tv Reagan Rising CSPAN June 18, 2017 8:00am-8:48am EDT
jack kennedy. >> we want to hear from you, send us your summer reading list by a text or video or post them to facebook page, book tv on twitter at book tv or email us at book tv at c-span.org. >> good afternoon and welcome to the harrisburg book festival, i am a resident of gaithersburg and a member of the democratic central committee representing district 17 which encompasses the beautiful city of gaithersburg so welcome. gaithersburg is a city that supports the arts and humanity, we are pleased to bring you this event acts in
part to the support of our sponsors and volunteers and when you see them around and walking around here, please take time to see thanks, i appreciate that. >> i like to get right to this event but first a few announcements, please silence all your devices, always. >> i'll wait, go ahead. >> thank you. >> and if you're on social media today and we hope that you are, we use the hashtag gef. >> gaithersburg book festival. >> your feedback is valuable to us, so there will be surveys available in our tent and on our website. but i submitting a survey, you will be entered into a drawing to win a $100 visa gift card so i encourage you to enter into that survey. at the end of this presentation, mister shirley will be signing books and copies are on sale in this tent and around the grounds so take advantage of that, take advantage. >> a quick word about buying
books, it is a free event but it does, it does help the book festival if you buy a book. your bookseller, were publishers will want to send their authors here to speak withus. the first few books from our partners , help support one of the world great independent bookstores.it benefits the local economy and supports local jobs. so if you enjoy the program and you are positioned to do so, please buy books. all right. introduce this panel that we have here. tackling the familiar or that which we believe to be familiar is a challenge for even the most seasoned authors. he's an icon and a hero to many. his best book often illuminated which you are familiar with, let me try that again. done well, the best book with which we are familiar. >> bject we are familiar
providing texture, context, nuance. the good ones speak to the soul. craig shirley is the author, reagan rising is that book. and charter members of the conservative party and conservatism honestly. reagan -- one of the most elevated personalities. more than a mere biography, chronicles the journey of a man who having suffered a desperado in defeat in 1976, becomes leader of a new brand of conservatism the perfect backdrop against which is the study -- republican party struggling to define itself, reagan rising offerspa many for insight into development of a velocity that it served a as a touchstone for conservatives across the country. reagan's optimistic philosophy still inspires to this day. as a special site and
researching what i say in this introduction i learned mr. shirley played a role in having the sport of la crosse designate as the state sport of maryland. and for that i'm sure he will always have a special part, special place and heart of all of maryland. join me in welcoming mr. craig shirley. [applause] and interview him will be juan williams who needs no introduction but we are going to introduce them anyway. emmy award winner and fox news contributor since 1997, celebrated author in his own right, mister williams the prolific chronicler of the civil rights experience in america. eyes on the prize, 1965.
and so democratic party, 3-1 majority. welcome to friendly territory. if you ever need a respite from fox news we welcome you here with open arms. gaithersburg, please join me in welcoming juan williams. [applause] >> a pleasure to be here with craig shirley -- craig shirley who high have known since the reagan white house in the early 80s. i did not know about lacrosse. i want to start with the basic question, people so kind, the book festival, why did you write this book? you have written extensively
about reagan before. >> i guess if you're in friendly territory i am behind enemy lines. i am retired from all that but for making us ways we had to rename his tv show the four. i wrote this because it is an important part of american history, an important part of reagan's history that has never been explored before. winston churchill, martin gilbert was -- okay. martin gilbert was winston churchill's most famous biographer, a dozen books on churchill, various aspects of his life, the wilderness years and in the 20s and 30s churchill was cast aside by the conservatives in england, great
britain and embarked on a new career of radio commentary and lecturing and it mirrors reagan because reagan was cast aside by his party and churchill was warning -- warned about spending his radio commentary and his columns warning about the rising threat of adolf hitler and not the isms and most people in england at the time were ignoring. reagan spent his wilderness years doing radio commentary warning about the rising threat of the soviet union. there are a lot of parallels between churchill's wilderness years and reagan's wilderness years. there are many issues we could get into later, serendipitous but also because he forced them
like proposition 13 in california, other issues you are covering i am involved with, that come forward to produce his election in 1980. douglas brinkley, terrific historian who edited the reagan diary said the realm of reagan scholarship is beginning to open up and every time i sit down to think about ronald reagan i think about a new aspect of his life and career and times that has been either underreporter hasn't been covered at all. >> let's get in friendly territory and talk about the elephant in the room which is donald trump. so when -- >> no. no. no is the answer to his question.
