tv The Presidency Gary Ginsberg First Friends - The Powerful Unsung And... CSPAN December 19, 2021 1:51pm-2:47pm EST
case. to discuss the presidents and the friends in joining today by gary ginsberg in various capacities of politics and that political and corporate advisory and i'm delighted to say the gary is been a friend for over 30 years going back to the campaigns where we first met. and over the courses of this extraordinary career is held positions in technology and including it time warner and others in the clinton administration where gary ginsberg served in office, and he was at columbia and had a graduate degree of brown and he spent on so many dimensions that touch on this topic and created so for signed offer hundred author who has written extraordinary compelling imported books as well as a fun one and his best friends pushes
back and known by the companies and we teach in fact the foundation of the various projects is the fact that many of these friends are not household names rated in the oval office serves as a unique vacuum as the presidents are in history and often it been forgotten. and so printed was in a terrific job of setting the record straight and describing who with these people have been impact that they have had. in this conversation with gary ginsberg is another thing friend of mine long friend in the time friend of mine who was helped us all understand the market is very ways that we know in his own books but also behind the scenes writings through his work braden and through the history channel and steve is professor at the university of oklahoma, an unknown resident and faculty
fellow at the center and also a scholar in residence at the history channel printed so we are delighted to have both gary and seemed joining today virtually and thank you for being friends of the center and friends of mine and i will turn it over to you to start the conversation. >> thank you for those kind words. and in this book, tell me about how did you come up with the ideas the first book, such a brilliant idea. >> i think it was a series of results of experiences and i've since 1984, when i started to work on the presidential campaign and eyewitnesses unique friendship between the democratic candidate for president, and it is celebrated
after and he was applying for some of the most incredible events of the campaign and he would. kim: far in a way that nobody unstaffed would and he was a stop talking like a politician gary and hard would listen to hn a way that he did not anybody else in the same time, they would go out they would have late not in the night dinners that was his perverted time. and so it took away that event and then it was essentially, eight years and for bill clinton as campaign. [inaudible]. and i was able to witness the jordan and it was really similar to the roll that he had pretty and it was at such an emotional level and at the same time i wrote about it to time through that vetting process when i was interviewing gore and us pretty
and he had said that i don't care about his issues with gorka my care about that he has friends, enemies witness the loneliness that johnson experience and the lack of a first friend in the johnson presidency particularly during the inauguration of any saw how demoralizing that wasn't how it helped lead to his ultimate decision to not run again and 68 so i think this accumulation of those experiences coupled with the fact that in 2018, that this idea that donald trump did not have the first friend and i saw the impact that i thought on his presidency and so i came over this idea that presidential election it was written about and it there is nothing, their books about the first wives and their sons and the first decorate verse in the first butlers but there is nothing officially for me and a first
friend, and i started to see this. >> how did you discover that is it always obvious with the first family. >> know it's not, with a one president was clinton that i could actually asked directly, who is your first friend and clinton who is a legendary first friend said that i need some time on this one and when you think about this, jordan and i was so grateful and interviewed him in 2018, when it first came upon the idea. and another president who had a lot of friends was john f. kennedy and i was able to talk to his daughter caroline it, and i went to law school with her head i said, who is your dad's first printed and she gave me what i never would've thought
and is one of the great prizes of this whole journey. and friendships were kind of obvious with me and i grow with the shadowy week printed shadowy dapper parts for my childhood. and i did not want to do the obvious thing, i remember wanted to find somebody who provided a different dimension it to his life. and chose a distant cousin and a complete surprise to me rated frankel pearson the only example of a friend was more famous than the president and in some total delight was the friendships between at thomas jefferson and james madison avenue they had a close collaboration it together but i had no idea that there friendship was over 50 years and that was just a pr thing to write about. >> it was some of the most influential friends in policy.
