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tv   Book Discussion on Lion of the Senate  CSPAN  February 27, 2016 12:00pm-1:31pm EST

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a portion of the proceeds of everything they're selling tonight, not just our book but the coffee and everything else to benefit two organizations we speak a lot. one has been around since really since will low brooke was shut down and the young adults came in. they started a parents organization, quality services for the autistic community. they are our friends and respect what they do so we encourage you
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to step up for them and buy 10,000 books tonight, and you want to -- >> and new york collaborates with autism. started the first charter school in the country for children with autism, and who is now working on adult services and adult homes and adult education. new york collaborates for autism. >> 10,000 books, everybody. thank you all very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] you're watching booktv.
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here's a look at what is on primetime tonight. we kick off the evening at 7:30 p.m. eastern with a report on required reading for college freshmen. then at 9:00, a description of the lives of slaves in the white house. that's followed by "offeredwords" with mickal hayden at 10:00 p.m. eastern. the former nsa and cia director sits down to discuss national security. and we finish up our primetime programming a 11:00 on the influence of big now in politics. next weekend we'll discuss all her books and take your questions, tonight on c-span2's booktv. [applause]
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>> good afternoon. i'm jean mccormick and i have the privilege of serving as the president of the edward m. kennedy institute for the united states senate. welcome to the heart of the institute. our replica chamber, where every day, senators in training are debating the issues that matter. yesterday we had a wonderful eight-year-old stand in opposition to something and be very articulate. i always think when i see that, that senator kennedy would smile. we are delighted to have so many
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of you here with us today for this program which celebrates the new book, "lion of the senate" by our own board member, nick littlefield, and our alumni, david nexon, and welcome to many alumni who served with center kennedy. you may by off the payroll but you're never off the staff. we're happy to have you here and especially happy to have our board members here. barbara, nick, randy cooper. so happy to have you all with us. we're pleased to host this program and have a remarkable group of speakers and panelists, all with their own unique thoughts and perspectives on the senator, nat significant period of time that the book talks about, and on bipartisan efforts in what makes them work. we are thrilled to have doris
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kearns goodwin, vicky kennedy, mike myers, trish knight, all of them together and to have this great panel moderated by noted journalist tom oliphant. we're sorry that nick can't be here in this room about he is here in spirit and in ore hearts and he will see and hear us because we're streaming this to his computer live. but here to offer words for nick and for his family is nick's wife, jenny littlefield. [applause] >> thank you. [applause]
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>> i want to start by thanking the staff at the institute for making this event possible, with special thanks to kelly who has put up with us for weeks. now i'm going to read what nick wrote. thank you for coming. it means the world to me that you are here. i'm sorry i can't be here with you but i'm enjoying this at home over live video feed. as you all know, if i were there i would be singling out each one of you and describing at great length your help in the creation of this book, your part in all the experiences, and your place in the memories that went into its making. and your contribution to the creation of this beautiful institute, perhaps the most fitting tribute to the incredible man who brought us all together. senator kennedy and vic can i deserve our eternal gratitude. i cannot fail to mention here the extraordinary leadership of jack connors and lee in bringing
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this institute to life. my deepest gratitude to david nexon, whose dedication and contributions to at the final stage of writing the book was absolutely essential to making it happen. i also want to thank doris kearns goodwin for her enthusiastic and immediate endorsement of the book and her brilliant introduction, and jim carroll for his invaluable input, support and guidance in the concluding stages of the project. thank you also to my dear friend trish knight and michael mors, for comping to be on the many and our beloved tom oliphant for leading the constitution. finally i want to thank my children and my wife who are all here. it was with enormous gratitude and love that i dedicated the book to them. jenny, of course, won't agree, but i like to say i consider myself not entirely unlucky to have this neurological disease because it makes i can truly sympathize with the 44 million disabled americans whose daily
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struggle is at least somewhat alleviated by the americans with disabilities ability. i finished the book at the right time -- [applause] -- as the situation in washington right now further mirrors the one described in the book, and i hope the history laid out in "lion of the senate" provides a useful reminder to both sides of the aisle how things did and can work. i understand for example that many of our run -- republican friends today possibly oppose a riz in the minimum wage and that's a useful chapter about how that worked out in 1994. i began working on the book in 1998. it became at member of our family and we all joked about how long it was taking but every moment of writing brought back to me the excitement of my anytime washington. i was truly able to fulfill the hope of every person who goes to
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work in our nation's capitol, to work hard on issues, surrounded by the best minds in the country to make a difference in people's lives and have great fun doing it. i am forever thankful to senator kennedy for that privilege. if i could, i would end this by singing to vicki. and then to all of you. i won't ask jenny to take on this task for me. but know that i am watching and singing and filled with joy at this splendid event and the extraordinary people in my belief who have made this day possible. it is now with great pleasure i want to introduce the man as the mon who a -- are senator kennedy's senior healthcare adviser was the driving force behind the legislation in this book and whom i have the great pleasure of calling my co-author, david nexon. [applause]
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>> well, it's certainly a wonderful pleasure to be here with so many friends so many friends of nick so many friends of the senator. thanks to jean mccormick and the emk institute for put on the event, and jenny, thanks for the lovely introduction. anyone who has been close to project knows without jenny there would be no book to talk about today. [applause] >> the institute is a wonderful place to discuss this book. because of nick. and as has been mentioned, nick was not only extremely close to senator kennedy but he has been a key factor in bringing this wonderful -- the senator's wonderful vision for this place into a reality. now, i think almost everybody here knows that nick was snore
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kennedy's labor committee staff director, and his poly adviser from 1989 to 1998. he had truly remarkable insider's view of the events we focus on in the book during the critical years 1995 do 1997. his role as staff director and his closeness to senator kennedy put him at the center of the action, and also placed him in private meetings with the president, with other senators, with outside leaders. the book benefits tremendously not only from the dedication and insight he brought to it from that but from the special access he was able to talk about and reflect inside the book. as jenny mentioned the book had its origin -- as nick said in his own statement the book had it origin when nick left the senate in 1998 and wrote the first draft over the ensuing two years. i join the project in 2012 and worked with nick to put the book in shape for publication, aswell
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assed a michigan and material based on my own knowledge in involvement in the events in the book. those who know nick, and most of them peer here do -- an article in the boston herald about him. know what tremendous health challenge he faced in completing this document. it's really an inspiring story. and i feel privileged so have worked with him as i did to work with him on the senator's staff. we had several objectives in the book that were part of nick's original vision, and one that really evolved late in the process. first if it was tribute to senator kennedy. not just by singing his praises as so many have, but by showing him at the height of his powers in the fight of his life, for the causes he had worked for all his life. using the government as a positive force to improve people's lives, to secure social justice, to help those who are most vulnerable, all the things that were threatened by the gingrich revolution.
