tv The Presidency Secret Presidential Recordings CSPAN August 25, 2019 4:45pm-6:01pm EDT
john f. kennedy, lyndon b. johnson and richard nixon. we get an inside look into how presidents conducted their day-to-day business. the miller center hosted this event. >> good afternoon everyone. professor atciate the nontender. alluld like to look on the too echoes of the past, featuring my colleagues. it is quite wonderful to be here with everybody. for the next 75 minutes, we will .hare with you insights
we will look to explore the dynamics. to the also let them contemporary developments to see what kinds of questions they prompt us to ask about contemporary dynamics, the history they contain, parallels to today's events, that is a practice of democracy itself. established in 1998. we are the only institution of its time doing it, analyzing and transcribing the secret made fromal tapes 1974 to 1973. we do this work at the miller center.
so much of our work is browser-based. the digital edition is ours. we also publish the greatest hits through miller center dot oregon. we share with you those clips today. i just want to knowledge of few people that helped us on the way. the national historical records commission. we appreciate their belief and confidence in the work that we do.
we welcome our program administrator. finally, i would like to knowledge mark saunders. of thethe director university of virginia press. the founder and motive force behind this. this weekend,ay suddenly. it is a tremendous loss for all of us. mark had the great vision for our program, taking us from letter-press editions 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 present, nicole hemmer will be 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. she's also editor and founder of the washington post series "made by history," and the podcast "past present." i'm deeply grateful to niki to over here from the session she just moderated to help us. thanks. prof. hemmer: thank you, mike. i really look forward to this. working with secret white house tapes is as exciting as it sounds. you get to be a fly on the wall in the oval office in the 1960's and 1970's, a time that big decisions are being made and 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 endless wars, something that is incredibly timely. marc is also the author of the
award-winning book "constructing the 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 locales 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." the presidents preceding trump recognized their endurance, and had sought to at various points disengage in the midst of ongoing hostilities. they didn't do so willingly necessarily, or even with the same amount of enthusiasm, but do so they sought to. president bush, in the status of forces agreement with iraq,
something he was led to pursue, looked to extricate the united states from iraq by december 2011, with combat forces out of the cities by 2009, and by 2011 u.s. combat forces out of iraq. president obama, through his afghanistan review that took place in the fall, into the winter of 2009, he looked to begin the departure of u.s. forces from afghanistan, in the summer of 2011. and president trump most recently had spokem about withdrawal from syria, in an announcement on december of 2018, that has subsequently 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. that honor goes to vietnam. we associate the term vietnam-ization with the process that richard nixon pursued, to de-americanize the war, wind down the american profile in vietnam, and turn the fighting over to the south vietnamese forces.
but this wasn't the only time americans looked to wind down the 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. drafts for such planning were produced in early 1963, were debated and refined, into may and june, then presented to kennedy in fall of 1963.
on october 2, 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 about this because of the pentagon papers, which has a lengthy 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 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 advisors, and then an evening national security council session, after which a 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, and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, maxwell taylor.
