon had planned that press conference as kind of a -- his truth offensive to fight back against the watergate hearings. this is late in 1973. so in the year since nixon won this incredibly great, huge re-election landslide, the senate watergate hearings had
beg begun. well, quite a few things had happened. and nixon's image had been greatly tarnished. his approval ratings went down sometimes dipping below into the 30s. this is a great reference to one of the things that came out in the snoot watergate hearings which was the existence of richard nixon's enemies list which is one of the things that john dean produced in his block buster testimony. the american president kept a list of enemies that he wanted to use the federal government against. >> i was just thinking, isn't it nice to look back on a president in an age that was so innocent and so simple that the worst public concern was whether the president was a crook?
or would reagan if he was an amiable duns? i wish we were back in those innocent times. i want to go on what kent said as well. many of the names on the enemies list or other names were journ liftsz, those who were unfriendly. nixon's aides kept tally of those in the media who were friendly or unfriendly, tv, print, and would try to use the power of presidency to exclude them from news handouts, from news conferences, time and time again he would say he didn't want a reporter to "the new york times" allowed in the white house again. and yates would kind of nod and say, yes, mr. president, and then usually not carry out those orders. but there really was a tension between nixon and the news media that began in 1969 when he became president and only intensified because of vietnam and watergate. >> just real quickly, i think
there's an important lesson about the presidency that we often forget. presidents are always in front of us. and they are always putting up a front. how do you know what the real richard nixon is? or the real donald trump? or the real, fill in the blank? it's a problem and a problem for scholars. one of the things i've learned in my affiliation with the miller center over the years and conducting these oral history interviews, is how often the public image that has captured everyone's attention is wrong. and how important it is to punkture wla punkture whatever that reputation is. richard nixon famously reinvented himself for the 1968 campaign, and it's beginning to come apart here. we need to constantly be on the alert that we're not fooled by
the many images with he see. >> i agree. >> i have one other thing. and that is, look at all those reporters, i mean can you remember a time when presidents felt like they had no choice but to hold press conferences on a regular basis? even at times when it was politically inconvenient? can you remember a time we all watched those because we only got three channels and they were broadcast live at the same time? so in some ways this cartoon speaks to an earlier era in the way in way the media and the public are able to see the president, as well as commenting on the particular circumstances of that very memorable press conference. by the way, isn't it interesting that at that time, nixon's response, when people accused him of having done things wrong, was to try to cover them up? in other words, he bought the
premise that if a president has done the things of which he's accused of doing, and it comes out, he'll lose his office. and i don't know that that's the current governoring situation in the white house today, where denying something flatout or saying even if i did it, it doesn't matter, there's nothing wrong with it, is a very different kind of response to serious accusations. all ready for i think our last nixon cartoon is coming up. you'll recognize archibald cox there on the leftside of the screen, chin-to-nose with president nixon? >> okay. yeah. you all know that this is -- it's right after the existence of the secret white house tapes that nixon recorded came out during the senate watergate hearings. a lot of people were shocked
that the president secretly recorded his conversations, an a.d. to john f. kennedy said john f. kennedy would never done that and a day later it came out that he had as well as johnson and eisenhower as presidents going back to fdr. the difference was that in nixon's case, those tapes immediately became criminal evidence. so the preshl prosecutor, archibald cox wanted to subpoena them, and did. and nixon fought that subpoena tooth and nail to the extent of firing cox. but this brings us right down to the moment before that, which to me is kind of a western showdown. and i do love the caption, eyeball to eyeball, sort of kind of pointing out nixon's habitwall shifty-eyed-necessary.
