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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 28, 2009 10:30pm-11:00pm EDT

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because he would film the debates and used them for firing line but that is what he picked and cared about. he taught at least one writing course at yale so he did not burn every bridge but he did see and i think you saw quite correctly in the late 40's and early 50's yale was running a call on and it was conveying eight an impression to the alumni saying you're all christian capitalist and we are of the school that stands for that. and they did not any more. they had changed they probably changed as recently as the '40's pro they were sailing under false colors and it was a very bill like thing. it is related -- related to deer arthur that this is what you are doing. use the were doing something
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else but this is what you were doing and i will tell everybody that this is it. . . >> i wonder, as i you were his protege, he was your mentor, and the time that he told you you were not going to succeed him, how many sleepless nights did you have after that and how did you deal with it in terms of not
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lashing out at your mentor. my real question is i remember bill buckley busy a -- as a conservative, and he was reticent about the use of federal power in terms of the civil rights movement, and conservative point of view being that the federal government should not be used against states rights and to use the federal power to create and to enforce equal opportunity, equal access. >> well, you know, in terms of my reaction, i do go into this in great detail, and obviously i think i said my first reaction was the howl of pain, and one is an adult and one has to get through the day and the week and the year, and that process of
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that helps you also deal with the negativity and the emotions. as far as -- you know, bill wrote things about the early civil rights struggle that are embarrassing to read now, deeply embarrassing to read now, and he acknowledged that. and he admitted that he had been wrong, and i think many factors were in play. one of the ones that occurs to me was the influence of harry jotha. if anyone has delts with harry, it's a job. but harry is also a brilliant man and a brilliant historian, and his -- the point of his life is that the declaration of independence is the central document of the american revolution, and, therefore, of american history, and i have to
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say, the more i have read about that period confirms what harry argues. and i tell a story of a lunch that bill invited me to he was going to meet harry, and we got there first, and harry comes in a little late, but bill had said, in passing in a column, that if george iii had captured george washington he would have been justified in hang him as a rebellious subject, and harry started in before he even sat down. bill, if he is in -- and before the salad came he had bill saying, you're right, harry, i was wrong to say that. that's harries relentlessness, and also his grasp of a very important point about american history, which was dramaized in
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the civil war where of course lincoln embraces jefferson and the confederacy specifically repudiates him, and so the issue -- this is the vice president of the confederacy. gives a speech where he says the founders were wrong because their cornerstone was human equality but we know men are not equal. they're unequal. some men are fit to be slaves and our cornerstone would be human inequality. and it does not get clearer than that. and bill always loved a good argument well made, and harry certainly did that, and i think that was part of the process of bill changing his views on that issue. yes, sir. >> as one of the 20 people who wrote to you when you were in high school in rochester in 1970, i thought i would ask a youth-oriented question. i could picture a bill buckley
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graduating from yale this month, writing an updated version of god and yale buttite knock sure if he would have founded the national review. would he have used the other media or founded the national review. >> well, that's an excellent question, and it's a very deep question about people's talents and people's opportunities. bill had brilliant skills as a journalist. at 750 words at the top of his game, just didn't get better. and that was the form that existed in the years that he lived and worked. on television, he was made for the television era that he entered and that he transformed. remember, firing line starts in 1966, and what's there? it's walter cronkite and johnny carson, and huntley brinkley are the edgiest things in mainstream
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television, and firing line is from a different galaxy. it starts with a concerto, and it's the content of what he is saying, and one of the very interesting anecdotes, years ago i was on an panel, and afterwards an old man came up to me and said, do you see mr. buckfully will you thank him for me. i'm a man of the left, but firing line was the only place in the late 60s where left-wingers could get to say their views at length. and i -- there's some truth to that. now, bill let them say that so he could duke it out with them. but he let them say that. and the media has changed. the media has moved on. it's just like, you know, it's like it's all a trailer. it's all a teaser.