>> you are -- here is the question. people say gosh, how would you compare reagan to trump and they say what has come -- >> let me turn it around. >> conservatism from reagan to trump. >> you cover the reagan white house for how many years? >> four. >> and the reagan campaign in 84. let me ask you, is there anything about donald trump that reminds you of ronald reagan? >> no. >> okay. >> i must tell you, so many people in the republican party hold ronald reagan up -- >> with good reason. >> a paragon of the party and conservatism. then a say they are now with trump. >> that is a matter of practicality.
you can be with reagan but also in the modern age say i am for trump because he wasn't hillary or whatever reasons, he has taken on a bureaucracy or whatever else but comparing between 2 individuals, my wife is looking at me. i have been guilty for 35 years. reagan was intellectual, thoughtful, and american conservatives, gentle, thoughtful, in his diaries he wouldn't swear. he would write the------, that is how gentle he was. there was a story when he was president. one of the first, second female
secret service agents, he kept standing aside and let secret service agents go first. he said my mother told me ladies go first. the treasury department sat down and said mister president, she is not a woman, she is an agent, she is a professional and you have to allow her to do her job. reagan was very reluctant. i can't imagine anybody saying anything like that about donald trump. reagan was a populist, and american conservative committed to his principles and also flexible. he was kind. he was thoughtful blues not always particularly thoughtful but more so than most men. don't turn to me for evidence of reagan's importance to american
history. john patrick davis, the official historian of the american left in the 20th century wrote books about the labor movement, the civil rights movement, books about environmental movement, his last book, he had been at berkeley in the 60s and done battle with governor reagan over the free speech movement at berkeley, his last book is called ronald reagan and the making of history and in this book, this liberal historian rates ronald reagan is one of our greatest presidents comparing him to washington, abraham lincoln, franklin roosevelt because there were many people, that is the best definition of greatness, american president saved or freed many people. >> when we think about reagan
and the republican party, conservatism, i go back to barry goldwater, 64, reagan's famous speech. for the sake of this audience before we take him into the wilderness where you take him here, explain to us how this happens. one of the greatest differences between reagan and trump is reagan had a strong political history before he challenges the party establishment. >> he had a lot of executives experiences head of the screen actors guild. couple years ago, reagan negotiated residuals which became important to a lot of retired actors and actresses still getting tice -- residuals from tv and movies years ago because the studios would pay the actors and actresses one
time to appear on tv or movie or something like that and they could broadcast and pocket the royalties with impunity. reagan as president of the screen actors guild negotiated residuals so they -- their images and voice was not sold without compensation. reagan was the one that did it. fred barnes a couple years ago, those washington movies, little role, dave was telling me about it, the movie had been rebroadcast in hungary or something like that and he got a residual check for $12.98 and i said you know why you got that check? got that because of ronald reagan negotiating with studios. my point is he had very good executive skills and negotiating skills before he ran for governor but his movie career had faded.