>> i'm guessing the devil at the bottom is not archibald cox. >> the reference seems to me it summons up the cuban missile crisis, the eyeball to eyeball of kennedy and krush chefb. it elevates a conflict, a domestic conflict, really to the level of that international confrontation. one could read into it perhaps implication that the integrity of the republic is almost at risk in this time in the same way it was during the cuban missile crisis although in different ways. but the analogy i think is very interesting and worth thinking about. >> and this is a kennedy/washington and a nixon/washington eyeball to eyeball too. it also looks like nixon is holding a tape but it looks like a diskus. it looks like a weapon when he's
about to hurl it. >> all of these cartoons were published in a daily newspaper and meant to comment on the daily news. but am i alone in seeing this cartoon bring back a whole era, a summer when we heard john dean, who had been the white house council for richard nixon, testify under oath to incriminating conversations that he had been a part of with the president in the oval office? and of course having his testimony discredited? and then one day we learn that, my god, there are actual audio tape recordings of these very conversations that are in dispute. and who would have imagined that a president would install a voice-activated aud maktly turned on in other words once anybody in the room started talking, recording system? but richard nixon had done that
and we found out about it one day. so the question became, well, we can settle this. who's telling the truth. let's go to the tape. it was of course a matter of time i think, before, assuming nixon didn't burn the tapes, which some thought he should do at the time, and others thought he should have done, looking back on it. what an extraordinary thing that this would become evidence in a criminal case and then known to the public and now available for our ears. >> well, let's say goodbye to richard nixon for the duration of this time and turn his successor, his appointed vice president. we've skipped over spiro ago knew and the circumstances of his resignation and the coming of the 25th amendment which for the first time provided for the appointment of a new vice president when the vice presidency became vacant and it turned out to be jerld ford who
was the republican minority leader in the house of representatives, had been an established figure in washington for a quarter of a century. and i wonder, as you look at this, this is a cartoon of president ford, but i wonder, was ford nixon's first choice to be his vice president? and if so, or if not, what did he hope he would accomplish by appointi appointing ford to that office instead of someone else? >> well, ford was easy to get appointed. i know that nixon really wanted -- thought that was best person to succeed him would be john conley, who was a democrat, who was closely associated with lyndon johnson, but who was very conservative and had joined nixon as his treasury secretary in his first term and then ran democrats for nixon. but apparently there was no way to get a democratic turncoat
through a democratic congress. were there any acandidates you thought of before ford? ford was just the easiest to get appointed. but nixon was kind of dreading the fact that ford was -- was kind of a popular replacement for him, bus he thought as long as spiroing a knew was vice president they couldn't kbeep him becausing a knew would be in charge. because with ford they had somebody who a lot of people could accept in the role. >> lyndon johnson made fun of ford extensively when ford was a republican house member, particularly about him hitting hit his head too many times playing football. and so lbj started the cte trend before it was a thing in the nfl. >> but i would like to say a word about the band aid on his forehead. the image that became attached
to gerald ford was clumsy, falling down, bumping into things. it was partly because chevy chase couldn't do a proper impression him but was good at falling down. it was one of the images that's a little bit false. gerald ford got a football scholarship to the university of michigan that's a non-trivial athletic accomplishment. and in his adult life was quite an accomplished athlete in a variety of sports. the clumsiness got attached to him not because it was true about him as a person but because it was metaphorically correct. he is this awkward preponderate, not elected, appointed, who succeeds the only president who ever resigned from office, has to navigate the period following that disgrace. and it is a period full of bumps, mistakes and errors.
the clumsy ford stuck. but it's not altogether the accurate picture of who he was. >> yeah, i would endorse that. and it became the way, though of criticizing his competence to be president. the falling down was an indirect way of doing that. think of the debate where he said under his presidency there would be no soviet control of eastern europe and the moderator looked at him and are you sure you want to say that and he doubled down on it. so it was the -- the stumbles were visible. but there was a real doubt ford was up to the challenges of the office. that's one reason that ronald reagan challenged him in 1976 for the republican nomination. >> if we think of maybe sharks in the water, and gerald ford making himself available to comediennes to make fun of. it's also the television has
become a much different thing. and watergate makes television a much different thing. so seeing the loss of faith in the presidency, having this person come in and then pardon richard nixon, he opened himself up to that at a time when there was money to be made by really making fun of presidents. the veil sort of comes off for comediennes to make fun of politicians in a way that it hadn't been before watergate. >> just one thing about ford, he was the first vice president in history who was elected neither president nor vice president. he became president through this new process in the constitution. the significance of that i think is that prior to becoming vice president and- and not too long a while president, was that the largest constituency in i with he ran for office was a congressional district in michigan, a rock solid republican district in michigan.
