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tv   [untitled]    January 28, 2012 11:00am-11:30am EST

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compromise with. well, since presidents lack the constitutional authority to force congress to do their bidding, they have to develop strategies for dealing with congress for trying to maximize the chances of getting congress to do what they want to do. so what were bush's strategies? that is the second part of my title. though it comes first, it is the offered hand in the veto fix. much of the paper deals with what the strategies were and to what extent they worked. clearly given the character of the congress and the heavy democratic majorities, bush was going to need bipartisan for legislative success. thus, the offered hand as he, himself, phased it in his
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inauguration. bush cultivated both members of congress and he would, when necessary, compromise, on legislation on the substance of legislation with democrats. in fact, he did a lot of cultivating, which was not even second nature. first nature. and of necessity, he did a lot of compromising. and to the question arises when you look at this element of strategy is whether bush completely understood how much congress had changed. he did seem to have expected personal friendships and the cultivation of members to payoff in support much more than they actually did.
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well, the second strategy is the veto. after all, the veto is the president's ultimate constitutional weapon. bush used the veto and used the veto threat well with success. i have a bit of analysis of both in the paper. too much to talk about here. well, as you all know now, if you didn't before, bush had only one veto overridden. i shall also say that veto threats were used quite effectively. veto threats generally did move legislation toward bush's preferences. i don't know if -- fred, are you going to talk about the gradation of the veto threats you developed? >> you can talk about it.
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>> i will. anyway -- >> everything else is gone already. i'm the clean-up guy. >> that's the trouble. >> have at it. >> the administration brought in this quite innovative system of how they phrased their positions on legislation. you can see this in statements of administration policy which were written statements sent to congress. the first gradation would be, oh, we really don't like this. then, second maybe would be, the president's senior advisers would recommend he veto this. the secretary of treasury. the secretary of state. the secretary of whatever, would recommend a veto. fini finally you get to the president is going to veto. this provided us a strategic
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tactical flexibility that, i think, made veto threats more effective. they have, to some extent, been used by presidents. in my paper, i cite a number of legislative efforts to illustrate these strategies and their limitations. i'll only make a very few points here. an early case of where the open-hand strategy worked really well was on the bill to clean up the savings and loan deback. >> caller:. -- debacle. this had the potential of being very difficult, but the bush administration came through with a proposal very quickly to serve as a focal point for congress. they worked closely with member.
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and those things certainly contributed to the success, but it was also crucial, i think, this was anss divide members neatly along partisan lines. i spent much more attention on the two biggies, really. for the first two years and for the whole four years. the clean air act and the 1990 budget deal. generally, the clean air act is considered a win for bush. the budget deal, a political loss, if not a debacle. in fact, in both cases, the substantive compromise reached was fairly unfavorable to bush. you know, he had to move a long way from his preferred positions to get legislation. and sure, there were tactical
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mistakes in both cases. you know, these complicated legislative battles are seldom run with perfectly orchestrated. if it were run perfectly, the administration could have done better substantivelyy in case o budget deal. i that both cases such as were on the ild care and a one hand, bush was a conservative. still is. and his policy preferences and those of the majority of democrats really were very far apart on a number of things. given the increasing ideological
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leadership in the caucus, it was simply not possible in most cases to pick off just enough majority party members to form a winning minority republicans. in other words, the strategy that had worked for ronald reagan in 1981, just wasn't a feasible strategy. of course, there was also the fact on the budget deal. some of the worst damage was done by house republicans who o. that was, again, an indicator of how the parties had changed. in conclusion, throughout his presidency, bush successfully used the veto to kill
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legislation. he he opposed. but on his own agenda items, veto threats to only move the outcome so far. in many cases, democrats knew that bush really did not want to veto. he wanted legislation. he was willing to pay a price in substantive terms to get a bill and they made him do it. thank you. >> thank you, barbara. the next two people who will talk to us really makeentation . they are -- if you look at their careers, both are so involved in what it's like outside as it's brought inside washington.
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about barbara, bobby is currently ceo of the technology council. she is involved in community affairs. she worked for presidents nixon, ford and bush. in working for president bush, very involved in public liaison. how is it you get representation and make it genuine into the system? and how is it that you convey what's going on in the white house to the american public?
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fred mcclure worked on capitol hill for senator tower. worked in the congressional liaison for presidents reagan and bush. in that role, i actually checked and this man only weighs 110 pounds. this is all battle garb. congressional liaison people have to know the congress, know well on both sides what it is they want and how it is they make decisions and how it is you can work with them. convey that information back to the white house and, yet, participate in trying to sell what the white house is trying to get sold on capitol hill.