[audio recording] [indiscernible] >> it is going well -- [indiscernible] the first three quarters -- [indiscernible] we can take over the forces, in conjunction with -- >> we need a way to get out of vietnam. to leave forces when they are not needed, i think it is wasteful and it complicates both their problems and ours. >> [indiscernible] 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 the question, when can you finish this job in the sense that you will reduce the insurgency to little more than sporadic incidents? [indiscernible] i realized, actually, that's not necessary. i assume there's no major factors, new factors entering --
>> well let's say it anyway. and then 1965, if it doesn't work, we'll get out of the delta. >> [indiscernible] >> it looked like we were overly optimistic. and i am not sure, i'd like to know what benefit we got out at this time, announcing 1000. >> [indiscernible] we are not as influenced, the course of action. >> [indiscernible] i'd say to the people, we do have a plan for reducing the exposure of u.s. combat personnel to the guerrilla 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, of the many things that this conversation prompts, aside from robert mcnamara being the one who seemingly is pushing for this planning process is the intensely 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, we kennedy seems to be hedging on that, if 1965 doesn't work, we 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 arise is whether he gets what he really wants. that's something niki and i want to engage with briefly. but initially, one of the goals of this withdrawal, other withdrawals, is to encourage your local partners to fight harder, 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. some changes took place in the short time he was around to see them. 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. and 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, marc. 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 a very dumb 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 on this case or on the case that nobody knows better than ken hughes, vietnam-ization. how much do they look at that history and understand it? in kennedy's case, i don't think they thought terribly hard about the timetable. they threw it out, 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 bob mcnamara says. they're looking for an out. but if you look at, say, the process president obama engaged in, the extended, months-long review for afghanistan. you recall there was the initial surge of troops in spring of
2009, but in the late summer, fall of 2009, and we 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, of 30,000, of 40,000 troops, or more? would we be going full counterinsurgency, would we be trying for counterterrorism? counterinsurgency, would we be trying for counterterrorism? this was all playing out in the papers. and obama was doing something the kennedy administration did not do, to think much more rigorously about this and bring in the stakeholders. one thing neither of them seem to do sufficiently, the kennedy administration certainly, was to bring in congress. one of the questions is how do you get out of endless wars? think harder about how you get into them, and have a better
grip on that. which leads to all kinds of questions about the authorization for the use of military force, a major matter that we need to engage on with these processes. prof. hemmer: as we know, the vietnam war didn't end in 1963, or 1964, etc. and it led to a real shakeup in u.s. politics. and ian mcgee, associate -- and guian mcgee, associate professor of presidential studies at the miller center, and author of "the problem of jobs," 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 and slurs in these tapes, i just want to say, in the forthcoming segment. prof. mckee: thank you, niki.
good afternoon, everyone. i assure you, there's much more out there. i have two short clips from lyndon johnson's secret white house recordings i want to share with you this afternoon. my goal in doing so is to contrast 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 and right frame of politics. to consider both past and present more broadly. as periods of profound challenge, but in many respects a functional political establishment in the united states. i would like to offer a -- an important observation about what is different today and what that contrast means. my first clip comes from december 1966. the day after christmas. lbj's presidency has entered its
period of decline at this point. he is facing increasing opposition to the war on poverty, the emergence of a much stronger antiwar movement, and he has taken serious losses in the november midterm elections. during a long telephone conversation that day, with bill moyers, press secretary, president johnson turned to the question of how to encourage sargent shriver to stay on as the director of the office of economic opportunity, the agency charged with managing johnson's troubled war on poverty. johnson indicated he was not increasing the budget that shriver wanted, and offered really blunt statement 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. and i will, whatever figure i give in the budget, i will fight for it, as 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. to give the money to poverty, not vietnam. i think that is hurting poverty more than anything in world in the world. --se commies operating as are parading as these kids with 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. and to the fight the democratic presidential nomination that year. 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. to challenge him for the party's nomination. on march 23, 1968, president johnson spoke with chicago mayor richard j. daly. this is the establishment. johnson and daily talking -- and daly talking politics. they spoke about how they thought bobby kennedy could be defeated by their network of mayors, governors, and members of congress. their confidence on march 23, 1968 is striking. [audio recording] pres. johnson: the committee, to a man, they said, we welcome a primary, let them come in here.
