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tv   Robert Dallek Franklin D. Roosevelt  CSPAN  January 8, 2018 6:39am-8:01am EST

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he connected to people with that kind of language and those options, it wasn't just rhetoric about how he was going to make the country great again. change people's lives. >> very large portion of the book is focused on his second term and you talk about the second term curse and if it had not been for the onset of the war, he might not have been reelected. you want to tell us a little bit
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about the dynamics in the second term? >> sure. >> well, the second term, he begins by making the misjudgment of trying to put across packing plan. it never went through. >> is this because the supreme court was invalidating many key elements of the new deal and he thought of what can i do to prevent -- he was afraid that the could would invalidate all of them? >> exactly. liberal justices on the bench who would then vote in support of these new deal, measures, you have to understand the expansion of federal authority under his leadership, but he had the model
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beforehand of being roosevelt's cousin and woodrow wilson who had push to make the federal government political authority and action in this country and he was following through on this. both were quite popular and so he was able to populate in their shadow. there's no question that the recession that hit the country in '37-'38, the attempt of the democratic party in conservative southerners, that failed. by 1939 even though hi had 50% approval rating, the likelihood that could win a third term was
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out of the question. people were afraid, reluctant to shift to another leader in this parulis time. >> we will come back to the war. let's turn back to how you describe the personal history and the emotional and personal dimensions of his life. first of all u you describe childhood, it was not known for qualities at harvard, there were signs early on about his extraordinary self-confidence and self-reliance. so there were no signs as a man in teens and 20's that this was going to be one of the great men of the century. >> yeah, that he was someone who
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was shallow, but he had before him the model of theodore roosevelt and the idea that he was entitled to lead the country . he should be sitting in the oval office. he had self-confidence to confront those big issues. >> why did he chose to go into politics? he was sort of bored with money and snobbery and pretension, he could have had easy law after colombia law school and staying
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in new york and making a lot of money and going up to high park? >> and specially after polio. he had been stricken in age of 39 and his mother wanted him to go back to high park and -- >> aristocrat. >> aristocrat. took it easy and had enough wealth but was determined and so was eleanor and so was a man named lou howe and ellen sorry played a huge part in supporting him despite the fact that they had a very rocky marriage because he had had an affair in 1918 that she found out about. >> do you think that he
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deliberately wanted her to find out about it? >> he found love letters. >> that's right. they both had a sense of humor, ben came into the oval office one day and roosevelt was chuckling and said, mr. president, and roosevelt said, i will tell you, eleanor was just in here and what did the doctor had to say about the big ass of yours, she said, franklin, he had nothing at all to say about you. [laughter]
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>> let's come back to polio and then we will come back to eleanor. as you said he was stricken when in 1921 when he was 39 and actually many of you here have been to new york home for many programs very much like this which is the roosevelt house which is where he and eleanor lived and where as you describe in here after his first hospital spell he was literally carried upstairs to the second floor. i think many people think it was hidden by the american people but "the new york times" reported on the front page when he was struck with polio. for much of the rest to have career there was very little mention of this and just talk to us a little bit about how that was staged, how important that was to him. he never even revealed, never
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ever mentioned anything about a disability until, i think, in his last term or very, very late in his life and at that point you described that it was too painful for him even to stand with crutches. >> yeah. he was -- he hid the extent to which he was disabled, and there are no surviving photographs of him during the presidency of him demonstrating paralysis, his inmobility, they did that on purpose because when he came to the presidency, people knew that he had had polio but they thought he had recovered and
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psychologically it was appeal to go millions of people in the country because the attitude was, look, this man saw his way through this polio, got through recovery and will lead the country to recovery after depression. we understood that there was a psychological connection that was important for him to be seen as robust and, in fact, when he got the nomination in 1938, he broke tradition, he was governor of new york, albany and flew to chicago. there were a couple of omni planes and they turned back, but he went forward and he landed in chicago and he was trying to demonstrate to the public, don't worry about my physical health,