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second we wanted to create an exciting narrative about how the resistance of the gingrich agenda evolved. how it seemed an irresistible right wing tide was ultimately stopped and hour senator kennedy, even in that hostile environment, was able to pass major progressive legislation and increase in the minimum wage, groundbreaking health insurance reform, and the child health insurance program. when the victorious republicans swept into town in january 1995 no one would have believed that enacting this bills was anything more than a fantasy. no one except senator kennedy. the third thing we wanted to show in the book is how the senate worked from nick's up close and personal viewpoints. the book is told in the first person, and it gives a vivid account of the senate, the unique ways in which it operates, and what it's like to
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be a staff member there, and nick has got a real gift for narration, which comes out very clearly in this book. fourth we wanted to explain the senator's strategic for formula for success in enacting not only progressive legislation but really any major legislation. none of us who worked with senator kennedy believe anyone will ever be his equal, but any legislator and any citizen can learn from how he accomplished what he did. finally, at things worked out as a result of the book's long gestation it has special lessons for today and gave a special urgency to our work in finishing the project. know doris is going to talk about this a bit more but i did want to emphasize that as we completed this work we were very aware that the situation today is extraordinarily similar to the one senator kennedy faced in 1995, and the way he handled it as invaluable lessons for all of us today.
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today has been republicans control boths hows of congress, they confront a democratic president, they espouse a radically consecutive -- conservative view of the role government and identical to the one congressman gingrich failed to enact. they used the budget process and the threat of a government default as a lever to try to force through the changes they want. the congress seemed gridlocked. progress seems hopeless. but as senator kennedy showed, it doesn't have to be that way. those are the main goals we had in writing the book but there's a lot more in it i hope readers will enjoy. the role of music and the incredible relationship between senator kennedy and senator hatch, nick and patrick kennedy's mad dash to the arlington national cemetery to get soil from the kennedy gravesite to take to the ranin funeral.
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the way senator kennedy's efforts to pass the minimum wage tied senator dole up on the senate floor and sunk his presidential campaign. the senator is largely unknown but very important roll in the passage of the affordable care act, the genuses of the ryan white a.i.d.s. care bill and much more. before i introduce doris kearns goodwin i'd like to close by reading from the conclusion of the book, few paragraphs, which i think says what we thought as we really -- when nick undertook the endeavor and we finished it. kenneled's life and legislative career are the stuff of history. but the challenges we faced as we make our own history never end. as senator kennedy said in his speech to the democratic convention in 1980, the work goes on, the cause endures, the dream shall never die. there can be no greater tribute to his memory than to continue to fight for that enduring
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dream, and no better model for success than his example. [applause] >> now, let me introduce doris kearns goodwin. i think most of you here today know that doris the author of seven wonderful books, including the fitzgeralds and the kennedys and the team on rivals about abraham lincoln's presidency. she is a frequent and incisesive commentator on politics and policy and was a friend and frequent source of wonderful advice for senator kennedy. nick and i were deeply honored when the decided to write the introduction to "lion of the senate." doris? [applause] >> history at its best, i
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believe, is about telling stories, stories about people who lived before, stories about events in the past that create the contures of the present. i think we have to hope that by studying the live's those who lived before us we can learn from their struggles and their tie umps, and what makes this book, the lion of the senate, so compelling, is it tells a story, story beginning with the gingrich revolution of 1994, that brought in this transformation 0 of control to the republicans in the house and the senate. "the new york times" noted at the time this is a shift of major proportions, it said. republicans have not been in control since 1954. 50 years earlier -- 40 years earlier when the dodgers were still in brooklyn, and when the postage stamp was only three kent cents. the story carries us from the devastating mood that enveloped the democrats. lost committee members, lost staff, lost the chance to set
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the agenda, lost office space to teddy kennedy's rallying the troops to block the worst of the republican agents but to pass positive legislation on minimum wage, children's health insurance, affordable health insurance, and to do it on a bipartisan basis. the story is not only historically significant, but it offers powerful examples for leaders today when we despair over our broken washington. what makes so it rich in detail is that nick had the presence of mind to actually write notes after each one of these meetings that he would go to. he took the time, which we so rarely do to reflect on them even at that momentum. historians treasure more than anything diaries and letters. i couldn't have written the books i've written without the diaries that people kept at the end of the day, without letters they wrote to their wifes and families. i worry what will happen to people, historians 200 years from now, trying to recreate our lives.