he liked hollywood, loved hollywood but by 1962-63, he made one movie called killers which was an adaptation of hemingway's novel. he hated the movie so much he never saw it. he did 57 movies. it is the only time in 57 movies where he is depicted as a bad guy and slapped angie dixon in the movie and he hated that. he hated that. he would never see the movie. he himself was in the wilderness several times including after 63. he is kind of like a professional host introducing political candidates, various things and starting to develop a speech which became known as the
speech. for local candidates and mostly goldwater 63, the draft goldwater movement started in fall of 63. my parents were members of it, went to the goldwater convention. walter brennan kissed my mother. anybody remember walter brennan? excellent. >> it is odd to think of walter brennan kissing your mom. kind of an old man. >> he is developing a speech. group of southern california business men go to reagan and his brother neil, and at executive in california. they say to reagan we want to put this on television to help goldwater so they put up the money and it was broadcast on nbc and it was an enormous hit that raised millions of dollars for the goldwater campaign and
the republican national committee and goldwater loses in a historic landslide but david broder wrote for the washington post, one ray of sunlight in a dismal campaign was reagan's speech, goldwater's defeat was devastating for the republican party, the republicans are in the minority in the house and the senate and very few statehouses, few governorships and the republican party is functionally dead. it doesn't have a coherent philosophy. reagan now is embarking, traveling to california and says the group of business men come to him and we want you to run for the senate. i don't want to run for the senate. what about governor? that piqued his interest. he began going around the state taking soundings during local
business groups and civic groups and other organized groups and getting feedback and feedback from the people was good so that is when he decided to run for governor of california. now he is broken from hollywood. a citizen politician. >> let's go forward from the time to choose which was the title of his speech, and amazing speech, go on youtube and watch it. there is a landslide for johnson over goldwater. we come forward in time from the time he spends in sacramento, now we are in the nixon era. here comes a ronald reagan to challenge the party at a moment when the party is shaking and things aren't clear but they want gerald ford. he is the establishment candidate. in this book to take through
these difficult shows for a man who is popular, says he is in keeping with the conservative ideology of the time, but his party is somewhere else. >> the party is in the wilderness. the republican party from 1932 until the late 70s doesn't have a coherent philosophy. democrats have a coherent philosophy and they are the party of optimism, the party of hope, party of the future. franklin roosevelt runs for president, happy days are here again, john kennedy says we need to get this country moving again. the democratic party for 32 until 76 and beyond, the party of hope, optimism and the future in the republican party is green eye shade, eat your spinach, balance the budget party and their message is me too.
a lot of conservatives accused moderate republicans, me too, we can management better than the democrats, just do it better. that was their pitch. not an inspirational pitch, which is why they are in the minority from 32 until 68 and beyond. 68 was an aberration. reagan comes forward, the early leaders of the conservative movement like bill buckley and others have a coherent message that was based on the framers, founders, the constitution which had been cast aside or at least put on the sidelines from 32 on. we are reaching and iraq, go backwards, 32 to the 60s, most americans believe government is working, working for them.
it didn't solve the great depression but a good effort and people appreciate that but it did defeat the empire of japan, nazi germany, the interstate highway system, it did build roads, bridges and public education. at one point we had the finest public education system the world in the 40s, 50s and 60s. by the 60s government is starting to fail. it doesn't save john kennedy. government doesn't save martin luther king jr.. government doesn't save robert kennedy, senator robert kennedy. in the 70s government can't win the vietnam war, can't stop hyperinflation, can't stop high interest rates, government can't stop gas lines. it seems carter runs in 76, was an outsider and was not wedded to the idea of big government. he will clean up washington, go
after the corruption, cut taxes. he is more of a populist almost conservative who sees that people are frustrated in the 70s, don't believe government is working for them anymore but carter attacks from somewhat the left but not really. reagan is on the right which is why they emerge as the most interesting candidate in 1976. reagan loses the nomination to gerald ford by 69 delegates, 2269 cast in kansas city. for a lot of reasons. the mississippi delegation. the ohio delegation, the new york delegation, reagan is convinced ford is not stolen the nomination but not won legitimately and we are down to the weeds but this wets reagan's appetite to run again even
though he is 65 years old and a lot of people said you have been around the track twice, lost twice, gave in your best shot but now it is time to step aside and let some new young fresh blood run for the nomination and reagan says we are running. >> you didn't mention ford in much detail but tell me what is his view of gerald ford? >> ford and reagan don't like each other. mrs. reagan and mrs. ford can't even be in the same state with each other. that is how little they liked each other. gerald ford ascends to the presidency by way of the 22nd amendment when nixon pick some after spear o agnew re-signed, taking kickbacks in maryland while the owner is maryland and still taking kickbacks as vice president of the united states.