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see, i'm strong enough, i could take plane trip. of course, when he went to casa blanca and tehran and he was already a dying man when he got but the only time when he made reference to speech one speech that he made, he said to gathering in congress, i know you will forgive me for sitting down for i just come back from journey of 10,000 miles and i carry 10,000 pounds of steel in my legs and he made reference to his disability. >> do you think it's possible that his polio create -- added
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to his ambition or affected him in that way and then -- and then similarly whether his need and ability to hide it maybe added to his -- his skill or actor? >> yeah. he said at one point, the greatest actors of america. he understood that he was on the stage that only presidents are, you see, but that someone like a john kerry, for example, is no longer a real man, he's turned into a kind of iconic figure, if you are going to library and you see the poster of him looking down at you, you see, and the country needs heros, it needs
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some presidents who looks up to and the current mood in the country, the current distress in politics and donald trump has never come up with 50% in his approval ratings during his almost one year in office, this is unprecedented. all presidents, they go through honeymoon period in the beginning and have some kind of majority support, but in the beginning there is the consensus going back to thomas jefferson who said we are all federalists, we are all republicans, we are all americans, it was the first time we had a transition from one political party to another and it was suggesting that you are not going to be like so many other countries that they get
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into civil wars, revolutions over politics, political changes and civil constructive way, you see. but roosevelt had to face a world of difficulties and this is what is quite amazing, remember, turn to foreign affairs, the isolationism in the country and roosevelt never believed in it. he signed onto neutrality laws, 35, 36, 37, you see, to keep america out of world war i but we were facing hitler and the nazis and japanese military aggression across asia and the country -- american gun boat
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attacked by the japanese in river in china and instead of people saying, make them pay operations, they say what was that gun boat doing there because if had isolation, don't put us in arm's way, don't get us into a war, it was a very, very difficult and challenging time, and he understood that america needed to act and understood, the japanese admiral who planned pearl harbor attack, he said, if the americans last more than six months in the war, japan will lose because he understood the industrial might of america and its ability to mobilize and support the russians and support the british
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and churchill said in memoirs after pearl harbor he said, i went to bed and i slept asleep because i knew now we would win with the americans in the war. of course, 419,000 americans lost their lives in that conflict and to this day i don't know how many have been been to normandy but very moving because of all those graves that are there. >> tell us about how he navigated the sense of neutrality, the antiwar sentiment, a period of strong antiimmigration views, antisemitic views and no threat to the homeland, yet, he was able to move the country
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extraordinary? >> because he spoke not about getting into the war as an aggressor, as an ally, the russians and the british but rather that we in having the draft in 1940 was extraordinarily step forward in isolationist time but he said, this is defense, in fact, when he signed the law it said that nobody was drafted could be sent outside the western hemisphere, you see. that was kind of crazy, you drafted them, at the end of the year you will release them. all of these men and once again we go back. this is a time when sweden,
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switzerland, essentially -- 1940 in up state new york said, this is a rifle and they took trucks and they put it and pretend this is a tank coming at you, you see, that was how the military was at the time, but after in the 1940 campaign when he's running for a third term, he says repeatedly, we will not go to war unless we are attacked by a foreign nation but in the
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final speech he gave, october 31, he dropped unless we are attacked by a foreign nation, he made a blanket promise. he was attacked, a famous book by the name of charles, georgetown university, back door to war. of course, there were all the allegations about pearl harbor, pearl harbor was a god send, allowed us to go into the war as a unified nation, you see. people said, they knew it was coming, it's nonsense. we could have had a couple of ships if we knew the attack were coming but so many men vulnerable, 3,000 americans, americans were killed in that attack.