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have so much stuff, they'll see how we walked and talked, watch what we said on twitter but won't know the intimate details from the verbatim understanding that comes fruit letter or diary or notes taken at the time. so, nick's notes become a treasure source that makes this book so real in life. the ultimate key that the book shows is that the success that teddy kennedy achieved was due to the relationships he had built over time, so carefully, in the senate. nurtured over the years. from such relationships i fear are in such short supply today, senators, congressmen don't have the time to spend time with each other. they're racing home on thursdays, they want to raise funds that money is the poison in the system they're spending so much time on. they're spending time on facebook, not even talking to staff, much less to one another. but in teddy kennedy's time he understood that relationships were the key to everything. and he -- you'll see the great stories in here about orrin
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hatch. had had gone to teddy's mother's funeral. teddy had gone to hatch's mother's funeral, and hatch loved to inning and he would make up songs and played the tapes of his songs, and so at one point, teddy had nick, with that beautiful, once on broadway voice, sing one of hatch's songs, and finally hatch had to give in. he had to give in to whatever teddy wanted. nice move, teddy, he said. knowing that he had been bested. and then when teddy wanted funds to restore the house at longfellow in cambridge and needed the support of senatorbird, the chairman of the progresses committee, he memorizes longfellow's famous poem, the' midnight ride of paul revere, and continuing to say it over and over again until finally i think senator bid said, okay, i'll give you the funds. and then there's a great story of inviting senator thurmond to dinner at teddy's house and they asked him how did you say in such great shape, and at 89
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years old he pant mimes his whole gym routine every morning with the grunts and things going up and down those relationships are what makes things work in life as well as in the senate. and in a certain sense i think what the book shows is a love that teddy kennedy had and that nick and david had, for this institution of the senate. i worry sometimes that today the people who are there in these congress and senate seats, do they really recognize the history of the senate? of the institution, whatted did? that's why this room is so incredible. this institute is so incredible. if you feel it, you feel like you have come home, as i think teddy kennedy often did. he felt like the senate was his home. he understood its rules and quirks and rituals. he recognized that seniority was a big deal in the senate. should what does he do when he wants to get somebody's support? he goes to that person's office rather than the other way around. when he wanted someone in congress to come with him on something he would walk over to the house, defying that sense of
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hierarchy that too often paralyzes things. he hung out at the elevator at times just sort of waiting for some senator to come by so he could buttonhole him. at a certain point when he wanted to stiffen the spine of president clinton he got himself involved with a group of mass troopers that were coming to a white house ceremony. he sat in the front row and how could clinton do otherwise than say, hello, senator, and the next thing you know they're hav : 45 minute talk and something is happening. horse trading happened the those days. now we have a sense it's transparent and you shouldn't bargain, shouldn't trade, you can't have earmarks. it worked. it was part of what made accomplice other work but what you see is that ability to cross party lines, to get something done. it made the republicans who came with him feel proud they were part of children's health, proved in some ways they hatt had gone along on minimum wage and makes you believe, as david said, that if this leadership
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could make this happen at that dime, and we're facing a similar time today, then perhaps it can happen again. that's what history can do. with you hope and solace from the past, that the present can be made better. but i income in some ways perhaps the most inspiring story of all is the story of how the lion hoff the senate was completed in these last years. at nick's relentless illness took hold, gradually taking asia body, his faculties. what happened is his daughter said, is that piece by piece, everything he loved to do was taken away. his great physical joys, one by one, jogging, tennis, swimming, singing and finally, speaking itself. but what still remains, so incredibly strong, is his mind and his heart. and that combination, along with david's help, along with the help of technology to translate his thoughts into principled words, and -- printed words and along with a loving circle of family and friends have brought
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this splendid book to life. and what a book it is. hands down in my judgment the best book on the inner dynamics of the senate. hands down the best book on the incredible leadership skills and attributes or senator kennedy. this is a book, believe, that will be read for generations, book that will keep the memory alive of a very special time and a place when the lion hoff the senate reamed the hauls of the congress, when he was able to work together with republicans to make our country a better place. bringing back the past has been the joy of my professional life. indeed i've spent years living with dead presidents, hoping to bring them back to life, waking up with them in the morning, thinking about them when i go to sleep at night. i believe when we can tell these stovers people who lived before, they truly do come back to life. i truly believe that the people we have loved and lost in our own families and the public figures we respected in history can live on so long as we pledge to tell and to re-tell the story
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of their lives. i'm so glad to be also part of this story tonight. thank you. [applause] >> can everybody hear me okay? that's good. this is kind of like herding cats. so i apologize in advance but we'll try to keep it intellectually orderly. we're going to babble up here for a little while, at which point, after 15 or 20 minutes, you might think of a question or two, and when we call for them, someone will come and give you microphone so that we can hear
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you, and we'll take q & a for a while, and then they always give me the unpleasant duty of calling a halt to the proceedings, at which point we'll have a very special treat at the end. so, with that in mind, our story begins -- well, part of what makes it so dramatic is that it begins in a moment of personal triumph and larger crushing defeat. senator kennedy had been re-elected in 1994 by just a point or so less than his typical landslide margin. he was about 18 points. over some guy with utah ties, trish. and but at the same time his party had lost control of the house for the first time in 40 years, and of the senate, after a brief period in the majority,
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and he was looking at a senate that would make even -- sisyphus blanch. i thought we'd begin with a very special panelist. there's a lot of people here no doubt from massachusetts where people fancy themselves great aficionados of politics, but there's another place in america where they put politics in your gene structure, and it's a place called louisiana. and a product of that amazing culture, her dad is on the very, very short list of the people who helped john kennedy carry louisiana in 1960, and of course she went on to become senator kennedy's beloved wife, et cetera, et cetera. so it's only natural i turn to somebody i love to hear talk about policy and politics, vicki
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kennedy. [applause] help us understand how the senator looked at the '94 election as he sifted through all the numbers. >> well, first of all, thank you so much, tom, for being here and being our moderator, and thank all of you for being here, nick, we love you. the book is fantastic. absolutely fantastic. i love talking about the selections. it was exhilarating and also complicated because that night was bittersweet, but i like to think about the sweet part first, if i could. i go back to labor day of '94, if i could, and thinking about it, when teddy's aide came to
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him and said -- actually they came to me and said we have to let the senator know, and maybe you should let him know because you're his wife and all, that the race is kind of even. he and mitt romney are even. i said i think maybe you should tell him because -- and so teddy's reaction was, we're even steven? so, we had a meeting in our apartment, to sort of talk about, okay, what is the strategy in where do we go from here? and this said it all to me about teddy. different people had different ideas, and one of the recommendations was, you know, people are hurting, this is a different kind of mood out there, and you really need to rethink some of your views. this is a new time, and you need to think about really getting behind this welfare reform bill. people want to see a new you. they want to see something new and welfare. you need to come up with
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something new. teddy sat back in that chair and got that look, that many of you know so well, and he said, i'm not winning this election on the back of poor women and children. what your next idea? and it was just fantastic. because he said he had to be true to who he was, and while it was very competitive election, he said it was not his hardest election because he knew exactly who he was and what he believed. the first question in the debate, that first debate with romney -- i'm getting to your answer but the first question was from sally of the "boston globe," and she said why is this race close? in it is the seeds of the answer your question. he said people are hurting. people are worried. we have lost a lot of jobs in new england in particular, but really around the country. and there are simple, easy answers, and they're wrong.
