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tv   The Presidency Pat Oliphants Political Cartoons - Bush to Obama  CSPAN  December 26, 2019 4:05pm-5:24pm EST

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2020 to cover. there is a grand prize of $5,000. for more information, go to our website c-span student from the president, the staff members analyze the work of political cartoonist pat oliphant and they focus on george h.w. bush, and barack obama and george bush, and this is hosted by the miller institute. >> we are going to get started here with round two of presidents upon whom oliphant was to bestow the gifts in a country in which he is able to bestow his gifts by commenting and visually and with words on
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those presidents. i'm mike nelson. i'm the guy that you had to put up with the first panel. fortunately, we have a new cast of people to add their voices to the wonderful voices that you heard from the scholars of the first panel. once again, we have miller center people here. the miller center and one of the main emphases is to study the presidency in historical depths with objectivity and in other words, we are all in the business of doing stuff that an editorial cartoonist is not in the business of doing, and that is reacting to events on the day-to-day basis as pat oliphant did in his 60-plus years as a newspaper cartoonist, and whereas we all strive to be as objective as we can, the job of the editorial cartoonist, and pat oliphant as well as anybody
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has done it is to provide the comment, and to provide opinion and provoke discussion as opposed to aspire to settle the discussion. this panel today is going to cover the presidents from george bush and i don't use the h.w., but he was george bush when he was president, and when john quincy adams became president, he did not have to change his name, a sound am sticking with george bush, and of course, his immediate successor bill clinton and george w. bush, the one who came next and then finally, we sort of dip our toe into the obama pret si,sidency. and we will see one example of
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pat oliphant's work in sculptures, and it is an inextraordinary work, and one of the panelists mary kay cary can tell us about the sculpture and the president who it portrays. mary kate is a fellow at the miller institute, and she has been teaching in the politics part of the university. she was a speechwriter and communication specialist in all parts of the bush/quayle campaign in 1988 and in the george bush presidency. and philip zelico is the former member of the miller center and member of the history department here held prominent positions in both bushes' administrations, both george and george w. admin
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straegs a administrations and did other things that i am not aware of that are worth noting. and chris lowe s a senior fellow here at the miller center. and he has worked in over the years all three branchs of government, and i don't know how many people can say that truthfully at least, including seven years in the obama administration. so what we will do is the first time around is to take the cartoons from each one of the presidencies in sequence and all of them oliphant creations that are now part of the university of virginia's special collection library, and that are available in many cases for you if go see either there or over at the miller center where there are some others. start with that new cartoon. >> all right. for those of you who can't read
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that far back, because i know it is a little difficult, you george bush on the top, and what they try to sell, and then as he is perceive and then dukakis what they tried to sell and then as he is perceived, and then it says altered egos and i can't read. can anybody else read that? >> i got it. >> okay. yes, here you go. >> altered egos or how we think of them when we think of them at all all. >> there you go. i was on the 1988 bush/dukakis campaign, and the bush side, and the top half is not true, and not how he was perceived and the bottom half is exactly how dukakis is perceived from our point of view, and i remember
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being and having a t-shirt that said beware of greeks wearing lift, and there is a lot of joking about the difference of the height of governor dukakis and president bush. president bush was 6'2" or 6'3", and there was a "saturday night live" skit called "dukakis after dark" and played on this that there was another side of michael dukakis that nobody knew or saw, but on the top side, i would say that the left side of what they try to sell is exact ly what we all perceived in george bush, war hero and 58 combat missions, and lifelong public servant. and i met david mccullough when i was making a documentary about president bush, and david mccullough says that it takes 50
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years for historians to render judgment on a president, and how glad he was to see that historians had come around on george bush and given him the credit that he truly deserves and that george bush was alive to see it. so i do think that he was admired widely by the time he died. so i do think that the top of this is not accurate. but i also realize that i am a little biased. >> so let me see if this is on. and what is portrayed here and one of the challenges of the panel is that for many of you, we don't have to explain the references of the cartoon, because many of you are remembering that they are talking about the wimp factor, bush as a wimp. for young people nowadays, they thought george bush was a wimp? why did they think that he was a wimp? that is actually a really good
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question. and there was a magazine cover that had a picture called "the wimp factor" and it stunned. i was not declared with any political affiliation, and i would go into the administration as a detailee as a state department detailee in the bush administration when i was 49 and it may seem that way now i am so misty. and so, why was he labeled a wimp and why did it stick? even if you are a bush partisan, and frankly, everybody who worked for bush became one if they had not been before. it is interesting when you are just as a little side bar
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comment, you do learn a lot about the leaders by looking at the tuds of the people in the circle around them. and he commanded a lot of loyal around the people around him. and so there is something about the thin ready voice and being second banana to reagan for eight year, and in the sense that he was on the campaign trail, he was not in my view a forceful and charismatic speaker by and large. he is actually one of the people, and actually johnson had a little bit of this, and came across much better in private than public. reagan by the way, he is just the opposite. so there are qualities there,