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it was a brilliant book called pearl harbor warning and decision about the real surprise that occurred at pearl harbor because we couldn't imagine that the japanese could carry it all. the intelligence at the time said they didn't have place for 300-mile, we would detect them. they don't have torpedoes in that low -- shallow depths of pearl harbor. there were three guys sitting at a radar station which the british had given us, radar up in island and all the dots are coming across the screen on december 7th and they said, what's this, b-17's being flown
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from san francisco. they called down to headquarters, they said, it's probably broken, shut it down. japanese planes coming off those aircraft carriers and bombed the hell out of american facilities there. >> the sentiment goings -- against the intervention was so strong. it describes in here how he referred to lindbergh, nazi -- >> without question and similarly when eleanor roosevelt came to him about the troops who in 1940 had gotten to north of virginia and were trying to come
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to the united states and the assistant secretary of state, who was an antisemite and opponent of any kind of relaxation of immigration rules and he went to franklin and said, franklin, let these people in, they are fleeing the nazis, she said, and he's a fascist, oh, you must not talk that way about him, but he is. and roosevelt was very cautious about how he dealt with this issue of the holocaust, not because it was jews being killed by the nazis, he was horrified by what they were doing but politically, domestically,
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antiimmigration, antisematic sentiment and secretary treasury came to him in 44 and said, you will lose new york if you don't do something about jews who are trying to escape the nazis and he sets up the world refugee board. they only save a couple hundred thousand people, they sent them to up state new york and, of course, the shadow, not because he was content -- >> could he have bombed the trains? >> that was complained that he didn't bomb the railroad lines to auschwitz.
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>> the nazis would -- >> the nazis were so intent on exterminating the jews because even as they were using in the last year, they kept using -- senting people to death camps instead factory and hitler intent on jews. >> so now we are in the war, how was roosevelt as a war technician? working with churchill and stalin, how was his political judgment, military judgment with respect to the war? >> well, it was, i think, very impressive because when he got
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into the war, public opinion in this country was very -- hi would fight the japanese first, there was rage against japan for the surprise attack and then roosevelt said will live in infamy, people felt that immensely. they we wanted to fight japan first. roosevelt and churchill understood that the wisest strategy was to defeat hitler and the nazis first because they represented the greatest threat and that once got nazis, japanese would succumb on its own limitations, you see. of course, roosevelt signed on einstein wrote them urging that
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they try and split the atom and ultimately build an atomic bomb. and the question has always been asked could roosevelt use the atomic job on japan and i think without a question. they invested a couple of billion dollars in building that and remember also, they saw the atomic bomb as more efficient way in what they had already been doing. the fire bombings of tokyo, the fire bombing, 30,000 people perished, you see, it took hundreds of planes delivering massive amounts of bombs, but the attitude is if you do this one plane dropping one bomb, absolutely. and they were fearful that
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thousands of americans would perish in invasion of japan and, i think, no question that they would have used atomic bomb as truman. >> whether he could have done more about eastern european jews, the supreme court about whether he could have done more about civil rights, antilynching legislation. the other down point clearly was japanese, how did that happen, what -- how do you explain in the content of this otherwise extraordinary event? >> well, it was later said by the american civil liberties union that it was the most egregious violation of american civil liberties in the country's history but roosevelt understood at the time that the united states had been knocked back on
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its heels by pearl harbor, they lost guam, india was threatened, they were fearful that they needed to stop the tied of japanese advance in pacific but because roosevelt wanted to make europe first, he also needed some psychological blows to strike against the japanese that would -- they did two things, it didn't do significant military damage but we knew japanese would polish populations that the americans would never strike and reporters asked roosevelt, where did those planes come from
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and mythical place in novel in 1940's, you see. as far as incarcerating the japanese, it was a way at the time of striking back against japan because now they were american citizens. roosevelt had the good sense to let them enlist in army and japanese american unit distinguished itself in combat. they segregated the navy, they could be cooks, but in the army they were also segregated but they set up area in which
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african americans would train to be pilots and to fly bombers and eleanor roosevelt went down to alabama where they were training and she drove in a plane with one of these crews, you see. and they were complaining because they didn't send them to combat and she pressured and roosevelt pressured the army, they sent them to combat and they compiled record superior, shooting down nazi planes and medals. but still, you know, you can't say that it was heroic, fighting
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for equal rights, against nazis. >> so you spend some time describing his medical history with polio. you also are quite candid about his financial decline. >> yeah. >> which was also hidden to most americans, and -- and the first signs for his age were around the time of his fourth inauguration. i think crossed dupont circle was eleanor was when she received news of his death. she was just at a club meeting right on the circle here in april 12th. so how -- what were -- how seriously ill was he at the end of his third term and what did the people around him think?
