tv The Presidency Secret Presidential Recordings CSPAN August 18, 2019 8:01pm-9:12pm EDT
those who were there and i think we all should take stock of woodstock. >> we thank you for your >> next on "the presidency," historians analyze the secret white house tapes of john f. kennedy, lyndon b. johnson and richard m nixon. we get an inside look into hell presidents conducted day-to-day business and hear their candid assessments. the university of virginia's miller center hosted this event. prof. selverstone: good afternoon, everyone. i am marc selverstone. inociate professor presidential studies at the university of virginia's miller center,, and chair of the center's presidential recordings program. i'd like to welcome you to a special panel, echoing the past, featuring my colleagues on the
recordings program. quite wonderful to be here with everybody. kent was with us for years and years, spent time at the university of south carolina. for the next 75 minutes, we'll share insights from the secret white house tapes, and we'll l in, to explore dynamics there but also to relate them to contemporary developments, to see what kinds of questions they prompt us to ask about contemporary dynamics, about the history they contain, about parallels to today's events, about the practice of democracy itself. just a word about the recordings program. we were established in 1998, and the only we are institution of this kind doing transcribenalyze and
the secret presidential tapes that presidents made from 1940 so franklin, roosevelt through richard nixon. we do this work at the miller center. well,it offsite as because so much work these days is browser-based. but we publish work through the university of virginia press and its electronic imprint. the presidential recordings digital initiative, digital edition, is ours. we also publish snippets of conversation, kind of the greatest hits, through millercenter.org, and we will share many of those clips with you today. toore we get going, i want acknowledge a few people who have helped us along the way. the national historical publications and records commission, an arm of the
national archives and records administration, has been very generous in their support, and we appreciate their belief and confidence in us and the work that we do. i'd like to acknowledge carrie matthews, associate editor and our program administrator. carrie's guiding hand is evident in every thing we do. she keeps us honest, and makes sure there are as few mistakes as possible in our work. if there are any here today, that is all on me. to finally, i'd like acknowledge mark saunders. mark saunders was the director of the university of virginia press, the founder and motive force behind its electronic friend. and a close mark passed away this weekend, suddenly.
it is a tremendous loss for all of us. mark had a great vision for our program, taking us from letter-press additions we were publishing with norton that worked out very well, but mark ushered us into the digital age, and we are deeply saddened by his loss. we will miss his guiding hand. but in the spirit of what mark wanted, which was for us to be an important voice in bringing this history to the united states, and encouraging greater transparency into the workings of the government and into the presidency, we will push on. and so we are pleased to be here today. to help us sort out the connections between past and hemmer will bee our guiding hand today. she is perfect for this job. she is an assistant professor in
presidential studies at the miller center, a member of the presidential recordings program, and again a wonderful colleague. of's also editor and founder the washington post series "made and the podcast "past present." running to nikki to here from the session she just moderated to help us. prof. hemmer: i really look forward to this. working with secret white house tapes is as exciting as it sounds, getting to be a fly on in wall in the oval office a time0's and 1970's, that big plots are being hatched and history is being made. we will hear from that, starting with marc, who will tell us a little about what the white house tapes tell us about endl
ess wars, something that is incredibly timely. of the also the author award-winning book "constructing them on monolith." why don't you start us off? prof. selverstone: thank you. so, the united states has been at war, on a war footing for 17 years, 18 years. most conspicuously of course in iraq and afghanistan, but also in places as disparate as somalia, yemen, libya, syria. collectively, these engagements have been known as the war on terror, or the global war on terror. most recently, president trump in his state of the union address referred to them as "endless wars." trumpesidents preceding recognized their endurance, and
sought to at various points disengage in the midst of ongoing hostilities. they don't do so willingly necessarily, or even with the same amount of enthusiasm, but they sought to. forcesnt bush, in the agreement with iraq, something , looked toto pursue extricate the united states from 2011, withember combat forces out of the and by 201109, u.s. combat forces out of iraq. in the fall, into the winter of to begin theed departure of u.s. forces from afghanistan, in the summer of
2011. and president trump most recently spoke about withdrawal from syria, in an announcement on december of 2018, that has subsequent been qualified by the pentagon. this is not the first time in recent history that a president has sought to turn over the fighting in ongoing conflicts to local allies, particularly in the midst of the unpopularity of these wars, and with a specific timetable in mind. the associated term vietnam-ization, with the process that richard nixon pursued, to de-americanize the war, wind down the american profile in vietnam and turned the fighting over to the south vietnamese forces. but this wasn't the only time americans looked to wind down engagement in vietnam.