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and emotional quality that would leak to the surface, and on the campaign trail, he would spout the conventional pab lum, and the people who asked him to say to different audiences. therefore, people had trouble getting a firm sense of them, and some people on the right wanted him to be a much more muscular conservative in one image of him, and he did not fit that. and there is something to this that you to recognize, and there's something in the image of him that people are perceiving. i don't think that by -- i am not sure that by 1999, mr. oliphant would have drawn him the same way after the gulf war. but you can see that he sticks with this image for a while in early bush period, frankly, because the caricature is capturing something that is
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resonating with the american people, and you have to face up to that and understand it. and so this is going to be a final comment, and this is one of the reasons that the cartoons are so valuable as historical items is that they capture something about the way that people are perceived in their generation that is going to be lost 30 years later, and by looking at the cartoons, you can recover. >> what i find interesting about the cartoons is how ingrained the public perceptions get in people's minds, and for somebody who spends a lot of my life working on campaigns, the honest campaign recognizes your liabilities and tries to push back on that, and trying to push back against the unforced errors and of course, the most famous unforced error from the '88 campaign is that you will recall michael dukakis riding around in
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a tank with an ill-fitting helmet, and no candidate would ever do that now. and so, you know, that could have just as easily have been the perception here of dukakis, and then of course, you will remember, and mary kate, can talk about this better, but some of the more important moments of george bush 41 and the unfair of the grocery scanner thing where he didn't know how it worked and the famous moment of the 1992 debate where he looked at the watch seeming to be bored. now when we prep a candidate for debates we take the watch off or tell them not the look at their watch. when i was working for john kerry, and he was doing presidential prep, we wanted him to go out to do some public vents and the gas prices were high and we wanted to show how high the gas prices are high, and to fill up a car with gas,
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and to avoid that grocery scanner event, we said, have you filled up a gas tank? and it is just one of the moments that you did not want to happen. and in part because some of the moments and the early campaign, you double and triple check every time you put your candidate in public, because you don't want to be visual images to stick in the people's brain. >> and one thing that we have not noted yet which is a presence in every cartoon that we have seen and will see is the presence of the little character there in the lower right quadrant the punk, which is the pigeon and the not pigeon, but a penguin that pat oliphant included in the cartoons to add a dollop of comedy. but these are snapshots of a
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moment, but on the other hand, they are windows into a period. what we start to see in 1988 in this cartoon is the departure of the era in which we regarded presidential elections as contests between giants. think of theodore white's making of a president in 1960, and it is as if achilles and heracles were meeting on the battle, and two "titanic" figures, and either one of them worthy of trotting on a heroic stage, and now we will see by 1988, we were looking at the presidential candidates as diminished and even comic figures, and that is in some ways, the default setting ever since. >> so this is a very nice cartoon, and this is george bush
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and george washington walking down pennsylvania avenue on inauguration day 1989. that was the 200th anniversary and not to the day, but the year of george washington sworn in at the same time that george bush was sworn in, and president bush was actually very honored by that. he got sworn in with two family bi bibles, and he start ed the inaugural address by pointing that out. and one other comment that brought this to mind is that same conversation with david mccullough. david mccullough believed that george bush was the most qualified person to run for president since the founders at the time.
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he didn't say it at the time, but afterwards and that brought it to mind all of the jobs that president bush had done in service to the country before president perfectly prepared him for that moment, and that is the reason why we were able to get through the cold war without a single shot, the end of the cold war, excuse me. and so that is what jumped out to me, is that he was very proud of that moment. >> the only thing they thought that was amusing is that building on the right-hand side if i am not mistaken 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 or philip, you can comment, but presidents, i don't think -- i think it is seen as bad form to compare yourself to a previous president, and while it is perfectly appropriate for george bush to pay homage to george
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washington the bibles, and so it is not to say that i am the greatest president since so-and-so -- no, i was referencing somebody else. and people want to be like i'm john kennediesqukennediesque, at say that it is punk, but it is "ain't it beautiful, george." and the second george is written in a different font so i guess that you would call that -- what is that font? >> 18th century. >> so it is a pun on two georges and this en the en the 18th cen >> i am struck with the image of the other president, george washington who has come down to us largely because of the pictures that we have of him as a sort of brand and even boring
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figure, and a solid and virtuous in every way and no spark of life do we see in any pictures that we have of george washington and take out the dollar bill and look at that, whereas in truth, i don't think that any american in history has been a figure of such excitement, and adoration in his own generation as george washington. and so people were not only respectable, but the virtues of respectability, and an exciting guy, and sexy guy, but washington i think that he is doomed to always be the bland figure that his portrait has portrayed him as. >> so i had to ask and should i read this out loud?
