tv Former Secretary of State James Baker on Leadership His Career CSPAN December 5, 2020 11:55am-12:44pm EST
♪ [gunfire] >> ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us today for the grand opening of the national museum of the united states army. four free tickets and more information, please visit our website at www.thenamusa.org. we look forward to your visit. >> american history tv is a -- on social media. follow us at @c-spanhistory. >> up next, a conversation with james baker about leadership and his career. he served as secretary of state for president george h.w. bush and as ronald reagan's white house chief of staff and treasury secretary. he is interviewed by baylor university law school hosted the conversation and provided the video.
>> hello, my name is brad tobin and i am the dean at baylor law school. thank you for joining us today as we have a virtual front-row seat to listen in on a fascinating discussion between our friend, talmage boston, and former secretary of state, james baker iii. as you know, secretary baker was a powerhouse in washington, d.c., in the beltway, and literally around the globe as he served as the united states secretary of state and also further served four united states presidents over the course of three decades. secretary baker was scheduled to be our capstone speaker at the 2020 vision for leadership conference. however, he and mrs. baker contracted covid-19. i'm pleased to report that they now have covid-19, the illness, in their rear view mirror. today, the secretary will be interviewed, as i noted, by
talmage boston. talmage in his own right is a high-profile persona in texas and across the nation. he is a leading trial lawyer. he is known in our profession as what we call a go-to lawyer or a super lawyer. talmage is also a historian, and he has a special, focused interest on the qualities of leadership in the public and the private square. recently, he authored a book in which he sat down with presidential historians to examine the qualities of leadership that have characterized various united states presidents. i'm also pleased to announce that this is the sixth lecture in the star federalist papers lecture series. the lecture series, endowed by john and marie chiles in honor of judge starr, is intended as a vehicle in which we can learn more about the federalist papers and the role of the federalist
papers in the ratification of the united states constitution. the papers were authored from 1787 to the time of the ratification of the constitution in 1789 by james madison, who served as the fourth president of the united states. alexander hamilton, who was the first secretary of the treasury of the treasury of the new republic. and by john jay, who was the first chief justice of the united states supreme court. the purpose of the papers was to persuade the citizenry of the young nation of the need to adopt a new form of government and to leave behind the very loosely-formed government which the citizens had seen under the articles of confederation. in authoring the federalist papers, hamilton, madison, and jay exhibited, if you will, the very best qualities of leadership that we see in lawyers. madison was not a lawyer, but he was learned in the law.
hamilton and jay were, of course, lawyers and they used their lawyering powers, their abilities as leaders in the capacity as lawyers and drafters of the federalist papers, to successfully usher the constitution to its ratification in 1789. we believe that the discussion today between talmage boston and secretary baker will further illuminate the fact that lawyers are given the powers, they're given the opportunity, they're given the license by the state to exercise very potent leadership qualities in both the public and the private square. and with that, i hope you enjoy this fascinating discussion. thank you. talmage: thank you, dean tobin. two years ago i wrote a book
published by the state bar called "raising the bar: the crucial role of the lawyer in society." one of the chapters identified as the two most important lawyers of the last 50 years. i picked leon jaworski on the litigation side and i happen to be sitting in the exact replica of his law office at the baylor law library. and the other most important lawyer in the last 50 years was our special guest, secretary james baker. secretary baker, we're delighted you're here. nobody epitomizes the concept of the lawyer leader more than you. to refresh people's memories, secretary baker was the leader of his law firm for almost 20 years in houston, andrews, and kerith firm. then he went to washington, became number two at the department of commerce and ultimately and essentially led the department of commerce. he was the leader of five different presidential campaigns during reagan's first term, he was the leader of the white house staff as the white house chief of staff. during his second term, he was the leader of the treasury department as the secretary of
