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tv   QA James Mann George W. Bush  CSPAN  April 27, 2020 2:01pm-3:03pm EDT

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available as a podcast. find it where you listen to podcasts. >> "the presidents" from public affairs, available now in paperback and e-book. presents biographies of every president, organized by their ranking, by noted historians from best to worst. and features perspectives into the lives of our nation's chief executives and leadership styles. visit our website, order your copy today wherever books or e-books are sold. this week on g&a, james
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mann, author in residence at johns hopkins school of advanced international studies, he talks about his biography of president george w. bush. >> james mann, author of the biography on george w. bush. if a friend of yours who had never met george w. bush asked you to talk about him, what would you say? >> i would say he was a guy who was the son of a president, had trouble dealing with that fact for the first 40 years plus of his life, and then got his own personal life together enough to be a quite successful and shrewd politician to be elected governor of texas, and then became president of the united states. the first thing he would be known for then at the time of his presidency now, and forever more, will certainly be the fact that he was president at the time of the september 11th
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attacks and chose to wage a war in iraq that turned out to be a disaster. >> what were his early years like? >> well, he followed in his father's footsteps, and i say that quite literally, because he was forced, almost, to go to prep school at andover. he went to yale. he did many of the things his father did. it really, in his mind, i think, it was not him. he once said many years later there were differences between him and his father starting with the fact that he went to san houston elementary school and his father went to greenwich day school in connecticut. he identified with, and i think
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took comfort in, the idea, the image of himself as a texas good ole boy and he became very good at playing that role. >> how about his schooling? >> well, so he went to texas schools until eighth grade and then his parents sent him to prep school at andover. and by his own account, i think he said many years later making the tran decision to andover was the hardest thing he ever did in his life until he ran for president. he didn't like it there. there are painful, funny stories of him writing his first college -- or high school essay in his first weeks there and he took out the thesaurus that his mother had given him, so he didn't want to use the word
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tears. so he wrote the word lacerettes, saying they were running down my cheek. he became kind of the fun guy in the class. there are pictures of him as a cheerleader, there are pictures of him as a cheerleader dressed up as a woman leading the taunts. he was the go-to guy for fun. that's at andover, and then that very much continues at yale where he's the head of a fraternity delta kappa epsilon. he's the guy that organizes the toga parties. the first time his name ever appears in "the new york times," i've found, was to defend his fraternity from something -- it may have been his hazing practices. i forget what it was. but he was the spokesman or the old fraternity life at a time, and this is the context, when
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yale itself was changing. there was certainly fraternities and parties there and there were certainly lots of other students at yale traditionally, who were the sons of former yale people. yale was gradually becoming in the early '60s ameritocracy. people were admitted on the basis of their test scores and so on. it was becoming a more intense place. the faculty were more professional than the old gentile faculty in the past. and he didn't like it. he developed such an antipathy to yale that he went three years into his presidency before he was willing to come back to the campus. he didn't give, he didn't like
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it. he eventually, during his presidency, made kind of peace with it. but it took a long time coming. >> when did he apply to law school and why wasn't he accepted? >> a couple of years after -- when bush left yale, he lived a kind of singles life down in texas. his father, his parents, actually left texas in the early '70s. first they went to china. well, they went to the united nations and then they went to china. but they weren't around. bush lived in a singles apartment. he went into the texas national guard. there's more of a story to that, because he, like the sons of other texas politicians, went into a special texas national guard unit that was really for politicians' sons and members of
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the dallas cowboys. and this is during the vietnam war. it meant that he really didn't have to fight. and there have been disputes going back decades about how much pull was used. i found in researching the book that you can't -- no one has ever found his father, george h.w. bush, intervening or making calls to get him out of the guard. but friends of his father and texas political leaders did so. >> where did he apply for law school, and again, why wasn't he accepted? >> i'm having trouble remembering that. it's probably in my own book, but i can't remember now. >> i thought it might be texas, university of texas. >> that's correct. bush, at first, when he was applying for college, actually, kind of asked to go to austin and see the university of texas,
