tv Q A CSPAN May 13, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am EDT
from paul volcker on restricting the types of trade and investments made by banks. >> this week on "q & a," nancy gibbs and michael duffy discuss their latest book entitled "the presidents club: inside the world's most exclusive fraternity." >> nancy gibbs, where did you get the idea for the "president's club?" >> it arose out of research for our last book where we came out of the back channel communications between presidents and president of different parties that we have not heard about. we were surprised by. we were taking mental notes about what is the deal between these men who have all been in
this job, learned the lessons, and why are they talking to each other off camera? we got curious about that. >> we know each one of these men as individuals. we grew up with them. we watched them. we voted for and against them. what no one had done is look at them in pairs or relationships. we think of them as their own institutes. -- institutions. they existed by themselves. when you pair them up or put them in groups and see how they relate to each other and how they sometimes that each other -- stabbed to each other in the back, we thought this has the makings of a more interesting story, a club. >> when you started this, where was the first moment you said i did not know that? >> the first in the start of us -- the first thing that startled us was the religious to between
harry truman and herbert hoover which were such politically different men and who ended of -- up forming this neither of them would have done this. the letters between them later about how important they became was really extraordinary. i had never expected to see that. >> what was your a-ha moment? >> when i came out and interviewed three or four years ago and i said nancy and e-mail. i said every club needs -- nancy wrote back, clubhouse? i just learned that richard nixon had created this building on the mafia square. -- lafayette square. while you can find some of this, there would be this overnight guest house.
four or five guys. it would be the most exclusive club in the world. >> where is it? >> 716 jackson place about three doors up from blair house. >> how did you learn about it? >> i interviewed an official who will remain nameless who worked for three presidents he said while he was working for richard nixon, he was in charge of finding the space in creating it. richard nixon wanted to make lyndon johnson happy. lyndon johnson was calling him all the time, asking for favors and airplanes. nixon just wanted to keep johnson mollified. including in terms of overnight guest accommodations. >> how did you to work together? >> we have been doing this a long time. we have lost count of how many stories we have written together.
we had a working pattern of handing things off back and forth were one of us would do the initial excavation and turn over what we found. at this point, we're finishing each other's sentences. >> you live in different cities. >> that is probably the reason why it works. michael is reporting resources of the last five administrations, he focused more on the recent president. he was able to talk not just to their top adviser, but president clinton and president bush and president carter were helpful to us. it is interesting listing to them talk about what they all meant to one another. >> by the way, george walker bush? i did not see an interview with him. >> he is in there by e-mail. >> how long did they spend with you? >> he does not do interviews anymore.
that one was by e-mail. he is a great and funny writer. if you have an experience, and knowing how to get him, he is wonderful and human and revealing purity is a good memory. bill clinton was great. we spent an hour with him in harlem. >> why did you begin the book with him? >> he was so i bought it about his -- e vocative about his predecessors. he said is a presidential library to all of the 41 you came before him. yet the picture of johnson. but he plans to the bookshelf -- >> he points to the bookshelf and says there is my presidential library and from washington through bush. it is of his memoirs and diaries. they all study each other. they all talk about it. it is as though the only people who can understand them are the
ones who came before. they devour the letters and diaries. >> george walker bush read 70 -- 17 biographies of lincoln while he was in office. it was in a "times" story. >> i entered bush for a -- i interviewed george w. bush for a different story. i asked him about how his views of his predecessors had or had not changed as a result of his own experience. he said i think differently about all of them. that was not what i expected to hear. >> tell the story about the time george herbert walker bush went to bill clinton's harlem office and bill clinton wasn't there. he knew it. >> bush at about age 82 is in new york. he had some time to kill. his plane needed servicing. he said let's go and visit the bill. he turned his motorcade up to harlem. their aides start calling each
other. "we are coming over." by the time they arrive, bush one learns that clinton is not even there. they went up there and that the -- met the staff into pictures. he went into clinton's office which is a big space overlooking harlem. you can see downtown. he put his feet up on the desk. he said, let's call bill. he gets clinton on the phone and says great office, nice people, where are you? it was at that point that both are out of office. they were really working on stuff together. they really became friends and remained so. a lot of people think that is for show. it is not for show. >> who do you think are the two presidents that you covered back to what? the first one?