>> i think the most important friendship in terms of policy for the life of our country would be jefferson and i think that in particular moment it would be harry jacobson's friendship with harry truman when he walks into the oval office uninvited and unannounced and basically convinces him to recognize and there was a time when a friend played a very pivotal roll in the relationship between america and a key ally for the next 78 years. >> that was a great story in the book can you tell us more about it. >> truman was a bank teller and he went to work and he made a
positive truman spake in the friendship within until 1917, when they meet again in the military and actually jacobson it came up with 219 and he turned it into profitable enterprise and truman benefited greatly as a leader of that artillery or unit and decided the basis of 1920 - 2022, it failed. but they struck up a friendship by 1922 and truman goes on and becomes vice president and president. and then he and truman just had a really kind of a common bond that work for them and they spent time together when truman was in kansas city and then go to washington for the
relationship kind of completely different complexion in march of 1948, and truman had to make a very hard decision, what you do it about this pretty in november of 47, they decided to partition it but most notably george marshall, a very powerful member who did not want an independent state for the jewish people. ..
british scientists pried the world's leading at that point is sitting in new york waiting to come to washington to see harry truman. one person who convinced truman to recognize the state. truman will not see him. so jacobson gets on a plane, flies halfway around the country, walks into the secretary's office, matt connolly and said i need to talk to truman. and matt conley knew of the friendship he said absolutely but one thing, do not talk about palestine. he said of course comes into the white house and start making chit chat. finally truman says what are you doing here? you have never come to ask for anything. what are you doing here? he says you have to see. truman gets his backup and
goes into a ranch. talks but has been disrespected by the jewish people did not want anything more to do with the issue. at that point he said for the first time that is an anti-semite. he knows the fate of the state is hanging in the balance. he sees the bust of andrew jackson. he knows andrew jackson is harry truman's idol. and he says what would andrew jackson do. i don't think so. he would do what he knows to be like. the thing to do now is to recognize. third truman turns red in his face, turns his back turns around and looks puts his hands on the desk, turned back around and says the son of the vi will see him. he said he is the happiest man
on earth. he realized. a few days later harry truman saw him he sealed the deal. and 11 minutes after 1948 has to recognize an independent state. click such a great story. the other went i was struck by impact on the policy itself. i talk about other yc influence the presidency. has one to mind. >> it is an unheard of friendship in terms of influencing politics today which never happened. this most powerful president and the country's history. he was a very wealthy texas
businessman who would always wanted to operate on a international stage. he's looking for the man in the opportunity at the exact same moment woodrow wilson is the governor of new jersey as a run for president he knows he needs a best friend. he had a best friend who had a very bitter break with in 1907. he was friendless. his daughter later said his two tragedies in life or the loss of his friendship with a professor at princeton and the lost of nations in terms of the treaty. there is a moment in time where these two people come together. they forged a friendship starting in november of 1911. by january of 1913 woodrow wilson as president-elect he is the most powerful man in woodrow wilson's life. he's essentially picking his cabinet for him. it becomes indispensable
emotional crutch for wilson as well as a personnel advisor and policy advisor on certain matters. a relationship develops wilson decides he doesn't want to deal in foreign policy. secretary of state is ill fitted on an international level. he pretends he needs to go over too europe. i goes over too europe and he meets with the british foreign secretary, the jurors german kaiser. sure enough it becomes a defective secretary of state in 1913. he is the diplomatic chief and secretary of state. he is an advisor to woodrow wilson.