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and, you know, it might have been a wish, but he ended up at yale. and then you're right, when he tried to go to law school or thought about applying to law school and he applied to texas at austin. >> do you know why they didn't accept him? >> i do not at this point. >> you point out in your book that there are two words to describe his change in life. one of them is drinking and the other is religion. explain that. >> these come together in the mid 1980s, and in the period of 1985 and 1986 -- first let's talk about what happened and then what's in the background. as far as drinking, in 1986 he celebrates his 40th birthday with friends. he's off in colorado at the
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broadmore motel. he stays up late drinking, wakes up with a terrible hangover. and he's had a drinking problem. he sometimes describes it that way, sometimes not, for a good while. also, he's been arrested for driving under the influence. this has been a chronic problem. he wakes up the day after and says that's it, i'm not going to drink. and he doesn't. he gives up drinking. the second thing that happens is that he becomes an evangelical christian and during this same period begins to turn to religion regularly. now, in my view, an interesting political component to this, both of these things happened within a couple of years after his father decides to run for president. so the sequence is that in 1984
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ronald reagan wins re-election, he's obviously not able to run again in 1988. george h.w. bush is his vice president. and in april of 1985, his father calls the entire bush family together in a meeting at camp david and he brings out lee atwater, sort of now famous political consultant, soundrel, and he says this is lee atwater and he addresses everybody and says -- i think it's atwater himself warns people your father is going to be running for president. you've got to be careful. anything any member of the family does could come back to
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hurt him. and george jr., that is george w. bush, and jeb, are very mistrustful of atwater. they pull him aside and say how do we know we can trust you? they asked that question because atwater is a political consultant, some of his partners are consulting for a rival politician, jack kemp. and atwater keeps swearing he will, and jeb bush says, what we mean is if someone throws a grenade at our father, will you jump on it? so they were mistrustful of this consultant, but he's telling them stay clean. and in the middle of these warnings, george w. bush -- this is only a year before he decides to give up drinking altogether. and so that's the background on
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drinking. he's had these warnings. he doesn't want to get into trouble. as far as religion, now i don't want to -- i'm not going to say that someone's religion has a political component to it in its origins, but i will say that as soon as george w. bush becomes an evangelical christian, he becomes the liaison for his father's presidential campaign with evangelical christians. it's a role he plays throughout the 1988 campaign and up to and through the '92 campaign. >> how often did he run for office before he ran for governor of texas, and in the mix of all of that, when did he meet laura welch and marry her? >> first, he ran for office once
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before his texas gubernatorial campaign. and that was in the late '70s. he ran in 1978 for a seat in congress. and he lost to a guy named kent hants. it's interesting in light of what we know or think of george w. bush, in that campaign, his opponent attacked him for being this east coast preppy guy from out of town who couldn't possibly know texas well. so he portrayed george w. bush almost like his father. and bush began to develop responses to this. bush definitely -- you know, one thing that i think many people agree is he had a good sense of humor. finally, when he got tired of saying -- being attacked, hants
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at one point said we've got a candidate who was born in new haven, connecticut, and he's an outside. and bush said i was born in new haven, connecticut, because i wanted to be with my mother that day. >> what about laura? >> he married laura in the late '70s. what else can i tell you? >> he met her where and under what circumstances? >> friends arranged to get them together at a barbecue. they were in midland and she was a local librarian. you know, it's interesting to me that even his choice of a spouse reflected this kind of
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anti-elite -- i mean, he chose someone from texas, not someone from the social set of his parents. and in fact, if you read laura bush's memoire closely, she says quite gently it took me about ten years to be comfortable with barbara bush. barbara had an acid tongue and laura is quite the reverse. >> what was your assignment? these are small books, under 200 pages. they've done them on all presidents. >> yeah, i joked to my friends that the assignment is if you write more than 50,000 words, we'll cut off your arm. >> what was your assignment and what did they want you to come up with and who did it? >> who did the book? >> yeah. >> the book, like all the others in the series, is published by henry holt. it's called the american