so to translate that kind of experience in mass politics into the presidency, especially at a time when in the aftermath of nixon people were lacking to the presidency for some sense of reassurance, some sense that things were going to be okay, he was in an extraordinarily difficult situation. and on top of that, not that many years before he became president the political parties had opened up their process for choosing their nominees for president. which meant that in 1976 the door was much wider than it had ever been for ronald reagan or some other challenger to come and take him on. ronald reagan had been elected governor of california two times. he had been on a much larger stage. he had been a movie star for years. he knew how to relate to mass public in a way that i don't think ford ever had a chance to learn. but in gives as you chance to
move on to the reagan presidency -- irps the carter presidency and then the reagan presidency. sorry. >> well, of course the first thing you notice is that carter's teeth are larger than the donky's teeth. that's saying a lot. jimmy carter must have been a big problem for political car tannor toonists normally when you run for the presidency they've been drawing you for years from your senate career and various things you've done in the public arena. he does come from almost out of no where. and then there was some issue, i presume among cartoonist now he was properly drawn. some of them drew his body as a peanut. and actually the god people of plains, georgia, erected a 15-foot high peanut with the grin on it in order to hopefully stop passing by cars and have
them visit plains and the handful of gift shops there. later they came one a different innovation, they nut a traffic light. so carter is new to the scene. and this, however, is a iconic scene for every president. after you've been elected you suddenly have things to dell with. and they turn out to be extremely hard. kennedy was asked after the first year in the white house what surprised you to most and he said all the bad things i said during the campaign in about washington turned out to be true. it's a daunting challenge, even maybe more daunting for the candidate without any national experience. >> and just to pick up on that and go beyond, it seems to me it races a fundamental questions that historians study and debate
now and contemporaries talk about, which was how much of the failings of the carter presidency really can be attributed to jimmy carter, his inexperience, his ineffectiveness? how much has to do with all the issues and problems that are represented in the cartoon? it seems as if he comes into the office facing extraordinary challenges. so there is more to story than just is carter prepared and up to the task? >> i think about carter coming out of inauguration he is a nuclear engineer, a naval officer but he had a sense of coming out of no where and coming into the office. i think part of in is this -- maybe there is a freshness post watergate. maybe there is this baptist guy
from south georgia. what i can see from this cartoon which i hadn't thought about earlier. is these are books. he is getting this in the form of written material that he is going through. maybe part of that reflects that jimmy carter has an intellectual background. lyndon johnson didn't read books. some presidents read some dope. some presidents write letters to mom some have aides write letters to mom. this to me -- there is a freshness here to it. and that we may not go back to having all of these things in one place again. i guess there is one democratic candidate says they has a plan for that. maybe she has a library full of plans she can look to and pull things off. but it's an incredibly difficult job if we think back to some of the cartoons are lbj in it and how much time it took and you had to be expert in so many different things or have experts in the white house providing you
with foundations of knowledge from which to operate both into the domestic sphere and in the foreign policy sphere. but now we sort of don't really think about that expertise that lies behind the presidency, the professionalism that is there. >> it's telling to look back at the coverage jimmy carter got in 1976 as an outsider. i remember seeing a barbara walters special where she described him as unusually sexy for a presidential candidate. and kennedy asked in his ca charisma wouldn't lass. >> and one of the virtues of having the snap shots she remind you is whatever the lasting image of jimmy carter is is not smiling, as burdened, overburdened by all the challenges of the office, and especially the challenges of those times, is that we forget the extraordinary sense of
optimism and new energy that accompanied his election doons bury had a running character in the first few months of the administration. the secretary of symbolism, the suggestion being that carter was soed good as mastering the symbols of office. in order to win support. that's how high he was riding at the time. but as ken pointed out his election as president marks a transition. we had been electing washington figures president ever since world war ii. and with 1976, the fact that he had never been in washington, which he reminded us of as a candidate, turned out to be a political virtue. he was from georgia. he had done things and was bringing that accepts of fresh blood and fresh spirit into the