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this is difficult work. there is no punching the clock. just because of the nature of the work. bobby, why don't you go first. >> thank you, chuck. my legal name is barbara. the only time my parents ever used it is when they were angry at me. please refer to me as bobbi today. i was the deputy assistant to the president. i tried to stand on end on anne's shoulders. she was an extraordinary person. she took that position to new levels. i'll leave the supreme court analysis to fred. i was on his confirmation teams both times, but he was clearly in charge. when you talked barbara about
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religious balance, the present court has six catholics and three jews. the propertestants are totally gone. i would like to say how the president communicated. that is very important to be able to understand his domestic policy. as the romans said yesterday at the dinner, the president's foreign policies initiatives were so extraordinary successful, that sometimes his domestic issues were put on the back burner. we heard this this morning. the accomplishments were consistent with his philosophy. limited, yet caring government. free markets and fiscal restraints and community responsibility. if you take a look at a few of those. the clean air act.
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that included, i don't know if they spelled this out. that included emissions trading caps to reduce the cost of compliance. they reduced the cost of compliance for businesses by two-third by the same time reducing the sulfur dioxide by 50%. that is amazing. education reform. governor talked about returning the responsibilities to the communities. americans with disabilities act. there never would have been an american with disabilities act. he and the president pushed that against all unlikely odds. major transportation bill. a major bill. it was in 1991. then, of course, there was the 1990 budget agreement. we all understand it was terrible politically. it really set the stage once the short recession was over, which
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sank the bush presidency. it set the stage for bill clinton's economic success. bill clinton's success was based on that budget deal. you have to remember there were very tough spending controls in the bill. there were caps on discretionary spending which exceeded the costs to be sequestered. they were pay as you go. if you wanted to increase spending, you had to increase taxes. it is interesting. i remember the 1998 convention clearly. i remember sitting in sessions where the president never wanted to put the no new tax pledge in the speech. the political folks prevailed and said you must do this for your conservative base. 1990 came around. it was clear to him that the no new tax pledge to sink his re-election. he did what he thought was right. he let the political chips fall where they may.
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points of light. 1,000 points of light. the national community service act of 1990. you talked about the civil rights act of 1991 and our opposition to crime. i realize there is trade and foreign policy, but it is domestic policy as well. what was the president's approach to government in the domestic arena? discourse with civility. the discussion with civility. relate to people on a personal level. number five, do not grandstand. that came directly from his mother, dorothy and her ethics teaching. she would say george, don't boast. george, don't brag. george, don't show emotion.
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that was private. always be ethical. seek agreement. come to the center. do what's right. despite the political fallout. and this was one that i always loved. we are here to govern, not campaign. those who lived through the 1992 bush white house, that was very painful for us. it took -- he had an internal political body clock. could you not shake it. until he was ready to focus on campaigning, you could stand on your head and spit nickels and he would not do that. he would not get to the point until spring of 1992, until, frankly, it was too late. one of the others is don't -- what did i say here? don't use foreign policy as a domestic political tool. never use it as a domestic political tool. when the economy soured, he was reluctant to play the gulf war card success. he felt they had to stand on
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their own. as a footnote to that, i think he knew that the budget agreement would eventually benefit the economy. but he also knew we were going into a recession and that given his economic philosophy that there was a limit to what government could or should be doing in this recession because it was a recession that was redefining the united states. we were going from a heavy manufacturing economy to an economy with less jobs and less white collar jobs and an economy that was information in technology based. those jobs were not coming back. he really couldn't bring himself to pander or lie to the american people to improve his re-election chances. it was beyond him. he was viewed as being out of touch. he was not out of touch at all.
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what did the office mean for us? we were supposed to meet with the interest groups in the country. for george bush, it meant we needed to meet with all different points of view. not only those that we thought agreed with us. he threw open the white house gates and cast a wide net. the president reagan's former opl folks were horrified. their philosophy, at the end of the reagan presidency, was you are either for us or against us. president bush felt differently. he wanted to see everyone. i remember one clearly in room 450 of the old executive office building in 1989. my mouth dropped off. i w sitting there was ralph nader. i went into the little off stage holding room. he said you look pale.
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i said yes. he was tickled pink to see the reaction of all of us. his philosophy, i think, was extraordinarily important and set a new tone. the theory was simple. if you included folks in the policy discussions on the way in, they will be more inclined on the way out to sell the american people to support you or if they disagreed with you, to disagree with civility rather than rankor. given his personality and style, that was important for him. the president came in with very strong feelings that he wanted to listen to what everybody had to say. if you cared enough to organize as an interest group, you probably had something intelligent to say about a topic. he was a ver rash yus reader of public policy. the clean air act discussions
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where he met in the roosevelt room. the president knew more about co 2 and emissions than socks and rocks. i said where the hell did that come from? hey, i have been vice president for eight years. thank you very much. i do read. he really viewed our process as really opening up the white house for people of all views. in clean air, he did not only talk to the auto companies, we talked to the union groups and consumer groups. i think that really was key. and it wasn't also just for show. he went back to the drawing boards on a number of issues based on the clean air act with the groups. he made some amendments. he understood policy issues across the board in depth. he participated in the roosevelt
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room round tables. challenging his guests. he would say yes, but. he would engage in an interactive discussion. they always ran over time. he has one of his former personal aides here now. he would stand up at the allotted time and the president was supposed to look at him and leave. the president would look at him and stare at him and keep on going. the next line of defense would be i get up and stands next to tim and stare at him again. he looked at us and said sit down. he would go on. he would enjoy the interaction. he learned from it. it was very different from the way president reagan held those sessions. he held them, also, but you put 20 people around the table and he would go around the table to person and person. they would make their statements and he would say thank you.