nixon needs somebody who will placate, but not threaten him, not going to cause him to look over his shoulders. gerald ford fills the bill, gerald ford's lifelong dream was to be speaker of the house and that is never going to happen. becoming vice president with a nice capstone to his career but then the smoking gun tape is revealed in july of 1974. it is in the news now. everybody -- >> elephant in the tens. >> i say smoking gun, what are you talking about? anyway, nixon is revealed ordering the cia to halt the fbi investigation into watergate and that is the end of richard nixon.
gerald ford ascends to the presidency but gerald ford has no republicans made a psychic investment in gerald ford, nobody outside of one congressional district has voted to for gerald ford. he has his hold on the republican party very tenuous and he wants to run for 76 but he confuses nixon's appeal with nixon's policies. he was barely conservative but not as conservative as reagan. [train horn] >> he pursues nixon's policies, continues détente, his fiscal policies, to the bench. this creates an opening for conservative challenger 76 and
some looked at it but reagan was the only one who was serious about it but the reality is carter beats ford via narrow margin. >> ford gets 240 a left oral votes. he carries ohio. >> ohio, carter carries ohio 1976 by 6000 votes out of 3 million cast. the headquarters in ohio, a lot of suspicion that the teamsters wouldn't do that. >> mayor daley wouldn't do it either. >> the fact that ford came so close would indicate a shift. but reagan definitely in his wilderness. >> he immediately creates a political organization citizens for the republic to advance his
conservatism it helps candidates running for office. he embarks, restarts his radio career doing 5 minute radio commentaries five days a week and recorded them at the corner of hollywood and fine in los angeles, records 5-minute commentaries that go out to hundreds of radio stations on real to reel tape or 45 record albums. >> this is before the day you could send out a soundbite via the internet to 1000 radio stations. these are 5 minute radio commentaries. at one .50 million people every week are listening to ronald reagan. >> twice a week column carried by hundreds of newspapers. in the mid-to-late 70s you have to be under a rock to not know about ronald reagan. >> did it work? >> sure.
he becomes after ford loses, reagan he comes, that is a good question, the leader of the republican party. one of the big issues, the panama canal treaty. developed it as an issue in 76. it was considered one of the 7 wonders of the world. she was so furious that carter was going to give away the car now to the republican handlebar -- didn't realize how important it was because she grew up with a car now, great example of american exceptionalism. we succeeded where the french failed. it is important psychically, millions of americans, the idea that carter will turn over control to panama is infuriating and this is at a time when
america is waning and its influence. we lost vietnam, we are losing to the soviets. america's day is over plus we have our problems at home so it comes at a terrible time. reagan is campaigning against gerald ford and jimmy carter, reagan is starting in north carolina 76 pounding the lectern saying we are going to keep it and his audience goes crazy over this. he keeps it up as an issue. carter becomes president, he will still continue the policy of transferring control of the panama can now zone. carter goes on national television to make the case to the american people why it is important to give control of the panama can now and singles out the criticism of ronald reagan. the president of the united
states singled out one person, 240 million people, just a private citizen so the next day, cbs news calls private citizen ronald reagan, would you like a half hour of national broadcast time to respond to the president of the united states? it would never happen today so reagan jumps at the chance, gives a half-hour speech responding to the president of the united states attacking him over the panama canal treaty. >> let's shift from him attacking the president to his fight with the republican establishment embodied in george hw bush. >> the party is split and it has been split since the 50s. 52, eisenhower or robert taft.