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here is apparently dan quayle and the baby carriage saying gug gug mccarthyism, and then he says look at dan's first word in office, and then punk saying, you must be so proud. apparently i had to ask as a reference to the tower nomination, and that dan quayle said that the people opposed to john tower's nomination were engaging in mccarthyism. i -- i find this very unfair. and i think that there is a little bit of background which is that george bush first met john tower in 1961 when george bush was harris county republican chair in houston, which was quite a big deal, and john tower decided to run for
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lyndon johnson's senate seat in the special election after johnson left to become vice president, and that is when the two of them first became friends, and so at this point, they have been friends for almost 40 years. in 1968, there was a discussion earlier, on the earlier panel of nixon's short list of vice president ford, but in '68 according to jon meachum's book about bush "destiny and power" nixon's short list for v.p. was john tower, george bush, spiro agnew and one more, ronald reagan. wouldn't that have been something. so now comes 1989, and it is former senator towers and former chair of the senate committee and bush names him to the secretary of defense and it
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comes out that there is concerns about his as herb parment put it love of women and booze, and the congressional investigation, and the first time since 1959 that a cabinet officer was not approved. the senate at this time was 45 republicans, and 55 democrats, i believe, and the vote went down 47-53. 53 no. so that means that two democrats crossed over and voted yes or more republicans voted no, but due to the fact that the democrats in control of the senate, and that is why tower did not get through, but the larger point to make here though is that george bush felt strongly that loyalty goes down
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as well as up. he was tremendously loyal to john tower despite the flaws exposed in meachum's book, and he says, i will not pull the rug out from under my friend, and that is also what set the stage to why he was so loyal to clarence thomas' nomination as well. he, i believe, inaccurately depicted here as treating dan quayle as some sort of baby, and that could not be further from the truth. he went against the advice of everyone who had all kinds of people on the short list for quayle, i mean, for the vice president, and went with quayle in a surprise move, and treated quayle as an equal, because he, himself, he had been a vice president, and he wanted the same treatment for his vice president, and he continued to treatment that he started with ronald reagan of having lunch every week with the vice
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president, and they had a close relationship. he was, and this is not the way he looked at dan quayle. so, philip, you may have more to say. >> well, it is about a speech that quayle gave after the tower nomination was defeated. i take a more sim pa thicket view to the cartoonist than mary kate on this one, because i do not join the dan quayle rehabilitation lobby [ laughter ] i agree with what mary kate said that bush did treat quayle with the treatment that a vice president should be treated, and don't think that dan quayle is one of the key insiders of the bush administration, and that, you know, though he was in a lot of meetings, and as i said, bush treated him appropriately, but he was not an influential person in the senior ranks of the
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administrations, and here is what happens here. early 1989, and tower has gone up and been defeated, and quayle gave a nasty speech. basically saying that tower was defeated because of mccarthyism, and understand that the investigation of tower had been run by sam nunn of the senate intelligence committee. and so without knowing about this panel, i was with sam nunn, and jack reid for other reason, and nunn kind of reminisced about the tower fight at some length. he to this day feels that it is perhaps the hardest thing that he ever had to do in the senate. he had known tower a long time, and as had all of the senators the had, and he had worked with
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him on armed services for many years. and to accuse and a lot of the investigation was done extremely confidentially, and very little of the detail that was found in the investigation was ever made public. and so to accuse sam nunn of the latter day joe mccarthy was not a wise thing to say and not as george bush's caricature would say "it was not a prudent thing to say" because he would be relying on sam nunn as an essential partner to get anything done on the national security issues for the next four years, and including the confirmation of the person who was nominated to take the place of tower which turned out to be a guy named dick cheney from wyoming. as the secretary of defense. soer hoo, people noticed -- so,
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were noticing in 1989 that dan quayle was making his political view in a big way. he had been mild mannered and now making his debut in early 1989 in the hit-man role that agnew had done for nixon or gore would do a little bit of this for clinton. it was not an attractive role for quayle or attractive role for bush to have quayle play, and oliphant is basically calling him on it. >> whether one thinks that dan quayle is underrate ord to the first time tonight overrated. [ laughter ] this is a very good example of the caricaturist's art. so we have seen noses and chins
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and eyes in caricature fashion, exaggerated, and here we don't see dan quayle, and the impression is that he is an infant, and therefore, of no significance at all. and to not show a character as a form of a caricature is really interesting. >> and notice that the baby carriage had that fancy monogrammed initial "q" like it is the super fancy carriage from a really wealthy family, and that is a nice touch. >> i forgot to say earlier that the little bubbles signifying dan quayle there, and invisible dan quayle reminds me of "doonsbury" at the time would show him as a feathery twin or
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bubble, and the president got a big kick out of it there. were a number of photos with bob gates, and many others talking to an empty chair, and then they would sign it, and send it to the president. it would be a big joke, and dana carvey at the time doing the hilarious impressions of the president, and then after he lost the election, he invited dana carvey to come to the white house, and laughed at him and did impersonations of him, and some of the doonsbury and the oliphant stuff is at the bush library, because it is a sign of his self-deprecating humor.