international capitals in washington d.c. until tragic end in 1919. the treaty and passed the train platform is allowed to pass after he signs the treaty and says never speak to him again. he is exact revenge concerning the second wand of exacting revenge. in 1915 i think she basically did not want someone else playing a central role in her husbands life. before you should try to undermine him. she was able to extract the final massacre with him in paris just before the end of the treaty. and for the next 20 years he
tried to make some of the great and doing it is a tragedy of his life. i think you never could quite reconcile hockey go from such a central role to be cast as such it was not even invited to his funeral. >> host: while it's incredible. i question from the university of virginia, can you expect spine the friendship between thomas jefferson and little mouse and played in thomas jefferson's presidency? she says it's very interesting. >> am sure it is. there's time at the university. the influence of medicine had on jefferson but the influence jefferson had on madison it was a great collaboration. it was also a great friendship. just to expand on your question, it was not just during his presidency feels put out. it's really from the first
meeting in 1776. it is a 50 year friendship that encompasses 1250 letters that are exchanged between the two men. they were so different in both in body and personality and temperament. jefferson was 6-foot 2 inches 6-foot 3 inches madison was 5-foot 4 inches per jefferson was a larger-than-life personality, medicine was very shy and timid. but they work together beautifully. i think madison needed jefferson's large personality and jefferson needed madison's exacting mind impractical nature. think how they approached the actor how they approached how who's going to deal jon adams medicine is so calculating
such great personal friends they saved each other when jefferson he runs out of the governorship in 1781 and a trial of sorts to see whether he advocated his responsibility. he was demoralized and his wife dies. he wants to get out of politics, he is done. who wants to live the grand life. but medicine says no you cannot give up your public life. you're too important to this new nation. he is the one that goes to the confederate congress and said you've got to get him back in the game. he really gets him to paris
place. that kind of dynamic and they lived together in philadelphia when madison was in the confederate congress. jefferson later said madison's phone for 15-year-old. he was unmarried. this 15-year-old jill tim, devastates and furthers jefferson to provide the emotional support. for the first on the board fall in love and did not how to deal with rejection. i goes on throughout their life and in many way is responsible directly or indirectly for things like our constitution, for the bill of rights, for the two-party system, for that geographic construction of our country through the louisiana purchase. office of the whole state university system. madison was a very big part.
people here are far more knowledgeable development of the university system. so it was a lot of fun to discover the depth of his friendship. >> i can see that prior to have to tell you, we talked before the one that surprised me clerk kenny brian, so tell me more, takes off on a completely different tangent i never thought of. so tell me about that and what role he plays. how does it get involved? the obvious choice. but then i think they very smartly said there's something else it's been lost to history. but i know for my own dealings
with him, then through her mother this was a person who paid a really consequential role in the president's intellectual life as well as jackie's personal life. the mid- 1938 the second son of powerful fathers. both really did not know what to do in their lives. they were well educated they love to talk fast, they love to gossip, they love to go drinking, carousing, go to horse races. i had a bond in london that really takes it shape regardless of the electorate i
wait for the electorate it needs the public to get there before you can take them or you want too. to the debate that issue for many, many years. each rise and the respect to democracy becomes a member of the house of commons, becomes a member of the ministry of state. becomes a chief negotiator for the british becomes an expert in nuclear disarmament. all this leads to 1960 when kennedy decides to run for president they are great friends by now. jackie has fallen in love but in 50 candidate makes a discovery. none of my foreign policy advisers really are in sync with me. there's only one guy in sync with me. as an informal cabinet. it provides a crucial foreign