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it's this, this, this. if jesus came back now he would not get an hour of television. he simply wouldn't. so, bill was suited for his time. what are bills today going to do? they will have to be suited to their time, and also people, you know, are unique. a lot of consecutives are saying, where is the next reagan? not going to be a next reagan. where is the next buckley? not going to be one but there will be somebody else, doing it somehow differently. so, i mean, that's a very fruitful line of inquiry, and happy it's done were i purr cycle it in this book and i hope i did justice to it. the way that his talents sit with his message and with the opportunities and the resources that were out there was an
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extraordinary thing, and of course he had to seize it and make it happen, and he did. >> bill buckley edited a magazine, had a television show, wrote 56 books, nonfiction fiction, skied, has a cia agent, sailed the world. anything you know that he wanted to do that he in fact never did? >> priscilla? he did say -- there's a questionnaire, and it's like a parlor game, you know, if you could come back what would you want to be in your next life, and so on. and one of the questions i remember -- because he took it. he answered those. and one of the questions was, is there any talent you wish that you had? and he said he wished he had an
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excellent and comprehensive memory. i thought his memory was pretty damn good. that's interesting that he would say that. and of course when you think about it, both in terms of his social class and the impact he made and the profession he followed, he met everybody so there was an awful lot of good stuff to remember, and he told it to us, you know, entertainingly and delightfully, so he seems to have felt that he could have done it a little better. he had a full life for what he wanted to do with it. one of the things he said in his letter to me, hen he said i wasn't going to succeed him, he said, you don't want to be in a job which is not suited to you because certain responsibilities -- and his phrase was -- they become
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asphyxiative, very buckley-like construction. and even at the time when i was going through my drama and wailing and weeping, even then i noticed, this is not just a letter addressed to me. this is bill also writing to himself, about himself, and i don't know how far those thoughts went. clearly they were there. i mean, he loved that tempo. be loved that routine. he loved all the stuff. but to me there was also in him at least a doubt, well, maybe is some of this clutter? but, but, was he going to change it? no. no. because he put his chips on it, and he was good at so much of it that he continued on with it. yes? >> my earliest memory of bill buckley is when he ran for mayor
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of new york in 1965. i was wondering why he never again ran as a candidate for public office. >> he thought about it. i mean, i remember one of our directors' dinners, and van galbraith was coming from paris and it was late in the evening, and much wine had been consumed, and van was the most ebolient person i ever met. so van was van and van had had a few, and this was sort of like late in reagan's first term, and it was not clear that reagan was going to run again. there was real doubt out there, and a lot of it fueled by nancy because she was not sure that he could win re-election. and there was a very bad recession, and she didn't want her husband to risk defeat, and
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that fueled a lot of uncertainty and speculation. so van said, well, bill, you should run. and he was kind of serious about this. kind of serious about this. and bill was listenle to it kind of seriously. i mean, not seriously seriously, but kind of seriously. then i did one of the things that just kind of astonished me when i thought about it, because i remember what happened. i got up to go -- i had had a few myself. bill shook my hand as i was leaving, and i said, well, the discussion has taken an unserious term. what rude thing to say. what rude thing to say. and should he have run for president ever? no, i don't think so. i don't think he was cut out for it. not any place to say that. time and history and circumstance would say that. not my place to say it. so, you know, love is rough.
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i mean, there's a lot that goes on and a lot that -- a lot of mistaken things that happen, but i think he did -- you know, he did think of it. and my final judgment in the book is bill would have been a better president that franklin pierce but that's not a good test. anyone else? yes in the -- henry stearn. >> you said that there might be another person like bill buckley but it wouldn't be buckley, it would be doing something else but in the spirit of. so what i wanted to ask was, who would bill buckley's past -- go back 10-20-30 years -- who would were the conservative intellectual who had so many different interests and made such an impression as he did? >> well, let me broaden your
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question and take it beyond the universe of just conservative intellectuals. he had some resemblances to alexander ham to now, hamilton held government positions. he was treasury secretary, most eminently, did other things as well, but they were both journalist. the both wrote very fast. they wrote well. bill was a better writer. they were incredibly disciplined. and they also had this "go to hell" streak, this dear arthur streak, and bill set up his life to encourage that. which got hamilton in trouble. it was a big mistake to tell thomas jefferson that the man you most admire is julyus cease
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-- julius assess caesar, i think he was pulling his leg. big mistake because thomas jefferson has no humor, and the thought, the plot is reveals. feddism has tipped it hand. i just got an e-mail from a friend of minimum, an historian named al, and he is considering a political biography of bill, and the parallel he came up with -- this was fascinating -- was frederick douglass, and frederick douglass was also a private man. he never held office but he was a journalist, an eloquent orator, an organizer, a networker, a wire puller, obviously an outsider for the obvious reason that he was a black man in prebellum america
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but i'm eager to see al work this out. because the minute i read that, i thought, gee, this is interesting. so there are people that you can find some resemblances too, -- to, and we can't produce the next one. we have to be sure that the opportunities there are and that when the knock on the door, those doors will open. yes? >> yes, joe. >> at the moment that we speak, we have two books on hand very much on hand, chris buckley's book and your book here. and chris buckley's back has now been on the bestseller list for maybe four weeks or whatever it's been out. >> i haven't looked. >> well in each case -- [laughter] >> seriously, in each case, we have two brilliant writers,
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writing about the great man, at least the current great man, and journalistically speaking, many of interviews on television and other media for chris' book have in my view, and my wife's and my son's view come out rather negatively on bill. why? because the excerpts in journalism so often are just picking out the negativities and coming along. there's danger there, and i'm saying to you -- i read only one review of your book coming out, and it had some emphasis on the negative. accent wait the positive was a song from world war ii, and one must importantly, as one reviewer said of chris' book, read at least the raft last half
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where amounts how much bill was, my word, titan, and not that we have to be in awe, but in interesting him, let's not go with the journalism part. i just wanted tree minus in that way, if you don't mind, russian i would like to say that you and chris are brilliant bookends in acknowledging bill's greatness. >> well, thank you, jerald, for that compliment. journalists do what they do, you know. i'm one of them. i know what they do. in the right circumstances i do it myself. but you also -- and i found this -- when writing about people of the past, i think i found this most strongly with the adamses, and if i have a quarrel with some of the john adams revival, which is just a huge thing, its that it sugar coats him.