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>> chris? >> no, am fine. >> are we going to move on to the clinton years. >> well, we have one more. in one week, after he left office, it was the funeral of president ford at the national cathedral and i went to it. there were a tremendous number of boy scouts were the ushers at the cathedral because gerry ford was a eagle scout. so my boys knew some of the boys, and so there was a eulogy from president bush, and so then the choir boys said, mrs. cary, we had a vote, and president bush gave the best eulogy of all of the eulogists, and i said,
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oh, my gosh, boys, i will tell the president, because he would love to know that, and in hindsight i told the story at his funeral, because i think that he knew that there would be boy scouts in the aisles and the tone of the eulogy is this is what young people can learn from gerry ford and sure enough, there were choir boys who loved it. so the next week i went to the new presidential gallery who had just opened up the president's wing, and this sketch of pat oliphant was there, and i loved it, and i thought that it was really funny and captured the love of horseshoes and the athleticism in a lot of ways. i wrote him a note. and i wrote him a number of notes, and he would write back, and so i have this binder called personal notes from 41. i wrote him this note, and said,
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first of all, you won the choir boy's vote, and you have to go to the national portrait gallery and i will go with you and you have to see this thing. he wrote me back, and i thought that i would read it to you. dear mary kate. overwhelmed am i. imagine a guy like me winning the vote of the national cathedral choir boys regarding my eulogy. yes, i would love to see the portrait gallery with my new hip in place. i have to go tout kick some serious butt. thanks for writing, g.b., and that is the next thing that you know, he did not come the washington to see it, but the bush library had a second one purchased and there is another one at the national gallery of art, and one in the bush library, and one of his favorites. so he enjoyed that sculpture, and i wanted to say thank to mr.
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oliphant for creating it. >> may i say that there is also one at uva. >> okay. >> and any other comments on the marvelous sculpture? >> let me take this one and i love this cartoon and let me try to describe it to you. it is depicting a couple of youth car salesmen, and so on the left it is conservative health care and it is a sluggish salesman and says like you, new and runs nice and needs cosmetics, and this one from clinton that says imagine your health care here, and coming soon. and in the next corner, it is clinton, we finance. and punk in the middle, who do you fancy that we should buy a car from. the reason i love this cartoon
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is that it sin credibly timely and from the 1993 health care flight, and you could fast forward and basically take the conservative health care, and put it in the clinton health care, and put it in whatever donald trump wants to propose, and medicare for all. we finance is also the big progressive health care plans of how do you pay for this. so it depicts, i think the challenge of the health care in the system. we have a series of not appealing options presented by politician, and lot of it is simply imagining what something could look like if you could finance it in some way. so a lot of the cartoons will be looking at are particularly timely, and this is especially timely. >> i'll only add to that, other
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than the fact of the car, and the old gt, and it has the fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror. i just think that this is the best cartoon i have ever seen about the clinton administration. really in a way of that image of clinton and the way it is portrayed captures something deep about clinton and a lot of things that i think that really in a way only a picture like this mimaged in this way could do. >> one thing about the oral histories that the miller center has conducted is reading through the interviews for the clintons, and that project. you can remember it worked into the popular memory of the election that james carville famously wrote on the head quarters in little rock, change versus more of the same.