augian stables of washington, d.c. that marks a turning point in which a governor, complete outsider began to become a more appealing political persona for those running for president. >> and real quick, the other way cartoonists responded to the carter administration is by drawing things about his southern and rural heritage. there was a famous cartoon of a white house limousine outside the white house on cinder blocks. there was another -- jodi powell, his press secretary came into the office one day and asked his staff -- there is in cartoon of the white house with a -- a tire swing right in front of the door. what is this? why is that funny? >> and his staff explain to him well people don't really put tire swings in front yard. jodi powell said he went home
that night and took down the tire swing he had put in his suburban, virginia home and his kids were very upset. oh, this one. again one question you might ask, whose staff would be more upset, ekennedy or carter. >>. the brill yn political adviser to jimmy carter said we lost the election in 1980 for three reasons, bad economy, the iran hostage crisis and ted kennedy. if we could have fixed one of the three we would have stood a chance. but with the three of them against us we did not. this is a cartoon that says, carter really doesn't beat
kennedy in the primary season. he just comes equipped for the car crash. >> i had never seen this before. and i looked long and hard at it. it's ten years after chap aquiddick. and some of you perhaps have seen them. brings cultural understanding to things that happened in very different circumstances. i went to see the bridge there. and believe me i reached my own conclusions about who was at fault. and i read this as much more critical of kennedy than of carter. maybe the -- carter's white house staff hadn't been too happy about it with the president in the back seat and prepared to swim for survival. with you it seems that kennedy driving and driving the carter
presidency over the edge or into the deep. and it reflects some of the thinking at the time. but i think a lot of that criticism was also muted, just because it was a kennedy. >> and of course it also reflects the struggle between a liberal and moderate wing of the democratic party. not that any of us have ever heard of anything like that. >> well if there is a -- this was one of many many cartoons that pat oliphant drew during the 1980 election. and couple la actively they sent a range of messages. but if this were the only cartoon you had from 1980, the only one you might saw you might write a caption, vote republican. because look at the two alternatives whom the democrats offer there. >> a lot of people did. they voted republican. >> yeah and i'll just very quickly point out the presence
of a kennedy washington. i mean this is a theme that comes through some oliphant's cartoons here. but this is something -- it seems obvious to us as historians but the power of the moment in early 1960s that john kennedy helped set down and his brothers continued forward. i see this car moving forward and that it's still the kepdy driving. it's definitely the chappaquiddick issue here. but also the issue of politicians as celebrity as part of the american politics in the 1980s when we get -- people voting republican that started his career as a celebrity. >> one last tiny point. even though carter is the president of the united states, a kennedy is at the wheel. >> another wheel. >> go ahead.
>> i guess i'll take it. >> i think this one is brilliant, frankly. i think -- why do i think so, because it captures some of the dimensions of what people call malaise in 1980, 1981. i know there are some people in the room who can think back and remember how that felt. remember the misery index, the combination of the rate of unemployment and inflation. 20% or 21% around the time of the 1980 election. jimmy card carter was widely blamed for chronic economic problems pre-dates his presidency. hostage crisis and other things going wrong. and for people thinking there was no reason to be confident about the future. now, ronald reagan said during the campaign, our best days are ahead of us. but it sure doesn't look like that's the kind of captaincy he
is prepared to provide. he looks like he is ready to go down with the ship. there is the ominous look on the prune face. i think it's really good as providing that anxiety at the time reagan became president. and in some ways it previews what occurred. yes there were reagan economic reforms but then the worst recession since the great depression. unemployment up to almost 11% at the end of 1982. but reagan was also active. reagan did take the initiative in trying to bring about fundamental changes. and one with could argue that first year of the reagan presidency is the most active year of reagan's terms -- two terms in washington. so the captain was going to do more than just sort of sanity stand there. he was going to do something to save the ship. a lot of people looking back at the end of the reagan presidency
would say he had been successful in doing it. >> perfect capturing the moment. that is just what it felt like. that was the first election that i was -- i think i was 16 at the time. and it was lake okay ronald reagan you've got the job. good luck. >> you know, i said at the -- i said at the beginning that wove got two cultures here. we've got the long-term view of scholars. and got the day to day commentary of a great cartoonist. but in some whiches the two cultures coincide, because just as this cartoon conveys the idea that ronald reagan is going to be taking over a sinking ship, that the job is too big to be done. that was the dominant view among presidential scholars at this time. when ronald reagan was inaugurated in 1981 he was the sixth president to take the office in the last 20 years.