>> well, god bless you. pres. johnson: you and dick hughes, pennsylvania, texas. i don't think we will lose a single mountain or 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 reform left-wingers, and -- >> i think 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 everybody knew that. >> but i guess it's just as well. 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. we have to get barr and tate of pittsburgh and philadelphia. we were there yesterday. 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. prof. mckee: of course, despite their confident expectations of a landslide, lbj would withdraw from the race a little more than a week later. two months after that, kennedy would be dead. the thing is, johnson and daly
weren't really wrong. vice president hubert humphrey would capture the nomination over mccarthy and mcgovern at the convention in chicago, which of course was tremendously disrupted by protests. we can discuss this more in conversation, 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 -- one, the former attorney general and brother of a slain president, and the other a senator. both of them were trying to capture the energy of the antiwar, civil rights insurgency johnson reacted to. they could not do it. the establishment johnson and daly discussed in the second conversation. partly this is the political limitation of the 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. they and johnson and the mayor represented the establishment. this is the broad contrast i want to draw to our current movement. -- moment. we, too, live in an era of insurgencies, but in contrast to bobby kennedy, eugene mccarthy, donald trump succeeded in part because he could position himself with some degree of authenticity to his core audience as an outsider figure, not just mobilizing but actually representing populist insurgent resentment and anger against the country's political establishment. what that energy actually meant of course, we can discuss and debate. i would even add that bernie
sanders, with his reluctance to join the democratic party, represents a variant of the same thing. so here we are 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. just as fascinatingly, we'll watch again as the democratic party establishment, joe biden, elizabeth warren, kamala harris, and the cast of many, many, many other contenders for the nomination, attempt again to mobilize the channel and perhaps to contain the energy. thank you. prof. hemmer: so, from political insurgencies to political chicanery. ken hughes has been with the presidential recording program since 2000, called by bob woodward one of the foremost experts on the secret presidential recordings.
particularly for his work on the nixon tapes which have produced two books. you're going to draw more parallels between the political chicanery of the past and today. mr. hughes: thanks. interestingly, the nixon administration comes and goes. when things are going well, i do not get phone calls from reporters. when things are not going well, i get many calls from reporters. these days, you can guess i get a lot of attention from reporters. most recently within the release of the mueller report, the questions of a president encouraging aides to perjure administration comes and goes. when things are going well, i do themselves and engaging in obstruction of justice came up once again. it was particularly interesting to me to see the analysis of trump's attempt to dangle pardons over the heads of aides like paul manafort because it
was so different than the way nixon did it. trump did it on twitter and rudolph giuliani did it on television. trump talked about how unfair the treatment of manafort was. giuliani said the president will look at the end of the investigation to see if anybody was treated unfairly and he might get a pardon. robert mueller said obstruction of justice is not usually taking place in public. the fact that it takes place in public does not make it more legal. i will turn to my president, nixon, the more subtle one. when he was trying to encourage his aides to not cooperate with the special prosecutor investigation and the congressional investigations of watergate, he did things in secret. the tape we are going to play
was made the day after john dean testified to the senate watergate committee in may of 1973. dean was of course white house counsel. nixon had originally refused to allow dean to testify, just as donald trump is trying to prevent his aides from testifying before congress. trump is invoking executive privilege. as nixon did then. but nixon discovered that when your former aide volunteers to testify, executive conflict is -- executive privilege is not going to stop them because your aide has a right to do that. nixon has just discovered that if he does not send the aides on his side to testify before the senate investigating committee, then the country will only hear from the aides who are going to testify against him, so he is meeting with his former chief of staff, white house chief of
staff, and he talks about pardoning everybody in his inner circle. and there is some blue language in this as well. [audio recording] this,t i mean to say is talking and the confidence of this room. there's nothing more important u.n. john have than to keep me in this fucking office. because i don't give a ship what comes out on you or, even that poor damn, dom john mitchell. there is going to be a total pardon. .> well, don't even say that >> >> you know it. you know it. and i know it.