the treasury. and, of course, during george h.w. bush's presidency, he was the leader of the state department as secretary of state. in the year 2000, he became the leader of george w. bush's legal team that prevailed in the landmark case of bush versus gore, so we simply couldn't have a better lawyer leader to be part of this program than secretary baker. secretary baker, thank you for taking time and being with us today as the final mark of this very important conference. sec. baker: thank you, talmage. i'm delighted to be with you. talmage: now, since you've been a leader in so many different arenas and we'll be talking about the lawyer as a leader, i think a logical place to start the conversation is how do you define the word "leadership," secretary baker? sec. baker: well, you know, i think it was the great historian james mcgregor burns who said that leadership is a commitment
to values, and the perseverance to fight for those values. i think that's a pretty good description of leadership. the toughest part of that formula is the commitment to fight for those values and getting it done. you know, in washington, d.c., even back in the days when i was there, it's easy to kill deals, it's hard to get deals done. it's hard to make deals. and the really difficult part of leadership in my view is the doing. the knowing is really important, but it's not as tough as the doing. talmage: in order to do, obviously, a lawyer-leader has got to be able to persuade. and the art of communication, both oral and written
communication in my mind, is an essential trait for the lawyer-leader. so what do you view as the key? when you think about different lawyer-leaders, as well as in your own life, what's the key to best practices and communication? sec. baker: well, i think if you want to lead others, you have to start out by making sure that those others have faith in your word. so truthfulness, i think, is extraordinarily important. i also think it's important to be consistent. it's pretty hard to be a leader when your views change from time to time during the very time you're trying to lead others. i mean you need to be consistent. one of the things that i used to argue for, and still think is critical, in terms of a white
house or a presidential campaign is message discipline. you have to be consistent. you have to be truthful. if you're not either one of those, people are not going to follow you. talmage: now, besides being an effective communicator, another essential trait for the great lawyer-leader is to be able to resolve disagreements and conflicts. and typically you do that through effective negotiation. now, secretary baker, in your legal and political and public service careers, you've always been recognized as one of the world's great negotiators. so if you were going to write a book on the art of negotiation, what would be the theme in its first chapter? sec. baker: well, i think if you expect to be successful as a negotiator, first of all, you need to understand no negotiation can be a zero-sum game.
i mean, to be a successful negotiator, you're going to have to make sure that you conduct a negotiation in a way where the other guy leaves the table thinking that he's at least achieved something. so the number one thing, i think, for a successful negotiation is to begin by putting yourself in your interlocutor's shoes, so you understand what his or her red lines are, what she or he can reasonably be expected to agree to. and once you do that, i think you increase the chances of a successful negotiation. again, i would go back to trustworthiness. you need to make sure if you're going to be a successful negotiator that the person across the table has faith in
your word. that that person doesn't think you're going to be lying to them or fudging around the margins. and so it's very important that your word is deemed to be good if you're going to be successfully negotiating with someone. talmage: when we think about walking in somebody else's shoes, the word that comes to mind, to me at least, is the word "empathy," in terms of understanding kind of where the other person is who comes to the table who you're trying to make a deal with. sec. baker: right. talmage: can you think of a specific instance where having a high level of empathy for a counterpart made a big difference in american foreign policy? sec. baker: well, probably a lot of them. the most prominent one that comes to my mind is after the berlin wall fell, we knew, president george bush and i knew as secretary of state, we had a
lot of business still to do with gorbachev, who is president of the soviet union at the time, and his foreign minister. we didn't rub their noses in it. we were very restrained to the point that president bush was criticized roundly for not showing more emotion at the fall of the wall. after all, we had been in the cold war situation with the soviets for over 40 years. the war had ended. we had won. why weren't we celebrating? well we weren't celebrating , because we didn't want to stick it in their eye since we had a lot more -- a lot more things we needed to get done. and i think that would be one good example. talmage: so after you've walked in your counterpart's shoes and empathized, and before you get to the table, and then you get to the table.