you had kennedy sass nature, lbj elected to one term but dropped out of the next election. nixon elected twice but forced out of office through the impeachment president. gerald ford unable to get elected to if full term. jimmy carter survived one term. there was a wide sense among scholars of the presidency at this time that the office has just become too big for any individual to fulfill it. and then as chester pointed out, 1981 turned out to be an extraordinary year of presidential leadership. and since then we have only had one president who didn't serve a full two terms, at least so far. and so reagan, i think, managed to confound the pessimists of all kinds with the presidency that followed.
>> i find this one haunting. in a good way. like charles dickens a christmas carol. subtle and pfuhl. i think it was hard for cartoonists to caricature of ronald reagan. but it was a simple view of the world breck are broken down to good guys and bad guys. and in his central american, latin american policies this was something manifested in support for a lot of unsavory characters who engaged in human rights
abuses against leftist insurgents or leftists regimes. and i just want to say, you know, this is -- this one moves me personally. >> this one reminded me of a quote from mark twain. i'm sorry i didn't memorized the quote i'm going to paraphrase which you shouldn't do with a wroir as good as mark twain but the essence of what he said was when writing humor you should never try to teach and never try to preach. but if you want your humaner to last it has to do both of those things. this is an image that will last. it does a bit of both of those things exceedingly well. >> it's very good at capturing the fundamental debate about the threat or what constituted the threat in central america in general, nicaragua particularly, reagan always thought that the
problem was a communist threat. in fact during the campaign of 1980 he talked about dominos falling in central america, mexico would be next. and the last dom know would be the united states. and in some ways that reflected his policies. also, though, the question always was, to what extent really was the sandanista regime regime a threat aligned with moscow, to what extent it harbored the threats. his understanding didn't come from movies not because there was good guys and bad guys and he was used to playing the sheriff. something he didn't do a lot of in the movies. it came from the education in the early cold war and more to do with communists in hollywood than with good guys and bad guys on the movie zbleet one thing to compare this to the previous one, what i see in this -- and
this is me being too much of a historian -- is vietnam, right. so part of it -- the earlier one is water up to reagan's chest carter's neck. but reagan leaves the vietnam era without being coated with vietnam. he is a governor. he is also not coated with watergate. he escapes the two traumatic moments in the american politics of the decade and emerges as -- i'll call it he is dry here, not in a quagmire. he makes this pivot and attempts to move america to a post vietnam period. this particular cartoon is not about vietnam. but i see the shadow of vietnam right there in the background of several of the reagan cartoons here. >> one of the great frustrations of reagan's acting career was he wasn't able to get the parts that went to john wayne or gary
cooper, the heroic western parts. and i think one of the satisfactions of his political career was that he did get to play those parts as a leader first in the conservative wing of the republican party, then as candidate for president and finally as president. >> do you want to start. >> go ahead. >> one thing that cartoonists are seldom credited with is graciousness. and i think this is just a very gracious farewell to ronald raying. . by the end of his term he was able to claim a great deal of success in terms of prosperity and in terms of peace. there are many people who were worried when he took office that
he would get the wrld in a nuclear wear war and he actually formed a construct of relationship with michail goesh kmef and able to pass nuclear arms limitation -- was able to negotiate nuclear arms limitation and reduction, contrary to the expectations of both opponents and many supporters. so i think this is -- while the portrayal of reagan as a cowboy early in his term was one most often done by his opponents, one of him riding off in the sunset at the end of his term is one more celebratory than otherwise. >> two quick comments. i don't know how many watch the show mystery science theater. this may be dating me. but it's basically the show where there are two people sitting in theater and just make smart alec comments about the