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.. .. >> and he was with his secret serve agent, and he suddenly broke out in a cold sweat and was in terrible pain. and he said to the secret service agent, close the door and don't let anyone in. and the man said, mrs. roosevelt -- i told you no one. he was having an angina attack, and there were a series of episodes at which point he'd lie on the floor writhing in pain over these attacks. and he was suffering the beginnings of congestive heart
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failure. we have his blood pressure readings, they'd get readings of 210 over 180 or something which i'm sure most of this audience knows what that means. [laughter] anyway, by the time he got to 1944, there were serious questions about whether he could ever possibly get i through a fourth term. he knew his health wasn't great, and he told ms. daisy sutley that what he thought to do, he'd run again because the public wanted him to be president until the war ended. if the war were over, i don't think he would have run again because the public was ready to move on the way they had with churchill. the war was over, and they kicked him out of the prime ministership, you see. he runs and what he thought of
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doing was resigning after one year and heading an international peace organization and turning the office over to harry truman. so he understood. but when he got to yalta in february 1945, churchill's position -- [inaudible] wrote in his diary the president is suffering from hardening of the arteries in the brain, he'll be dead in three months' time, and he called it right on the mark. so also i think what roosevelt believed was hundreds of thousands of people, millions of people were perishing in this conflict, and if i were going to die, it was part of what the whole war was about. >> thank you. it's just past one. we have some time left, as we always do, we want to turn to the audience. remember, this is being taped,
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so if you could wait for a microphone, and i will move around. the first gentleman in the third row, if you could wait for the microphone, and short question and we'll continue. >> bob, without the attack on pearl harbor, how would roosevelt have got us into the war? >> say again? >> if pearl harbor had not been attacked, how would roosevelt have got us into the war? >> yeah. it's a wonderful counterfactual question. nobody, of course, including roosevelt knew the exact answer, but he was waiting for some incident as he told churchill at atlanta conference the previous august that something that was calamitous enough and troubling enough to bring the country together, you see. so i think he would have waited a while. i don't know, maybe it would have taken something that,
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reversing russia, reversing britain, something that would have triggered a feeling of the nazis might win if we don't step in. >> okay, right here. >> thank you very much. fascinating story that you tell. >> thank you. >> i just want to say i don't recognize my country anymore, and i don't recognize this city. i've been here for 40 years. i imagine that's what the people in 1930s felt about their country. is there any leadership out there that you see now that can right this ship? is there anybody out there or any style of leadership that would replicate mr. roosevelt's that can, you know, help us out here a bit? thank you. >> well, as an historian, i'm always glad to predict the future. [laughter] and i think the democrats badly need to find a young, fresh
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face, someone who is not clearly in evidence. i think hillary lost last time in part because there was clinton fatigue. people, jeb bush couldn't get anywhere, there was bush fatigue, you see? the democrats need somebody young, and also if trump makes it through the next three years and is foolish enough to run again, i think the democrats will have a superb chance to win. who will emerge? i think we need to look at what's going to happen in 2018, see? hopefully, someone may emerge. i've seen the governor of the state of washington, he's an essentially unknown at point,
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but the way obama, you know, came forward and emerged, the way jimmy carter came forward and emerged. so i don't know who it's going to be, but i think someone will emerge. and i think there is a tremendous vulnerability on the part of the republicans. and if they pass this tax bill now, it's just going to add to the sense of grievance, and it's really a difficult time in our politics, i agree with you. >> gentleman in the back. >> who do you think was more liberal, eleanor or fdr? and other than eleanor being his eyes and ears in the public, how did she contribute to some of the great progressive policies that were passed? >> yeah. well, i think there's no question that eleanor was the
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voice to his left as also harold -- [inaudible] who was the secretary of the interior. he valued having them there because this was the way he balanced things, you know? he had henry stimson and frank knox's cabinet, former republicans, you see? he was, he was always thinking about the political. for example, in 1944 he sent a man named patrick hurley to china as american ambassador. patrick hurley had been herbert hoover's secretary of war. he was o war. he was a conservative oklahoma oil businessman, you see, and he did not know diddle about china. when he wrote to chiang kai-shek, he wrote him a note
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saying, temporary mr. shek. [laughter] -- dear mr. shek. and he was -- but roosevelt had him there for political reasons, because with he wanted him to work on a coalition government. china was in danger, he felt, of going into a civil war. so he wanted a coalition government. and if that failed, he was going to blame it on hurley, you see? it was a kind of political shield. so, you know, he was always thinking about the domestic politics, and this was part of it. but eleanor was the voice on the left with system others who press -- with some others who pressed him to be more liberal. and, of course, that famous speech he gave in 1944 where he spoke about the economic bill of rights was, put up the flag of restoring new deal. but who knows what would have happened if he had lives.
