tv [untitled] CSPAN June 12, 2009 8:30am-9:00am EDT
rush to cover the daily or weekly story is something you realize you are doing in a long line of people who have done exactly the same thing. my sense of how it informs understanding of either president bush, obama, clinton, is there are certain perennial principles that have marked different kinds of presidents. some are universal to presidents but many could be unique to particular incumbent. the thing i take away from it that goes to a point that ralph waldo emerson made, is there is no history, only biography, is that these are human beings in these offices. they seek in them almost entirely in every case, so we can't give them too much of a
break. it is not as though they were drafted and coerced into duty. they are not clinical figures, that are not caricatures, they are not cardboard, they are not stone. from the more that we can understand their human forces at work on them, i think that gives us a letter of understanding that i would argue should lower the frustration level a bit with politicians. there is, i think, a tendency in our public discourse to believe that, well, if only the president will do x and y, then a x and y problem would go away forever, or why can't he see the wisdom of x or y because i see the wisdom. people dealing with an incredible array of forces, and
almost always are trying to do the best they can, it gives us a sense, or least it gives me a sense of more of an understanding and a kind of empathy of what they are going through. host: last month you sat down with president obama and work on a piece, what he has learned, a conversation with barack obama. you that you -- you have had a couple of weeks to reflect on it and get feedback. what resonates with you as something you learned about him or to go with give you insight as both a man and a leader? host of what struck me most rigid guest: what struck me most was his comfort of power. a man who becomes the first african-american president of the united states is not someone unfamiliar with the mechanics of politics or the allure of power. but he was incredibly comfortable. it seemed as though he had been there forever. when i asked what he had
learned, what have been most significant, he said both in the first 100 days and during the campaign, he had discovered that he believed the american people hungered for complexity and explanation, that they understand -- this connects to the last bit of our discussion -- they understand there is not a single silver bullet pa for the kinds of problems we face. not a single answer in iraq, not a single answer in afghanistan, and not, lord knows, a single answer to the economy. it does not mean there are not answers. but not mean people cannot disagree about practical steps to take. but the idea that you can wave a magic wand and everything will be ok is just simply not realistic. my sense of the president is back -- and as a candidate -- he made a bet that we would appreciate a president's who
would play a role not unlike franklin roosevelt's role, being a kind of national headmaster, a kind of teacher and professor, explaining things, giving us credit, to some extent, that we can follow along. i think one of the things that president would get in trouble -- and if you think back through history, this is universally true, i think -- president to get in trouble are those who think they can pull something over on the american people, that they are smarter somehow than the people, and the president to do well are those who trust the people. winston churchill's father, who was an erratic politician and best in victorian england used to say, trust the people, and it was a lesson that his son learned and has been a critical part of our experience. if you trust us and you give it to us straight, we will do what it takes. i think that is the covenant of
modern democracies. and i think that is something that obama is betting on. whether he makes a success of it or not, we will not know for a long time. but as a clinical historical matter, it is an interesting and clear philosophy of governing and political leadership that he is undertaking. host: we will hear next from judah on the republican mind calling from shiloh, illinois. caller: good morning, mr. meacaem come as a fan and someone who read all of your books, i want to take this liberty and be an assignment -- mr. meachem. please write a book on john brown as well as william -- general washington's trusted confidante. i believe out of all of the riders, only you can tell as
deep -- billed as deep as necessity will dictate. a couple of recent things in the news -- and i have been called a rhino, and i proudly wear the badge because i'm somewhat of an independent thinker, although the no i would like to spell know. mr. gingrich stated he was not a citizen of the world, with much fervor and fanfare, yet, low and behold, mr. reagan, president reagan stated in front of the united nations that he was a citizen of the world. could you tie and the disconnect -- those who espouse reagan and yet strobel -- strobel in a plea at attempts to carry the banner of reagan --
struggle ineptly to carry the banner with shenanigans and over the top sound bites. guest: thank you for the assignment. i will look at it, and i appreciate your kind words about my work. i think the question you raised is a fascinating one, not just for the republicans in 2009 but any political group at any time looking back at certain leaders for inspiration, for solace. particularly, parties who are not having a particularly easy time of it are particularly prone to try to look back and find a plan and playbook and hope that that leads them out of the wilderness. it is completely understandable human and -- reaction.