forget you ever heard it. >> it has to be done. because it's wrong, wrong for you guys. not mitchell, but you and john. let's forget mitchell. you and john cannot be condemned. mr. hughes: this was an invitation to all of the aides to perjure themselves when they testified in public. they all did. and they -- all the ones he mentioned, his former attorney general and campaign chairman, they were all charged with obstruction of justice and perjury in 1974 and the grand jury that indicted them wanted to indict nixon as well. but the special prosecutor at the time said, we are not really sure we can indict a president, so they simply named him as an unindicted co-conspirator. they, up until richard nixon got on that helicopter in 1974 to leave the white house for good,
pressed him to fulfill his promise to them and pardon them all. right before nixon resigned, his aides told him the people need somebody's head, and if you pardon everyone else, they will take your head. nixon did not fulfill this promise. he ended up being the only person pardoned for his crimes in watergate. everybody he promised to pardon went to prison. do we have time to get to vietnam? prof. hemmer: sure. mr. hughes: ok. everybody is paying attention to obstruction of justice. few people are paying attention to donald trump's exit negotiations in afghanistan. but they are taking place. he has a plan. it has three elements. complete american troop withdrawal, a cease-fire between the warring parties in afghanistan, coupled with negotiations about a future government, and security
guarantees. in the case of afghanistan, the security guarantee would be that the taliban will not allow any terrorist to use afghanistan as a base for terrorist attacks in the united states. as someone who wrote a book about richard nixon's exit from vietnam, i have to tell you, all three elements were involved in nixon's exit strategy, and nixon's strategy was basically designed to make it look like he had succeeded in getting peace with honor in vietnam, but in fact, all he was getting was what he called a decent interval, a period of a year or two between the day the last american troops left and the day north vietnam finally took over south vietnam. when nixon talked about withdrawing all of the troops from vietnam, he tied it to his -- timed it to his reelection campaign and made sure the troops stayed just long enough to keep south vietnam from collapsing before election day,
which would have revealed the strategy failure. almost all of them came back before election day, so he could tell the public, i am withdrawing, and that would be very credible. he too got a security guarantee from the enemy. in nixon's case, it was north vietnam's agreement to withdraw. you can hear nixon on the tape saying it does not matter if you get the guarantee. they will never withdraw. says, that'ssinger right, but you will get it anyway. right before the election, they were able to say, look, we finally got the north vietnamese to agree to withdraw from the -- the final thing was a cease-fire between the warring parties and negotiations over future elections. nixon and kissinger say quite
plainly that the elections will never take place in vietnam. the cease-fire will not break -- -- will break down, the two sides will fight it out, but by that time, they will be gone. the 1972 election will be in the rearview mirror. people can hold them accountable. this tape was made the day before henry kissinger flew to paris to close the deal with north vietnam. they suspect he is absolutely -- he suspects, and he is absolutely correct, that the north is finally willing to accept nixon's demands. he has had the president of south vietnam, our ally, briefed on those demands, and the president of south vietnam actually wept when he heard them and said, this will keep us going for a little while, but i'm going to have to commit suicide. this is going to destroy our country. henry kissinger is going to explain to nixon his take on that. [audio recording]
mr. hughes: the henry kissinger who says our terms will destroy him in private is the henry -- the same henry kissinger who says before cameras two weeks before the election that the north has accepted our terms and we believe that peace is at hand. nixon and kissinger were very clever about arranging this so that it looked like they had won, when they had just done a controlled form of 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 guarantees that afghanistan will not be the home of terrorism, the taliban and
afghan government are entering into negotiations about the future government and a cease-fire, if he can. of the people at a crucial time for him, when it all falls apart after the election, it would be too late to hold him accountable. keep an eye on that. prof. hemmer: in the midst of all of this, as we are experiencing today, there were major shifts in realignment with the two major parties and their coalitions. kent germany, a professor of history at the university of southern carolina and a south carolina research fellow at the miller center specializing in the great society is going to tell us a little bit about it. prof. germany: thank you, professor hammer. -- hemmer. when i was a kid, i was in texas. there was a guy who hosted the sports news and after the sports was over, he would be on this show called bowling for dollars.
