tv Book TV CSPAN July 29, 2012 1:20pm-2:00pm EDT
>> another book that i just completed, it is the first compilation of everything on wall street. warren buffett like it. i sent him a copy and i found out why. he is quoted more than anybody else in the book. but i just finished up, and i am working on a book a little bit like david mccullough, called the spirit of 1776. and it is all of the events that took place internationally in the year 1776. from thomas paine's common sense to the wealth of nations by adam smith, the decline and fall of the roman empire, and of course, the declaration of independence. books, articles, the first major theme steam engine came out in 1776. david herron, who is the father
of the philosopher of the enlightenment and died in 1776. george washington, crossing the delaware, there are a lot of things and it's not just george washington. it is david mccullough's point of view. i am working on that as well as a few other projects. but i love writing books, i love teaching, and i love doing freedom fest. it's a great way to meet all of the authors and see what is happening in the world. >> we have been talking with author mark skousen and founder of freedom fest. booktv is currently on location, "the making of modern economics" is his book. the lives and ideas of great thinkers. thank you for being on booktv. >> you are watching 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books on c-span2's booktv.
author edward klein joined us at freedom fest in las vegas to talk about his best-selling book, "the amateur." he looks at president obama before and after he reached the white house. here is what he had to say. >> well, the book currently on your screen has spent several weeks on "the new york times" bestseller list. many weeks at number one. it has been written by edward klein, who is our guest. booktv on c-span2. mr. klein, where did you get the title for this book? >> they came from a meeting that bill clinton had in chappaqua new york. north of new york city where he has a home. this is back in august of 2011. he invited his wife, his daughter chelsea, and a bunch of friends, to meet with them because he had done a secret poll. this is in 2011, sorry, and the poll showed that hillary clinton
would challenge barack obama for the democratic presidential nomination in 2012, he thought she could win. and she was surprised by all of this and said how can i do this? i'm the secretary of state. i have lunch with the man every thursday. what about loyalty, though? >> and he said there is no such thing as loyalty in politics. he then went on to say that the people did not understand how the real world works. that they had been responsible for losing america, the aaa credit rating, the first time in its history. and that barack obama was, in his words, an amateur. now, i spoke to two people who are at the meeting. when i heard that i said the amateur, that's the perfect title for this book. >> president benson has denied publicly that he used that term. >> i will tell you an interesting story. he has denied it, but hillary
has told her friends that she suspected that of all people, chelsea had told me about this. now, that's not true. i have never met chelsea clinton. but apparently she has a reputation for testing her friends in the middle of meetings with their parents. but it was a confirmation that this meeting actually did take place and that it was an accurate representation of what went on during the meeting. >> we also talk about chelsea clinton's reaction to the 2008 presidential primary on the democratic side. >> chelsea, like her father, bill clinton, they are very lik, bill clinton, they are very close, both of the democratic nomination was practically stolen from her mother. but she deserved to be the presidential candidate and not barack obama. and that the obama is had
unfairly characterize her father, bill clinton, is a racist during the campaign. so she really wanted the mother to give back and challenge obama and run for president. >> ed klein, our president like that when it comes off as? >> i think most of them are but i don't think dwight eisenhower was. i think he understood how to be a manager, an executive, how to get things done, i don't think lyndon johnson was an amateur when he inherited the presidency after the assassination. lyndon johnson, who could not give a good speech, really, who did not speak well from the teleprompter, but who understood how to manipulate the levers of power in washington. he understood human nature and the strengths and weaknesses of the people in congress and how to play on those weaknesses and strengths. obama doesn't seem to have that
skill set to use human nature as a way of getting done what he wants to get done in washington. >> how many books have you written? >> well, i think this is my 11th book. there are three novels and eight nonfiction books. >> what you say to some of the critics of your books? you research of -- your research of this book, there are some criticisms about its. >> the fact of the matter is that as far as i know, there hasn't been a single fact in this book that has been challenged in a credible way. people have said that ed klein makes things up. that is what kids in the schoolyard, you know, they call each other names. i have been called all kinds of names. but when it comes to the credibility of my reporting, i
don't think anybody has laid a glove on it yet. >> you were the editor of "the new york times", how long did you do not? >> 12 years. i should also point out that many of my books have been displayed by vanity fair. vanity fair has one of the most rigorous fact checking department in the magazine business. in all of these books that have an exurban, not a single factor that has been found. >> you interviewed jeremiah wright. >> it was on the record and tape recorded. we sat down for three hours, we were just sitting the way to you and i are sitting. a tape recorder on a table and on our side. it was an amazing experience
because i expected him to be bombastic, the videos of him, kind of raising his voice and announcing america, white people, jews, israel, none of that happened during our interview, he was very polite and courteous, very low-key, speaking in a modulated voice, he seemed quite intelligent to me. of course, i don't agree with a lot of the things that he has been videotaped saying, but i must say that during these three hours, i believe his stories that he told me, he told me many interesting stories. >> where is he now a source's relationship with president obama? >> well, clearly he feels hurt and bitter that he was thrown under the bus, as he sees it, by barack obama in the obama campaign during 2008. he felt that he had a special relationship with obama.