represented the conservative outsiders, nixon, goldwater and rockefeller, nixon, rockefeller but there is a split in the republican party between conservative outsiders and more moderate insiders. this happens in 1980 representing the conservative outsiders than bush representing the moderate insiders and this is the fight over the nomination boiling down to these individuals. >> tell us about it. >> it was a the saw battle because reagan is at his worst when he is not challenged. he was competitive. mike beaver told me his most competitive is so be here for new, reagan needs to be
challenged, or he doesn't rise to the occasion. he doesn't take the george bush challenge seriously and he loses the iowa caucuses in january 1980 which was a stunning stunning upset to the political world. reagan was a radio broadcaster in nearby illinois, local hero in george bush is from texas, less ties to new england than he does to any prep school, ties to iowa more than any prep school then new england so he beats reagan. tom pettit of nbc says we witness the political funeral of ronald reagan. five weeks later, he scores an
enormous come back in the new >> i am paying for thiss microphone, even though, and that begins, that strips the beginning of his comeback against bush. but he goes to detroit if the party is still divided and so he needs to pick bush to unify the party as they always have. always have, nixon picks agnew to unify the party, both practice perfection in the 40s, 50s, 60s into the 70s it unifies the party but goes through 30 primaries, the nomination. the street fight of his life to be george bush to get that the nomination.
>> this leads to voodoo economics. >> reagan pushing -- radio commentaries about it, and the 80 campaign is really the devil and bush because he can't match it. came up with his own tax plan but it is more focused on business unless the individual where reagan was focused on the individual and less on business so bush unwisely starts attacking a popular plan of reagan's that reagan is scoring politically with and calls it voodoo economics. reagan was so furious over is that he almost didn't pick bush, a big sticking point with reagan why he didn't pick bush as his
running mate. >> we want to ask the questions from the audience, have the questions prepared but i want to come back to this because we started by talking about trump/reagan. reagan gets a tax reform plan and he is able to do business with democrats with to bowe neil. he has success in terms of moving things forward, not only from democrats but from fellow republicans. >> and the washington establishment. so here comes trump. >> if you were going to mention the washington post. >> i am glad to. craig likes to skewer. you get a situation where people
say here's another populist outsider challenger, to the republican establishment, but you say the analogy does not hold water and i am thinking is it a result of the fact that one guy could get things done in washington and the other cannot? >> the parties have changed. a lot more conservative democrats than there are today and liberal republicans in washington or the republican party but politics is personal. you have been writing about it along time. reagan was able to work with democrats like the 86 tax bill. the 86 tax reform act got through congress, more than o'neill because o'neill was getting ready to retire. go back to what i said, there
were a lot of conservative democrats, reagan could bring them to the republican fold. look at reagan's speeches and commentary and q and a. he didn't come to washington to declare war on the media. taxing the bureaucracy, but he needed democrats to get his programs through, needed the media to be open to the idea that i tease you about the washington post but the washington post editorial was very supportive. after he got the nomination reagan brought a new intellectual revolution and that is something to be thankful for and reagan put that into practice.