i never understood how someone could go from the sports desk to the bowling for dollars desk. the professor has done a similar thing today. this is the bowling session. [laughter] prof. germany: nixon would be the best bowler in the white house. >> according to nixon. [laughter] prof. germany: according to nixon. the democratic primary is coming up. there are a lot of bowling pins up and there will just be one standing. i will try to extinct stop -- extinguish that metaphor right now and talk about lbj from 1964. we know that richard nixon quit. we may not know that lbj actually quit, too. he just did not make it public. he talked about it to a couple of his closest allies, a couple of his oldest friends. he talked to his wife about it. i'm going to talk about the most
sincere political minute of lbj's life. i have been doing lbj for over 20 years. i boil it down to this one minute. it will take me seven to talk about it. nixon quit because of a lot of reasons. johnson quit, i will sum up, because he was a baby. [laughter] prof. germany: i grew up in rural texas, rural indiana. they would say that his mother did not raise him right. we can debate that at another time. i wanted to focus on 1964. -- on august 25, 1964. this is two days into the convention in atlantic city. it is two days before lyndon johnson gave his acceptance speech, the fireworks, his name in lights, the perfect coronation of johnson in his political career, and a little more than two months after this moment, landslide lyndon, who had made it to the senate by 87
votes would have defeated the republican candidate by almost 16 million votes. 61% of the electorate voted for him. about 90% of the electoral college gave their votes to lyndon johnson. it would be the high point of american liberalism in the period.ld war ii it would be the beginning of the end of the democratic party's dominance of american politics. now, on august the 25th, lyndon johnson awoke in a bad mood, which was not uncommon. [laughter] prof. germany: he skipped his calisthenics regime. he would have a serious heart attack in 1965. he called his brother at the beach in south carolina, had to get the south carolina reference in, he would make a series of phone calls throughout the morning to the senator from georgia, to several of his key aides and press secretary. his longtime aide walter, and he
would talk to his wife. now, a little bit after noon, you -- he would find lady bird lying on the ground, at the white house underneath the tree, holding hands a little bit and talking. it might be a weird thing to do during the middle of the democratic national convention. what they were talking about, among many things, was the fact that lbj had told lady bird that he was going to quit. he had for the first time in a decade actually written out a press statement that he was withdrawing his name from nomination. he was -- the country needed better educated people, they needed harvard educated people, they needed younger people. he could not hold the country together. he could not even hold the democratic party together. this was the mississippi freedom democratic party issue, they are trying to figure out a compromise. they would come out with a compromise that did not make many people happy, but enough that johnson could move on and he would change his mind and withdraw.
he did not release a statement, but -- the defense that he would make after he made the decision to stay in is what i think is the most sincere political minute of lyndon johnson's life. before we play that, i want to say a few things about what lady bird said while she was lying there under that tree. she had left lyndon alone in his room with the shades drawn. [laughter] prof. germany: he told her he was quitting. he talked to all of these people. she would arise from the lawn, go upstairs, and read a letter right -- and write a letter to johnson. you can read this letter if you want. she told him that he was brave. as brave as fdr, as brave as harry truman. 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 future would be "a lonely
wasteland," and if you know anything about lyndon johnson, 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. so this is this moment of lbj stripped down to the bare essence. if we could appeal all the onion away that was lbj, what was that at the middle? what was the onion there? we will go back to january 1928. i want to just preface this with what he said to hubert humphrey about what the democratic party was for. we are forewarned poverty. i tell students every time i teach, if you want to go into politics, read this. if you can convince your voters that you control these words, you are going to win. we are for war on poverty, economic growth, world peace, security, medicare, human dignity, human rights. this is johnson talking with a texas twang.