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if he had lived. but i think he would have resigned after one year because husband health was very precarious. >> do we have a question from one of the washington latin students, the intended audience? ah, yes, the gentleman in the back. >> hi. basically i'm wondering what you think about roosevelt, how he was able to battle through physical wear and tear and also the great, going through the great depression and world war ii as a president, do you think he had any other motives apart from loving the american people who were trying to bring the country together? >> yeah. i mean, i think he was always mindful of youth in the country and what the future would bring for young people. eleanor was also greatly mindful of that. and his heir to this was lyndon
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johnson, one of his proteges. and johnson became the head of the texas nya, the national youth administration. they had to have state directors. and johnson became the most prominent and successful of the nyu directors. and eleanor roosevelt went down to texas to see what he was doing, you see. and he would spend a night, for example, in a black college. he wanted to run for statewide office. if this were known at the time, he never could have run because it was a strictly segregated state and society, you see. so when johnson got the presidency, he, of course, did all sorts of things with the war on poverty, the great society. he wanted to -- education, federal aid for education was something that kennedy faved and that johnson had passed. these are legacies from franklin
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roosevelt, you see. and telling tales out of school, i had dinner five times with president obama. not by myself, but with eight other historians. he liked to talk to historians. david axlerod was at one dinner, and he was tubb the difficulty of -- talking about the difficulty of enforcing the affordable care act. and i said to him, david, what you and the president should take comfort from is the fact that you are sustaining franklin roosevelt's new deal in humanizing the american industrial system, in opening the way to medical care for all sorts of people who can't afford it, you see. but, you know, arthur schlesinger talked about the cycles of american history, and we go through these changes. it'll change again. it'll come back. >> do you suspect there are dinners like that in this white
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house? >> no, and i wouldn't go anyway. [laughter] >> in the front row. >> thanks very much. dr. dallek, i'm thinking now about the panoply of presidents of which you've written which suggests you know something about what characterizes the successful from the not so successful presidents. and i'm wondering the extent to which you can say to what extent is character central, to what extent are conditions central? >> well, of course, they're both terribly important. as the ancient greeks used to say -- [inaudible] and you see it in the current administration. the guy, this trump, is a man who is, i think, a malignant fares suggestion -- narcissist,
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and he's someone who is so self-absorbed, so preoccupied with himself and with the idea that people should see him as great he can't move outside himself to see the larger picture. now, you know, everybody who runs for president, they've got to have a powerful narcissistic streak, because otherwise who'd be crazy enough to want to have that job? it's impossible. but the great ones move outside themselves, reach for larger things for the nation, and even richard nixon, you see, with his opening to the chinese and the change in relations there and thedetente with the soviet union and that's getting us out of that vietnam -- at last getting
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us out of that vietnam war. as i said, there are no saints in politics, and it's an impossible job, but this is the way historians judge them. we look back, did you make the right choice? did you lead us in the right direction? johnson, for example, is such a complicated guy in that he put across so many significant domestic as soon advances. that civil rights bill, i think, is the greatest piece of legislation in the country, you see is, ending segregation in all places of public accommodation. and yet at the same time, he couldn't let go of that vietnam war and led us down the prim rose path there, and what a disaster. more american troops died in that war than any other foreign war except world war ii, you
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see. because when we fight each other, we outdo everybody else. 620,000 died in that civil war. it's a very interesting country. i've said is i wish i could come back in a hundred years to see what's happened for the country. i told this to a group of 20-year-old students, and i said but none of us will be here, and they gasped. [laughter] >> yes. and in the middle here. >> one of your predecessor biographies, gene smith, focused on roosevelt's lust for power as the driving force for him. you've mentioned his tendency to manipulate, and i'm also reminded of the famous conversation between truman and eisenhower right at the time of