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it doesn't do him any favors. john adams was a complex complicated man, and to make him a kind of plaster image, it's sort of doing what i was doing at 15, looking for an idol. the posthumous equivalent of that. and you shouldn't try to do that. of course, there will be many more books. when samuel johnson died there was a rash of books. we remember boswell, who wrote the great book, and that leased, but everybody wanted to get out there and they wanted to get throughout because they knew that ha agreed man at left their midst and they all had a take on him, and they wanted to get it down. so, two books, there will be ten by this time next year. do we have time for -- how am i doing on questions here.
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time for more? okay. i think i got the high sign, so that's it. we're done. [applause] >> richard brook hires is a senior editor of national review. the author of several books, including, what would the founders do, and george washington, on leadership. mr. brookhiser was the recipient of the national humanities medal in 2008. for more information, visit the author's web site at richard
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>> this summer, book tv is asking, what are you reading? >> congressman cullberson, what
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are you reading this summer? >> i always have two or three books going at the same time. one person who i always read on a regular basis is thomas jefferson. frankly, a day doesn't go by i don't read something he has written. i will continue to work my way through his letters, in particular, mr. jefferson wrote so much that although i probably spent the last -- my gosh -- 30 years reading through this works i've only made it maybe about halfway through. so i will continue to work on reading thomas jefferson's letters. i always had a particular fascination with history so i will continue to read works by a number of different authors. one i'm working through right now is james mcpherson's book on lincoln's role as commander in chief during the civil war, which i have found particularly relevant to the debate going on today with the outrage by
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liberal about george w. bush's use of interrogation of these killers at guantanamo, which has saved lives in fact. dropping a cat pillar in a box with a terrorist is not any idea of torture and frank live its a choice of diking a guy's head in water and saving the lives of americans, i would dip the guy's head. and abraham lincoln exercised incredible power in his authority as commander-in-chief, which is what frankly george bush has done, president bush took his role as commander in chief very seriously and used the very broad grant of authority given to the president by constitution to interrogate these killers and find out what they're up to and save lives, particularfully los angeles, for example. there would have been thousands of degrees in downtown los angeles but for the
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interrogation of those toy yosts. lincoln suspended habeas corpus, arrested americans for speaking out in favor of the confederacy's right to succeed and spendded habeas corp pause nationwide to do all sorts of things that caused outrage during the war and nobody questioned it. so i always have a particular interest in constitutional history and the war between the states, i'm finishing up this book, and i recommend james mcpherson to anyone. i always keep several books going. the whole second area i work on continuously are die riz of texans during the war between the states, and in particular i found this one -- i can't remember this one highly enough. it's hard to find but it's a soldier's letter to charming nellie. a wonderful writer. he does a great job of writing.
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wonderful personal anecdotes of texans in the war. you can see on the cover the lone star, which mean as great deal to me personally. i am a passionate everran/libertarian and believe passionately in individual's rights. want the government off my back, out of my pocket and out half my life. i collect this stars worn by texans, and the army of the republic of texas and the war between the states, so i have had a particular fascination with texans and texas history so i will be reading a lot of texas history as well. i'm doing a lot of time studying the coming generational storm, a particularly important subject for all of us as americans to pay attention to because the comptroller estimates we have about five years to act, five to six years to really get spending under control or we're on a path that would lead to the day in the -- about 12 years from now
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when the u.s. treasurery bills will be graded as junk bonds. it's ridiculous. they're spending money faster than any congress in the history of the nation. so, all of us as americans need to be paying close attention though approaching hurricane, financial hurricane that is coming. medicare, medicaid, social security, all driving us into bankruptcy if we're not careful. i don't want america to become argentina. so i will be spending time this summer reading -- focusing on the history because as winston churchill once said, the farther into the past we can see, the farther into the future we will be able to predict. >> to see more summer reading lists and other program information visit our web site
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at become -- book >> washington post reporter bradley graham appeared on c-span washington journal to talk about donald resumes field. >> host: bradley graham covered the pentagon for the was post-for many years and now out waive book that goes on sale today on donald rumsfeld. how did donald rumsfeld view the role of a government official, a public service? >> guest: he was very interested in public service from a very young age. inspired in college, actually, senior year, whenned a lie stevenson came to talk to his
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graduating class princeton, urging the students to use their educations and put them to work in public service and not long after that, rumsfeld rang -- ran for congress, and believed very much in public service. he served not only in congress but in the nixon and ford administrations, and then came back, of course in the bush administration, but even in between, when he was a corporate executive, he stayed involved in government, serving as a presidential envoy on a couple of government commissions. >> host: the book is, 800 pages, an extensive biography, certainly some presidents don't get this sort of treatment you talk about his running for congress. did he ever have presidential aspirations? >> guest: he did. at some of his old high school classmates remember rumel


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