this is what we stand for. a government of strength. a government that is sovereign, and a government that is compassionate, and it just makes these guys look silly. he said god have pity on the republican party for what they stand for. if we go from that january back to august 25, they had just come up with this compromise johnson was happy with. lady bird had written him this letter. he was talking to hubert humphrey. i think this is where the purity of johnson's thoughts come out. he is explaining what he thought the democratic party was for, what it had always stood for, and what it would continue to stand for. [audio recording] >> our party has always been a group you can come to from injustice, whether it was sweatshop wages or a userer's
interest rates, a discrimination to vote, the ku klux klan whipping somebody. all of these injustices have wound up, and we have symbolize -- 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 was born, that is why it survives, why it thrives and exists. we are hearing 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. we said it again in 1960, we set -- 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. prof. germany: that is johnson a
couple days before he accepted the nomination. he was exhausted, he had been pushed through the ringer. he had been up late at night for several days. this is what his brain reflexively went to. this is what i stand for. this is what the party that i have been part of for the past three decades. this is what they stand for. when somebody asks, what are you for, this is it. i think johnson nails it down here in this one minute. i have a second clip i want to play. i'm going to run out of time. maybe we can talk about it more in questions. this comes in negotiations for the voting rights act. what i want to insert here is -- assert here is that in 1964, there is a rebirth or revisitation of the conservative movement. i would make a suggestion to go back and see the transformation that emerges after 2016, go back to the george wallace primary
for the democratic party in 1964, where he carries over 30% of voters in a shocking upset, even though he did not win, the same percentage in indiana, and 43%, the vast majority of white voters in maryland voting for george wallace, segregation forever candidate. that is who lyndon johnson was most afraid of. those wallace voters. here in 1965, johnson is trying to hammer down the voting rights act. martin luther king jr. had made an antiwar speech. he called the white house to try here in 1965, johnson is trying to hammer down the voting rights to feel johnson's pulse on this. johnson is going to tell him a little bit here about the voting rights act and how he thinks he king needs to use his influence and other civil rights leaders influence -- use their influence to influence republicans in the house and in the senate. they need to go after those republicans who seem to be
wavering on particular issues. i will just let lyndon johnson predict the future here of american politics. [audio recording] >> for god sakes, you try to get in here before it is too late. we are going to celebrate doing something else and they are going to put a package together that i can see forming. i called biemiller and i got him to agree to send some, and that got a wire sent from roy to all the republicans. but the republicans are going to hold well. every time they get a chance to help out, they will blow it. they could help out, but they have not got that much sense. that is why they have disintegrated as a party. they are going to wind up being pretty solid. then they are going to get the southerners. prof. germany: i will let lbj
have the last word. and we will set the bowling pins down. [laughter] prof. hemmer: we are going to open this up for questions from the audience. before we do that, i just wanted to ask a few questions from the panel as a whole. taking a step back and thinking about -- we just listened to all of these tapes that have such resonance with the present moment. is there anything about the presidency at the time from the tapes that is different from the present moment? is it all shocking similarities? what is different? prof. germany: besides the fact that we are living in an opposite world? [laughter] prof. germany: it is hard to explain the president, as you know. great question.
mr. hughes: it is a contrast, but may be an on-ramp to where we are today. the fact that lbj in the oval office had three televisions, one for each of the major networks so he could follow the news in real time, you know, he had 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. compare that media and news and information environment, the speed that it represents, to the world we live in today, particularly the way social media has been mobilized by trump, increasingly by other politicians as well, it is an incredible contrast, but i think that is actually one of the starting points. we can point to a number of cases. that is a striking one for me.
prof. selverstone: i would just refer to a conversation we had privately yesterday about our experience listening to the tapes, which is a joy and an extraordinary opportunity to spend your day with lbj, even richard nixon. their ability to shock is wearing off a little bit because we are in a different generation. kent is teaching students on a daily basis now, and where 10 years ago we were finding the tapes to be startling and revelatory and shocking in some respects -- you hear richard nixon and johnson as well, and if we played other tapes, you would hear more obscenities from jfk than you thought he uttered, but he would. the sense of what is public and what is private and what is acceptable anymore, i mean, private lives are being played out publicly in ways that just would not have been the case before. the very private nature of what they are talking about here is i
think partly what leads us to think of these materials as so extraordinary. now, you have decrees, pronouncements, potential presidential pardons coming out in public, the difference between public and private and the ability to play out the private lives in public changes the way we understand the presidency itself. certainly, what we now know about john f. kennedy i do not think that have happened. john f. kennedy could not have comported himself today as he had in the past. prof. hemmer: i am really struck by the presidents you hear on the tapes versus our image of them still today. you listen to lbj really miss those major political shifts of his era. he is somebody we think of as a political whiz. he just whiffs on both of these
clips you played for us, to a certain extent. with jfk, not being able to navigate his way out of this war with the brightest men of his generation around him. i mean, which do you think is realer? the men on the tape or the ones the public saw every day? mr. hughes: nixon was really very self-conscious about crafting a public image that made sense and fit all the norms of his time. if you listen to richard nixon doing an interview that was going to be broadcast, everyone would say, here is the best informed, most prepared, most statesmanlike person who could possibly fill this office. that person was a creation of
the nixon you hear in private, who is the most brilliant political strategist and tactician, and who -- you know, one example, he knows exactly what he should be saying about race and civil rights in america, and he says it in public, and in private, he is quite racist. policies he thinks will help the base of his party, which now, thanks to him, includes a large part of the white south that formerly voted for democrats. he makes calculations that, if i do affirmative-action, that will create a richer class of black people who might become republicans the way catholics became republicans when the new deal helped them. but if i do affirmative-action, white people in the south will think i am helping black. -- black people.