president kennedy did so, in the middle of his 1000 days. in the summer of 1962, president john f. kennedy began planning to get american troops out of vietnam. planning wereh produced in early 1963, were june, theninto may and presented to kennedy in fall of 1963. president kennedy was presented with plans to get virtually all united states combat troops, not combat troops necessarily at that time, they were military advisors, but u.s. soldiers out of vietnam by the end of 1965. in an effort to kickstart that process, 1000 advisors were to be withdrawn by the end of 1963. we know abou tt this because of the pentagon papers, which has a
section on this withdrawal. but we also know about it in much greater color and texture because of the kennedy white house tapes. so what i would like to do for you now is to play a combination of tapes, tapes we spliced together from meetings that took place on october 2, 1963, one of them a morning session, relatively small between kennedy and senior national security advisor's, and then an evening national security council which a after public statement was made in the rose garden of the white house indicating the united states would be leaving vietnam by 1965, and that 1000 troops would be withdrawn by the end of 1963. the people we will hear from in this conversation are president kennedy, secretary of defense robert mcnamara, national security advisor george bundy,
wasteful and it, cates both their problems and ours -- complicates both their problems and ours. >> so that goes back to paragraph two, mac. >> yes, it does. >> well, it is something we debated very strongly. i think it is a major question. i will just say this, we talked to 174 officers, vietnamese and u.s. in the case of the u.s. i always asked, when can you finish this job in the sense that you will reduce the insurgency to little more than sporadic incidents? [inaudible] actually, that's not necessary. i assume there's no major factors, new factors entering -- >> well let's say it anyway. doesn't w965, if it
ork, we'll get out of the delta. >> [inaudible] were looked like we totally optimistic -- overly optimistic. and i am not sure, i'd like to know what benefit we got out at this time, announcing 1000. influenced, the course of action. people, we dothe have a plan for reducing the exposure of u.s. combat uerrillal to the g actions in south vietnam, actions that the people of south vietnam should gradually develop a capacity to suppress themselves. i think this will be of great value to us in meeting the very strong views of fulbright, and others that we're bogged down in
asia and will be there for decades. prof. selverstone: so, many things that this conversation prompts, aside from robert mcnamara being the one pushing for this planning process. the intensive political nature of the withdrawal process, as much as it was key to the way folks were feeling in congress, to the flexibility of the timetable that kennedy seems to embrace, while the white house statement came out squarely and said we will look to be out by 1965. kennedy seems to be hedging on that, if 1965 doesn't work, will simply get a new date. there are a host of other strategic, bureaucratic and economic reasons that kennedy is pursuing this withdrawal. one of the questions that does he really he get what wants? that's something nikki and i
want to engage with briefly. but initially, one of the goals of this withdrawal, other withdrawals, is to encourage your partners to fight better, to tell them, we aren't here forever. that doesn't seem to have happened as a result of the kennedy withdrawal. the local partners didn't push on the way the administration wanted, so changes took place in the short time he was around to see that. we know from what took place in early 1964, that it was not sustainable. this is a question we need to ask, as we think about timetables for withdrawals. how effective are they? are presidents really able to sustain the domestic political support that they want to get from these? it is not clear that kennedy was able to do that, either. is it really the case you are going to induce in local allies the capabilities and functions these withdrawals are supposed to provide? prof. hemmer: that would be my question mark.