>> we really start with truman. >> which one of two presidents together has a really deep friendship and the opposite? both of you jump in on this. >> i would say the deepest friendship would be hoover and truman and bush and clinton. if you leave aside president bush father and son, which is a different relationship. >> ford and carter. here are two men that i like the -- fight like the dickens and did have this bonding moment in 1981. reagan sent into a funeral. they hit it off on the plane and spending next 25 years doing about 25 projects together. they become such a good friends that ford and carter promised
to give the eulogy of the other guy. this goes from being people -- we have a situation where two men who fought bitterly in 1976 promised to give the eulogy of the other. we see carter and gerald ford's funeral. that is amazing. these men go through things and have scars that no one can understand except each other. that bonds them in ways that all of them are writing about politics and policy that few of us can experience. >> i want to ask nancy about the hoover/truman relationship. what did you find specific examples of where those two worked together? >> initially it is a difficult -- practical thing. truman found himself president.
world war ii is ending. here he is facing a catastrophe. -- europe is facing a catastropheliterally hundreds of millions of people are at risk of starting. -- starving. it was a mammoth undertaking to figure out how we're going to get europe on its feet. no one knew more on how to do this than herbert hoover. he was an engineer. it is a great problem solver. probably why he was elected president to begin with. against the wishes, truman reached out to hoover and asked him to come in and helped him how to figure out how to do european relief. they are suspicious of each other. they had not had a relationship before. very little they had in common politically. as they got over their suspicions and were very much united in the urgency of what they were up against, a tremendous sense hoover 50,000
-- truman since hoover 50,000 miles around the world meeting with others to negotiate moving food from countries that had it to those who needed it. it was so successful and dedicated that he and truman then worked together on one project after another on which only a former president had the standing and stature to accomplish what needed to be done. truman found interesting ways to thank him. he hung a portrait of hoover's wife in the white house. fdr had changed the name of the hoover dam to the great boulder dam. they did not want hoover getting credit for it. truman signed an order renaming it the "hoover dam." by the time they're out of office and planning their libraries, there are letters where hoover that is an austere guy says you have no idea what role you played in my life.
you gave me a chance to be of service again. it is so powerful. >> half these people left office against their will. not always in disgrace, but tossed out by the public. when someone later on from a different party reaches out in rehabilitates them, which is something we see over and over, they are grateful to the point of being unable to speak. one man need advice and another man need redemption. >> go back to the 707 airplane. 1981. isn't that the one in the reagan library? >> yes. it is. >> who was on that plane? one thing i think i remember, somebody wanted someone to give his bedroom up and he would not do it. >> it is a time when ronald reagan asked ford, carter, and nixon to go to the funeral in
1991. -- 1981. reagan did not think it was safe enough to go. he brings them all to washington. they get on the plane. they are not sure who goes first. carter goes first because he is the most recent. they get up on the plane. just to make it interesting, henry kissinger and a host of other luminaries sit around and there are some concerns that carter should have the main state room. it was not much of a room at all. it was more of a closet. on this plane, there are these three men, all who do not particularly like each other. one man pardoned nixon. the other man beat ford.
they have this astonishing encounter where they began to talk about what they shared and what separates them. that is the beginning of that friendship which would last for 25 years. he refused to give the bedroom because he said he was in charge. he was a senior official. he did not feel he had to give up the president's room to the carters. >> did you have any feedback from anybody? >> i talked to three or four people who were on that flight. all the reporters are still alive. i talked to all three of them. they had astonishing storage. -- stories. haines johnson and jim bell on the way back. they had asked the two presidents to speak.
the three presidents. they did not know nixon was with them coming back, three. on the way back, the three reporters interviewed carter and ford in their first joint interview. they spent a lot of time talking about what was wrong with u.s./israel policy. -- u.s. mideast policy. this was an astonishingly taboo thing to do. much less for two presidents to do together. when it hit the city the next day, not only did the white house to stand back and say they do not speak for the government, i believe it was joe, the aging columnist who came from a different generation, said those are the kind of conversations that real reporters do not put on the record. once they had done that, the club was formed. former presidents knew when
they spoke together they had exceptional power. that continues today. your --ems like you're through your book there are suggestions that people did not like [inaudible] -- like al hague. you have seen a lot of these different kinds of incidents in the book. how often did these personal affronts they are never forgotten are they? >> the people around the president are not thrilled to see the president reaching outside of the white house circle to former presidents who are free agents. you cannot count them to stay on script or do what they are told. they have a power. the white house staff is not necessarily the biggest fans they cannot do anything about it. >> i am sure they did not want him talking to hoover. ford did not want him talking to nixon.