policy advice and how to navigate this issue of the missile gap and promoting the same but nuclear disarmament. it's a sweet spot with kennedy. becomes a president becomes the first ambassador. kennedy decides on day five he makes the command gets back to washington he wants to see gore. talks about bombing cuba. right back into a familiar repartee that started in 1948 about what is a leader to do? in the council is very strongly for a blockade kennedy comes around to it. he's back at the red house that night, spends hours and
hours with kennedy both in the private residence. he is with him the night after he makes his address to the nation announcing the blockade. he's looking at the blockade with the perimeter it sees its 800 miles. he says to kennedy should be 500 miles. given the relationship enough time to think about what the consequences are of the blockade. kennedy calls up mcnamara and said i want the perimeter moved. was that kind of advice that spread out over the entirety of the missile crisis. and then it plays itself out most dramatically with the administration where they single-handedly i believe are responsible for kennedy pushing and evangelizing nuclear test treaty the last significant piece of legislation. this was the first real
important pact between the two nations. at the same time real quickly such good friends they spent an enormous amount of time on weekends they name their third child the godmothers going to be sissy. this is a story that's been lost to history. did not really talk about it may be one at the kennedy library very, very quiet man, quite in the sense he did not seek the limelight. i am so grateful to caroline for giving me that lead. i think in many ways he was the most important emotional balance for kennedy as well as
intellectual compatriot. >> after the assassination does he have an affair with jackie? that odd. >> interestingly is going to get to that. in 1957 when papers were discovered at the estate he had died in 1985 and his family for some reason had a truck they found all these letters between gore and jackie. it finds out he had proposed to jackie in june of 1967 shortly after his wife sissy had died a car accident. jackie writes back to him and said you and i share too much pain together. we have to find a world of peace and happiness we need to and apart from each other. she writes him a beautiful letter that is auctioned off
and is now part of the historical record. maybe they had an affair? caroline is unsure of it herself. i asked her. but she said a lot of men say they had affairs with his mother, i don't know i would suspect maybe he did i cannot speak unequivocably that they did. >> the people we talk about colonel house or jacobson, are all friends who played a very specific role and had an impact on policy. what are the rules do first friends play in the life of presidents? >> so, that's like what he said about fdr. did not play an inconsequential role. he advised on the policy did not speak the blunt truth, did not march into the oval office and make demands. but somebody that gave fdr
what he desperately needed in the white house and that was company that was constant company. fdr, despite following a world war and depression is an intensely lonely president. his book a lonely man. partly because his wife was often away from the white house crusading for important causes. the children were not really present in the white house until his daughter and came in 1944. he says i'm either exhibit a. here's a man who did not like to leave you like the company particularly liked he was of women that he had with men. did he fit the bill? started giving him this comfort in 19202 is recovering from polo.
particularly the last 45 years of fdr's life. she is with him pretty much every day from what i can tell they exchange letters when he's traveling is always writing her letter they're exchanging presents she was an archivist at his library she starts the first presidential library back in 1941. so he can spend even more time without ever raising her eyebrows. i raise it because i think there is a physical dimension to their friendship back at 1.1 dated september 1935 but also deeply attracted to each other emotionally. that powerful conversation we can't discount the importance
of that friend is not always have to speak the blunt truth to be the truth to tell her to be the person in your face and say or do something wrong. he also want friends who is with you in good times and bad that show your interest in be a sympathetic ear on even a quiet presence when you need it because you don't to be on your own. that too spoke the relationship with nixon. have two stories really where it's entirely different from the ones i just described. >> you have one person or one first friend who is not necessarily the most influential but the 1s played the role?