you listen to the conversations, and you can see they are really thinking about this. they have a strategy. they have a set of theories. these are very smart people, engaging in what historians and americans would come to think of as the vietnam war. the same thing goes for some of the wars we are engaged in today. is the answer that you cannot think your way out of these? what is the lesson to draw? prof. selverstone: i would say, it's a question i asked, too, the extent to which subsequent administrations have reflected nobody knows better than ken hughes, vietnam-ization. in kennedy's case, i don't think they thought terribly hard about the timetable. out,trhrew it particularly because the 1964 presidential campaign was coming up, and there was a real concern the u.s. was getting bogged down
in asia, as mcnamara says. but if you look at, say, the process president obama engaged in, the extended, months-long review for afghanistan. the initial surge of troops in lateg of 2009, but in the , and wefall of 2009m, know about this through a series of well-placed, well-timed leaks at the time, obama was getting his national security team together again and again. would this be a surge of 10,000, 30,000, 40,000 troops, or more? would we be going full counterinsurgency, trying counterterrorism? this is all playing out in the doing, and obama was something the kennedy administration did not to, to think much more rigorously about
this and bring in the stakeholders. one thing neither seem to be sure of, the kennedy administration certainly, was to bring in congress. how do you get out of endless wars? think harder about how you get into them, and have a better grip on that. thekinds of questions about authorization for the use of military force, a major matter we look to engage on with these processes. prof. hemmer: as you know, the vietnam war didn't end in 1963, or 1964, etc. it led to a real shakeup in u.s. mcgee,s, and ian associate professor of presidential studies at the miller center, is going to walk us through somne of those insurgencies.
we're getting now into the johnson and nixon tapes, and they get a little earthier. there's going to be some swearing in these tapes, i just in the forthcoming segment. >> good afternoon, everyone. there's much more out there. [laughter] two short clips from lyndon johnson's secret white house recordings i want to share with you this afternoon. discussingdoing so, the insurgencies in the 1960's, civil rights, antiwar, anti-poverty activists compared to political insurgencies today. in doing so, i would like to step back from the standard left frame of politics. a profound challenge, but in many respects a functional
political establishment in the united states. i would like to offer a about whatbservation that contrast means. my first clip comes from december 1956. 1966. from december lbj's presidency has entered decline at this point. facing increasing resistance to the war on poverty, the emergence of a stronger antiwar movement, and taking serious losses in the november midterm elections. during a long telephone conversation that day, with bill moyers, president johnson turned to the question of how to encourage sargent shriver to stay on as office of the director of economic opportunity, the agency managing johnson's troubled war on poverty. notson indicated he was
giving the budget that shriver wanted, and offered blunt statements about his perception of the tension between funding for the war on poverty and the activist insurgencies. this is a clear indication of an establishment figure's perception of the period's activism and what he saw as its cause. [audio recording] pres. johnson: i am not anxious for him to stay. i would like for him to. i think he's the best man for it, and he has my support and my confidence and so forth. would, whatever figure i give in the budget, i will, what i did last year. but i can't keep him from being the victim of bobby and ribicvoff and clark, and i can't keep him from being the victim of the commies out here yesterday. i think that is hurting poverty
more than any world in the world. with commies, these kids long hairs, saying they want poverty instead of vietnam. i think that's what people regard as the great society. prof. mckee: the second clip, spring of 1968. senator mccarthy of minnesota and senator kennedy launched campaigns trying to channel the insurgent political energy, the "long hairs and commies" johnson referred to against the president. on march 23, 1968, president johnson spoke with chicago mayor richard j. daly. this is the establishment. theyspoke about how thought bobby kennedy could be defeated by their network of
mayors, governors and members of congress. in 1968 isdence striking. [audio recording] pres. johnson: the committee, to a man, they said, we welcome a primary, let them come in here. pres. johnson: you and dick hughes, pennsylvania, texas. i don't think we will lose a single southern state. i counted the congressmen last night. we have 160 and he has 8, from massachusetts and new york, and most of them are real extreme --orm left-wingers, and >> in a way, it is a good thing. the more that i think about it. we're trying to hold off, trying to do everything, and i was trying to talk to him, because i was giving him some sound
advice. pres. johnson: you were, and every but he knew that. >> but yes, it's just as low. he doesn't seem to be going anyplace. pres. johnson: he's going to get a lot of publicity, a lot of media treatment. >> i said to him, all you are going to do is try to divide our party. pres. johnson: he's always got three or four polls hired, but we have to have four men to be my board of directors on this country. we need you and dick hughes of new jersey, who is solid as a rock. ofhave to get barr and tate pittsburgh and philadelphia. they are solid as a rock. if, we have o'hara, at the moment trying to buy it off, but if we can take ohio, illinois, pennsylvania and texas, and new jersey. >> hell, we're in. pres. johnson: that's all of it. i think it will be a landslide.