>> let some people were suspicious of him talking to carter. >> even in the obama white house it was stop and go. >> you do say there is an agreement between the two of them that has never been done before because of hillary clinton. secretary of state. >> when obama was elected and hillary was made secretary of state, bill had to sign an eight or nine point memorandum of agreement between himself that made it harder for him to go to certain places. it made him difficult to raise money. he said he will do whatever it takes. this was a controversial thing. it was seriously negotiated by former clinton people, rahm emanuel. maybe todds burn.
-- todd stern. you have this strange a moment where obama aides who used to beat clinton aides put a fence -- be clinton aides put a fence around it. >> you say george washington was the original member of the club. how did you to divide of the president's? >> i took the first set and michael took the second. i spent time living with kennedy and johnson. nixon is such a gigantic character. he appears in 1949. he is a recurring player. we shared nixon. then michael focused on ford and the president after. >> nixon first reaches out to reagan who was one of mine in 1947. he says i want to have you come to washington and testify in front of the house.
-- house labor committee during the red scare years. eisenhower, who was one of nancy's, was involved in the 1968 republican convention. he was behind the scenes helping reagan get organized as a supporter of reagan and as a candidate. they positioned themselves for 1968. that suggested the club had relationships long before some of the members were in the white house. >> how did you write this together? what was your technique? how long did it take? >> we had been working on it for better than four years. we could easily spend another four years. the stories are so rich. in a way, it is hard to stop the research and trying to get these stories onto the page. we would both pushed each other to set deadlines. i would draft a chapter and send
it to michael. >> what about your personal situation? >> we have day jobs. i am an editor at "time" magazine. michael was the washington bureau chief. one thing we found at the risk of this sound like a rationalization, is everything we were reading we would hear these echoes in the stories that we were covering every day in real-time. now we are in an election year. this has been shrewd. -- true. we kept on hearing these extraordinary echoes and challenges the past presidents faced and how they handle them. it was a useful foundation for the real time journalism that we rid doing. -- we were doing. >> you each have their own chapters and pass them back and forth. those are very brutal processes. cut out this entire section. you do not need this.
i want more of this. you have something richer here. we treat each other like editors. we do that sometimes three or four times and so we get a draft that we can read. then we read it out loud. >> to each other? >> to each other or ourselves. >> i am sure we have read the entire thing on the phone to each other. >> twice. >> do you have families? >> i have three kids 21, 17, and 12. >> where are you from? >> columbus ohio. i went to oberlin. i have been with time magazine for 27 years. >> i have know you those 27. where is your home town of originally? >> i grew up in new york city. manhattan. i went to yale as an undergrad
and then to oxford. marshall scholar. it means the british government bonds 30 american students to -- funds 30 american students to do come to a degree at a british university. it was a fantastic experience. i took politics and philosophy. i have two girls, 17 and 14 who are exceptionally patient with the many obsessions that this but gave rise to. -- this book gave rise to. my daughter wanted me to send her the book so she and her roommates could read it out loud together. >> at this point, are there any living former presidents to have read it and gotten back to you? >> we know that two are reading
it. i think they are still in process. >> do we know who they are? >> i do not want to say yet. >> there are so many specifics i want to ask you about. i want to run a piece of audio tape from the lyndon johnson oval office conversation. this is october 16-17 right before the election. 1964. george wallace, hubert humphrey, richard nixon, and lyndon johnson are talking about what? >> vietnam. >> if wallace and humphrey and nixon, it is 68. what i suspect is the reason johnson would call them is peace negotiations were at a sensitive stage. he thought it was important that the candidates both know
what is going on and that everyone stay on the reservation. he did not want anyone to undermine the negotiations. >> here is what it sounded like on tape. [audio tape] >> i know you do not want to play politics of your country. i am trying to tell you how not to pay politics with it. i know all of you want peace at the earliest possible moment. i would express the hope that you be awfully sure of what you are talking about before you get into the intricacies of these negotiations. over. i will be glad to add any comment. >> no comment, mr. president. thank you. >> this is consistent with my position all along. i will make no statement that
would undercut negotiations. we hope this thing works out. >> are you on? >> yes, mr. president. that is my position all along, too. it is the position you stated, yes sir. i agree with you that we should not play into politics. we do not want to foul up the negotiations. [end audio clip] >> didn't george wallace get 13% of the vote? shot in 1972. what comes to mind after hearing that? >> very soon after that call, johnson is alerts it through a number of sources. some are very sensitive that people in nixon's camp were actually, actively trying to sabotage the peace talks. he did not want to see johnson and humphrey have this triumphant moment right before
an election. he was pretty confident that it would swing the whole thing. he was privately sending signals to the south vietnamese did not do anything in you get a better -- do not do anything, hold off, you will get a better deal when i am in the white house. this is through the dragon lady. >> how did they ever prove this? >> she later admitted. at the time she lived in the watergate. her phones were tapped. she was followed. they also have surveillance on the south vietnamese ambassadors to the u.s. you have the white house wiretapping allies and private citizens, which is a little touch and go. they had other sources that were telling them nixon's team is actively trying to undermine what you're doing. imagine your lyndon johnson. you get this news.