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he used to love that expression. and that's what i think he felt happened on election night. there will simple, easy answers around the country that people had grubbed on to because they were hurting. the economy has been struggling and they grabbed on to the wrong answers. so he came out invigorated by his own victory because he had been true to what his principles were and gotten out and talked to people and let them know that he was still there, fighting for them, but was determined to be the messenger for something other than the wrong simple easy answers and felt that the democratic party had to be that messenger and to be true itself values and to continue to give the answers that would help people. >> now, for simpletons like me, there's a line from, however he felt that night, in '94, to a moment at the end of january, that first year of the gingrich
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revolution, when he showed up at the national press club and delivered a speech that made you think of the one at the democratic national convention in 1980, at least it made me think of it. and the line there was, the last thing this country needs is two republican parties. now, give us just a little sense of the journey in his heart as well as in his head, from election night to that moment at the end of january when he planted the flag and the battle was joined. >> i think it was just not a journey. i the can it was a continuation of what he had been doing. he felt that the democratic party had always been for fighting for working people, and that was what the winning formula was, to continue to fight for working families, to continue to be true to principles. he loved to say, programs
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change, our values don't and that we just needed to continue to fight for those values, and he thought it was -- i think he had something else in the speech about it comes from -- something about poor grace and those who want to be pale carbon copies or something. but he just believed strongly that you went all out on your beliefs. you didn't trim your sails. you just wasn't full bore ahead, continuing to be true to the principles that were progressive and helped people. >> now, think we need at this point a little sense of the flip side of this analysis because it's very important, and that's why i turn respectfully to trish knight, who may not be a household name up here, but has been around washington for years. as close an adviser as senator orrin hatch of utah ever had,
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and the truth be told, including by nick and david, trish knight is one big reason that millions of kids around this country have health insurance today. but what i'm curious about -- applause. >> a little bit about how she operated in the senate. the first thing i wanted to ask your indulgence to do, tell from senator hatch's perspective how the '94 election was viewed. did he see him as a revolutionary with an agenda? how did he interpret that earthquake election? >> thank you for that and his long introduction was just really saying i'm the token republican. that's the role i took willingly.
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first of all, there was a subtle dialogue underneath all of the dialogue about the health security act with senator hatch and that was that we had been engaged in a three-year effort to get legislation on dietary supplements threw the congress, and it was very important to senator hatch and to utah, and senator kennedy and his staff were not 100% thrilled with this bill but the relationship enabled them to move the bill along much to the consternation of congressman waxman, the chairman of the house subcommittee,, in the house, and i can remember very vividly it was near the end of 1994 when we reached the deal on that legislation and many in the industry were saying, well, maybe we should just walk away. it's not good enough because next year, maybe we'll be in the
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majority and we'll gate better deal. and i don't believe that we really thought that was necessarily true. i remember think can that, let's just get what we can now. senator -- >> had a sense of the fragility of a majority, even when it's the result of a landslide? >> absolutely. i think -- i mean, obviously the health security act was a big dynamic, and we felt that the hand has been overplayed. that said one could say that about the affordable care act, yet it was enacted. so, it was a very interesting time, and i had been working in congress 20 years at that point, never worked in the majority, and i didn't believe it was going to happen. i really -- sometimes i still don't think it happened. >> did he have an agenda?
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in other words, we're sort of familiar up here with senator kennedy and what has mattered most to him over the years, one of the easier things about covering him was that it didn't really change. but i want you to try to help us understand where hatch was coming from. >> so, significant about the change was that he became the chairman of the judiciary committee, so before he had played a more major role on the labor committee, we were switching to emphasize things like regulatory reform was a huge agenda item, or some of the nomination fights, and so our whole domain changed into one that was more judiciary driven, and we in the health world tried to carve out a niche for ourselves within that. so, i think that we were left --
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less important in that world because there were other things taking place as far as judicial nominations and big ticket criminal justice issues, malpractice. >> i'm going to ask for doris' perspective in a second. every once in while the thing you do when you have doris on one of -- on a panel like this is you turn to her and ask, what does it all mean? but i need, david and michael's help to get into the weeds a little bit, and david, as kennedy looked at the landscape, how did he happen to see with some specificity a way forward? despite the minority states and how did nick and he interact? you watched that very closely. >> well, they were -- a little
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little like squabbling siblings and the senator was the older generation. we were on the same team. quite a team effort in senator kennedy's office. everybody felt they were part of a team and senator kennedy was the captain. kennedy had a tremendous strategic vision and a great tactical sense, and we talk in the book -- it wasn't in the might but nick was. they day after the election -- >> terry parker being senator's legislative director for 800 years, and probably knows more about the senate than -- >> wonderful, wonderful person. and senator kennedy says -- as vicki said there was no waiverring about what he wanted to do he said the first job is to get the democrats together. they're worried, disoriented. to get them together to resist the gingrich agenda, which is very revolutionary, very
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radical, and also we need to start moving ahead on positive things just as if we were still in the majority, and the things he identified at that point were the minimum wage and health reform as the two -- >> why? >> i think he thought that the minimum wage was ripe in a sense, very -- obviously very needed. he had put it off -- he had raised -- been the leader in raising the minimum wage a number of times previously, and it was overdue for being risen in terms terms of its decliningr in terms of inflation, and he had not taken any action on a previous congress because we had an employer mandate in the clinton affordable care act and he felt that would be piling on too much in an environment. with that no longer on the table he felt it was time to move ahead on he minimum wage. on the kennedy -- an halve insurance reform he didn't despair of moving forward. we're not going to get universal but let's see what we can get. >> that last name refers to a
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diminutive lady, very nice, somewhat different than senator hatch in personality, but very effective inside the club named nancy castlebaum. >> so they found common ground on the things they'd worked together on the affordable care act, even though they couldn't reach agreement, but they agreed to pick those up and move forward. >> michael, we need your help because michael is unusual in this all-star lineup here because he stayed with the senator as his top assistant, past the year 2000, well past it, and helped us to understand that this all didn't stop with a few years of frenetic activity in the mid-1990s. i'm so old i can remember its antecedent in the 1960s and
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1970s. michael knows all about some very, very important work done after the turn of the century, the medicare part d, the "no child left behind," et cetera. so, i want your perspective, michael, that takes us from '94 almost to the day he passed away. >> i think a unifying theme through all of that is courage. >> how do you define it. >> it's coming back after '94. everybody else was playing -- they're thinking about their own re-election, and their own state or their own congressional district, and it's very hard, requires courage to say, no, we need to think wholesale. if you want to be re-elected in your state we need have a national message and national agenda. so convincing people of that when they're scared for their political lives --