one that went on for 23 years. it is a mistake to think that barack obama only knew jeremiah wright are sitting in a pew in his church and listening to these sermons. in fact, barack obama and jeremiah wright had a one-on-one relationship. they met for literally hundreds of times in the reverend wright's home. at every step of obama's career area you enter the reverend wright for advice, counsel, political direction, so this is a relationship that was closer than any relationship in his life, with possible exceptions of his relationship with his own wife, michelle obama. >> mr. klein, does he have any contact with the president? >> no, there is no contact. after president obama won the
presidency, the reverend wright told me that he sent him a note congratulating him on achieving his ambition, as he put it. >> and that he didn't expect to know to get there, so he gave it to a neighbor to hand-deliver. he doesn't know today whether that no was ever delivered. >> who is steve rogers who you also interviewed? >> steve rogers is a professor at the kellogg school of management at northwestern university. >> what was his connection with president obama? >> like many african-american businessmen and leaders whom i interviewed, he was an early backer and supporter of obama. after obama lost a congressional
primary to bobby rush in 2000, a former black panther, now congressman. he was deeply in debt and went around looking for people to donate to his cause. steve rogers, a successful businessman at that time, he gave him, i believe, $6000 to pay off some of his personal debt. in return, president obama promised that he would visit steve rogers student, and if he won the u.s. senate seat,. >> he did do so. rogers never heard from him, so he called him up and he asked obama would he come and he said i'm too busy, i'm getting phone
calls from warren buffett and steve jobs and bill gates in all of these important people. and butters said, but he promised. and obama said well, you know, you're not supposed to believe hamas is made by politicians, are you? >> and he got very angry. they got very upset. the point of the story is that many african-american leaders and political people i have spoken to for this book, they told me similar stories in which they were there for him, therefore obama during day one. they were what they called they want people. supporting him, organizing for him, contributing to him, and that once he was elected to the senate and eventually to the
presidency, they never heard from him again. there was a lack of gratitude and a sense of obligation. and it wasn't only african-americans, it was also jewish american donors who gave him vast sums of money and never got their phone calls returned. it was oprah winfrey who worked hard for him and then was frozen out of the white house. and carolyn kennedy and on and on and on. the portrait that i derived from all of this was a man who felt that he deserved and was entitled to all of this support and did not owe anything back in return. >> edward klein, what about michelle obama and her role in the white house? >> i love that picture of michelle obama. she is a very attractive woman, as you can see, she has been on the cover of many fashion
magazines, the headline, that the first lady that the world has been waiting for it. >> michelle like to tell the american public that she has no interest in politics. that she doesn't like politics and doesn't want to get involved in politics. but her main interest is in raising her children, taking care of her husband, doing some work for her anti-obesity campaign. but my reporting turned up a very different profile of michelle obama. the woman who grew up in a household where her father was a political operative of the daley machine in chicago. it was actually lean on politics as a child and who married obama knowingly, of his political ambitions. so she chose a politician to
mary. who had been his most political important partner in every step of his campaign and presidency and has enormous amount of influence in his decision-making process. >> all throughout his presidency and earlier, we held heard that michelle obama did not want him to run for office, necessarily, and she was the reluctant one in the half of them. >> well, we heard that story. it's a great story. it is a story of a woman who doesn't seem to have any ambition. beautiful herself or her husband. but is in fact, that's not the michelle obama that i found when i interviewed her close friends, people who knew her back in the day in chicago days, people who now know her, michelle obama loves being first lady.