the election is five days away. do you go public? in a year when we have seen by the kennedy killed, martin -- bobby kennedy killed, martin luther king, blood in the streets, we have a society that is traumatized and terrified about the foundations on which the country rests, and that is a very tough call. it is one of a number of occasions we saw in which presidents are making decisions in which there is personal and party interest and larger national interest on the table. >> johnson says not to go public. nixon is undermining him on the peace talks. >> did the public know or not know about is called? -- this call? >> not in real time. >> at that time? >> no. they didn't even know they had talked. but johnson was trying to do was simply get himself a little
running your without the criticism and public on the campaign. he called them up and said "stay." each has his own reason for not doing that. not all stayed onboard. that is quickly overtaken by be -- the evidence that nixon was the undermining him in private. as nixon faces his own investigation for watergate, nixon calls up his old colleague in the club and says now i know what you are hearing me, you were listening to me back in 68. you need to call your democratic friends and say stop this investigation. or nixon is going to say that i was tapping him in 1968. johnson leaned into the phone and said if you say that, i will tell him what you said.
you have the president in the former president by 1973 threatening to double blackmail each other. the club has its moments of difficulty, strife, and very high drama. johnson is dead for five days later. >> 73. >> two days after nixon's inauguration. our stories have divided themselves. as of january 22, 1973, there is no club. nixon is the only living presidents. -- president. truman died at christmas. johnson died in january. truman died. >> when were the most former presidents? >> of bill clinton is inaugurated in 1993. he had five former presidents alive. >> which has never happened other than lincoln.
>> the inauguration of abraham lincoln. his five were nixon, ford, carter, reagan, and bush. >> they had all been turned out of office. >> had you spent much time on them? >> when you could only write a book of so many pages that was the place to start. hoover. hoover goes up to truman on the diocese of ike swearing in says let's start a president's club. truman says great. you be the president. i will be the secretary. or was the treasurer? secretary. that is the beginning of a thing. >> they were joking, but that language, reagan uses it with carter.
"since we are members of this very exclusive club -- " there are souvenirs. at one point kennedy sends eisenhower a bunch of golf balls with the presidential seal and says i cannot use these in new a the only one that legitimately can. reagan present clinton with a jar of jelly beans. >> when reagan leaves office, here are some rules are going to need to follow. you cannot say yes to everything. you're going to have to say no most of the time. they what try to drag you into financial deals. you have to ignore this. people will try to take advantage of you. we will talk about this as it goes on. we will have to consult. there is a kind of real process. even now, the chiefs of staffs to the presidents talk quite a bit in e-mail quite a bit.
>> i want to ask about the eisenhower/jfk beginning. i saw these letters between richard nixon and ronald reagan before 1968. they cannot summer into the -- they came out of correspondence in the west. >> no one ever looks at the start. no one lives of these letters in real time next to each other. it delayed the political context. they had not been laid out in 66 when they are fighting for position. both nixon and reagan were prolific letter writers. reagan was an excellent letter writer. >> his newest are the letters between eisenhower and reagan's
friends. >> did you see in the letters between nixon and reagan where ronald reagan kept saying i want to be the favorite son out of california? did he think of running? >> he started his campaign for president in 1968, 12 days after he was elected governor. there were some things that happened in 67 that undermines reagan's ability to act on that idea. by 68, he's promising ex anyone -- nixon he will not be in primaries and then going out and entering them. >> this is a 625 page book. all the notes and everything. go back to eisenhower-jfk.