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>> how did he do it -- >> -- requires a lot of courage. >> did he bang on them or yell? >> you look in the book and there's one story in particular where -- in which the senator, senator kennedy, is sitting down with other congressional leaders and some crowded room in the bowels of the capitol, and they're talking about the minimum wage, and shouldn't we be fighting for that? there was also recitation and people were thinking about re-election, and senator kennedy in one of those moments we have seen, the -- indignation that democrats, democratic leaders nonetheless, would be mealy mouth on the minimum wage. so, that requires courage to stand up, to your own leaders and say this is the way we could go, and we saw this again and again, even after the gingrich era. he would be the one that would say to the leaders, to the caucus, theirs this path we need to take and to say that
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forcefully. >> you're saying. you, that he often had to stand up to members of his own party when it came to accepting compromises. >> and the courage there, too. for example, in creating the drug benefit in medicare, part b of medicare, pushing that along, it was getting close to bush's own re-election at that point, and a lot of thinking we don't want to give anything to president bush because john kerry might be able to beat him. and they came close. but there was an opportunity there to do something really positive for american seniors, and he grabbed it, even though members of his own leadership were saying, don't do it. at least don't do it now. and even though labor unions, hi friends in the labor movement, were opposing him on that very, very strongly. he thought it was the right thing to do. and made the agreement with president bush and doug grassley and others that is now part b of medicare today.
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>> i want to follow that with another question to vicki, if i might. first, doris, help us understand the context for this frenetic period in washington, dc between -- in the mid-1990s. president of one party, of uncertain ideology sometimes, congress in one party's control, and then this force that is so hard to understand and yet so fun to watch. and as you look back through american history -- my god, you've studied from the civil war forward -- are there analogous situations in our history where we can compare this to something or does this actually merit the word "unique"? >> we have seen cycles in american history where there is
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an activist government and people feel good about what is happening, whether you think about the turn of the 20th 20th century with the progressive movement and all the legislation that came out of that, preventing exploitation of women and children in factories and breaking up the big monopolies and then at a certain period of time, maybe partly because of world war i, private lives and private values become more important than some of these collective public functions so we went into the '20s with a desire normalcy and a desire to go backward, republican party got great control. then comes the depression, and you get the new deal, and world war ii, and then you have a period of time in the 507s where there's a pullback, and there's a desire to let government be smaller because it's become bigger, and then you have the '60s again, where again you have the rise of the civil rights movement and social movements pushing in from the outside in, and you've got a great del of activism, a lot of legislation, and then the war in
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vietnam happens and also maybe just one of the cycles that happens and then you get reagan in the 1980s, ask then you do have clinton winning that election in '92, and even though he won it this undercurrent of frustration with government that was being felt by large sections of the country, the concern about law and order that certainly was a part of gingrich's control. the feeling that too many people were staying in washington and worried about themselves so that his term limit thing had certain kinds of -- he came up with a really interesting thing to have a national program for the individual congressmen to run on and even now, when i look back on it, at least it was battle of ideas then you've look at a these guys now in washington and you don't see that happening in a certain sense. what it really means to me is what made it successful not just for kennedy but for the
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republicans republicans who joined with him, producing these bills that have now stood the test of time, was experience, and when i look at the current election, with outsiders now, especially the republican party, having best ed lots of senators who have been there for long period of time, it's worrisome thing that we're turning our back, or seems to be according to the polls, on people who have had experience, because there's something still to me noble about being a politician. the idea that these people who worked then were able to compromise and work weapon each other and these funny deals. they in other words compromise and should be honored for it. i wore now whether we're creating a whole bunch of young people who look at washington and think, die really want to be one of those guys who can't get along with each other, can't get anything done? where are the heroes and that's become part of this outsider mentality. they'll do better than the guys. >> i'd like to follow that up
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with trish in just a second. first, vicki, if i might, senator kennedy had to play some defense in 1995, because there was a torrent of proposals from the new majority in both the house and the senate, on both the tax side and the domestic programs side, the regulatory side, and in order to unite his -- the members of his own party, he also had to enlist a president, his name was clinton, who was being tugged in different directions, even more so than the senator was at that meeting. can you give us a feel for the senator's relationship with clinton, president clinton, and how it evolved during 1995? >> i think he had a very good relationship with president
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clinton. helpful during teddy's campaign in '94, both president and mrs. clinton were very supportive. they campaigned for him. they did events for him. and the president would -- had a different kind of time clock than teddy. teddy didn't stay up late at night and the president would call at midnight, and teddy would be sound asleep and the president is on the phone, and teddy was an early riser. but they would -- but he always -- but he understood that it was very helpful with president clinton to be the last person who had a chance to talk to him because president clinton was a person who accepted a lot of different points of view as teddy understood it. so he wanted to get a chance to have his point of view heard. so, during the christmas vacation -- you'll know this -- he thought it was helpful to try
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to get work done during that time and to find time to be able to -- before going in january, for the january term to be able to go in and kind of lay down a marker, if you will, have that conversation with the president and try to get some commitment. >> did there come a time in the winter of in the spring when the senator became aware that there was a guy working surreptitiously for president clinton, whom a lot of people up here in massachusetts know all about, named dick morris, and that he had been retained to offer a different perspective. >> i'm sure. >> when did you become aware? >> i don't recall but things like that didn't particularly impact teddy, to be quite honest. president clinton was getting
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advice from a conservative guy. i don't think that those -- that's not the sort of thing that would keep teddy deeply troubled. he just knew he wanted to get his point of -- >> were there issues, david, that would come up where you weren't sure where the white house was? i'm think fog the spring. there's a moment in the spring, and, nick is responsible for my knowing about it -- this story didn't unfold with one cataclysmic government shutdown in november of that year. it built. a drama that built slowly. and in the spring i remember there was some early effort to gut social programs. kind of a preliminary version. and that senator kennedy, as nick told it to me, and i'm sure he was the agent who around
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this, -- who arranged this -- the senator went around the senate -- i bill, i'll ask you to explain what rescissions are in a second but he had nick go around the senate and collect 40-plus names on a letter to the president, saying veto this bill, and we'll sustain you. and it was the first time it was clear that there was a way to get some control of the floor. >> yeah. a rescission bill is meaning you take back a previously appropriated fund, and when the republicans name they had this whole broad program to cut and slash back a whole domestic -- across the whole domestic realm of policy, including entitlement programs and wanted to do something right away so the first thing they tried to do ills propose a major recession, pull back funds already appropriated for a number of domestic programs. the senator decided that this was a good place to begin --