i'm a great admirer of president reagan. he was the president of my childhood and his examples in some ways got me interested in politics. i think he was, as president bush would say, consistently mis-underestimated throughout his public career. the idea that he is about font of wisdom for the republicans and four americans is exactly right. there is a lot of there. but you always have to be careful with the uses of an analogy and uses of inspirational figures. because often the way that one uses them says a great deal more about the person doing the using then the person being used. i think the example that you mentioned is exactly right. i think it is fair to say that in many ways, the hard-line
hawks of the 43rd bush administration to some extent use dragon, the example of reagan and the cold war in ways that i would argue were not precise. ronald reagan was an actor, sportscaster, corporate spokesman, but one of the important things about and that does not integrate the attention is he was a laborer -- union president beard what the negotiators do? they ask for 100 and settle for 50. if you look at his management of the soviet relationship, he goes from 1981, calling the soviets and evil empire, 1983, focus of evil in the modern world and ends up in 1988 in red square kissing babies with gorbachev. that was a successful negotiation, but it was not
simply a kind of churchillian resilience and refusal to compromise. and so, i think reagan merits great studying and in some ways speaker gingrich marriage rates steady but for a man who built the majority, who won a hughes -- huge victory and then circumstances and the politics of the moment brought in that revolution down. that merits study. gingrich has done and -- important things in his career, and serious consideration. host: "newsweek" recently took on a new design and had done everything from reading a new look, more white space and intense photography and heavier stock paper and longer format articles. what is the goal of the redesign, not only in look and content?
who are you now appealing to? guest: to be very clear, we are 76 years old. the first issue of "moussaoui" came out in 1933. and people who work at them magazine -- the first issue of "newsweek" cannot and 13 -- 1933. the people who work now are in the shadow of the people who worked on the magazine and brought to this point, and for that we are for ever grateful. it is not as though "newsweek" five weeks ago was wrong and now it is right or was misguided and now it is well-guided. it is simply that, as you well know, and as your viewers know, the complexity of the media environment is an enormous and the challenges we face both economically and journalistically, are changing rapidly. so, how does one respond to a world in which people who are engaged in the news have the
capacity to know everything that is going on in a real-time, were virtually in real time? to our minds, the best way to respond to that is to assume that our readers, a lot like your viewers, i suspect, no everything we know. following the news, they read the papers, things online, they watched some kind of broadcast or listen to the radio for a week and they would come to the magazine did, not looking for a digest of what has happened or a package of predictions that are necessarily conditional, but engaging conversation about the news, things that are important in politics and foreign affairs and business and culture. how can we be a place where you not always agree with us but always find a provocative and worth reading? so the goal here is to appeal to
-- as a group i sometimes referred to as a virtual beltway -- people who may not live in washington, but to pay attention to the workings of politics, the complexity of foreign-policy in a way that means they might as well be working right where you are, and how we turn their attention. a lot of institutions can assume a certain level of attention for a long time -- longtime simply because of who and what they were. we are finding i think with some of the great newspapers, some of the great networks and magazines, a hobbesian universe where we have to fight of every bid, -- every bit, every moment
of a readers or viewers time, because that in many ways is their most precious commodity. host: when you interviewed president obama on air force one, he said one of the key lessons he learned about americans is that they not only have a toleration but a hunger for explanation and complexity. you wrote in newsweek that you see the same thing, you see americans also have that hungry digest. where do you see, though, journalism going as the internet has been such a powerhouse, how is newsweek translating online? guest: the same principle. i think you assume, at least we assume, that people know what is going on. people who are really interested in the news tended be really, really interested in the news. fortunately one of the few addictions that is good for you