did you read this part of it? -- right to this part of that? you get the sense that jfk did not think much of eisenhower. explain what you found. >> eisenhower was still enormously popular. his second term was coming to an end. he is not crazy about this guy who he refers to as "little boy blue." he views them as having a rich dad. he was sponsoring his political career. he did not appreciate kennedy's entire -- the whole tone of his campaign in this new frontier. >> how old was he? >> that was when he was in his early 70's. he was the oldest president in the century. kennedy would be the youngest president.
they were not crazy about each other. he felt like eisenhower to not -- did not understand the power of the office of the presidency. he was too much of a soldier and a general. he staffed out the office too much. kennedy's idea is rather than military structure of the white house, kennedy had the idea that it would be the spokes of the wheel. he would be at the center and everything would emanate. eisenhower and people tried to warn him after he won. that will not work. the decisions you make are to complex that you not get the right information are be able to manage the kind of things you have to deal with if you blow up the national security infrastructure that eisenhower had put in place. lo and behold, four months into office, it goes fantastically wrong. they of pigs invasion. -- bay of pigs invasion.
among the people that kennedy had to swallow hard and reach out to was eisenhower. >> what went wrong at the bay of pigs? >> this planning got bigger and bigger for an invasion that got more and more elaborate. it was less and less plausibly deniable for the united states being involved. the c.i.a. assumed their planning was based on the fact that once the invasion initially failed, kennedy would have no choice but to send in troops and get the job done. they were counting on it failing so that kennedy would have to. when they realize that the denial did not want active, explosive involvement, they had not believed him. the president will allow himself to be humiliated that way four months into his first term. there were a million things that went wrong in the assumptions that were made in the meetings were the joint chiefs were challenged.
kennedy and eisenhower meet at camp david. it was the first time he went to camp david. it was named after eisenhower's grandson. there is the famous picture of these two presidents of walking the paths and talking together. kennedy needed that picture. they needed this reassurance that would come up and being seen talking to eisenhower. eisenhower wrote a long memorandum. he said this job is a lot more complex. eisenhower was like, that is what i tried to do. -- tried to tell you, mr. president. >> which president did do not really like or dislike? which was the most fun to write about, to read about, to learn about? nixon is the one he plays the most grandly and grandiose fashion.
he leaves in 1974. the public seems to be done with him. he launches a 15, 20 year campaign for rehabilitation. under the guise of trying to help them and you followed, he travels all over them in his quest to redeem himself. gerald ford is shocked to discover that nixon was to go -- wants to go back to china. it is the worst possible thing when you're running against ronald reagan. reagan comes into the office in 1980. nixon is there with almost weekly letters. what he should do in meetings. he tells them how to organize
his first years. >> had we know this? -- how do we know that? >> the letters from nixon to reagan are available in the nixon in the reagan library. >> did you go to them? >> i did. both libraries are very helpful. they're wonderful places to visit, even if you're not researching. they are fabulous. nixon's unexpectedly close relationship with bill clinton. clinton is sworn in. nixon has a year and a half to live. in the very short time, then it -- they become can late-night phone pals. reach out to me. >> if you don't, i will go public with my criticism of you. it is kind of a threat, you know? good cop, bad cop. this becomes as hard-headed advice about china and russia
and how to organize his day. >> letters you say bill clinton still reads. >> in the last month of his life, there's a lot of turbulence in russia. he comes back from russia. he writes what is to be done in russia and how clinton should be dealt with. -- clinton should proceed. clinton said it is one of the two things he reads every year. he get it out and we read it -- he gets it out and read it because it was such hard-headed advice. i think he does a because it is peer to peer. it is something he can say he and i are in the same group. for eternity. -- fraternity. >> the other one he pulls out
is another piece from protocol is the note that george herbert walker bush left for him. the 1992 campaign is horribly painful for president bush, to not be reelected. he thought he was going to be. he writes clinton a note that says by the time you read this, you will be our president. i will be rooting for you. that kind of message, which is -- his son would also communicate to barack obama, that we want you to succeed, all of us understand that the office matters more than the occupant. we hear this again and again. do they always act on a perfectly? >> i've got better confidential. -- i thought those letters were confidential forever. >> some are. bush's senior wrote about his in the book of letters. his can be pieced together. he has talked about it enough. we asked him in our interview what he said. >> did he talk about the reagan letter to him?