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besides the fact we needed to keep it from happening, this was good place to lay down a marker and begin to rally the democrats and let the public know what was really in this gingrich revolution. the public didn't have any sense what the republicans intended other than they were for change and the puck was for change at that point. so he picked education as the issue to rally people around, and there was a long sustained work within the caucus, getting unifying democratic position, and then when the rescission bill passed it was still not -- kennedy on the senate floor was able to get a lot of money back -- add back for education because he manage told get enough republican support. dole knew he would lose a vote so they reached a compromise and add back 800 million. the we question was what the president would do. there had been such a strong vote in the house, the president
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was rightly concerned and depend want to have to veto and it have it overridden. a terrible sign of weakness and a bad omen for what the rest of the democrats would do. so the senator rounded up enough pledges from democrats to assure the president that if he vetoed the bill over education the democrats would stick with him and the veto would not be overridden. that was the beginning of the turning of the tide, although it was a continuing struggle. the president was in a difficult position, trying to -- any president wants to accomplish something. did he have to work with these people -- >> i think nick's point was that at least you could demonstrate to him that if you plant the flag, there's enough support so you can prevail. >> exactly. >> so, please plant the flag some more. was the way it worked. mike, i don't want to ask you to do too much early but the minimum wage, kennedy had
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engineered two previous increases in the minimum wage, and as david was explaining, had come to -- they had come to the judgment that a third was called for after so many years, and in terms of legislatively, how did kennedy good about prevailing as a minority on an issue so associated in the public minds with democrats? >> i think the minimum wage is one of those fairly simple concepts that people get so it's not like a massive health reform bill where all the interests of the american healthcare system on display. it's increasing the minimum wage for poor workers. that's it. so that message really gets through to audiences around the country. one thing that we did in the increase in the minimum wage, i think in 2004, was we worked in
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the states with ballot initiatives so that just to demonstrate to the congress, and often in republican dominated states, that the minimum wage was popular even in those states, and then bring it back to washington for the vote. i think on the minimum wage, also demonstrates that senator kennedy was famous for not saying it's all or nothing because then you get nothing. but willing to take a half a loaf or quarter loaf. so we never got the wage increase we really wanted. we always had to bargain even among democrats what the wage level would be for the next increase, but he would keep -- once the bill passed, after all of that work, he would want to come back the very next day and introduce the next minimum wage bill, and he would, and it would irritate all the democrats. they wanted time to take a victory lap on the last increase but he i saying no, we'll keep
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going. >> trish. >> may have heard -- by the way, if any of you want to start thinking of really sharp, penetrating questions, to shout at us, please do and in a couple of minutes i'm going to turn to you, someone will give you a microphone, so please start conspiring now, but trish, off senator hatch's experience in the senate, he must have been able to explain that his colleagues better than most how senator kennedy operated. ...
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oral proposal land hoodwink some republican into being and not monitor and next thing you know you are negotiating from the position of weakness and then he is back the next day with more. don't do it. >> senator kennedy needed no explanation for republican senators to understand senator kennedy, the leadership was always worried that he would take off one of us to do something social. an agenda program, hatch and
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kennedy had a long history of working together on bipartisan legislation, and the orphan drug act, organ transplant act, i don't think he had been in the majority or minority so for senator hatch it was not an unusual thing to be back in the majority. >> let me see if vicki agrees but senator hatch look at senator candy and he sought the colleague before he saw a democrat. >> you have to understand senator hatch was elected in 1976 from a very conservative state and one reason he wanted to come to washington was to fight ted kennedy because he had a liberal agenda that needed to
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be negated. when reagan was elected and senator hatch became chairman of the labor committee, and because there were two liberal republicans on the committee, if senator hatch didn't make a deal with senator kennedy and, he would lose in his own committee agreed time. that really forged his method of operating with senator kennedy and avoiding the whole senate. >> senator kennedy looked across the aisle, and conservative republican orrin hatch and the democratic presidential debate he doesn't perceive an enemy. how does he look -- >> as we said many times,
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patriotism, character, a different way of getting to the point, senator so and so love our country as much, but we have a different way of getting there. >> an opportunity to do that. more times than not, something, some common ground. put the time to get to know someone that you find someone to advance the ball. >> looking at various relationships, not this with --
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what is the essence of a successful relationship among political leaders? >> i think there is, just thinking, what lbj was able to do is very similar to what we are talking about, he understood he was a republican, a conservative but needed to break the filibuster on the civil rights act of 1964 so he has to believe dirksen had his and patriotism, explained that and goes to him and offers him everything under the sun. public-works projects, whatever you want, they could do that. the whole state of illinois was going to be sunk but then finally he calls up in the morning and the middle of the night, talking about president clinton calling up at midnight, lyndon johnson would call the
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men and 2:00 in the morning, he said i didn't wake you up, no, i was just lying here hoping my president would call. when he goes to dirksen, that is what you are seeing here with senator kennedy and hatch and other republicans he understands dirksen wants to be remembered too for having done something important so he said if you come with me on this bill and bring some republicans to break the democratic filibuster, 200 years from now school children will only two names, abraham lincoln and everett dirksen. i think the key thing is what vicki was saying, you have to understand they are there and they're used to be a greater sense in congress and the senate when they were casting joint legislation that they were doing something they could be proud to tell their children and grandchildren. i was and that congress. sometimes republicans will be proud of defeating something
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they believe is wrong too but when you can do something that improves the lives of children, how incredible that feels when you look out and you know you made a difference, i fear that that is not what is happening now. requires people across the aisle being seen as fellow colleagues rather than partisan enemies. everything about our media today encourages them to become enemies. the cable networks that have only one side on versus the other side, the fact that the debates, they like it most when you things somebody, even in your own party, and special interests that are required when you need to raise money to run for reelection are often more extremist, moderate compromises get cut out of the process so the process itself is making it less likely to have this moment we are talking about in 1994 and in the 60s as well. >> which leads me to my last
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question. >> senator kennedy was a master not only of finding common ground with someone on issues but finding common ground personally. and getting to know the person. an example that always blows people's mind is on disability. congressman pete sessions, one of the most conservative members of congress even to this day has a child with down syndrome so they work together on legislation that enables health coverage for families of disabled children. that is the only issue they could have found common ground on but he found that personal connection and it resulted in. >> leads me to my last question before i go up there for questions i assume are ready to be fired. it is simply this.