parties changed. we are at the end of jimmy carter. he came to washington with the best of intentions but jimmy carter failed as president because he didn't understand washington but we had the recession. democrats needed to do something and willing to take a chance on reagan. >> back to trump. [laughter] the reason -- let me answers is diplomatically. people in the 80s thought reagan would be a failure. very high approval numbers, american historians moderating him high but looking at the reagan presidency, the last paul
as far as the coalition. >> i don't think that trump would say he was comfortable being described as an inheritor of george w. >> there's a lot of things trump is not comfortable with. [laughing] >> but it's obvious. there's certain type of republican primary voter, the issues may change, they may change some other philosophy but essentially the republican primary voter voted for richard nixon in the republican primaries in 1960 is very similar to the primary voter who voted for donald trump in 2016. >> you mean the silent majority concept? >> yes. silent majority was coined by richard nixon. and then reintroduced by donald trump. >> and you think then that when you look at people like paul ryan, when you look at people, i
don't know, mitch mcconnell, are they the true inheritors of the reagan legacy or is it someone else? >> i don't know if there's anyone inheritor. i'll tell you one thing though. i saw mike pence give a speech today at the college. it was a reaganesque speech, very good speech. somebody is going to write a contrast between his speech, write a column or an op-ed or of these contrasting his speech with trump's at the coast guard academy. it begs to be written because it was a terrific, i mean, if you haven't seen i would urge you to go when you do tonight i would ever take a look at it because it really was, it was a speech for all americans.us >> site get the impression youi didn't think much of mr. trump speech at the coast guard academy?trumps [laughing]
>> he uses first-person pronouns like he's eating breakfast. [laughing] >> let's go to the audience here. [laughing] we have a question right here. hang on. i think there's a microphone coming for you. coming. >> speaking of inheritance, would you say about ted cruz and the freedom caucus are political legacies of reagan? >> i think anyone-- reagan was motivated by certain things. freedom, individuality in the future. he was a romantic. he believed in the philosophy of enlightenment. he quoted emerson. he quoted pain and so much of the enlightenment is about those elements and by the time reagan
was an adult he started to fully form philosophy centered on maximum freedom consistent with law and order. so, anyone who articulates that or understands that is the heir to the reagan philosophy whether it's ted cruz or mike pence or mcconnell, anyone who tries to advance the rights and freedoms of privacy. >> with a question in the back. >> many republicans now join liberals in questioning the war on drugs and its aftermath and the human toll taken, if reagan were alive and mentally well today do you think you would have some of the same reservations? >> that's a good question and a tough one because reagan was in many ways a libertarian. he didn't interview in 1970-- in 1970 time in which he said
libertarians and is the fundable basis for conservatives and, but he was also a traditionalist. i'm sure he would have devised-- maybe, yes, i think we should control distribution and use of drugs, hallucinogenic, but it should be done by states and localities and not the federal government and i think that's probably closest to what the blending of his philosophy is libertarianism, but also has a traditionalist. >> i think it's a powerful question at the moment given what we see from the attorney general jeff sessions and sessions once to go back to the war on drugs, but you see many republicans including some republicans that might surprise you, hard-liners that say we have 2b people incarcerated in the country and it's not economically rewarding and cheaper to send them to college than to put them in jail. i'm just wondering if when you hear this question you think
again, this is a departure from ronald reagan's attitude and his willingness to work with others to hear, respond to the situation. >> i think a lot of departures is that reagan i think, i mean, he was for a strong border and said strong borders are important for national security and national identity, but i also think the issue came up about walls and he kind he kind of who the republican primaries. >> immigration is so big, build alone have a big door in the middle. [laughter] >> everything that reagan does in his presidency has to be done in the shadow of the cold war and when he proposed the north american free trade agreement, it was to build a more solid free market system in the west to repel soviet advances and
violate the monroe doctrine. he wanted the strong western hemisphere in the same with nicaragua, el salvador. you wanted free and prosperous democracies. well, you covered it. you wanted to build strong prosperous democracies in the caribbean to fend off soviet advances to undermine those countries. >> we don't have time for another question. craig shirley's book: "reagan rising: the decisive years" and as you can tell from this conversation very lively, topical and has power in this moment. craig, thank you so much. [applause]. [inaudible conversations]
>> every weekend booktv brings you 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books on c-span2. c-span2. keep watching for more television for serious readers. [applause] >> thank you so much. it's great to be here at politics and prose again. this is the fifth installment of our race in america conversation series. i want to thank politics and prose for the vision. a lot of places don't have the vision. thithis is a bookstore that a st the tone for bookstores around the nation, even the world to talk about such a sensitive issue, matters of race. and yes, we are authors and were are people who are real and have dealt with this and writtenhi abou.