despitekee: of course, their confident expectations of a landslide, lbj would withdraw from the race a little more than a week later. after that, kennedy would be dead. the thing is, johnson and daly weren't really wrong. president hubert humphrey would capture the nomination over mccarthy and mcgovern at the convention in chicago, which of course was tremendously disrupted by protests. discussing this more, i'd argue the outcome would have been no different had the contest in fact been between johnson and bobby kennedy. ultimately, despite trying to channel this energy from the activists of the period, both bobby kennedy and mccarthy were themselves establishment figures peered one, former attorney general and brother of a slain president, and the other
a senator. both of them were trying to capture the antiwar, civil rights insurgency johnson reacted to. the establishment johnson and daly discussed in the second conversation. partly this is the limits of the clinical strength of the insurgency itself. after all, nixon wins the election that fall. but also, they were not really of those movements. they were ultimately part of the establishment themselves, not really part of the activism or the insurgency. this is the broad contrast i want to draw to our current movement. we, too live in an era of insurgencies, but in contrast to bobby kennedy, eugene mccarthy, could trump in part position himself with some degree of authenticity to his core audience as an outsider
figure, not only mobilizing but also representing populist insurgent resentment and anger against the country's political establishment. what that energy actually meant of course, we can discuss and debate. represents anders, varianbt ot of the same thing. so today, facing the 2020 election, which will test trump's continued ability to ride that populist, outsider momentum and energy, as well as the ongoing strength of that movement itself. again as the democratic party establishment, joe biden, elizabeth warren, kamala harris, many other contenders for the nomination, attempt again to mobilize, channel and perhaps to contain the energy. thank you. politicaler: so, from
insurgencies to political chicanery. with thes has been presidential recording program since 2000, called by bob ward war -- woodward one of the foremost experts on presidential recordings. you're going to draw more parallels between those politica -- between the political chicanery of the past and today. >> the nixon administration comes and goes in waves. when things are going well in america, i don't get many phone calls from reporters. when things aren't going well, i get many calls. these days, you can guess i get a lot. most recently with the release of the mueller report, the questions of a president encouraging aides to perjure themselves, and engaging in obstruction of justice to fort
an investigation of -- thw art it was interesting to see the harding's -- pardons. it was so different than the way that nixon did it. tom talked about how unfair the treatment of -- trump talked about how unfair the treatment of manafort was. he said the president would look to see if anybody was treated unfairly and he might get a parting. -- pardon. robert mueller said obstruction not usually taking place in public.