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how did nick and kennedy get together with senator hatch and you with a children's health insurance program, how did something like this happen from your perspective? >> one thing we haven't talked much about his vote level of friendship between the two senators also extended to staff, so nick and jenny and michael, david, we are all still friends. wheat remain friends and we know each other and how to play each other, what we care about, what we don't care about. so that is an important part of this discussion. to be fair, when senator kennedy as well explained in the book approached a number of republican senators and
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approached senator hatch, and we were worried in the hatch world that he might be led into territory he should not be -- >> very diplomatic. >> there is a passage in the book about this. i remember it so well, raised these concerns with senator hatch, the only one on staff who is very gung-ho about it, this bill with senator kennedy, senator hatch, turned to us and said you don't know what it is like to grow up a poor child. find a way to do this right but i want to do it. >> it is personal first. >> that is how we insisted on making it a block grant, a limited program so we could argue that it wasn't an entitlement, and the letters back and forth, sinking to
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senator hatch. of that flowed from their friendship. >> he is neglecting one important part of the historical narrative and that was nick's approach, he used any get your gun. he actually did follow it. >> twice i have to be embarrassed. >> the girl that i mary will have to be as soft and as pink as a nursery. the girl i call my own will wear satin and lace and smell of cologne. [applause] >> that is the kind of history at dummy like me can understand.
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now we need questions, microphones are over there, ask. if not, i will let the big shots down here. one person answer your questions so we have time for as many as possible. >> those of you -- the most important point that will help washington work better. can i neglect that's? because because she is part of the power structure now in her own way, she has her own company so let's let you tackle that
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one. >> can i say one thing? i learned this from the presidential debate you are talking about. >> that is right. >> thank you. >> imagine if kennedy and hatch had fought like that. >> thank you, you did it so much better. bruce is fond of saying when nick is staying senator hatch had song with senator hatch which resulted in $24 billion for children's help, he outgrows the stone. i think the big lesson, and i am jaded about the current congress because he can talk more eloquently, a 24 hour news cycle. the tea party, arm chair
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legislators. there were reported the 50 members of congress in the house who live in their offices, they don't build friendships with senator hatch and senator kennedy, their staff built friendship that we all had and i think they are there for a very different reason. they are there for change and change is good but with all the houses turning go for more frequently, the senate is. with everyone trying change change change, it is not the focus the agenda senator kennedy was famous for and so successful for. >> senator hatch too. more, more, more. i can't see so good. i am told. do i see a hand.
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left hand side. in the back row. it is coming. the phrase we used to have is the well oiled kennedy machine. [inaudible] >> from the way senator kennedy handled this. can't help that he would be in favor to be extended and expanded. something like paul ryan and a compromise of the senate. sorry for that question. something to say, part of this
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on the weekend. forging these kinds of relationshipss. >> has we describe in the book, approach every issue, first you master the substance and take on the politics and there is the public relations side. is both an inside game which involves getting your colleagues energized and reaching across the aisle to find a republican partner is the first hard. second part is mobilizing interest groups who care about it because their way of communicating with the public, other members of congress will listen to them and the third is public relations, so much competing for attention and so many counterpressures. there is a real public outcry.
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and many republican senators that might have an interest in the issue and see if there is a way to find common ground lori compromise they can agree on to move the issue forward and if he couldn't do that he would pursue it as a democratic initiative as he did with the minimum-wage, he would do events and reach out to the public. the majority leader and minority leader over the top. it is offered as an amendment as the legislation going forward. >> it read piece of legislation. >> so his votes would be very uncomfortable. like the minimum wage this is an extraordinarily popular issue with the public. >> a follow-up. the problem that there is no senator kennedy or that it is hard for somebody like senator hatch to be the senator hatch of the mid 1919s? >> hard for anyone to be the
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leader in the mid-1990ss. another thing that has happened is more and half of the senators came from the house who were house members so the more deliberative body, the check and balance on the more populist house is changing somewhat. they want to change their rules so they can be more reactive and i think that makes it harder to get things done. >> more, next to the last. do i see a hand? yes please. >> one of the difficulties today, when you look at who was in the house and senate many of them had been in work together. they had been in world war ii, the korean war. they knew what it was like to have a common mission you worked across party class lines, it is the future percentage of
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congress and senate and now it is 1% in congress because we no longer have the draft and it is a different status in our society, as honored as it is in its own right. and learning how to go across party lines and learning how to care about end results is less likely to be, the people being elected right now. >> before i call on the person in the rear, i can almost hear senator kennedy pointing his finger, you are all negative. you are all down in the dumps. there is going to be a meeting at my house in three days and we are going to have an agenda of by monday, etc.. all of a sudden senator hatch is writing songs again. nick is singing them. he would be a little bit upset
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at the gloom. >> i have such a hard time saying this. >> tended not to like bloom. [inaudible] >> always looking for the next chance, thinking about the question about family leave. i think he would have been looking for a person who had a family member with unpaid family leave and impacted them. somebody whose daughter or daughter in law have problem or was caring for of family member and may be unable to do that, looking for something that he could find and connect with that person. and bring them into the fold.