and for democracy or ultimately. what we want to do is, for instance, when we do something like the iraq issue, which you mentioned before, we want to be able to, on news we.com -- newsweek.com, getting readers' reactions and voices like the caller whose son is about to go in the service, who will talk about that experience. we want to become if you will, a kind of dinner table, a kind of coffee table where people are coming to talk about and read about things that are most important. we will have fun. we are serious without trying to take ourselves too seriously. if you want to know everything about american idol, you -- we are probably not the best place. we will try to explain and tried to offer some thoughts about why "american idol" is so big, but
we are not trying to be all things to all people. again, i tried to assume and the people i work with assume, that we are putting out a magazine for people who are like us -- god help everyone who might be like us -- but there we are. the goal is to be a place that you find accident to a magazine, a website that you feel rewards your time and not simple -- simply repackaging something or, frankly, fallen victim to an issue, a weakness that i think to made places fall prey to which is, well, everyone knows everything about subjects x, but we will do it a little bit better. that may be true. some places may do things
marginally better than others. but simply, one does not want to fall prey to -- everything has been said but not everyone has said it, problem. host: we had a sweet from the twitter page -- the fate of iraq is up to the iraqi people. there is nothing that the united states can do if they don't want to work together. are you using twitter? guest: i am not. i feel if anyone wants to call me, i am available. i don't. we have it on the web site, and i think it is a fascinating phenomenon. the people who know me certainly have to listen to me too much anyway, a list that is their view. host: speaking of people calling, let us back to the phone lines. mark calling from arlington, massachusetts. caller: thank you, c-span, for
taking my call. i just had comment specifically about iraq and the press. a lot of people like myself think the best way to support the troops is to bring them back home in the deity. ron paul is the only candidate running for president used that as a promise as elected. neither afghanistan or iraq pose any threat, military or economic, to the united states. there are a lot of people who feel we should of been out there a long time ago. that being said, supporting the troops also when they come back home, to make sure that they have hospitals, therapy, all kinds of help that they need. the highest suicide rate per soldier of any war. but going back to the beginning of the war -- and i think "newsweek" was very fair, but i think the press, the fourth estate really fell asleep at the wheel. the wheat now see that these
were not miscalculations on mistakes of intelligence but calculated lies to get us into the war from the bush-cheney administration. guest: well, i think that the debate over the pre-war intelligence is fascinating. i think the debate over the role of the press is particularly telling. and i had this conversation, as you might imagine, a lot with people. i don't know that i agree with the emergence of conventional wisdom that the press completely missed that there were questions about the case for war. you can find it too many -- as in any critique of something as complicated as "the press." another thing, you sort of have to define your terms. anything that includes the wide range of things that now count
as the media in terms of -- if you define media as voices, whether institutions or not, that can communicate on basically the same platforms to anyone who is interested, then you are talking about a vast, complicated beast that almost defies definition after having just tried to define it. i believe that we have a significant obligation, it is our most solemn one, to question those in authority. i think that we have a tendency in -- i will limit this to america -- we have a tendency in this country going back to william randolph hearst -- my friend evan thomas is writing a book about the spanish-american war, eerily resonant where you
have a culture in which the march to war becomes a consuming drum of -- drama. journalists are absolutely susceptible to that. a man named chris hedges wrote a book, war is a force that gives us meeting. talking about how it is a construct in which everyone has a role and can play out a certain drama. fine if you're sitting in new york or washington making editorial decisions. those doing the fighting, those who are victims of the violence that is unleashed have a different view, understandably. so the questions you raise are things we think about all the time. and the goal has to be to learn from the iraq experience so that we do a better job next time, which is not to say that the next time going to war won't be the right thing.