that will really hurt me. it is this very calculated thing. prof. selverstone: i think you really have to listen to nixon in private to see what he is up to. prof. selverstone: with kennedy and the public-private persona, at least with respect to vietnam, kennedy is a skeptic on vietnam. he is a skeptic through much of his administration. you can hear that skepticism in terms of the policy that he is presented with. is it going to help us all that much? what is the advantage? what if it is not going well? can we really pull out? there is a lot to suggest that that is the real kennedy. he never committed in public. lyndon johnson does. that is one of the differences between -- that takes place in the transition between jfk and lbj.
by 1964, the rhetoric changes. you don't get that from jfk that much. on the other hand, -- on the tapes. on the other hand, there are these moments, publicly, where he will say, it is their war to win. we can help them, we can assist them. he also says i think it would be a mistake to withdraw. that is not to mean that he does not think that we have to stay there until we win. the question of what is his -- what was his actual posture towards vietnam, and where would he have been later on -- my personal sense is that he would have tried to stay in vietnam and to have supported some portion of the south vietnam to maintain sovereignty below the 17th parallel. that is what it is all about for him. -- whatthat looked like
that looks like, what roger helton was pursuing, whether it involved more sabotage, there is a good chance it would have as well. i think there is skepticism about american prospects pushing on to victory. i think that was there throughout. prof. germany: for johnson, the public johnson, it is pretty boring. he thought he should be a statesman and be saying, that is not good. they would be trained to put lbj statesman and be graded by a high school speech teacher, which he was. obviously, and private, he was a different person. there are many stories of when his aides were writing his memoir, giving him a draft and into it and he would be trying to take it out. i think he is never not withing. he is trying to build a fire break among moderate white voters. he spends 1965 trying to do that.
his paranoia about bobby is one of the things we definitely see coming out. prof. mckee: i would agree with that. pushing a little farther. i think you listen to it, he understands 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 the leader to manage that transition. i don't necessarily think he is working. the republican party will run the five of the next six presidential elections. it took watergate to secure that six. and johnson saw that. he did not know what to do with it.
prof. hemmer: we would 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 -- with this material from roosevelt to nixon, 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? prof. hemmer: i would 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.
but you think about somebody like ronald reagan, who 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. prof. selverstone: there are reagan tapes, by the way, there were 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 leaders, saying 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 that can be shaped or maneuvered by the writers.
but what was actually said in that room. prof. germany: i want to put in a part for 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 civil rights tapes was the 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, send them. [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? prof. germany: i will be quick. if you listen to lyndon johnson long enough, 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. mr. hughes: i agree that they tend to be very intelligent, but they are a lot less high-minded. there is a demystification of 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. often, they make 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. like, will i be reelected? or can i sell this or will it affect my legislative program? >> these presidents we are talking about, with the exception of john kennedy, in 1964, 80% of the american people believed they could trust government to do the right thing in most instances. these two 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? and if so, are they part of the
way in which any of these presidents were calibrating their political base, taking 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 was surprised when he received a much larger portion of the jewish vote. >> it is unfortunate that nixon turns off the tape machine in july 1973. october 1973e the war. it would have been interesting to follow nixon through that. >> with lbj, 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. prof. hemmer: 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] announcer: this is american history tv on c-span3, where each weekend we feature 48 hours of programs exploring our nation's past.