>> he did not. it was a very short note that said do not let the beat you -- you down.bastards get that is the cleaned up version i think. they all have their little club here. when texting goes to see ike, ike says "i am yours to command." those are the words nixon says to reagan. nixon was not always as reliably commendable. >> here's some video. bill clinton speaking at the nixon funeral. [video clip] >> in this past year, even in the final weeks of his life, he gave me wise counsel, especially
with regard to russia. one thing that left a profound impression on me, although this man was in his ninth decade, he had an incredibly sharp and vigorous and rigorous mind. as a public man, he always seemed to believe the great decision was remaining passive -- greatest sin was remaining passive in the face of challenges. he never stopped living by that creed. [end video clip] >> by now bill clinton is having his challenge about prosecutors about monica lewinsky. -- about whitewater, not yet about monica lewinsky. one of the reasons it has never been released is maybe nixon provided advice. i cannot find out any other reason. it is interesting how clinton closed with nixon. when he dies, the announcement comes not from the nixon family but from the white house.
clinton loved it. -- nixon would have loved that. it would have made him very happy. as they start to write the eulogy, clinton is determined to recast nixon that he's beginning to face this conservative republican attack. he wants to recast him as a moderate. as republican from a different time, he had attacked policy that was balanced. nixon uses that eulogy as a way to with nixon back to the -- to get nixon back to the sensible center. "may the day of judging richard nixon by one event alone come to an end." >> i know i'm jumping all over.
people come by this book and get chronological. >> it is not pure friendship or pure enemies. one of the most amazing arts is -- arcs is between truman and eisenhower. the great global hero of the world, the men's parade in washington. -- the immense parade in washington? -- washington. it is an honor just to meet him. they proceed to work very closely. he makes eisenhower chief of staff. he helps oversee the reorganization of the military. as truman is trying to put together a postwar security structure, he absolutely needs eisenhower to help sell congress on the idea that stationing american troops in europe, he and eisenhower offers
eisenhower -- as 1948 approaches, truman offers eisenhower to step aside if he wants to run. i will serve as your vice president. they have a cordial and formal and cooperative relationship. when eisenhower does decide to run in 1952, truman wishes him the best until the moment when eisenhower had the chance in wisconsin to denounce joe mccarthy and defend his revered mentor. george marshall. mccarthy attacked him as a traitor. >> secretary of state marshall. >> right. eisenhower had in his speech where mccarthy would be present
a defense of marshall and dropped from the speech. -- and at the last moment, he ended up dropping it from the speech. the new york times have a copy. they revealed the fact that eisenhower at the last moment had chosen not to issue his defense of george marshall. what do you know why? >> and do you know why he did? >> he had been warned by other republicans that wisconsin was closed and the balance of the senate could be in play. some said you could incite a riot. a lot of people were waving him off. you will have other opportunities to denounce joe mccarthy. do not do it in his home state. eisenhower for the rest of his life may have regretted the decision. he ends up not defending marshall. truman is appalled. he gets very worked up about it. he calls eisenhower a moral coward.
he says i thought i knew him. i trusted him. he has betrayed everything i thought he stood for. i do not think he is fit to be president. by the end of that campaign, as the friendship was over, truman did not set foot in the white house. there's a little bit of a thaw. eisenhower's presidency comes to an end. the reconciliation comes at the burial of john f. kennedy. all the former presidents are in washington. ike and truman ride home. >> how old would they have been? >> ike is mid-70's. i don't know when truman was born. >> you get a big dose of mortality. chairmen had survived an --
truman had survived and assassination attempt. as their riding home, chairman says do you want to come up to a drink? -- come in for a drink? he says, ok. they go up. they get to talking. it goes on for quite a while. they talked about everything from their own funerals in what they're planning to something of the arc of their relationship together. at one point, it is how no one understands what a president does and why they make the decisions they do. ike says we know what we did. truman says, we surely do. >> we ask him to talk about politics and the hard calls? he said we do not have to. we know what we did. we know how difficult these moments get. the alone know that. -- they alone know that. even their spouses and families
do not know what it is left to be left alone in the room with the pen. yes, no. that is their fate. that is what they will carry forever. they carry the scars of the decisions, the ones that go badly and the ones that go really badly. that is what they carry into this fraternity. >> they all say to the one next, you're only going to make hard decisions. the easy decisions will be made further down the line. any decision on your desk is hard. there is a big case for going the other way. even if he make what ends up being the right decision, it always will come with a cost. it may have been lives lost. there always be a cost to it. >> i think that informs all we -- what we saw in mid april. for the first time, george