it's time to start the actual horse trading, as we say in texas. sec. baker: right. talmage: so what do you think in order to be able to strike a deal, you talked a minute ago about not viewing it as a zero-sum game. you talk about yourself many times about the importance of pragmatism. sec. baker: right. talmage: expand how you always kept pragmatism in the front of your mind in your negotiations. sec. baker: you know, at times when i was up there, and even today, it's easy to politically demonize pragmatism because pragmatism of necessity means compromise. compromise is not and should never have been a dirty word. unfortunately, it has been a dirty word sometimes in the past and if you look at washington today, it may be perceived to be a dirty word today.
but that's how you get things done. pragmatism is the art of the possible. you're never going to get everything. if you go into a negotiation thinking you got to have everything you -- your starting position outlined, you're not going to be successful. pragmatism is the art of the possible. so i think it's really important when you start negotiating to realize that negotiation is a give and take. you need to understand, particularly when you're negotiating in washington, d.c., for instance, or internationally, that in a democracy, no one side gets to make all the rules. and, therefore, you got to be willing to give up a little to get a lot.
and a lot of people enter a negotiation without having that view and they are, for the most part, never successful. talmage: secretary baker, back to the world of negotiation. you talked about the importance of trustworthiness. sec. baker: yes. talmage: when you're in that situation, what are the things that you do to try to build have and the rapport you for the person across the table? sec. baker: well, the one thing you have to be very careful about, particularly in international negotiations, is to make sure that your word is good, and that your interlocutor never has occasion or reason to doubt what you tell them. that means you don't say anything that's not backed up by the facts. the worst thing you can do, in my opinion, in a negotiation is to get caught in a lie. then it's almost all over, because the other guy thinks to
himself, boy, i can't trust anything this fellow says. and so you really got to be careful that what you say is accurate and that it's true and that you can prove it. and you need to also test the other guy across the table with respect to the trustworthiness of his or her statements to you. those statements have got to be true. the purest way to kill a negotiation is for one or the other of the negotiators to catch the other in a lie. talmage: now, you have read much of your work, of course, your books. you had a tactic that you use to build this trustworthiness called " parallel reciprocal confidence building." tell our audience what that was. sec. baker: that's nothing more
than -- nothing more than understanding that to get to the end-game sometimes normally, not just sometimes, normally a negotiation is a series of discrete small step negotiations. if you can find a way to soroach your interlocutor that you build on the idea that if you're willing to do "x," i'm "y."ng to do those aren't the end game objectives, but they're steps along the way that can be taken that will build trust. it will build confidence and it will lead you toward the desired result. you have to always remain flexible. i mean, flexibility is really important. flexibility is important, as you know, in the practice of law.
it's important in politics and it's certainly important in negotiation. talmage: now, as you know, this conference that baylor law school put together this year, many people in our audience are legal educators who aspire to plant seeds of leadership in their students at their respective law schools. you've mentored many young people throughout your amazing life, many of whom have become leaders in their own rights. so what's been the key for you in planting and cultivating seeds of leadership in the young people who you've worked around? sec. baker: well first of all, , you got to set a good example for them. secondly, i think it's important to teach them leadership skills, teach them what your experiences taught you is required to become a leader. and i think that's really important.