q&a,ncer: tonight on theoretical physicist michio cockapoo author of "the future of humanity" talks about our destiny beyond earth and achieving digital immortality. >> digital immortality takes everything known about you on the internet, your digital footprint, your credit card see,ds, what movies you you like to buy, what
countries he visited, videos, pictures, audio tapes, you liket countries he visited, videos, pictures, audio tapes, and creates a profile that is digitized which will last forever. when you go to the library of the future, you will not take out a book about winston churchill, you will talk to winston churchill. announcer: tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. the -- aboutout world war ii. not a lot of people know about it. my grandfather was a part of it. that is why it is a commendation of just getting to know my family history and telling the story about these men who never got recognized, that i just really wanted to do a project and get that story out there. >> what is the ghost army? >> it was a unit in world war ii that would take tanks, fake radio messages, and phonics sounds, recorded sounds of activity, to be able to fool the germans. they shortened the war and save the lives. but theye says it all,
really had a dignity to their service, and they drew attention to themselves without wanting to just massacre the germans. they were not trying to kill all the germans, they were pulling it away to save american lives and saving german lives by not having them fight the americans. humble aboutare so it but they did it in only three men died out of 1100, almost on the front lines all the time, pulling enemy attention to themselves with rubber tanks, never fired a shot, basically. and they only had three men die. an of them was more of accident than war inflicted and the other one was a straight show -- stray shower. -- shell. they did not kill anyone. it was just amazing what they did. a true triumph. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. announcer: madalyn
christiansen's exhibit on the ghost army won the senior level world war ii history prize at national history day. congressman ben mcadams of utah recently entered the story of madalyn's great-grandfather into the official congressional record. here is video from the congressman's office as he reads the entry to world war ii veteran sergeant stanley nance. >> in may, 1944, 1100 u.s. military men joined ranks to form what would be called the ghost army. composed largely of artists, this student had unusual orders not to avoid detection, but to actively attract attention through an ingenious obstacle allusion. sergeant,m was staff stanley nance, special of the 23rd headquarters special troops. the ghost army's tactics were to impersonate other allied units using inflatable tanks and jeeps made of sticks and burlap to make the enemy believe that large factions of soldiers were on omaha beach and surrounding
areas after d-day. back of military vehicles, blasting the noises of larger units. it sounded like they were coming from the battlefield but in fact have been recorded months before in fort knox, kentucky. kept a secret until 1985, the story of the ghost army and those in its ranks serves as a heroic tale of the young americans bold action to defend freedom. decades later, his great-granddaughter, madeleine, told his story through a history project which recently won the world war ii history award at the national history competition. her project is an amazing recreation of a story of skill, courage, and triumph, unique in the annals of history. as we prepare to celebrate independence day, 2019, we honor two extraordinary generations of you towns, the soldier, who
helped defeat here any in world war ii, and his great-granddaughter who is keeping the story of heroism alive. [applause] you can watch this and other american history programs on our website where all our video is archived. that is c-span.org/history. announcer: monday night on the communicators, cnbc's cybersecurity reporter kate for xenia on her book "kingdom of lies." about the world of cybercrime. >> if we want to understand why all of these things are happening to us, whether it is theexploitation of algorithms that run twitter and thebook in order to help russian intelligence agency influence an election, or the ransomware that has now taken down big cities like baltimore
and atlanta, we have to understand the people who are behind of these things, and all of them are different. announcer: monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span two. >> each week american artefacts takes you to museums and historic places to learn about american history. history the museum of and culture enrichment to look at their exhibit on 400 years of african-american history. this is the second of a two-part tour. the virginiak to history of museum and culture. we are standing in the middle of the exhibition entitled "determined." this section explores the period from the end of the civil war after the civil