she's a very intelligent, well educated, well spoken with a great opinion, but one who also has a reputation for liking them very comfortable lifestyle. here in the white house she has people taking care for every want and wish. she has gone on many vacations, some of them are quite controversial. it's something she's been -- during a period of seven months, 42 days on vacation. she is living the life of a very clever woman, and this fits with her personality. >> you write that as where they
were up forward about hillary being an equal partner with bill, the obama have managed to shelter the fact of his relationship with his wife and her vice. >> yes, i think it's so true. the way that she does not is often through her very best friend, how she gets her opinions through. her very best friend valerie jarrett. valerie jarrett is a woman who hired michelle many years ago to work with her in mayor daley's administration in chicago. more importantly, she is a person who comes from a very well-off african american family with great connections to sources all over chicago. she introduced barack and michelle obama to the power centers. african american, well-off
businessmen and women, jewish americans, donors, daily political operatives and other sources of influence. as a result, she raised the obama's from obscurity in chicago, to a position where they are now socializing and rubbing shoulders with the power centers. and it was the power centers that made it possible for obama to first become a united states senator, then the president of the united states. so they owe a great deal to valerie. they treat her as though she is their godmother. she is now the senior advisor to both the first lady and president of the united states. obama himself has said i run all my decisions through valerie and
i trust her implicitly. there is no one short of the president and the first lady who has more power in the white house than valerie jarrett. >> you also write that trying to figure out jerks mysterious hold on the president and first lady is a guessing game in the parlors and dining rooms of washington? >> it is strange. what is your source of power? after all, she doesn't have any foreign policy experience, but she tends national security council meetings. she doesn't have any economic background, but she is often in the most important domestic meetings regarding the economy. no one gets to see the president without first going through valerie jarrett. what is this power that she has? the only explanation i can come up with after all these interviews i did, was that she has given the first lady and the president the impression that
she has her back and she is protecting them from a hostile world, a world in which people could come to see the president and make proposals that would not be to his liking. for instance, as an example, when the president wanted to do a mandate requiring religious institutions to provide free medical care, i'm sorry, health insurance for abortions and contraception, the then chief of staff brought the catholic archbishop to speak to the president. because he was obviously opposed to this mandate as a catholic. when valerie heard about it, she went ballistic because bill daley, the chief of staff, had not asked for permission to
allow him to see the president. suddenly, her power was challenged. it was at that point that he started to lose his power in the white house. eventually, he realized that he could not get things done and he resigned. >> what is or was valerie jarrett relationship with rahm emanuel in the white house? >> to this day from a manual does not have anything good to say about valerie jarrett. he was opposed to the president, and this is not only my reporting, this is others as well. the president going for broke on obamacare. he thought he should do it incremental steps first. small steps, but he could get republicans backing for. valerie jarrett and michelle obama were the two people who said listen, mr. president,
actually, valerie call him barack. the only person in the white house other than michelle who does. you were elected to be not as president but to be a special president. a transformational president. a person who is going to change the direction and course of america, and you can just do this now. you have to take the whole thing, you have to go for the health care bill and go down in history as the first president to pass the national health care bill. and he listened to valerie and michelle, not to rahm emanuel. this was the beginning of brahma manuals erosion of power. it was one of several examples in which the president listened to the ideology of valerie jarrett, rather than the pragmatic advice of rahm emanuel. ultimately, rahm emanuel was
forced out of the white house. he was forced out by michelle and valerie jarrett. to edward klein, what are your politics. are you a conservative? >> i would describe myself as someone who is right of center, that makes me conservative -- i guess that makes me conservative. i'm certainly not a liberal. my training as a reporter is to let the facts speak for themselves. but i do have a sense that this country has been drifting in the wrong direction, and that it ought to be righted, using that in both senses of the word. >> have your politics changed over the years? >> i think i have been a conservative or conservative -- conservative leaning individual.