encourages trying to ides not to comply and want to gauge how he did so in secret. it was the day after john dean testified to the watergate committee and may 1973. refused toriginally testify. trump is invoking executive privilege. nixon discovered that when your former aide volunteers to testify, executive conflict is not going to stop them because your aid has a right to do that. he discovered that if he does
not send the eggs on his side to testify before the committee, the committee will only hear from those who will testify against him, so he is meeting with his former chief of staff and he talks about hardening everyone in his inner circle. there is some language in this as well. transcript]of [applause] -- [laughter]
the special prosecutor at the time said we are not sure that we can indict a president, so they named him as a non-indicted conspirator. richard nixon got on the helicopter to leave the white house for good to fulfill his promise to them and parting them all, but right before nixon they said if you pardon everyone else, they will take your head. nixon did not fulfill this promise. he wanted to be the only one pardon for his crimes in watergate. everyone that he promised to pardon went to prison. >> ok. everybody is paying attention to obstruction of justice. you are paying attention to afghanistan.
he has a plan. it has three elements. cease-fire between the warring parties in afghanistan, negotiations about a future government, and security guarantees. that the taliban will not allow any terrorist to use afghanistan as a base for terrorist attacks in the u.s. as someone who voted book about richard nixon's exit from , it was basically designed to make it look like he had succeeded, getting peace with honor in vietnam, but was , ay getting an interval .eriod of a year or two
nixon talked about withdrawing all of the troops from vietnam, he likened it to his reelection campaign and make sure that the troops stayed just long enough to keep them from collapsing before election day. of them came back before election day, so he could tell the public, i am withdrawing, and that would be credible. he got a guarantee from the enemy. agreement vietnam's to withdraw. you can hear nixon on the tape saying is not -- it does not matter if you get the guarantee. they will never withdraw. right before the election, they were able to say, look, we finally got the north vietnamese to agree to withdraw from the
trail. was a cease-fire between the warring parties and negotiations over future elections. nixon and kissinger saying quite plainly that the elections will never take place in vietnam. the cease-fire will not break down. they will be gone. the 1972 election will be in the rearview mirror. made the day before henry kissinger flew to paris to include the deal with north vietnam. north isect that the finally willing to accept nixon's demands. he has had the president of south vietnam briefed on those demands.
>> henry kissinger says our terms will destroy him in private. two weeks before the election and send the north has accepted our terms and we believe that peace is at hand. they were very clever about arranging it so that it looked like they had won, when they had oft done a controlled form fall out. trump can do that.
the last time that they discussed their plans in public, his plans were to bring the last american troops home, sometime in late 2020. if he can come out and say, our troops are coming home and the taliban agrees that afghanistan will not be home to terrorism. they are entering into negotiations about the future government and a cease-fire. some of the people at a crucial time for him. when it all falls apart would be sometime after the election, wouldn't -- when it would be too late to hold them accountable. prof. hemmer: in the midst of all of this, there was a major shift in realignment with the two major parties and their coalition.
they are going to tell us a little bit about it. >> when i was a kid, i was in texas. there was a guy who hosted the news and after the sports was over, he would be on this show called bowling for dollars. the doctor has done a similar thing today. this is the bowling section. best bowlerbe the in the white house. [laughter] up democratic primary coming , there are a lot of bowling pins up and there will just be one standing. lbj.t to talk about we know that -- richard nixon quit.
lbj actually quit as well, he just did not make it public yet he talked about it to a couple of allies and his oldest friends. the most to talk about sincere political minute of lbj's life. it boils down to this one minute. quit because of a lot of reasons. johnson quit because he was a baby. he would say that his mother did not raise him right. we can debate that at another time. on 1964.to focus two days into the convention. two days before lyndon johnson
gave his acceptance speech. exploded fireworks and his name was in my. that, landslide linden, who had made it to the senate by 87 votes would have defeated the republican candidate by almost 16 million votes. about 90% of the electoral college. it would be the high point of american liberalism. it would be the beginning of the end of the democratic party's dominance of american politics. johnsont 25, lyndon awoke in a bad mood, which was not uncommon. he skipped his calisthenics regime. brother, who was
at the beach in south carolina. would make a series of phone calls throughout the morning to the senator from georgia, to several of his key aides and press secretary. he would talk to his wife. a little after noon, you would find lady bird lying on the ground, at the white house underneath the tree, holding hands a little bit and talking. about,ey were talking among many things was the fact that lbj had told lady bird that he was going to quit. -- he had written out a press statement that he was withdrawing his name from nomination. the country needed better educated people, harvard educated people, younger people.