you know, kids -- kids can learn these skills. leadership skills are skills that can be taught. we just talked about a lot of them. and students can learn those, but they're not going to learn them if they're not presented to them, so i think teaching leadership skills is really important. talmage: there's a new book that just came out a couple weeks ago. there you are on the cover. it's your biography. it's appropriately titled "the man who ran washington: the life and times of james a. baker by new yorkn reporter peter baker and his wife, susan glasser, staff writer for "the new yorker." i know that you fully cooperated with peter and susan in the research and setting up the interviews, but you did not have
any editorial control over the final product. sec. baker: no. talmage: so i'm sure you've read it. what's it like to read the biography of yourself published, by doubleday, huge reviews in "the new york times"? what did you think of the book and its presentation of your life? sec. baker: well, of course, i was a little apprehensive, because i'm a conservative republican, and the "new yorker" and "the new york times" are not necessarily conservative publications. but i determined there wasn't really anything out there for me to hide, so i gave them everything. i gave them boxes, files of correspondence from years ago with my parents and with my sib, my sister, and others. and i just said have at it, because i was not really particularly worried. was i a little apprehensive about what conclusions they
might come to? you bet i was. are there some conclusions in the book that i would tend to disagree with? you bet there are. do i think on balance that this is a really fair and complete, full-throated biography of my life? i do. i think it was fair. it certainly covers everything. there were some things in there that i didn't necessarily know. i disagree with some of the authors' -- some of peter and susan's conclusions, but on balance i think it was good to turn everything over to them and let them write a full throated biography. that had the good and the bad. i tell everyone it is a fair biography with warts and all.
it's a pretty darn good book, -- and some of the warts i might disagree with, not too many. it's a pretty darn good book, and they're excellent writers. talmage: i did a program, believe it or not, earlier this morning with david rubenstein, who i know you worked with for many years. sec. baker: yeah. talmage: and he did a program with peter and susan recently and he has read their book and he said this book is worthy of a pulitzer. i hope good things come from the book because obviously, i think it would help to build your legacy for generations to come. sec. baker: well, let me just say that in my opinion, they did a really, really good job, and that the warts that are in there, they dealt with them in a fair way. so i was pleased with it, talmage. talmage: in fact, later in the chatbox for our audience, there will be links to both amazon and penguin random house doubleday, so i hope that many of you will
make sure you get this book, because it's a fantastic read, well deserving of the great positive reviews it's gotten but mostly just to tell the life of our special guest, secretary baker. now, as developed in the book, in fact, it's in the introduction -- and you have said this a lot -- your perspective has always been the point of holding power is getting things done. and during your years in washington, obviously, you did a great job of that. and peter and susan say in the book that one of the reasons you were able to achieve so many goals is because you were not a crusader. they say you had no ideological fervor. which certainly goes along with your focus on pragmatism that we discussed earlier. so do you agree that in your political and international negotiations you had essentially no ideological fervor?
sec. baker: well, i don't know what you mean by ideological fervor. i was chief of staff -- white house chief of staff of president ronald reagan. ronald reagan was pretty ideological. i was his treasury secretary. and so it's a question of balance, i think. you -- the commitment to values that i mentioned earlier with 'he james mcgregor burns definition of leadership, it's a commitment to values. and those values are ideological. usually, for the most part. and so you have to have some ideological component in your policy and your worldview, but it's a question of balance. i think if you're overly ideological, you're going to be too strict and too wedded to the ultimate.
governing and international negotiations, even, for that matter, are a matter of balance. you need the ideological. you need to be -- you know, there is a conflict in american foreign policy, for instance, well known, between realists and idealists. have some realism in your foreign policy but you also gotta have some idealism. now, ideological fervor, i don't know exactly what you mean by that, but you'd better have some idealism in our foreign policy, america's foreign policy is built on idealistic principle. talmage: i heard you last november when you spoke to the national convention of the world affairs council, and of course, i've read david rubenstein's book where he interviewed you.