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kennedy's funeral when they both agreed -- which they really did with each other -- that roosevelt was the most cold-blooded person either of them had ever dealt with. could you talk about these elements of his character? >> of course. you know, you don't get to be president and govern this country without also being a son of a bitch. [laughter] i mean, you've got to be tough. you've got to be prepared to step on toes. but the point is how open are you about it, how do you deal with these things in a political way, in a way that creates an impression of you as -- and not just an impression, that because you are more humane, you see, than some of the others. i mean, it's an impossible job if you go back and look at the things that people have said
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about -- george washington complained that i've been subjected to censures of the most unmerited kind. john adams was called a hermaphrodite, half man, half woman, you see. [laughter] i mean, they said of roosevelt he was a demented cripple in a wheelchair, you see. harry truman said the white house was a gilded prison. but the point is that they all have a hard side to them. how did they express it, how did they deal with it, and you're going to have enemies. it's inevitable. you're not going to have only friends. they're combative, they have to be combative. but there are degrees, you see. and to be the way trump is which is so openly combative and that this is what seems to drive him so much that he's got to
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outlast, overwhelm adversaries, there's something emotionally unsuited about him for the presidency. he never should have had that office. warren g. harding in july 1920 -- sorry, the columnist for the baltimore sun -- [inaudible conversations] >> h.l. mencken. >> mencken wrote a column in which he said someday the american people in their wisdom will put a narcissistic nut into the white house, you see. he was talking about harding, but -- >> you were just talking about the, you know, the hard side of franklin roosevelt. on the soft side, how important were his relationships with, say, you know, with daisy and missy leland?
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>> well, he and daisy, they loved each other. missy loved him. there were people around him. the reporters, journalists, yes, the publishers of newspapers were conservative, and they were quite negative. but the reporters themselves, they loved him because he'd come into a press conference, he'd sit at his desk, and he'd smile and say, well, boys there's no news today, but i'll just tell you this for the record. and by the end of the talk he'd say, well, boy, i've gotta run. the guy couldn't walk finish. [laughter] and i've gotta run. they were so drawn to him, and they had such an affectionate relationship with him. so, but did he have enemies? you bet. and after he defeated tom dewey in 1944, behind the scenes he said he's a son of a bitch. [laughter] i don't like him, you see.
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harry truman would have echoed that later, 1948. >> les a gentleman that's been very patient over against the wall here. >> thank you. if you say that fdr was planning to leave office after one year in his fourth term -- >> yep. >> -- why did he pick harry truman who was considered a machine politician ask with who -- and with whom he didn't share much information, including the manhattan project? >> they said of harry truman, he was the second missouri compromise. [laughter] flash they had a fight in the democratic party between henry wallace on the left and jimmy burns on the right. and roosevelt being roosevelt accepted the proposition that they should or have somebody --
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they should have somebody who was of in the middle. and truman had not really offended anyone much. and he had gained the cover of time magazine with his investigations of war profiteering and had a glimmer of popularity. and also he was very much in roosevelt's shadow which roosevelt was happy to have that, you see? now, roosevelt told him next to nothing and certainly didn't tell him about the atomic bomb, you see. but if he had lasted for a year, i suspect that would have changed, that he would have brought harry more into the center of things. but the measure of that whole situation, to me, is the fact that when they came to harry truman, he was having drinks with sam rayburn at the white house, and they said you must go
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to the white house immediately, it's a crisis. very important, don't tell anyone. he got there, he was brought in to eleanor, and she took his hand and said, harry, the president is dead, you're now the president. and trueman, being as decent -- truman being as decent a guy as he was said to her, mrs. roosevelt, is there anything i can do for you? and he said, harry, is there anything i can do for you? you're the one in trouble now. [laughter] so these were two lovely, decent people with hard edges too, see? >> alma, in the front row. >> i grew up in the era of -- [inaudible] how did people feel at that time in realtime? they adored him, they worshiped him. he was the father of america. and his dignity, his voice perhaps not having, not having the benefit of television --