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president series. and they want you to briefly discuss the background of presidents, then cover their presidency and briefly their life after their presidency. and, in fact, the fine editor of this book at first asked me for an outline brlefore i started writing. and i turned it in and there were eight chapters and two were getting him into the presidency, and the last one was post-presidential life. and he laughed and said, yep, you hit on it. that's what all of these books are, with one exception, and that one exception is william henry harrison, who was president for only 30 some days before he got a cold and died. and paul laughed and said in that book the epilogue was the presidency. >> what is your background and
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what are you doing now? >> i am by profession a journalist. i've spent more than 30 years of my career in journalism. actually, this is now the 50th anniversary of the day when i decided that i wanted to be a journalist. i was about to go to medical school and i asked for a leave of absence and 50 years ago, this week i believe, i was granted a year's leave of absence from medical school. i went off and i started at a small newspaper, not a very good one, in new haven, connecticut, and i never had so much fun in my life. so i may have taken another year of leave. i don't even remember now. but the minute i started, i liked newspapers and never went back. i worked over the next couple of
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decades at new haven paper briefly and for the "washington post" for three or four years. eventually, it was the los angeles times for over 20 years, both in august and overseas. >> and you're doing what now? >> so since then, i've been writing books full-time. i did that first at a washington think tank called center or strategic and international studies. i wrote a book that covers the george w. bush administration called "rise of the falcons" and i moved to johns hopkins international studies and have written there ever since. >> so here's some video. it's very brief. it's from 1988, george w. bush is here in this town working for his father in april of 1988. it's a short interview that we did with him. i just wanted you to hear him
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talk about texas. >> it's a state that encourages growth and it's got a certain sense of pride to it that i like. i just happen to think that texas has got problems, although it's growing out of them. but the opportunities in that state are just enormous and i'm a person who is always seeking opportunity. >> that was 1988. what was george w. bush doing during the campaign and what do you think he was thinking at that point about his own future in politics? >> very interesting question. it's a continuation of the story i told about lee atwater and mistrusting him, because george w. bush at that point, he kind of was out of the oil business. he was relatively free. and when he expressed some mistrust to atwater about how his father's campaign would be run, atwater said, you know, if you don't trust me, why don't you, he said to george and jeb,
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why don't you come to washington and work alongside me, watch me every day. and george w. bush did. and so he went and worked alongside lee atwater for over a year. so he actually moved to washington and helped, and his role in the campaign, his first role, he called it, was loyalty enforcer. so with all these politicians and political figures running around, he was the guy watching out for his father's interest. i'm sure atwater was, too, but he wanted to double-check. his own ambitions, you know, i think -- i became convinced and wrote that he had his own ambitions at the time. so to move ahead for a second, in '92, after his father lost, he's running for governor of texas, everybody says that he developed his ambitions after
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his father lost. norks no, i think he held his ambition in check while his father was president. in fact, barbara at one point discouraged george jr. from running for governor of texas in 1990 because she thought it wasn't a good idea while george bush, sr. was president. anything that one of them did could reflect on the other. >> how difficult was it for him to get elected governor of texas? >> the best line on that came from his father, george h.b. bush. he wasn't always full of great quips, but he said that for george w. bush to get elected president after he was governor of texas, was like a six-inch putt. it was harder for him to be elected governor. there was a very popular well-remembered now democratic
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governor, ann richard. she was the one who said of george h.w. bush that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. and richards was quite popular, but bush jr., george w., ran hard against her. he had a very good political adviser, good at politics, karl rove, and together they worked out a strategy to beat her. and one of the tactics that they had, which people saw when he was president, was incredible message discipline. this was one of the characteristics of bush as politician. he would never have particularly
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penetrating or very long answers, but he would develop a handful, one sentence, two sentences, three sentences, and deliver them over and over. and years later ann richards said in frustration, she meant this as a political compliment, but she said if you ask george bush the time of day during that campaign, he would say we must teach our children to read. he would give the same response to everything. >> how did he get elected president? >> how? let's talk about his political tactics and successes. he learned from his father's loss in 1992.