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it is the economy, stupid. don't forget health care. a lot of people concluded from that one of issues that clinton ran on was health care. it comes through loud and clear that you can access through the miller center that he did not talk a lot about health care, but welfare reform and other issues, but when he became president, he inherited this impression that health care would be a major part of the agenda, and turned out to be the biggest political failure of his first term. >> well, let me lead off on this, because the date is important october 1993. to help you the remember late october 1993. this is the month of black hawk down and the somalia
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catastrophe. this is a really bad month in the clinton's first year in foreign policy. the haiti mess also, and so, what you have got here is blind man clinton in the darkening park. is this the best of foreign policy, christopher. and to seeing eye dog who is also blind says, yes, sir, i believe it is. of course, christopher is warren christopher, his secretary of state, and then you have punk in the bottom right-hand corner letting them know that the bus is coming, and the next stop is bosnia. so it is, they are in the dark, and they are blind as to what they are doing, and where they are going. they are looking for the bus to foreign policy, right, and for
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that particular moment in october of 1993, it just captures it. >> one of the things that clinton learned by virtue of being president on the job is that he could make unpopular decision on foreign policy in matters like haiti and bosnia, and mexico and so on, and he could make decisions that in the short term he knew would be unpopular and yet drew the net benefit of a president admired as a president to make difficult decisions. and clinton, by fact of the end of the first term, people thought of him in higher regard with foreign policy, because he said it is like taking your kids to the dentist. they never want to go, but they appreciate the fact that you took them there when they were kids, and so he learned
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something by virtue of the foreign policy of being the president over foreign policy. >> so, i will start with this one and incredibly timely and feb 1999, and this is after bill clinton is on impeachment, and he is on the left playing the bongos, and free at last, and free at last, bring out the broads, i'm free at last, and then you have ominous history writing, and punk is saying that the moving finger writs and in moving on. punk may be wrong on this one, but people will remember the post-impeachment, clinton was fairly popular and left the office fairly popular, and history does not write once.
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we have seen the way that history has continued to evaluate bill clinton and the observation has changed over the last year or so, and it shows that the impeachment effort that fails still leaves a fail in history, and something not to be underestimated in 2019 or 1999. >> contrasting these cartons with 1993, and looking at those, clinton is portrayed and poking fun of him, but there is a side of the cartoons that are affectionate, and this is striking me as a bitter cartoon. the view of clinton has soured in some way, and portrayed even down to the image of the bongo drums and the beat-nick side of
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it, and this is an angry cartoon, and the contrast of that, and even that health care cartoon which is in a way so affectionate. this image is powerful to me. >> yeah, my reaction to the previous panel, and there was a lot of discussion of the noses. clinton's nose has evolved here since 1993, and the cigar and looking naked to me, and the socks and the bongo drum, and as a mother, i am like, ewe, and i think that the sense of the disappointment in how bill clinton ended the term with history looking over him like that is palpable. i agree that the assessments of when he left office are different now than in the opposite way of george bush.
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>> as i recall this incident of bill clinton in the sort of the post-acquittal reveille going to africa and playing the bongo drums, and smoking the big cigar actually happened. so there something to be gracious in victory that i think that is appealing to americans and not being gracious in victory, and not dancing on the berlin wall for example in george bush's case is off putting and pat oliphant captured we did not force him out of office and yes, he is doing a good job as president, but come on. >> i will take this one. it says this is george w. bush surrounded by republicans saying that i will have to reposition myself away from you guys, i'm a
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compassionate conservative and one of them says what the hell is that, gw? and this one says "i thought that you said that you would need all of the help you could get." so this is before -- october of 19 1999, and soy remember at the time that when i labeled him a compassionate conservative, there were many on the right that said, wait a minute. and so that it was not helpful that he did that. and so i can see why it was fodder for humor, because it did step on a lot of people's toes. it is not a nice portrayal of the other republican, because they look like something out of the "the good, the bad and the ugly" but what is your take,
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philip? >> well, you will see that he has given bush this big white hat, and he is going to use the motif again, and at this time, bush barely seems to have, the white hat seems roughly appropriate to bush's size, and this, too, will change. in the portrayals and i will stop there. >> so this is october of 1999, and when he was running for office and this is typical of when they run against their own party and he is saying, i am not like the other people in washington, and this is not consistent for the way that clinton or barack obama ran for office and if you drew this same cartoon, they would all have the same color, whether it is white or black depending on the perspective, because as the presidents learn, you may have run against the people, but they will help you to get the
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legislative work done, and fight for you against impeachment and so it is that us against them mentality when you are in office. >> and there is a trajectory are with george w. bush's relationship with other republicans. so as this is defined here in distinction of the prevailing image of the republicans that were seen as hard-edged and calloused and not at all captured by the word compassionate, and so he was running for president by running against his party. and after he is running people are saying he the true incarnation like his father than ronald reagan. so since then with the rise of donald trump, george w. bush is simply an outlier once again.