he could not hold the country together. he could not even hold the democratic party together. they were trying to figure out compromise. they would come out with a compromise that did not make many people happy -- happy. he would change his mind about withdrawing. makeefense that he would after the decision to stay in is what i think is the most sincere moment of his life. say a few things about what lady bird said. she had left linden alone in his room with the shades drawn. he told her he was quitting. she would arise from the lawn, go upstairs and write a letter to johnson. .he told him that he was brave
she told him that if he quit, it would embarrass his friends and it would make his enemies so happy. they would jeer and cheer. she would tell him that his speech would be a lonely wasteland. he could not stand to be alone. he always wanted somebody just sitting next to the bed. and she ended it, i love you always. this defining moment of lbj, stripped down to its bare essence. what was that at the middle? to january 1928. what he said to hubert humphrey about what the democratic party is for. war on poverty. every time i teach, when -- i
say if you want to go into politics, read this. if you can convince your voters that you control these words, you will win. medicare, security, human dignity and human right. for.is what we stand a government of strength. a government that is compassionate, and it just makes these guys silly. what did they stand for? togo from january back august 25. they had come up with this compromise that johnson was happy with. lady bird had written him this letter. the puritys is way of his thoughts come out. he explains what he thought the democratic party was for, what
has always stood for. >> our party has always been a friend you can come to for justice. wagesr it was sweatshop or interest rates. all of these injustices wound up , and we have symbolized them some way or other in the county or state or national convention for time immemorial. that is what the democratic party is for, and that is why it born and that is why it survives and that is why it drives and exists. we are here and we are just saying that we passed a law back in 1957 and said the first time
in 85 years that everybody will have a chance to vote. wesaid it again in 1960, and said it again in 1964. and then, by god, it still had not been executed. we are going to say it again in the convention in 1964. >> he was exhausted. he had been up late at night for several days. this is where he reflexively went to. this is the party that i have been part of for the past three decades. that is it. i think he knows it down here. i have a second clip that i want to play. maybe we can talk more about it. negotiations in 1965. i want to insert here that a 1964, there is a rebirth or a/v education of the conservative --
ucation of the conservative party. you can see the transformation in the party. go to the george wallace primary in 1964, where he carries over 30% of the voters in a shocking upset, even though he did not win. and 43%, the vast majority of the voters in maryland voted for george wallace. that is to johnson was most afraid of. trying to hammer down the voting rights act. there was an antiwar beach. johnson will tell him a little bit about the voting rights act
and how he thinks his influence and other civil rights leaders need to influence republicans in the house and in the senate. they need to go after republicans who seem to be wavering on these particular issues. i will let lyndon johnson predict the future of american politics. >> they are going to put a package together. and i called him and i got him to agree to go since some, and roy tot a wire sent from all the republicans. but the republicans are going to hold pretty well. they are not going to -- they're going to quit the.
he will not let them vote for them. they do not have that much sense. that is why they disintegrate as a party. they will end up pretty solid and enable get the southerners. >> i will let lbj have the last word. [laughter] prof. hemmer: we are going to open this up for questions from the audience. before that, i wanted to ask a few questions from the panel as a whole. taking a step back and taking about -- just listen to all these tapes that have such residence with the present moment. is there anything about the presidency at the time that we learned from the tape that is different than the present moment? is it all shocking similarities? what is different? >> the fact that we are living
in an opposite world? it is incredibly difficult to explain. a great question. is a contrast from where we are today. the fact that lbj, in the oval office had three televisions. he could follow the news in real time. to tinker with the newswires as well. think about that. the president of the u.s. is setting this up and he is the first to do it. and speed that it represents, to the world that we live in today, particularly how social media has been implemented. it is an incredible contrast.