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he developed what he felt were strategies to win where his father lost and to -- he noticed his father's errors. so he needed to bring together within the republican party three different constituencies. one of them is the traditional republican conservative constituency, the old country club constituencies, the people who wanted their taxes cut. lesson number two was don't raise taxes. that's what his father did. he needed to develop much better support from evangelical christians than his father had and he needed support from the hawks or neoconservatives, but that was an important faction in the party. and all of those wings of the party needed to give strong
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support to a republican candidate. people forget now, for example, but the evangelicals were not always a solid -- a constituency in the republican party. in fact, they supported democratic candidates for many decades. richard nixon made some inroads getting some evangelical support. they ran back to jimmy carter, a southern baptist democrat. reagan developed much more support from evangelicals. and then his father lost that kind of support. bush worked both for his father and then for himself to bring evangelicals into the republican party. so that was one part of this political task that he succeeded in. as far as what i call the hawks
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or the foreign policy, the neoconservatives, hard for people to remember now, but in the 1992 campaign they tended to support bill clinton. they were so unhappy with his father. this had to do with the fact that his father supported gorbachev, didn't support an independent ukraine for a long time, a lot of other things. and bill clinton supported the neoconservatives, some of them went to work for him. bush jr. goes to work and develops their support as well. so he pulls together all of the wings of the republican party and then he campaigns. he has no trouble at all winning the republican nomination. and then running against al
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gore, he runs against bill clinton in the lewinsky scandal. george w. bush says i'm going to bring honor and dignity to the white house. and after all of that, we talked about all of these great political strategies, after that it was not enough to win the majority of the country. it was enough to produce a deadlock and it wasn't an overwhelming victory. >> as you look back on the bush/gore decision and the fact that he ended up winning the electoral votes he needed but not the popular vote, what is your opinion of what happened during that period? >> i thought it was a travesty. in my career i spent eight years covering the supreme court and one thing i thought i had learned was that the court of that era and the conservatives on the court of that era, and
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i'm talking of people like justice william rehnquist, were in favor of what they would have called federalism, states' rights. and i thought that when the florida supreme court, based on the florida constitution awarded the state of florida to gore, that, based on its own principles, i thought that the extreme court would simply allow that to stand, say we're not going to interfere. that's not what the court d. they developed their own theory and it never made any sense to me. >> what impact did that have on his presidency? >> less than people would think. most people thought that having not won a majority of the popular vote, winning such a narrow victory in the electoral
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college, that he would start out very carefully, that he wouldn't take any bold nicinitiatives, a that most of what he did would be directed at winning over democratic support. in fact, bush started his presidency very boldly, asked for a tax cut in his first year. succeeded in winning just enough democratic support to get it passed. but it was quite a radical move where people thought he was going to run from the center, he had actually been, by most accounts, in texas a centrist moderate governor. but he ran as a very strong conservative with bold initiatives, focused in that first year mostly on tax cuts. >> 9/11. >> i've heard of that. >> of course it's fairly obvious
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from january the 20th until september the 11th. what's that legacy? >> well, the legacy is about as profound as any has ever faced. it's the first time united states homeland has been attacked since the war of 1812, and it changes the country automatically, immediately to one obsessed in big ways and small with protecting its security. so to take the most obvious example, the way that 325 million americans go through airports today started on september 12th or whenever the flights resumed and has never gone back to what it was on september 10th. you know, it affected american
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foreign policy. just for the start, i think we can say it had a profound effect on bush's foreign policy team, that played a role certainly in the decision two years later to invade iraq. >> here's a short piece of video after his book came out "decision points" when asked about legacy. >> i don't really worry about my legacy because i'm still studying theodore roosevelt or harry truman and there's not going to be an objective history done on this admission for a long time. >> yeah, that's a little self-serving. it's true for any president that it takes many decades for
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historians to judge, and that may be true with parts of what bush did, but it's not too soon to judge on some aspects of his legacy. i mean, it's not too soon to judge on the war in iraq. why? because it didn't accomplish what he thought it was going to accomplish before he started the war. it costs 4,000 plus american lives, it cost $2 trillion. and i write in my book and i don't think this judgment will change, that it was one of the biggest strategic blunders in american history. so those kinds of judgments i think can be made. he is stating there truism, that, you know, people's judgments do change of presidents as time goes on. but i don't think that one is going to change much. >> how did he make the decision,
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both going into afghanistan and iraq? >> yeah, i think i would divide them. the decision to go into afghanistan followed immediately after september 11th. the thinking of the administration within hours after september 11th was we want to punish the people who did this. they knew right at the start this was al qaeda, and any countries that assisted them. and in this particular case since al qaeda had been based in afghanistan, that meant afghanistan. they gave afghanistan a warning fairly quickly to turn over bin laden, and then proceeded to attack within weeks.