>> you know, think is listening. one of the joys of this book wasn't meeting some of my past for weeks on end in months on end i just love it. i think it's a real joy because i had no idea who he was. went caroline said to me, i think i know him who is he exactly? that kind of brings you to wife and then to talk to his daughter whom i found in london. i think the family brings so much joy for the fact that finally after all these years he's getting his due. playing this important role in kennedy's life. in terms of a favor, maybe it's joshua just because of the road they travel and how you can get these two very
different people who have this friendship for years where they sleep in a double bed together for four years. then they grow completely apart for 12 years. one is becoming the great emancipator. joshua was a democrat who decided he wanted to be a businessman and make as much money as he could. and he did it using slaves. lincoln decides he wants to be a public servant. by the time in 1854 -- 8055 comes long he has developed a strong view in the emancipation proclamation. they come together after this foundation of living together for four years in springfield, they can debate the institution of slavery in the 1850s. in them and lincoln becomes president one of the first meetings he has he comes to
chicago. they hadn't seen each other really in about 15 years. the first thing lincoln says is i need you in my administration. some of the best ideas he knows he believes in the institution of slavery because he says it. does your breakup slavery he wants to preserve the union. but to his credit says i'm not going to join your administration i'm too rich i don't give up my money. i'm going to do everything i can to help you with this war. speaking of kentucky was a border state. lincoln knew he could not lose kentucky. that is the linchpin of the border states. he does everything he can to help lincoln. he helps them message the war
so kentuckians don't just think it's for the purposes they deem legitimate. makes sure he gets his arms and maliciousness from kentucky and he goes up to the white house for the first thanksgiving and provides emotional support from lincoln. the french of flourishes during those four years. i think he played a crucial role and can keeping kentucky in the union. i think you cannot underestimate the importance of that friendship that was forged in the 1840s that helps lincoln 25, 24 years later to win this war. to me it shows the importance of the life you sustain either hot or cold and how it can play out over a long life. >> based on the research you have done, the terrific stories you tell, do you think
that a successful president, in order to be successful a president needs to have a best friend? >> no. i don't think history shows that. al gore and george bush are an interesting example. george w. bush, many, many great friends. i talked to his chief of staff when he wanted to cooperate for this book pretty wanted to talk about is a great friendship with don evans for example. you cannot say he did. you cannot say at a best friend was going to succeed as president. think what i have learned is that those presidents who did have a best friend were generally better for it. and so is our country.
that is what i discovered in these nine stories. you can argue really important role in richard nixon's life. i think he was for the most part part of the influence. but the last four years he could have spoken truth to him in the way he did in 1957 when he told nixon to not run for president. i saw you did in 60 and 62 with your family after you lost is quite ugly. nobody had a better seat to see the toll that is exacted on pat, trisha and he did not want to see nixon where the family go through it again and 68 so he said don't run. nixon does not listen to him and runs. the nixon becomes a president he becomes insecure as we all know. all of the dirty that were played, instead of saying listen, you need to
appeal you are a better man than this. you do not need to do these nefarious acts to stay in power. you do not need to raise campaign funds. he do not need to destabilize the grand family and destroy their ipo because you're angry at the "washington post". instead he was an enabler and takes a thousand dollars loan from howard hughes in 1970 that rears its ugly head later on. it's really the cause, i believe of white nixon believed at the dnc. which obviously led to impeachment his ultimate resignation. could have played a very different role in that presidency. and unfortunately didn't. quick to talk about enablers. some people accused georgia being an enabler for bill clinton and his affairs.
he taught collusion. >> ... correct the issue. he commit perjury by testifying getting a blow job from monica lewinsky before the scandal broke, he'd been asked to get her job in new york which she did. that became a prime area of inquiry for the prosecutors. the question was did vernon jordan try to help bill clinton out of this impeachment? the answer i think is known i'll tell you why. i talked to bill clinton directly about this. because i asked him and confirmed he gone to hillary
clinton convince her not to leave bill after he admitted the affair to hillary in 1998. and i said is that true? he said absolute gone person i could trust is the only person that she respected enough to have that conversation. and i said let me ask you something, did he know about the relationship you have with monica lewinsky? such that he is getting her job to get her out of town. he said i never talk to any of my closest friends about my relationship with women. for two reasons, one is that i was ashamed in the second was a did not want to implicate them. i was very, very careful to never talk about those kinds of matters. his closest friends are probably two or three other people i can think of.
i don't think they intentionally obstructed justice. i think in many ways very positive i think he gave a very good advice on personnel. i think he can see when people personally or the presidency will but themselves pretty quickly point that out to clinton he would woo chiefs of staff, move people in. one thing is he had great eq. he also has the best intelligence of anybody in washington. clinton had a really thorny political decision, he was one of the person he relied on. stretched far and wide in washington. i think also on a personal level he was the person he wanted to most relaxed with. on the wall of course, for
meals, i think he really suffered the last two years of his presidency because of the damage he thought he had brought upon vernon and thrusting him in the national spotlight. i think the final meal they had together in the white house in early 2001 that i read about in the book was clinton's chance to say i am sorry. i did not intentionally mean to put you in harm's way. i think over that six hour period that are right about extensively, they finally come to an understanding. a lot of grievance was let go. and then for the next 20 years they enjoyed a beautiful friendship. some of the most final eulogy at that service. >> host: were running short on time and they have been some who been very patient. these are a lot tougher than my questions.