and you said -- would you be able to achieve in today's politics the kinds of things that you did during your hay day in washington from 1980 through 1992, you the ultimate principal pragmatist and now, as you mentioned a few minutes ago, this unbelievable political dysfunction? is there a place for somebody with your skill set and principle practicing pragmatism in today's washington, d.c.? sec. baker: well i would hope , there would be. i don't know. nothing i accomplished could ever have been accomplished without the presidents whom i served. so today, i mean, leadership has to come from the top. and we need leaders, we need presidents today who want to see that whole paradigm reestablished, where people go
to washington to do the nation's business. not to fight and squabble and argue all the time. and by the way, we need a press that views that as the objective. you know, the press today, when i was there, the press was to some degree, they had their biases, but to some degree, they were objective reporters of the facts. today, that's no longer the case. and this is a serious problem for our democracy. our press today are players in the political debate on one side or the other. that's not good. it's not good for getting the people's business done, which today is less and less what is happening. talmage: another key that peter and susan bring out in terms of your capacity to keep getting things done, particularly during your washington years, was that
you believe that enemies don't have to be permanent. sec. baker: no, they don't. talmage: so what was your strategy for mending fences and transforming difficult relationships? sec. baker: well, i guess a couple of things. number one, you have to keep your eye on the ball. what is the objective? ok? so on your way to try to achieve that objective, you're going to receive slights from people. people are going to trash you or they'll do this or that. you can't let that stand in the way of the objective, which is to make the agreement. get the -- do the thing that is the people's business, get it accomplished. and furthermore, i think, to some extent, maybe my faith comes into play here. i've had a strong faith ever
since i was a young man and i developed at prep school, and i think jesus teaches us that forgiveness is -- if you want to be forgiven, you'd better be ready to forgive. and i think that particularly if you're up there in that environment, you're trying to get things done and you're negotiating with the other side you better be like a duck. , you'd better let all those slights roll off your back like water. talmage: during your years as secretary of state for president bush, america's foreign policy and execution of it was probably the greatest it's been maybe in history during those four years. of course, the cold war ended. of course, you led the reunification of germany. of course, the gulf war, the success of driving the iraqi army out of kuwait. but when you left office, having
won the cold war, having won the gulf war, having brought germany together, what was your expectation for the world order going forward? post cold war? sec. baker: well, i really thought that we would, i really thought we were on the cusp of a new paradigm. i really did. i thought because we had, as you pointed out, we not only ended the cold war. we ended it peacefully. and it showed that antagonists for 40 years could get along and could resolve their differences in a way that would promote freedom and prosperity and liberty for many people around the world. so we were very hopeful. one of the big disappointments, i think, of my life is to see
the return by russia to the same types of things that were going on when russia was the soviet union. we made efforts to bring russia into the west, into the organization of the west and so forth. they evidently didn't work. so here we are now, and not only russia. here we are now in a pretty much of a cold war environment with china. china, of course, i was one who fought like hell to get china into the wto. because we thought that would, that they would become a more responsible international player once they were admitted to the important international organizations. so to get into the wto, they made a lot of promises, but they didn't keep those promises and that's not good. so here we are today.
i think there's room today for doing the things that we did during the reagan and george h.w. bush administration. because we are right back into the same environment. talmage: now, of course, with this audience and the theme of this conference, and with your spectacular career as a lawyer, before you became such a success in washington, d.c., and when i interviewed myself peter and susan, i asked them about how was it -- or what was it about your training as a lawyer and your years of practicing law that translated readily into your service in washington while you're leading different parts of the government? sec. baker: what did they say? did you ask them that? talmage: i asked them that. and they said your being a lawyer was absolutely key to the way you went about your business. i see.ker: oh, oh, oh
i'm sorry. i misunderstood you. yeah, it absolutely was. i wrote a book about my four years as secretary of state called, "the politics of diplomacy." in there, i spent some time talking about how much i thought my experience as a lawyer helped me when i got to washington. it helped me in politics. but mostly it really helped me when i was secretary of state. because secretary of state, you know, lawyers do a lot of negotiating. that's where i learned whatever skills i have in negotiation. but secretary of state's job is to negotiate on behalf of this country. it's negotiation, not business negotiation. it's international negotiation. so being a lawyer and learning to cross the ts and dot the is and be careful, and think through things, those are all traits i think i learned because