of the starting points. we can point to a number of cases. just refer to a conversation that we had privately yes today. it is a joy and an extraordinary opportunity. shock islity to wearing off a little bit because we are any a different duration. ago, weaver finding these startling and shocking. if we played other tapes, you would hear more obscenities from jfk and you thought that he
could utter, but the sense of what is public and what is private, what is acceptable anymore. they are being played out publicly in ways that would not have been the case anymore. very private nature of what they are talking about here is partly what leads us to think of it as so extraordinary. you have creeds and pronouncements about presidential pardons coming out. the difference between public and private, i think it changes the way that we understand the past, the way that we understand the presidency itself. certainly, what we now know about john f. kennedy could not have happened -- he could not have comported himself today as he has in the past. prof. hemmer: i am really struck by the presidency here versus
our image today. you listen to lbj really miss ofse major political shifts his era. he is someone who we think of as a political whiz. with jfk, not being able to wargate his way out of this with the brightest men of his generation around him. real?o you think is more the men on the tape or the ones that the public saw every day? nexen was really self-conscious about crafting a public image that made sense and held the norms of his time.
if you listen to richard nixon doing in energy that would be broadcast, everyone would think, here is the best informed, most prepared, most stately like person who could possibly fill this office. that person was a creation. the most brilliant political strategist and tactician. this is one example. shoulds exactly what he be saying about race and civil rights in america, and he says in private, hed is quite racist. thinks --cies that he the base of his party, thanks to him, includes a large part of the white south that largely voted for democrats. that, if i do
affirmative action, that will create a richer class of black people who might become .epublicans but if i do affirmative action, white people in the south will that i am helping black people. it is this very calculated thing. >> the public/private persona, with respect. skeptic through much of his administration. in can hear that skepticism terms of the policy that he is being presented with. what is the advantage of doing this? why is the were not going well? can we really pull out?
suggest that that is the real kennedy. he never committed in public. lyndon johnson does. that is one of the differences between jfk and lbj. the rhetoric changes. they are sticking with it. hand, there are these moments, publicly, where he will often say, we can assist them. mean that he does not think that we have sustained their. -- to stay there. his posture towards vietnam and where he would be later.
my personal cases that he would have tried to stay in vietnam and would have supported some portion of a south vietnam to maintain sovereignty below the 17th parallel. i think that was what it was all about for him. involvedt would have more sabotage and clandestine work, there is a good chance it would have as well. but i think the skepticism about american prospects pushing on to victory, i think that was there throughout. it is like he is being graded by his high school speech teacher, which he was. in public, he was a much different person. there was a story of when his aides were writing his memoirs,
they would give him a draft and he would say, that is not going to be good. i think he is definitely not whipping. i think he is restructuring the democratic party, and he is trying to bring out the moderate white voters, and he spends most of 1965 trying to do that. his paranoia about bobby is something we see coming out. >> i would agree with that. personally a little farther. listen to it, he the political order is fracturing. it is not going to continue to exist. what drives him out of politics in 1968 is the realization he is not ready to manage that transition. think he isssarily
working. it took watergate to secure that. and johnson saw that. he did not know what to do with it. >> we like to open this up for questions. we have a microphone up here, so if anybody would like to ask a question. with the richness of this, i was thinking about trump. do you daydream about finding a box of sd cards of similar material from those people? what would be gained if you did find that box? what is lost because you don't have it? like to say quickly, because i write a lot about the
current administration, there have been enough statements from the current president where he hints he is recording things that it has people salivating a little bit. what would it be like if we had those tapes? we know the current administration is not good at keeping its records intact, so i think it is unlikely we will find them. let you think about somebody who ronald reagan, continues to baffle biographers and historians in terms of who is the man behind the public image? i think that is one case where -- i don't know if the tape would answer that question, but it would be really great to have them just to see if they could. there werean tapes, tapes that were recorded when he was on the phone with world leaders, tapes that were made from the situation room. there are not too many of them.