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now, there's a lot more to that, because bush gathers his war team together at camp david the weekend after the september 11th attacks, and there are one or two proposals that they go beyond afghanistan, that they -- in one particular case there's a recommendation to attack iraq at that very first weekend meeting after september 11th. but that is generally put aside. i choose those words carefully. it's put aside, but it's not rejected. but for the time being, they decided to focus on afghanistan. and that does -- i mean, that takes some time. that takes a few months for them to bring in cia teams and then eventually the military to
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dislodge the taliban from kabul. now, how did we invade iraq? that is a much longer story. so there has been this recommendation at the very first meeting to attack iraq. why? >> do you know who it came from? >> yes, it came from paul wolforts at the first meeting. and he does not get support there. first of all, if you can envision this meeting, it's the principals at the table, meaning members of the cabinet, cheney, rumsfeld, powell, condoleeza rice. so this is a recommendation from the second level. and it is, again, shelved at the
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time. and during those two months while the war in afghanistan is being fought, a couple of noteworthy things happened. one is the anthrax scare. so what turns out to be something entirely unrelated to al qaeda, as far as we know, people in washington and on capitol hill and so on are opening their mail and finding this powder, which may or may not be anthrax. that further really scares the top levels of the administration. and i want to back up for a second there and say that the september 11th attacks had caught the administration --
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they're nine months into the administration, they haven't paid enough attention to the warnings they got about al qaeda. this administration thought of themselves, i'm talking about, you know, the foreign policy team, people like cheney and rumsfeld, they're the professionals. they've served in office before. they know how to run things. the clinton administration is a bunch of amateurs. that's their mindset. and they are focused, also, on old issues involving states. by that i mean countries. so the issues of foreign policy, this is before september 11th, are getting out of an arms control treaty with the soviet union, maybe dealing with north
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korea. they have a moment with china. but they're dealing with the things that they have been familiar with in past administrations country to country, u.s. versus another country. september 11th hits and here -- the quote that meant the most to me is actually in a memoire by bob gates, who says that these guys were traumatized by september 11th. you know, they hadn't imagined this kind of problem coming from a non-state actor, from a terrorist group that wasn't a state. and they spent much of the rest of their time trying to make sure that this could never happen again. between the lines in gates' description is a lot of guilt that they had for allowing
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september 11th to happen. so after september 11th, we're not going to allow this to happen again, they get an anthrax scare and they developed slowly the concern that al qaeda could somehow get weapons of mass destruction. we have to go further, weapons of mass destruction. yes, they're concerned about a nuclear weapon, but they're concerned about chemical weapons, and they're particularly concerned about biological weapons that somehow al qaeda could get those. so that's the second thing that happens. and then on the political level, karl rove, the political adviser, plays a part in some of this. they developed the language that afghanistan is merely phase one of the war on terror. so they developed this language about the war on terror.
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no one can quite define what that is. and they call afghanistan phase one. by december they'of 2001, they' defeated al qaeda or they've dislodged it from kabul, and the question starts to arise, okay, what's phase two? and there is a period, and i did look at this, for a few weeks in sort of november, december of 2001 when they're thinking should we attack -- there's an al qaeda unit in indonesia, there's some al qaeda in yemen. and they don't quite work as a national campaign against al qaeda. these are small units in countries of lesser importance. but meanwhile, there's iraq
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that's still out there. and the first sign you get of the administration thinking about going to war in iraq is in bush's state of the union address at the beginning of 2002 when he talks about the axis of evil, the axis of evil is iraq, iran and north korea. >> let me just run seven seconds of a statement of george w. bush at the interview during his book tour. >> they're asking did i make a mistake, for example, in the liberation of iraq. and the answer is no, i didn't make a mistake in my judgment. >> comment? >> yes, he made a huge mistake. to the extent that bush has admitted mistakes, he admits