movie going on. it was a cult favorite. that's one thing. but i thought about the searchers and the ening seen in the searchers with john wayne who has thifrd the woman who was lost and he leaves. and he can't be with the people inside the house anymore. and the frame is the open door and the west outside and john wayne walks out as the solitary figure. i would love to know if we could look back in mr. oliphant's mind at this point how framing done by hollywood helped seep into, you know -- maybe there is something in the archive if there is some earlier drafts of this we could make comparisons. >> since this is our last cartoon i thought i would bring up something more generally about reagan and editorial cartoonists. he met with them at least twice in the white house, once in 1986 and then again in 1987. i think they had an annual convention in washington. and so they came by the white
house. in 1986 there is actually video of it. and i hoped we could show it to you. we can't. you can google it. it's on youtube. you can see ronald reagan shaking mr. oliphant's handing with going around the table. and then he read prepared remarks from his 3 by 5 cards. all the jokes there and he takes his turn as an easel and trying to draw a character from a bill mulleden cartoon in world war ii. he does rather poorly but yoet wrote in his diary. high spot of the day was lunch in the cabinet room with 20 top editorial cartoonists. the laughter was continuous i think maybe a few were softened a bit, maybe, maybe not. in any case i think this is a fitting closing to our panel of the final cartoon. and it raises the question again
about whether reagan was the acting president. to what extent hollywood influenced him, to what extent he was very good at all the symbolic theatrical parts of the presidency. he was good at that but the other thing we found out was that reagan wrote large parts of the speeches, sometimes the whole thing, put the words in forms that could connect with the audience. sometimes, although he didn't always do it, intervene in real debates about policy and make hard choices too. so in some ways there is a kind of soft focus and movie quality to the reagan presidency. and in which reagan plays the lead role. but it's more than him just following a script. he did a lot to write the script for better or worse. >> you know when reagan first ran for governor of california, the -- what his opponent, the incumbent pat brown would be the killer line well you can't have
an actor as governor. and then the same concerns were raised, the same dismissive objections raised when he ran for president. think about it, part of a president's job -- it's become indispensable part of a president's job, is to relate to tens of millions of americans through the cold hard lens of a camera. stage actors can dsh be comediennes can play off a live audience. but to be able to connect with an audience that isn't there, while you do your job, to be able to get them to believe you, and like you, as film actors have to do, that's a highly translatable skill into the kind of public leadership that we require of presidents today. now, more recently we have gone to a small screen president, right, "celebrity apprentice" is not the same as win one for the gipper. but i think the idea of being
able to connect with people who aren't there in a way that is appealing and believable is -- we now know because of ronald reagan that's part of the presidential job description. i think we are now out of time but i want to thank all my fellow panelists here and thank you for being here. [ applause ] all week we feature american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on cspan3. the lectures in history, american artifacts pb real america, oral historiys, the presidency and special event coverage about our nation's history. enjoy american history tv now and every weekend on cspan3.
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continue to wrap up the competition as the deadline gets close. but don't worry you have time. this is about the time i started filming my documentary the first year that i entered it. i'm in the d.c. offices right now. and i'm just going to tell that you cspan student cam was an incredible opportunity for me to express my thoughts and my views about the political climate in the current day as well as connect with some local and state leaders in political office. i'm extremely kited you all are interested in and pursuing this because it's a once in a lifetime opportunity. i'm so excited you all are taking it. >> there is time to sberp the cspan student cam video competition. you have until january 20th to create a five to six-minute documentary that explores an shupt you want the presidential candidates to address during campaign 2020. we are gafg giving away a total of $100,000 in cash prizes with a grand prices of $500,000. go to the website.