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president bush wasn't comfortable with that format. one day i asked president bush when we were becoming honest brokers. he would say, sometimes that is the best way to get something done. along the lines, the office from january of '89 to april of '92, we did 605 opl events with the president. that included the ones that other people did. plus, without the president, opl briefing speeches are close to 60 to 100 per month. that's a lot of interaction with people. initially, the president felt we should not lobby congress with friends of his when he served in the congress. he had limits of what we could do to encourage groups to
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contact congress. the president went further than that and was stricter than that. after the first year of 1989, he realized that would not work. he let the flood gates open more. i remember in 1989, walking down the hallway. he stopped me. he said i want to talk to you. i said yes. he said, sonny montgomery. he said you know, he is a friend of mine. he said, did you ask the constituents from the chamber of commerce from mississippi to talk to him about whatever bill it was? i said he said i cannot directly ask them to do that. i encouraged him about the key people on the vote. i looked at him. he pointed his finger at me. he said don't you ever do that again. sonny montgomery is a friend of mine. i go to the gym with him. i have dinner with him. don't do that. i went up and told fred. fred said calm down. he will change his mind
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overnigove over time. he came from congress. those were his friends. it is part of his personality. don't make it personal. outside of the diplomatic entrance on the west side of the white house, they call it the stake out place for the press. and this lasted over four years. interest groups would go out for the meeting with the president. go out to the press stakeout and dump all over us. they would say these terrible things about all of our bills. i said mr. president, how long do we have to put up with this? they are not saying anything supportive. he said, bobbie, this is the people's house. not our house. they are the people. they have a right to express their opinions. you must always respect that. that's pretty classy way to operate. we used to invite new groups to the white house that hadn't been invited before.
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fred is talking about young congress members. we would invite new groups and reach out to labor groups. the building and construction trades we love to pull away from the aflcio. the president spoke to them and invited them to the white house. he invited them to the residence. not to the ground floor. not to the west wing office. the residence. that was special. it had never been done before. it hadn't been done for eight years under reagan or the democrats with jimmy carter. nobody had done that. that made a major impact. it made a major impact on many other groups we did it with. the president knows and roman has talked about this in his books and papers. the president knew things about everyone he met with. i never seen anybody with a memory in caring about people. the first time the governor went with the president on the foreign policy trip to japan. he came back and said he knows
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where the prime minister's son went to school and how many kids he has and if the kid is succeeding in school. he knows everything about him. he knows if he likes chess or if he likes to play tennis. that is something you cannot bottle or sell. it helped him in domestic policy. i know i'm going on too long. i have to tell you one funny story. that is relating to the labor unions. valencia was not president of poland but solidard. i rode with him in the motorcade. when he got through the southeast gate and looked at the white house, this man started to cry. it was just extraordinary. we went in and had a reception that included all of the old line labor leaders. aflcio and buildings trade people. we were having a very good time. the state dining room.
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the very long oval table. you fill it with food. i don't mean to stereotype labor leaders, but this very big labor leader from pittsburgh decided to lean against the table. he leaned against the table and it started to creak. the food started to move. we all fell on to the table and we're holding this table up with our hands. the president's mouth just opened. he did not know what to say. to make a long story short. the table kind of collapsed. the food went all over the place. they thought it was the funniest thing. afterwards, we were talking about mrs. bush. afterwards, mrs. bush looked at me. she said i don't believe that s.o.b. broke my table. it was absolutely phenomenal. what kind of a communicator was
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george bush? he was constantly compared to president reagan and criticized for not being the grand communicator that reagan was. that is true. his style was low key and personal and in depth. i have from my oral transcript. i remember when the president was vice president and him looking at me one day and saying how does president reagan do that? president bush just couldn't do that nor did he want to do that. he had a very different approach. he hated sound bytes. there were a few speeches he delivered well. i'm sure those were not his shining moment. what was his shining moment was giving him note cards. you give him note cards with talking points and he would take
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off. he was fabulous. he would relay it to the audience. he did not need a speech. a speech was almost an impediment to him. we learned early on if he made a speech, he was better at smaller groups. if he had a large group, and we learned no teleprompter. make sure the lighting was such so he could see the faces in the front row. if he could see the faces, he could relate to the real people out there. people that he wanted to make a point to. he did that very well. he also disliked intensely press conferences. if you remember ronald reagan did most of these evening press conferences which were very nationally televised and were there to make a number of points. i think the president did three major evening press


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