of my legal training. and they helped me immeasurably. d.c. talmage: peter and susan talk about, of course, your success in working with congress and talk about the ricochets in politics and that you were the master, like a pin ball player, being able to play the ricochets. as i thought about that, i thought about your famous five ps, prior preparation prevents poor performance. how did that five ps translate into being able to deal with the political ricochets that you had to confront constantly? sec. baker: well, they were even more important when you're dealing with the politics of washington. particularly in some of the jobs i had. you know, i get asked frequently
talmage, what do you consider was your most significant accomplishment in the 12 years in washington? and i said the most significant accomplishment was running five campaigns for president, being chief of staff for two different presidents, being secretary of treasury and secretary of state and leaving washington unindicted. and i think my experience as a lawyer and my training as a lawyer really helped me in that. peter and susan write in the book about how i kept a memo and a file of every inappropriate request i was asked for. when i was chief of staff and when i was secretary of state or anything else. and you know, i think i learned that because i was a lawyer. and remember, i came to washington in the immediate aftermath of watergate. so i saw what could happen to careless people when they go up
there. that's a tough environment. and chief of staff at the white house, i was the longest serving chief of staff in the white house in history, up until my successors came along. and i tell people, it is the worst job in government, because you walk around with a target on your front and on your back. when people cannot get to the president, they want to get to the chief of staff. and the press particularly want to. so my training as a lawyer was invaluable to me in my second career in politics and public service. talmage: now in this day and time, with social media everywhere as well as television, multiple cables, newspapers, everything there is, the media seems to be a bigger part of our attention span than maybe they have been before. and susan and peter in the book
talk about how during your time in washington, you, "courted the media assiduously. always, for the most part, with great results." so for all these law school professors who are training these future leaders, what tips can you give on how to deal with the media in order to get them on your side as opposed to against you? sec. baker: well, the number one thing i think is to realize that the most important thing when you're in a high level job in washington, d.c., dealing with the media, the most important thing is to let them know you're willing to engage with them. you're willing to talk to them. i would maybe argue with "courting the media assiduously," that phrase, but i made it a point never to go home at night without returning every
call i got that day as chief of staff now, from a congress person or press person. and that was in the days before texting. so i could return the call after hours and know that they wouldn't be there to answer it, but i would get credit for returning the call. but what the press want, they want you to be willing, they want transparency, they want you to be willing to talk to them, and they want to be -- they want to have access. when you're in those powerful jobs up there. so, i paid attention to them and it was the right thing to do. and in terms of backgrounding the press, some people call that leaking. it's not leaking. leaking is when you talk to the press to push your own interests as opposed to the interests of the administration. your job as white house chief of staff is to make sure that you spin the administration's
position to as many press people as you can. that's not leaking. that is backgrounding the press. it is very important. talmage: again, focusing on our audience here, these law school professors who are in front of law students and law school deans and so forth, we're in front of law students all the time. secretary baker, pretend like you're in front of a big class of law students. of course, you were a law student many years ago at the university of texas. and obviously, that training served you well in your legal career. for today's law students, is there anything besides what you said already that you think really needs to be driven home that, from your experience, you realize now how incredibly important it is to get while you're young before you get out into the professional world? sec. baker: you know, i can't
think of anything, other than what we've talked about here today. i'm a big believer in prior preparation prevents poor performance. that's my grandfather's mantra and my father and it sure served me well. i never wing it. i would never go, you know, there is a passage in the book that talks about when i was going to be on the sunday shows when i was chief of staff for reagan, and i would require the staff to come in and brief me, sometimes for two hours. and the press secretary is recorded in there saying, these were, i would bet, i would rather be out playing little league ball with my son than trying to brief baker for two hours for a "meet the press" appearance, but prior preparation is really, really important. particularly important, i think, in practicing law. i know it is important in trying
to serve in washington in either politics or public service. and another thing i would say is that you know, i tell people, , i was fortunate enough to be secretary of state in the united states at a time when we were omnipotent almost. it was a unipolar world. everybody wanted to get close to uncle whiskers. i went all over the world, 91 countries during those four years, and everybody admired the united states. everybody wanted to come to the united states. nobody wanted to leave the united states. guess what? with all of our troubles today, everybody admires the united states. some people resent us, but they either admire us or resent us. they all want to come here. everybody wants to come here, and nobody wants to leave. so i get very tired of listening to people run down this country.