i am actually quite libertarian on some issues,. >> were you surprised by some of the findings in her book? >> the thing that surprised me the most in this book, i expected and the many trips that i took to chicago, i live in new york and went to chicago many times, i expected to find, and this might be my own prejudice, that african-americans, you know, unanimously, tell me how much they love barack obama. they are black, he is black, that's the way things are. but that is not what it done at all. what i found is that among the leaders of the african-american community, the leadership, the people who are well educated and have business interests, those who are concerned about the direction of the country in a
larger sense. a man and a woman, they were displeased and disillusioned with barack obama. he pointed out, for instance, today, the national average of unemployment is a .2%. in the african-american community, and is 14.1%. in some cities like detroit, it is 18%. in some areas among african-american youth, it could be 30 and 40%. it is a depression in the african-american community. not a recession. they don't feel that barack obama has adequately addressed his economic policies, not only america as a whole, but the african-american community in particular. >> from "the amateur", you write that obama was elected for a job for which he has little relish.
he doesn't enjoy being president. like jimmy carter and richard nixon, he prefers his own company to that of others. >> it is kind of ironic. when barack obama comes across as a likable, outgoing guy. we can see again and again that his likability far out runs his numbers and job approval. that is his performance we are talking about, as a public figure. in terms of his working towards the governance of this country, again and again i learned from republicans and democrats that he doesn't have the skill set
that a lyndon johnson had, for instance, who understood how to manipulate the levers of power in washington, or at the end of the day we would tip the democratic speaker of the house, have a drink with him. tell jokes and thenstart working out how to get a bill passed. barack obama does not seem to know how to do that. in fact, in private, he is a very introverted person who doesn't reach out beyond a small group of chicago operatives who he has brought with him to the white house. >> overhead tried to ignore the ominous change in terms coming from the obama transition team. as barack obama's information drew near, instead, overheard from a white house ceremonies coordinator who told her that she needed to talk to him first about the interview. what for?
overhead to run her interview questions passed jeff stephens. a deputy speechwriter for prior approval. it was a pain as far as oprah was concerned. over is not a snob, but she doesn't like having to put up with mid-level clerks remap oprah expected, and as a result of her role during the democratic primaries, which he played a pivotal role in helping obama get the nomination, wrestling and away from hillary clinton. but she was going to be an important adviser to barack obama. in fact, after he was elected president, oprah and president obama spoke at great length about advising him on his communication strategy, especially in terms of television, which he knows a lot
about. when michelle and valerie jerrett heard about this, they said that this was a threat to their control over the access to the president. they don't like that at all. sident. they don't like that at all. so when oprah offered to do an oprah winfrey show to launch michelle obama's anti-obesity campaign, michelle held a meeting in the white house were the first lady has her office. and she said that i don't want some rich, fat woman being the emblem of my enter obesity campaign. oprah found out about that. she was furious. she said, and i ever tribute or myself. michelle doesn't like bridge or fat people. she doesn't want me waddling around the white house. she then wash your hands of the
whole thing. and she has announced that she is not going to campaign in 2000 well for barack obama. two the role of jesse jackson in barack obama's early political career. >> that is very unknown, and i was very fortunate being able to find out about that. jesse jackson is a highly regarded figure in chicago. when obama started running for the senate, he was advised to go to jesse jackson and get some help from him regarding foreign policy issues, domestic policy issues, but even more important, his oratory needed some work and they thought that jesse jackson can help them. and jesse jackson agree to do so. every saturday for a year, barack obama was invited to the
meeting that jackson held, where he worked with obama on his oratory and delivery of speeches. and he improved tremendously. >> guess what? since he was elected president, barack obama has not invited jesse jackson to the white house one time. he is totally, completely, he has cut him himself off from jesse jackson. nobody knows why except that it appears that there would be the fact that jackson was in the white house, it might be a signal that president obama is in jesse jackson's corner politically. apparently he doesn't want to do that.