unfortunately, several of the conversations were taped over themselves, which is really unfortunate. but there are a few to give us more of the private side of ronald reagan. and to see the president in unguarded moments i think is priceless. when we have had a chance to listen to franklin roosevelt, roosevelt is as staged as any president you can remember. certainly our image of him, which is of course the image he wanted everybody to see, not in a wheelchair, but the audio as well, through the fireside chats. we hear roosevelt through conversations with civil rights things that are a little surprising today, perhaps not for the time. but unguarded roosevelt? we never get the chance to hear that. >> there is an amount of accountability, transparency. because of the associations with watergate, we see them in a dark light with the revelations.
if you think about it, this is a remarkable legacy to history for these few administrations, that we can go back and view this kind of research, not just a memo. what was actually said in that room? part for to put in a the students who worked in the center. i say, if you want to learn about politics, if you want to be a politician, you need to study those tapes. one of the students from 2004 who worked on some of these was theghts tapes deputy campaign manager for joe biden. we had another student who was an obama speechwriter. university of virginia students have come through and learn from this. so if you know any great students. [laughter] i have seen only a few of
those clips. you might well conclude that neither the leader of the country nor his closest associates is really among the best and the brightest. i am wondering what the impression you have, who have read great quantities or listened to great quantities of these tapes? >> i will be quick. it is hard not to be amazed i the memories he has, the capacity for detail, to know what is going on, where it is going, the arcane rule for that, who is sleeping with whom. that institutional knowledge that johnson had is amazing, and that comes out on the tapes. it is one of the reasons why they are so rich. that they tend to be very intelligent, but they are a lot less high-minded. ation of a demystific
the presidency you get from listening to the tapes. i think that is a good thing you get from the standpoint of democratic accountability, because while we should respect presidents, we should not really revere them or be in awe of them. decisions based on mundane political calculations where they might have a vast amount of information at their fingertips with regard to, for example, the vietnam war, including classified information. when they make a decision about something, it is pretty mundane. can i sell this or will it affect my legislative program? 80% of the american people believed they could trust government to do the right thing in most instances. please presidents have done a lot to drop -- these presidents
have done a lot to drop that down to the 20% range. the changes in the middle east, the arab-israeli wars, do they appear on the tapes? theif so, are they part of way in which any of these presidents were calibrating , takinglitical base those into account in terms of domestic politics? >> the second half of your question from next and, nixon the second half of your question for nixon, he wasn't surprised when he received -- she was surprised when he received a much larger portion of the jewish vote. machinells off the tape in july 1973. we do not have the 1973 war.
it would have been interesting to follow nixon through that. he had insights into exactly that point because you do see some very early negotiations in arms sales to israel. this is really a point where the american-israeli relationship that we know today is just at its very starting point. >> thank you all for coming out this afternoon, and please give a hand. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] chattering] from george
washington to george w. bush, every sunday at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern, we peter "the presidency," a series exploring the presidents, their policies and legacies. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. in 1979, a small network with an unusual name rolled out a big idea -- let viewers make up their own minds. c-span opened the door for policymaking for all to see, bringing unfiltered content from congress and beyond. a lot has changed in 40 years, but today, that big idea is more relevant than ever. c-span is your unfiltered view of government so you can make up your own mind. brought to you as a public service by your cable or sublet provider. announcer: next, four former members discuss
operations for bringing astronauts to safety from come on -- command modules/downs to quarantine. this was part of an event hosted by spence -- hosted by space center houston. good afternoon, and welcome to space center houston on the 50th anniversary of the apollo 11 moon landing. [applause] >> my name is john charles, i am your moderator for this exciting panel. i am a retired nasa employee. about 30ssau after plus years of civil service employment -- i left nasa after about 30 years of civil service and i meant. my role in this panel is to be a historian and help you appreciate the significance and the scope of the effort of the