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i remember bush quoted on the immigrants crossing the border without documentation, and his comment was if they are willing to cross the big bend, we want them. can you imagine a republican can saying anything like that today? so bush is a president who often said i'm not going to evaluate my performance and office and history will be an interesting time with his reputation within his own party. >> incidentally, perhaps the most eloquent writers if you're interested in the subject about reagan and the bushes and how george w. bush is trying to reconcile that, carl canon wrote just a terrific book reflecting on all of that which i'll just give a little shout out to carl because it's trying to come to grips with some of the things you just raised my -- >> what is it called, do you know? >> think reagan and bush as both those names are in the title.
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>> that's your homework. >> so 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 pun. there is no comment, and the cartoon needs very little comment from me except one thing, it's an ambivalent cartoon and very sensitive. there was a way in which urngel sam is portrayed as overbearing and too muscular. uncle sam is portrayed as a noble, heroic figure, but watch out for the back swing, kid.
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>> i don't know if this is unintentional. uncle sam looks a lot like abraham lincoln which suspends the writ of habeas corp us aus don't know if i'm reading too much into it. it just goes to the continuing debate between privacy and security and sums it up perfectly. >> it is interesting, though, that six days after 9/11 that pat oliphant would realize that civil liberties will be part of what we'll end up being concerned about in our understandable and immediate desire for safety and security and order. and if you recall that time, it was not just the trauma of the actual event, but there was the almost predictable or we were
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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 -- don't forget civil liberties and uncle sam being attentive and telling civil liberties to watch out for the consequences of wielding the sword. i think that was an extraordinarily timely comment at most time when most people weren't even thinking about that. all right. okay. all right. now we've got our act together.
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so this cartoon requires a little bit of explanation. this is -- i don't know how well you remember this episode, mary kate about the u.s. attorneys in '06 and '07? >> yeah, 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 the patriot act at the time had been passed in a way that aloud u.s. attorneys to be appointed without senate confirmation if needed, and someone had the idea and let's fire some that are obnoxious to us for one reason or another and put together a list of them and we can throw appointees into
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their place without having to go through senate confirmation quickly and they began the process and i think they fired eight of them and then in defending that they fired eight there was talk of, well, you know what? we could 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 is not even the beginning of the second term. this is well into the second term. so there's an outcry that's going on for a couple of months by the time this cartoon is written. investigations, at first, various people at the justice department said the white house had nothing to do with all of this. all of the staffers who uttered such words would later have to resign. one of those staff hers come from the white house and become white house chief of staff. he had to resign.
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another woman at the justice department who uttered words like that also had to resign because the e-mails emerged and it turns out the white house had been involved and there were political issues and some of this did link to karl rove who was putting maybe a little bit of the heat on the white house counsel harriet meyers. so here you have this cartoon. now as all of these e-mails were coming out and it was clear that the white house and rove were involved to some degree in these so-called nonpartisan ideas about the u.s. attorneys. fire all of the u.s. attorney, the light bulb goes off and we can claim it was harriet meyers' idea ask deny it was politically motivated and dr. strangerove, another brilliant idea, and then you have dick cheney. notice now bush portrayed as you can barely see him in his seat in comparison to cheney. karl has a brilliant idea.
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so there are and i read this in march of '07 and cheney's power is already waning a lot in the second term. the public image hasn't caught up to that reality yet and it is also waning some and this particular episode didn't help. bush himself had to go out and publicly state that he thought the firings of the eight had not been handled well. he famously uttered the words mistakes were made. >> the next step that happened after that in the aftermath was there was somebody at the justice department who was interviewing new u.s. attorneys and saying how much do you love our president?