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>> no. >> -- and all the high-tech stuff that we have now. i had never -- when he died, i remember i felt that i had lost as did everyone i knew had lost a grandfather. and he was only 63, but it made no difference. >> yeah. >> he had -- was so adored and so idolized by the public. the same situation arose with president kennedy. a new spirit of patriotism, of caring about america. how do you compare the two people? because it was a phenomenal -- it was love, it was patriotism. >> yes. >> it was devotion. how did -- what was it about those two men that captured an entire nation? >> well, i think what was so important was that they saw these men as patriotic leaders,
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as people who were concerned to serve the well-being of the entire nation, that they were not held fast by special interests of any kind, you see? and they were believed. see, credibility, trust, they trusted them that they were really on your side. as i told those two anecdotes. but, you know, kennedy after the bay bay of pigs when that failed and he owned up to the idea that it was his fault, and then his poll numbers went jumping up, and he said to somebody the worse i do, the higher my numbers go. but it was the fact that he showed personal courage, see. and that in some ways kennedy has replaced roosevelt as -- because the kennedys are america's roying y'all family -- royal family. and my friend peter here who was
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so involved in the 100th anniversary of kennedy's birth, you see, and also of roosevelt's birth and also on building the roosevelt memorial, you see, he didn't do it with his hands, but -- [laughter] [inaudible conversations] >> he has a very good sense of history. >> well, that actually is such a great question, i think it's one we're going of to have to end on. referencing kennedy, you're going to have to read the book because joseph kennedy features extensively -- >> oh, yes. >> but i would just like to, on behalf of everyone, thank you so much for being here. >> thank you. [applause] >> and he will be joining us outside to sign books, so i hope many of you, if you don't have it already, i promise you you're going to love it.
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[inaudible conversations] >> booktv has covered many presidential biographies. most recently, kenneth white's "hoover," american ulysses by ronald white and herbert hoover in the white house . be presidential history is a topic that interests you, visit and search presidential biography book. several programs appear, and you can -- will appear, and you can watch them all online. >> and in publishing news this weekend, author michael wolff's
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new book "fire and fury" about the inner workings of the trump white house is already on bestsellers' list. he discussed the book on "meet the press." >> you were pretty tough on donald trump early in 2017, to the media, it is a given that trump is largely out of control and that the people around him are viewing willing at all -- struggling at all times to save him from himself. this view exists despite trump's ricketily, and you thought that the media was two one-sided or that was the impression you were giving. i have to say, when you read this book, you almost seem to reinforce the entire media narrative you were criticizing. >> i think in the beginning the media took this point of view without having had this experience. you know, i went into this and a decent part of the country went into this, his entire staff went into this thinking maybe this
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can work. it's different, even peculiar, but who knows what can happen here. and that was exactly my, my frame of reference. i would have been flighted to have written a contrarian account here, donald trump this unexpected president is actually going to succeed. okay. that's not the story. he is not going to succeed. this is worse than everybody thought. >> did you, i'm just curious because it's a very tough book. you basically, you're sending a message here to anybody reading this book, did you leave out good stuff? because it got in the way of the narrative? if people said is positive things about him -- not saying that you left it out because you thought it took away from the thesis to have book that you wanted to get out there? >> if i left out anything, it's probably stuff that was even more damning. >> and next week michael wolfe begins his nationwide tour to
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promote the book including on booktv. >> you're watching booktv on c-span2 with top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. booktv, television for serious readers. >> here on c-span2, "the communicators" is next with bell labs president marcus weldon talking about developments in communications and technology research. that's followed by middle east policy experts discussing the ongoing protest in iran. and later, a look at the benefits and challenges of diplomacy in the digital age. >> c-span, where history up folds daily -- unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today by your satellite provider.


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