>> you write that if karl rove was george w. bush's brain, then david axelrod is barack obama's homer. what i mean by that is that david axelrod is a brilliant creator, personal stories of politicians. when brock barack obama ran in 2008, he did not have a record to run on. but he didn't have to run on that. what he had was his personal story. the son of a black african and white middle american mother. a man who saw his identity and found it, he was raised by his
saintly grandparents and so forth. this is a homeric story, if you will. homer was known for talking about a trip, and during the trip, coming to some inner understanding of oneself. this is a story that david axelrod passion for obama to run on. the problem is, in this day and age, this is the story we have been there and done and seen and we cannot do it again. he does not have a record of success with the economy. i don't think anybody would disagree with that. he can point to certain liberal causes, such as health care, but we see that in the polls, but that is not a popular thing to run on. what he has been running on instead of david axelrod's epic
and heroic story, it is negative campaigning. negative campaigning has been to attack and attack. mitt romney for bain capital, for being out of touch, it is a very negative campaign in a very unusual one for david axelrod to run. >> you write, edward klein, what is inherently true about our president is that the most successful ones grow in office. in the same be said of barack obama? has he learned from his mistakes? the answer to these questions will strike many readers of this book is all too clear. i can just hear them chanting in unison. no, no, no. >> when you look at john f.
kennedy who came to the oval office truly unprepared to be president. he made many mistakes in the first year, including the bay of pigs and others that he did make a mistake on. it is now generally conceded, by the time he was assassinated, grew an this successfully. he knew how to deal with the military and congress and conflicting advisors and so forth. i don't see this with barack obama. despite the fact that he said he was going to have a team of rivals. other than hillary clinton, he has not brought in any rivals whatsoever. in fact, he has hardly used his cabinet at all, and he has a very liberal like mind people,
including one of his chief foreign policy advisers. he has developed a deeper understanding of the economy than he did from day one. >> finally, edward klein, author of "the amateur", you report on the meeting with the story and the president obama held in the white house. >> it is an interesting meeting. it took place when he was in office only five months. he invited non-liberal historians to have dinner with him in the family quarters. no conservative historians were invited. during that dinner, he laid out for them early on in his office,
his view of what he would accomplish. basically what he said is he wants to be a transformational president who will bring social equality to the united states by spreading the wealth around, that he believed in a more corporatist system of the economy, meaning that the government and corporations would decide who will win and who will not win. and that he would take a less aggressive role abroad, will we now call lead from behind. that story is about how he was going to accomplish so much while he had two wars going on. in iraq and afghanistan. even lyndon johnson could not get a lot of the domestic setbacks. >> obama said i can do it
because i'm special. he didn't say it in those words. it was an insight into his character, which has a great deal of oversell province. and in my view, the sense that he really does understand how the world works, which makes him an amateur. >> you report on the conversation that help place in that situation. that he had proposed a new term for his term in office and that was in her foundation. >> yes. that was charles goodwin was one of the historians there. but i don't think that that is a good idea, mr. president, to call it the new foundation. he said well, why not? and she said that sounds like a woman's girls me. >> you go to great lengths to talk about the fact he talked to
one of the historians at the table. but then you went to dinner somewhere outside of new york were outside of the city promised he would not be recognized. >> yes. >> why? >> all of these historians were sworn to secrecy. they are not supposed to report on what went on at this meeting. i am an experienced reporter and finally found one that is agreeing to talk to me on the condition of anonymity. he or she, not wednesday but didn't say, agreed to tell me what went on in this meeting, as long as i did not identify that person. and so i disguised the person by not using his or her name. but i can tell you that i ran this version and i was told yes, that's exactly what happens.
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