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that is the sort of thing he would always be looking for but goes back to the answer trish gave earlier. and taking away from the book, hasn't talked to each other. you have to know each other. you have to be with each other. what would be most concerned about is people don't know each other. they are not spending time with each other, not doing that face-to-face. and understanding what is happening in each other's life. unless you are talking to each of the never find that. >> a follow-up of what you are saying, in a democratic system, empathy, the ability to see what other people i thinking and feeling to understand their point of view and without that this system has a difficult time and that is what we have to figure out, how do we in this
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crazy world where people are so fragmented in terms of their attention and not spending time with one another one on one, is a bigger fraud and then congress but the country, the way we live. how do we make sure the things that provide the most emotional sustenance which i human connections are continuing? >> i find it hard to imagine senator kennedy accepting that just because paul ryan gets on a plane and goes back to jamesville, wisconsin every friday that that is an obstacle. senator kennedy was in janesville, wisconsin a few times himself from 1960 forward. i imagine him going there. if that is what it takes. the thing i hate about this duty is they always make me be the evil person who stops it. and so this is a last question but when we are done discussing
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it. i have a treat for you as well as the request of you. >> another former staffer, continue on staff. i was able to visit with nick yesterday and as is typical nick gave me an assignment. he communicates with his drumstick in the alphabet and spells out read chapters 7. i got the book and studied, tells you to read something, you do it and it is also typical the kennedyes are controlling the paper so what they have to do, they got the paper so i read chapter 7 entitled or in hatch. we heard a lot about that today so i will tell you, and give david a fair warning, a former kennedy staffer, bringing up
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purple satchel to the judiciary committee and in the satchel he would have a soft ball and he thought the senator's question was too easy, he would roll the softball and he and senator hatch would roll this softball after fees, i will give you a softball at the end of this. i hope you don't perceive it to be a curve ball. i have not read the whole book but i like the way it has really shown that a lot of hard work, you had to know your stuff. the topics were important and valuable. somebody mentioned there is the nobility about trying to make these tough trade offs that society has to face. in doing all that, there was a certain amount of joy and style.
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senator leahy has a saying that the senator is nothing more than a constitutional impediment to staff. i think it is showing the byplay of what the limits of staff and the elected members to. senator kirk played both roles. i suspect it was probably somewhat different when you are the person voting and we are all mindful of that. last thing i will say, the kennedy paper, i did my assignment. i asked david if he would object if anybody ever would use this book as part of a backup documentation if somebody ever thought to nominate senator hatch, the jfk profile board, would it be possible for the kennedy generated book to be used in favor of senator hatch. stay tuned. >> i would like to throw the
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spirit of that question to you for a second. until the 20th century, we didn't really pay much attention to advisers or people that are called aids. words really fail to describe something like nick littlefield and edward kennedy. do you have a sense first of all of the modern relationship of what is called staff and what is called principals and kent you put nick in the historic context when he is watching? >> the wonderful thing about a career nick had in the senate, both of them could have gone into private life and made a lot more money, and they committed themselves to a position with out the same benefits the you
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get from being the actual politician. you are behind the scenes, but you know every day you go in and feel that in your book you love what you are doing, waking up in the morning, couldn't wait to get there with your colleagues, working in a collaborative way round things that really important and when people make that choice in their career it should be honored. you could argue in some ways when they had one person on staff they had to deal with each other more, now the status of the huge, one congressman said he walks down the hall and doesn't even know who the other staff people are. that is part of bureaucracy in modern life but i think the choice of career choice people make to spend a decade or more as nick did and as you did in that place knowing that you are making things happen, working together with a person you felt loyal to with other people you got to know is so honored and we honor that tonight. >> it is just a matter of
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arithmetic. you could almost make the point that the three people here on the panel, you end vicki and me had an impact on more american lives than most of the presidents of the nineteenth century did. [applause] now you get the trees and a challenge. i wouldn't dream of closing a program on someone i admire more than anyone else in the world so i will turn to someone who kindly consented to perform that task under which we will be done but she has something she wants to ask of you too. it is all yours. >> before i close the program i
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want to thank you for being here and invite you to reception after the event closes, there will be a book signing, and the next place where the books will be signed. there will be a chance for each of you to do this, to say something, someone filming a you will give a personal message to nick that he will be able to watch and keep. i hope you all will. very special. this is for you. you are an extraordinary and special person. at the kind of trend, and these have the words i difficult. when the two of you got together and it was awesome. i looked at those -- that nearly decade that you worked together as something unbelievable happened.
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the history books will be written and we will all get to see it in black and white, but something remarkable happened to benefit the american people. it was a combination of your boundless optimism, your brilliance, your keen sense of strategy, your doggedness, your willingness to let katie challenge you and something happened when the two of you worked together. that is like no other period in history. i have my classes because i want to be just a little of the acts that were passed during that period of time. >> health-insurance portability and possibilities. catch kennedy children health-insurance act.
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national institute of health revitalization act. agency for health care policy and research reauthorization act. food and drug administration modernization act. prescription drug users fee act. comprehensive medical device improvement act. ryan white care act. higher education student loan reform act 1992-1993. elementary and secondary reauthorization act. fair labor standards act amendments increasing the minimum wage. child care block grant, family and medical leave act. americans with disability act. the list goes on. this is republican and democratic presidents, republican and democratic senate. it is incredible, we owe yo


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