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please tell me. do you remember that, fephilip? >> i do not. there was sort of a loyalty question that hit 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 on the rocks a little bit and they indicted senator ted stephens and they thought nobody at the justice department would stop the indictment of a republican senator when this was going on and as we all know that was a completely mishandled prosecution ask it got later overturned by the obama attorney general once he got if office, but there's a longer story with all of that. the thing that struck me when looking at it as a comic point of view that was karl rove there looks so evil and he's rehabbed
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himself over the years and he's another nice guy talking head on tv. meanwhile, i don't know if you saw that cheney film that came out, but cheney's been completely vilified and it's interesting to see cheney kind of looking benign there and karl rove looking so evil and nowadays it's sort of reversed in the pop culture. >> one other thing i think that's interesting is if you ask americans, the perception was karl rove, this evil genius and a fellow pointed out george w. bush, and it will be interesting how history evaluates that relationship, and if any of you have been to the george bush library, it's a wonderful place to visit and philip knows better than anybody to push back on this narrative that his decisions were controlled by other people, and again, it will be interesting to see how those
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public perceptions changes history and 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, so anyway, we go to the white house to interview bush. bush and cheney actually had asked to be interviewed together at the white house in one lengthy session. we acceded to that request and there were ten commissioners and me and the president and the vice president had note takers. they were upset by the ground rules and cheney would dominate
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the conversation and they wouldn't hear from bush. of course, exactly the opposite happened. bush completely dominated the conversation, and actually had to work hard to actually get questions into schcheney and ge cheney to talk. after ward, 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. this was not a surprise, and for sure it was -- this was in the spring of '04 and bush is not a shrinking violet and he has a characteristic divisive style and his talking style is entirely different from clinton who also fills up the room
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conversationally and clinton is full of wandering digressions and speculations and burns the clock up on you when you're questioning him, which i did, and bush, by the way, is 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, but here you are a few years later and you know why. let me ask a question of all of you. i wonder, there are certain presidents of whom the public perception forms that there must be somebody in their administration or somebody in their white house who is really making things happen. that perception doesn't arise for all presidents. so, for example, it arose for george w. bush. the perception that it's cheney or rove. someone is pulling the strings,
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president trump, steve bannon. nobody ever said that about barack obama. nobody ever said that about bill clinton. is it a partisan thing? is it the press tend to think republicans aren't mart on -- you just answered the question. [ laughter ] that was too easy. >> i did not work with bill clinton although i did spend time with bill clinton. barack obama you can say many things about him. on his face, very smart, very, very smart and very professorial, some would say and clearly had his hands on everything and to his fault he had his hands on a lot of different things and it's also, part of it is the ethos of the white house, as well and we can talk more about this and it was
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a low-key white house and we didn't leak or write books after we left and it was about what was best for the president, and so, it's not to say that there weren't people that were strong advisers before him, but that may just never come out. >> boy, this next one -- this one is a little harsh. we're now going backward in time. this is july of '04. and punk in the bottom right-hand corner has nothing to say, and i think you can read the caption. bush which you saw in an earlier cartoon and doesn't fit the white hat quite so well in this image. >> would it make you feel better
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to know we had inaccurate intelligence he's saying to the dying soldier. and think, you have. look how big dick cheney is and he has nothing to say in this cartoon. again, the image provides so much commentary for 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 the help you set the context, july of '04 is the point at which the war in iraq starts going south. things were not going well and had been gradually unraveling the u.n. envoy to iraq was killed in a truck bomb in august of '04 and then things began
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to -- really, the wheel country burst into flames. thing his gotten so bad that when it burst into flames we had a bloody fight in anbar province, in sadr city and the south of iraq and just 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, and in the beginning of '04 they stabilized the situation a little bit and they started getting overly hopeful again and we go through some more cycles like this. this cartoon is set as the country is beginning to visibly explode and oliphant thinks it's
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time to offer this image. >> for those that don't know the reference and i did not know the reference. is it pieta? >> the pieta is a famous statue in vatican city and it's one of the harshest of the cartoons that we had to look at and it might be the truest, i guess. >> there is an irony which is -- you see here president trump wi president bush with a look on his face that includes compassion holding this fallen soldier and after leaving office this has been a activity with former president bush, and wounded warriors program and so on, and i am struck with this
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picture. is it that you can't caricature chain they he's such a caricature in and of himself? i don't know, but i think it's kind of interesting that cheney is always just the way somebody would draw cheney if they weren't caricaturing. >> this is from march of 2007. 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 wrestling over the black vote, and clinton is saying the black vote is mine, obama. i've pandered to it for years. i've taken it for granted for years. it's mine, by right, obama says it's mine, clinton, who has a greater right to it?