the correct answer is not always not projecting force. but we are a fallible and human institution like any other in the media, and i think if we tried to pretend to be godlike or omniscient, then we are doing a disservice to the country, and we are deluding ourselves. host: blast caller is on the republicans line calling from alabama. caller: back in 1997, november issue, along investigative piece that described the sufferings of the kurds from chemical and biological warfare that saddam hussein's republican army was afflicting them with. in light of that, why do you think the press is so
successful against the bush and mr. just saying there were no weapons of mass destruction? guest: i think the bush administration itself found and now the obama administration, the u.s. government, not a partisan point, has accounted for what was found and what was expected to be found and was not. there is no question -- let's not overreact the other way. that is a terrible tendency we have -- we are going to rush to the right and then suddenly we rushed to the left. i apologize -- i cannot remember who it was -- sometimes describes the american political culture as kids at a soccer game, just chasing the ball wherever it happens to be. hopefully knowing that we can do a little bit better job of not chasing the ball wherever it goes. there were many people of
goodwill and sound intent who believed that saddam hussein was a threat to, and that includes bill clinton, and that includes an enormous number of people. so, i guess what i would just say, to be quick about it, is backed -- is that reality is amassing -- messy and clearly people made mistakes in the march to war, clearly mistakes were made in the occupation, but i also think there were reasons that people of goodwill and of good faith had to believe that saddam hussein was a dangerous person to have in power. and the record shows that, and that is a democratic and republican point. it is not a partisan one. we can go back through the speeches.
at this point, not that we should not look back, because i am all in favor of looking back, i think we have to look back to the measure of stability, frankly, and also we are still fighting this war. to bring this full circle, we just did an issue in the magazine on the war that is happening now, not the war that was happening -- the battles over intelligence in 2002-2003. host: john, thank you for being with us today. we appreciate you joining us on c-span. jon meachem from "newsweek." we want to introduce you to a 15-year-old high school student who also serves as political editor of children's press line geared miles miller is in washington to win an award for as work and one of his reasons for is focused on fellow bronx,
the metaphor sonia sotomayor. >> no honeymoon period -- republicans crying foul over comments made over the federal appeals court judge tapped by the president to be the successor to david souter. vat do university back in 2005 she made comments about the federal court of appeals, and that is what this parking lot of controversy. >> they are looking for people with court of appeals experience because the court of appeals is where policy is made, and i know this is on tape and i should never say that, because we do not make the law, i know. >> those seemingly joking, republicans have taken it and run with it. >> equal justice under law or under attack? america deserves better. >> back in the old neighborhood, supporters are saying, republicans just need to stop the bickering. >> i feel like they say because she is a woman and also because she is a latino. >> hector says it hurts them to see them fighting. he wants the republicans and sotomayor to get along. >> maybe you can change your
words. she exactly nice woman. >> the democrats are firing back with ads of their own, showing sotomayor's accomplishments. veteran political consultant says that the republicans are going to find themselves in a phone booth of sorts because no one will be supporting them. people at the bronx house tell us the same thing -- they want sonia sotomayor to be left alone so she can make great changes in the bronx and rate changes around the country. soundview, miles miller, childrens press line and the daily news. host: miles miller is political editor, 15 years old and already has much experience covering politics. good morning. how did you develop an interest in politics? guest: i started up and debate, probably the best way for anyone to own their skills and public speaking and from there i went on to finding childrens press line and four -- from there i was able to tap the political
base and started getting politicians to start talking directly to the youngest constituents. host: did your youth give you a special access? our politicians surprise when a 15-year-old comes up with such insightful questions? guest: you only see this part of me -- if i stood up a lot of people say i look 20. but i hope my youth would give more leeway. i asked the mayor of new york a question and i was able to ask a question from a young point of view because i actually was in a classroom, a public-school classroom and i actually know what goes on in those classrooms and gives me more of an advantage over some of the older reporters. host: share one of the highlights. you attended the conventions. guest: my favorite part of the conventions was actually getting to on the floor. the way i got there, i did not think anyone needs to know, but i got to the floor of the conventions and i got to interview a number of people. my favorite interview was congressman lewis and he told a
wonderful story about him and martin luther king been in washington, d.c., and he is the oldest surviving member of the march on washington, and that was one of my favorite experiences. ", how did you get to the floor? host: how did it to the floor? guest: woods is moseying on in there -- we were waiting for joseph biden to speak, no way for him to come out and we walked inside and we saw a council member from new york that was familiar with our work, he said, inside and talk to us, and from there he took down to the floor and we saw michelle obama speak. host: do your friends share the same interest in politics and journalism? guest: not all of my friends and i did not expect my friends to share the same interest. if not for the case there would just be a bunch of myles', but my friends understand issues going on in the country,