walker bush having exited the stage. he said i owe president obama an apology. -- he said, i 0 president obama my silence. he's had a gentle criticism on tax policy in the keystone pipeline. he does not think the country should criticize the president. he called a general sympathy that those who have been there before support those who are there now. with a few exceptions comment -- exceptions, that has been the no. -- m.o. >> how often does of george walker bush and bill clinton go out together? >> it is a bit of a mystery. they do it. there the first two members to
-- they are the first two members to be part-time business partners. they are often invited to go speak, sometimes overseas. oftentimes at home. they sit in talk about this. they're getting pretty good at this. they can be done easily. over $100,000 each. they got some questions. one is that number, you do not -- when it is that number, you do not have to do it too often. they did a couple times of year. >> the mechanics of getting this cover story, you are the
managing editor. how does this happen? >> we have an inside track? >> did you agree this of the cover story? >> you never know until two hours for certain what will be on the cover. we always understood that. we thought the readers were very interested in the presidency. many of them have lived with these characters as major figures in the news. we hoped it would be a story that readers would really like. we are a news magazine. as often as not, anything can happen that changes at the last minute. >> it is available if you want it. we taught to read all the time. -- we talked to rick all the time. he knew that it was coming. he said we would produce it. we will have it ready for you. it'll be there. his gracious enough to say let's get it going. we will order of some pictures.
we have incredible help. we found pictures we have not found for the book. >> why the photo of barack obama and george w. bush? >> this is my favorite picture of all. not only is a relatively current, it never been published before. that's something about picture that allows you to listen in. it is a very evocative image of the three men who everyone knows have difficulties. the come from very different experiences. there they are together. about 2010. they begin to work on haiti relief. where they come together in a kind of partnership. that is rare. it is interesting. >> how far did you go in your research? how far did you travel?
>> that is a good question. you have a number of trips to california and maine. we have been down to atlanta. there is a fair bit of travel involved. it is amazing. for aficionado's of history, and there are incredible resources now that you do not have to leave your house. the miller center at the university of virginia. the libraries -- they have put so many of these phone conversations on line. the kennedy library has but all -- has put all other documents on line. it is magical for historians to be able to go as deep as they once. -- want into the correspondence, into the papers. it is about that he was going to announce the quarantine of cuba.
there was the fear this could trigger a nuclear exchange. i was getting to listen to these two presidents talk to each other without leaving my home. it was an incredible thing. anyone can do this. >> we're also helped by the library who knows things and those documents. barbara klein used to work at the eisenhower library. when we came in and said now we are interested in lbj, you could see her circuits fire. she had been at both libraries. to produce for us a file in which she found that johnson when he comes into office and 63 and 64 is so keen to bond with i -- ike and truman that he has an aide do a researcher project on how many times he'd talked to and traveled with the president so he could show them how close he felt to them.
johnson needed the legitimacy of the club. kenya that he would need their -- he knew that he would need their help. barber was able to help us get -- barbara was able to help us get access to that. it is an amazing insight into how johnson regarded the club. >> any disappointment? >> we felt we could spend another three years doing research. there was so much more. i am disappointed -- we were proud because of the spirit of bipartisanship. the moments of sabotage and undercutting are in there. there is a real loss to the country, particularly in the early years. that really power how these men got along. >> in a disappointment? -- any disappointment? >> i think that really get at it. there were times where you would
feel a kind of was on this about -- wistfulness about look at the way people were able to work together to get things done. there are a bunch of presidential books coming out. robert caro is coming out about johnson and oral history. watch how all past presidents get things done. a lot of the ability to get things done had to do with getting people to come together and compromise. >> clinton said the president is doing deals with people who are trying to kill you. >> our two guests are nancy gibbs and michael duffy. thank you very much. >> thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012]
>> for a dvd copy of this program call 1-877-662-7726. for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at www.q-and- a.org. "q & a" programs are also available at c-span podcasts. >> coming up, we will have part two of our conversation. >> on "q & a" part 2, nancy gibbs and michael duffy as they talk about their latest book entitled "the presidents club: inside the world's most exclusive fraternity." >> michael duffy, we have not talked much about jimmy carter.