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and notably, punk in the lower left says or the black voter in the lower left 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 cartoon is barack obama ran for president and the first african-american to become president, but he was not necessarily seen as the african-american candidate. when he started his race he ran as this post-racial candidate. he didn't talk about race. the clinton his this amazingly good will among african-americans for bill clinton's time in office, so it really wasn't until after barack obama started winning racism and particularly the iowa caucuses that african-american votes started to come to him and then it became a very critical part
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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 bloc, and -- yeah. >> the only thing i would add is this is exactly what republicans thought was happening at the time and that perfectly captured that sense of entitlement that seemed to pervade mrs. clinton for many years and it's very funny, from the other side of the aisle, i think it's very funny. >> at this time and very, very early in the battle for the 2008 democratic nomination which was a year and a half there was interest on obama and although he was a relatively new figure
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on the national stage and rather, could an african-american be elected president in the united states of america? and obama as chris pointed out, did not run as jesse jackson had run, for example, as essentially the candidate of black america. obama ran in a more transcendent way and you see this reflected in the polling over the months. is it when he won the african-american voter, they constituted a majority which was young people can vote for this guy and he can actually win and that had a lot to do with winning this tug-of-war with hillary clinton for the black vote and going on and getting the democratic nomination and being elected and re-elected as president.
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>> so this one is dated 2008 because i know when the primary was in april 2008 and pennsylvania hillary instructs br barack on the points of how to be a regular guy. she's wearing these low-riding jeans. she's got a -- she's got a tattoo on her right arm and she's saying -- >> an anchor. >> an anchor, right. beer and a shot, toss down the shot, chase it with that beer and don't raise that pinky when you drink. that's elitist and obama wearing a very out of a place suit in kind of a truck you are war and she's saying not to mention danger ois. the funny part about this cartoon. i'm not going to dispute the por
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you'll recall during her time as first lady she was seen as out of touch and when she ran for president in 2016 she was not the choice of working-class voters, but at this particular moment in the 2008 presidential primary barack obama was winning a lot of suburban voters and a lot of young people and a lot of african-americans and was not winning that white, working class voters that ended up prolonging this primary contest. we went all of the way until virtually the last presidential primary because after the initial victories that obama won, he won a huge number states, and probably any moment of hillary clinton's campaign she was seen as the clamp one of the white, working class voter. >> in looks to me leak harvard
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and yang lawsuit treeing to figure out how to drink a beer. >> it the guy with the hairy back and his fants falling down, it on one elitest telling the other how to drink a beer. >> they're off-hand comments that often sit with presidential candidates, the deplorables and the 47% thinking back to mitt romney and it was about this time, wasn't it, chris? obama in trying to explain in a clinical, analytical way why it is that so many white, working-class people were drawn to his opponents and republicans. they claimed, in their desperation, they cling to their guns and they cling to religion.
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i don't even know what the context was for speaking it, and it became see? >> this is how hoe works with, at t at the day, someone sent barack obama bowling and he was not's bowler. >> don't put your candidate somewhere where he's not comfortable in. >> there was a section in the 1980s that candidate bush went bowling. bowling shoe his different soles on them so that you could slide with one foot and put the brakes on the other and the secret service didn't know he was left-handed and therefore, left footed and he had a regular pair of shoes and he went flying as soon as he threw the ball and he ended up in a heap in the
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bowling alley. nobody said this was going to be easy and nobody was right. love that quote! [ laughter ] we'll go to the last one. this is obviously a big statue 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. punk or donkey in the left, he said all i have is kerry or hillary. i'll guess this is probably 2008. you know, again, this is the last one and a good one to end on because you can probably do the same cartoon now about how democrats feel about barack obama. they've idolized him and they had this grate expectation at the time. probably i think this also plays on the critique of obama as a
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celebrity, and they mocked him for the hopy, changy thing and the first thing they ran again vts was barack obama and it was titled celebrity and obama when he accepted, and he had the greek columns behind him that made him look almost godlike. this is a fairly mocking and probable the passionate way that a lot of democrats look at obama and probably unfairly, the lionization of obama. >> i do want to know, one of the different ways you could have portrayed barack obama on the
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statue. is that a sense of pagans worshipping the aisle. of course, the payingance are all going to be a vanished civilization, and looking at this new you wonder if this situation is being on another island in some other form. >> i look at this photo and the easter island imagery to me suggests there was some mystery and we don't know what the figures were about and a lot of people were having a hard time understanding what does barack obama mean? what does it mean that we elected someone as president unlike anybody that we've ever elected before? is he some magical figure? is he some godlike figure and woolworth way at looking at the crowd thanks beneath him. that's the body pol tech, to the e at the present time that this
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had a body and four people and i think a catch or something if you think back too november 2008 and the months that followed, i think a catch or something of a sense of hope, of -- of not knowing how high obama could reed us a lead us and the ensuing disappointment when you realize he's very smart and he's a mortal man and i think this is an astonishing cartoon. >> and the last of our astonishing cartoons 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 another expression of thanks to pat oliphant here in the audience. [ applause ]
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