and talk about all of our problems. yeah, we have got some problems but we've had big problems in , the past, and i'm old enough to have lived through some of them and seen them fixed. and we can fix any problem, because we are the finest, best country in the world. pardon the patriotic speech. talmage: we love the patriotic speech. that is such a magical opportunity to hear you say that. getting on this, back to the proper preparation prevents poor performance, an important part of your rise in washington, d.c. was when ronald reagan asked you to prepare you for the presidential debates. and it was that, your extraordinary preparation, that caught nancy reagan's attention. and so here we are in this election year, we've had presidential debate, vice presidential debate. is there anything that stands
out in your memory about that preparation for debating, maybe , you know, tied into preparation for a big legal meeting or case? but of course, reagan is such an iconic figure and there you are, getting him to where he can surge past incumbent carter. sec. baker: you know, there were a lot of long time reagan people who had worked for him who were a little reluctant for him to debate. but i had been, and there were some who joined me. i was thought of as the deputy chairman of the reagan campaign in charge of debates. they asked me to come over after george bush lost the race. and i had never seen reagan lose a debate. so i argued strongly for him to debate john anderson, another republican running for president and carter didn't want to debate two republicans.
and so i said, well, we ought to go to anderson, because i felt sure that reagan would wipe up the floor with him, which he did. but i wanted to put an empty chair out there and put a sign on it. jimmy carter's chair, but they wouldn't let us do that. it would have been very effective. but reagan was a wonderful debater. whenever the red light went on the camera, he was good. and the only debate they had in that 1980 campaign was one debate. and he just destroyed jimmy carter in that debate. and then, of course, he did something that i don't think will ever be done in american politics again. he asked somebody, me, who had run two campaigns against him, to be his white house chief of staff. everybody was shocked. nobody was more shocked than i was. but what a beautiful human being i was privileged to serve for
four years. talmage: getting back to your magnificent statement of patriotism, for my final question for this program, secretary baker and i've , interspersed some questions from the audience. somebody said, "if james baker sat down with his grandchildren today, would you recommend a career in public service and/or politics?" sec. baker: absolutely. without any question. and for yourthis, students out there politics can , be a grubby business. politics isn't a bean bag, and i have the scars to show for it. but politics is the way under a democratic system that you get the right to practice policy.
as lyndon johnson once said, you can't be a statesman until you've been elected. and it's true. politics is the way we get to practice policy. and even if your politics, if it is not successful, you are giving back to your country when you participate in politics. it is our system. it is very imperfect, but better than most other systems. better than all other systems. so i would encourage all of your students to be -- to find a way to participate in politics. if you want to go straight to public service, you can do that. go take the foreign service exam and go into one of the nation's international policy agents. there are ways to get, to do -- george bush used to say, "the
way to get into politics is to go out and do something else first successfully." which it is what he did. which is what i did. mine was being a lawyer. but whatever you do, remember, this is the finest country in the world and it is incumbent upon each of us to give something back. the way you give back is to participate in politics and/or public service. talmage: secretary baker, we can't thank you enough. this is something we'll all remember for a long time. and thank you for your incredible years of service. thank you for running washington at a time when things ran and trains stayed on the track and things actually got done. so i hope the rest of your day goes well. you've been an important and key part of this conference on the lawyers leader. thank you.
sec. baker: thank you, talamge. announcer: each weekend we explore our nation's past. announcer: the city tour explores the megan story. since 2011 we have been to more than 200 amenities across the nation. like many americans, our staff is staying close to home due to the coronavirus. next, a look at one of our city tour visits. established in 1926, u.s. route 66 was one of the original highways in the u.s. highway system, kerry motorists over 2400 miles from chicago, illinois to santa monica, california. time"matter of photographer ellen and historian nick look at scenes along the route. while in amarillo od