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tactical mistakes that were central to the war without ever saying that the entire war in iraq was a mistake. so we can talk about -- i mean, the mistakes he's admitted, he's admitted that he made a mistake in the mission accomplished landing on an aircraft carrier and he's admitted and others have admitted that the way they handled the post war was a mistake by allowing the disbanding of the iraqi army, their expulsion of the bath party members from government positions. it's true, he's never made the war in iraq itself was not a mistake. in fact, what you saw right there is, i guess, a sign that he doesn't believe it yet. but, you know, i think that's
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profoundly wrong. >> in your book you talk about, and of course you wrote a whole book on the balcans, from the aides around george w. bush early in 2004. but how much of what george bush became was the fact, as you point out, that he has a lot of people around him that used to work for his father, and how long did it take him to change that? >> you know, i thought it took well into -- it took into his second term for him to change that. so if you go back to his 2000 campaign and taking office in 2001, first of all, he gets attacked politically during the campaign for not knowing enough about foreign policy. i mean, here is al gore, who has been the vice president and he was a foreign policy specialist
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before that, bush has been governor of texas, but the only foreign policy he's done, as he would joke, is he would joke about his experience with mexico. but that's about it. and so he gets attacked for not knowing much and he says, well, i don't have -- you know, he doesn't say i don't have to know much, but he says i've got the finest group of foreign policy advisers around, and by that he's talking about this group, the vulcans, who are basically people who have served with his father. second, during the campaign he chooses cheney as his vice president and karl rove doesn't want cheney. karl rove lists cheney's disadvantages. he comes from a tiny state that's already republican. he's not going to bring votes the way, say, linden johnson would carrie texas for john kennedy. and he's too conservative.
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and bush wants cheney mostly because of his experience. i mean, he's choosing his father's advisers and that goes all the way up to and including his own vice president. and once he takes office, he really does rely on them. he has kind of the bridging figure of condoleeza rice, who was a friend of his, to be national security adviser. but these guys, cheney, powell and rumsfeld, who cheney has brought in as defense secretary, who are supposed to know how all of this works and he relies on them. he relies on them before september 11th, then he has this problem in the run-up to the war in iraq that actually his
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advisers don't agree with each other. cheney and rumsfeld are very much in support of and cheney is pushing the idea of the war with iraq. powell, very much the contrary, disagrees in particular with cheney. but in that case, he's still relying on cheney and powell. and all the way through that first term he tends to support cheney, what cheney wants. you get to the end of the first term, the war is not going well. the war turns out to be a bigger and bigger problem. and his advisers are bickering with each other. he decides at the beginning of his second term that he's going to change the foreign policy team and the first thing he's going to do is replace powell.
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powell was surprised. he thought that rumsfeld would also be replaced. but bush doesn't replace rumsfeld. so you're left with cheney and rumsfeld and rice then becomes secretary of state. that begins to change the dynamic. so the personnel are starting to change. rice becomes -- is closer to bush than anyone else in the administration, including cheney, i think, and that changes the dynamic, and then this is followed two years later by replacing rumsfeld. and meanwhile, bush is developing more confidence in his own judgments. it takes a good four years, but he sees how this works and he sees how things can go wrong, and he gets to the point where i think, you know, he doesn't rely
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on cheney, that's for sure, and really is the most important person on foreign policy in his own administration, as really he wasn't at the beginning. >> i'm not going to skip it because it's not important. katrina. we have very little time and i want to make sure you give us your view of the financial crisis and how that happened and what impact that will have on his legacy. >> there are several interesting things about the financial crisis for bush and his team. i mean, several things that bush did helped play into it. the tax cuts, they kept -- this is not bush, of course, it's the fed, but interest rates were kept so low that people kept buying more and more horses. you had a classic bubble and alan greenspan insists it's not
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a bubble. but when it hits, the question is -- and it hits in september of 1988 with the collapse of lehman brothers. when it hits, bush decides he needs to intervene and intervene vigorously. and what you see in 1988, and there is an immediate legacy over the next decade or so is bush refuses to go along with the sort of libertarian right wing. he develops a massive program, tarp, troubled asset relief program, to try and buy up these assets that are collapsing as a result of the financial crisis.