[laughter] person was about the relationship between franklin pierce and nathaniel hawthorne. very close friends and their college days hopefully influence policies during presidency. >> he didn't. in fact pierce's presidency in liverpool as the council. the reason he gets this job is because he writes a biography in the 1850s and 1840s the way he sold the candidacy is not for the split television ad people were getting used too but by the biography. pierce had to figure out who's going to write his biography. who better for pierce than the countries were celebrated who was nathaniel hawthorne. who had he been friends with since 1821.
very, very close friends from 1821 talking about 1852. so hawthorne writes his first book of many people it was just another book of fiction's reward for getting him elected as the second most important victim at the time. he got a little piece of the action for every piece that went to liverpool the council would get a small percentage. so hawthorne was having a tedious life or he continues to write his book. he stays an unabashed supporter of pierce were pierce is accused of burning down the house by allowing the country to devolve in the kansas nebraska asked in 1954. the first sitting president to not get the nomination of his
party for a second term. his presidency is that flawed. moves to james buchanan selection pierce is probably the second or third worst. the two of them and they support slavery. they maintain the clearly deep friendship after pierce leaves the white house it's two men against the world. hawthorne dies in pierce's hand. pearson's of drinking himself to death. their enduring and in many ways a beautiful friendship between two men. >> does anyone has a questions please feel free to post them. this is an interesting one. has any of the first been
charge and not to claim the income is never charged criminally. other than the two of them nobody else into my mind and when else was called to testify best friends don't become part of the administration thanks staff and family are different types of relationship than a friend. george h.w. bush because he's his best friend and chief of staff and in my case these were just friendships. not people who worked in the
administration. >> have about five minutes left. if you ask people close to buy and they will all tell you it was ted present chief of staff for 22 years. not only did he work with joe biden he would also take the amtrak back and forth where ted also lived. there is such a close friendship and called ted and said i need you in washington. i do not want to see beau die and deal with the aftermath alone. would you come to washington for 120 days, special governmental them employee unpaid designation and be with me. and he did pretty sat there for 120 days in the little office and whatever biden needed him, just for a
comforting word, for a meal, for a look, he was there. and today he's in wilmington i think biden calls a lot. he is the first nonfamily memo to sleep in the white house. and i wish i could write about him. i really do. think their friendship is extraordinary. both on a policy level. if you read ben kramer's book, what it takes, you will see the role ted plays in the presidential campaign. the last person he wants to talk to, is ted kaufman. >> has the next book for you
has a president ever had a best anime? you're known by as much by your friend. and they clinton administration he could have so many enemies hit every thing he had to destroy bill clinton. >> not afraid not. it's a really, really interesting question. i think it would make for a great book. listen if you want to work with me on it, reach out. >> i will put you in touch.
the person who asked that question is that when you and i both know. [laughter] i'll leave it at that. this is book number one. hopefully there'll be many, many more books. first always. i don't know. i've been toying with a lot of different ideas. i just love the process. i did not know if i had it in me i have such an extraordinary faith i didn't up i would have the discipline to sit by myself. i found the beauty in it i have to say. maybe the world did not come to a screeching halt during the time i was writing. i just love living in a world of ideas and personalities
that converted into words has a resignation it's a really great joy. one of the great joys of my professional life for sure. i can have that same experience with. >> i think we could probably use biography. >> post 1984. >> you are great at it. this is a remarkable first book. i look forward to reading future books. i want to thank if your great input on this book very smart i want to think of bill and the center for me too talk