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the right wing opposes him. when i say the right wing, i mean in congress. and it was a very, very difficult fight to get congressional approval of this tarp program. he and cheney, himself a fairly conservative republican, are strongly in favor of this. and they succeed mostly with democratic support. this also happens in the middle of the 2008 campaign. and actually, and this is more in the book of dick cheney than anyone else, you get descriptions of this crucial white house meeting where obama comes in -- let me step back. mccain has said, i am not going to campaign. i am going to stop campaigning. we need to have a major washington meeting to decide
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what to do about it. and bush allows this meeting. boom is al obama is also there. so you have all the congressional leaders of both parties, and john mccain from bush's own party, and obama, and mccain really doesn't have a lot to say. i mean he has announced there is this crisis, but comes in, and being mccain, you know, he is very active and sometimes irritable, and really doesn't have a lot to say, and obama looks fairly calm and deliberate, as he is. cheney writes that i think that obama was more impressive than mccain. and that was -- some of that came through to the public. i mean, this was the general perception of the two candidates. and it was a major help to obama.
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it hurt john mccain. >> you -- you referenced this in your book, but john lewis gattis was here. this was george w. bush in retirmt. but john lewis gattis was here a couple months ago. i want to run what he said because it is an interesting take on, what you wouldn't be surprised what happened to a president. >> my wife and i happened to be in dallas. i think we were promoting the cannon book at that inpo. i had a student -- several students who actually had worked for him. i just said i would like to crop by and say hello. we did. he had us come by at some ungodly hour, like 7:30 in the morning or something. so i asked him, how are you? he said, i'm bored. i don't have enough to do. i said, you should take up painting. and i told him about the
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churchill essay painting as a past time which we use. >> it is a small book. >> small book. yes, and the rest is art, as they say. he has turned out to be very good at it. >> expresident, bored. would you expect that to happen to many expresidents? >> yeah. >> why? >> i think for a good while bill clinton was bored. because you are spending 24-hour days -- whether you are sleeping and playing golf or not, it is always with you until you are out. and then i think there is a tremendous sense of decompression. the interesting detail on what gattis said is that bush began to paint and did so, but only without telling anybody outside his family. and the only reason we know about this is that someone hacked into the emails of family members and found these paintings being sent back and
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forth. so it interests me that he -- he took up painting, but really didn't want the public to know about it at first. >> here's another couple of items that you have in your book. you say that he made -- by the time he had published his book, that he had made 140 speeches kicking off $15 million. >> right. >> for him personally. and that he also sold 2 million books of his own "decision point" books. but this is in my lifetime that a former president would be able to speak and make that kind of money. and we now know that george -- not bill clinton has made probably 100 and some million off all of his stuff. >> particularly, george w. and clinton have had a lot of time to do this. i can remember right after reagan left office, that he went
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to japan to give a speech and he was probably paid $200,000. that was a big deal, no one wha ever heard of. >> $2 million, wasn't night was it. >> $2 million to make two speech sthoos just the idea of a president speaking was unusual at that point. >> were you able to talk to george bush during this period at all? >> i was not. i did not interview george w. >> did you want to and were turned down? >> yes, i think i can say i went through james glassman who was working for him but i couldn't persuade bush to do it. >> do you think that would have made a difference? >> well, we have to go back to the word limit here. i'm not sure how much of a difference it would have made. you mention "addition points". he wrote a book much larger -- longer, rather, than this. so i think i got his point of view on most things. >> when you did the vulcan's
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book, did people talk to you? >> yes. yes, they did. >> so of all the sources that you had for this -- and you have the notes in the back, which would be the most available for the george bush presidency -- george w. bush presidency? >> you mean which -- >> which book that you read would be the biggest help? if somebody wanted to study besides your start biography, that was helpful to you? >> my own book, rise of the vulcans, i consider for foreign policy a pretty good book. and then there are the memoirs. i think that bush/cheney/rice wrote an interesting memoir. rumsfeld has a memoir. i think that the memoirs -- everybody shades ate little bit
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one way or another from their open perspective. but, you know, they are quite good. the other -- there is a book about -- about cheney called angler by bart gehlman that's an unusually good book too. >> what do you think about george w. bush's own memoir? >> i thought it was observe. i thought it was actual -- actually as a memoir it was better than bill clinton, which just, you know, was not the best thing bill clinton ever did. but i thought it was pretty much, pretty run of the mill. >> our guest has been james mann. and he wrote the book called "george w. bush" which, as he said, was published by times books through henry holt. we thank you very much for joining us. >> thanks. ♪
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