tv Former Vice President Joe Biden Receives Congressional Patriot Award CSPAN March 1, 2017 10:15pm-11:08pm EST
and a year later i started looking into his life and his campaign donations and spending and what made him want to watch drug company lobbyists. c-span's q&a. >> tonight the bipartisan policy center presented former vice president joe biden with their annual congressional patriot award. which recognizes political courage and leadership. he talked about the current political climate and donald trump's relationship with the news media. this is 45 minutes.
>> good evening again, everybody. is a really proud moment. just saying those four names gives me a really deep sense of pride and a real confidence in the strength of our democracy. because from the beginning, the bipartisan policy center has been animated by a few core ideas that america's inspiration flows from our nation's unparalleled political and cultural diversity. that our nation's political stability and resilience depend on engaging and dignifying our
differences. and finally, that politics like all productive human interaction is about the integrity of ideas, personal connection, and trust. 10 years later, these ideas still guide our work. proudfair to say that as progressives and staunch conservatives, we have a vibrant and at times intense intellectual culture at the bbc. when you come to the bipartisan policy center, nothing is checked at the door. we ask our staff and the hundreds of people involved in our negotiations to bring their politics, their personal commitments, their economic interest all to the table. -- catch is they will spend the next two years with 20 of people who received that very same invitation. that thel too aware warmth and affection and camaraderie in this windy room is not quietly shared in our
government or among many of our fellow citizens. fortifyingfying and to be in a room of 1000 productive persons who, more than anything, i think share a commitment to make our nation succeed. the bipartisan policy center is all talk and all action. we do not have the hubris to hit print and think we have made meaningful impact on the national policy debate. with the support of righteous we registered lobbyists employ all the tactical sophistication and aggression of a trade association to turn these ideas into outcomes. net -- things have been tough out there but as senator cruz that is the u.s. congress passed a bunch of significant laws last time and we are proud to have
contributed to several of them. we are delighted to have played a role in legislation that accelerates the development of life-saving medical to men's that removes arbitrary barriers to exporting u.s. oil, legislation that modernize the regulation of toxic chemicals, legislation that strengthens medicare and extended the children's health insurance program. we are part of these accomplishments but we are aware that our government failed to often image -- and achieved too little. bit.s have changed quite a the mood in washington has shifted from what i think is doctrinal gridlock to sprawling uncertainty. some, president trump's disinterest in governing -- isions is sometimes sometimes divisive rhetoric and sometimes malleable facts are deeply [inaudible] two others, president trumps
authenticity, his populist agenda speak to the real alienation that many feel from up prices that his failed to meet their needs or even validate their struggles. we come together at a moment when the passion is high. it is not an easy moment for dialogue. and bipartisan collaboration. there is one thing for sure. now is not the time to leave the arena or to seek the comfort of encourage. naming to go highbrow on you for moment and paraphrase full tear, out is not a pleasant condition but certainty is an absurd one. tonight, i want to thank our founders, our board of directors, our project leaders, our truly fabulous staff, loyal funders, everyone else in the family, i want to join us in
redoubling our commitment to the hard, and certain, and uncomfortable work of american democracy. the bipartisan policy center is committed to helping this congress, this administration, and this country succeed, and we surely need your help. tois now my great pleasure introduce one of our founders, former senate majority leader george mitchell to kickoff our patriot award presentation. if there was ever an exemplar of a principled, pragmatic, and productive partisan, it is george mitchell. senator. [applause] mitchell: thank you very much, for your kind words and for your outstanding leadership of the bipartisan policy center over the past decade. it is a real pleasure for me to bob dole and with
tom daschle who joined me and creating thisn organization 10 years ago. regard, might i ask that onall reflect for a moment howard baker who is no longer with us but who was a truly great senator, a great leader, most of all, one of the finest human beings i have ever known in or out of politics. founded theus who bipartisan policy center are part of the organization, proud of the remarkable progress that has been made over the past decade. bpc is a testament to how solutions to public policy issues can be forged.
through credible analysis, a reliance on facts, and a deliberate, respectful process. so this is a special moment for so as i haveore the opportunity and the honor to join with bob dole in introducing vice president joe biden. [applause] sen. mitchell: a true leader, a giant in the legislative history of the senate, who brought his special, personal, and unique brand of candor, collaboration, and commitment to the legislative and the executive ranges of our government. as jason has said, the bipartisan policy center
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vice president biden: i'm honored to be here tonight and i don't say that lightly. those of you who know the most meaningful complements, rewards or nice gestures that you receive mean the most when they come from people who really know you and they still are prepared. i really mean it, think about it . i measure the value of an award by how much i value the people giving the award and the men who were mentioned tonight from howard baker, who i had the great honor of doing his eulogy, one of several people, to tom daschle who has been my friend since he came to the senate. george mitchell who was someone i have gone to for vice off into
-- to for advice often, tobob dole who when i got there was a 29-year-old kid in 1972 was there to extend a welcome to me. you know, president obama always kitted me from the outset because i once said as presumptuous of me to try to improve on anything tip o'neill has ever said when he said all politics is local, i think he was partially right. in my view, in my view all politics is personal. i mean that sincerely. it's personal. it matters that you understand and know the other person. it matters even with foreign leaders whom you have nothing in common that you at least get to the point were you understand what their needs are and limits
are and whether or not you can trust what they say. because anyone who has worked up on the hill, and many of you have, who have served on the hill, know that it is your word. the court of the realm is whether or not you can be trusted to do what you say you will do. when i first got to the senate for the first two decades, there were an awful lot of men and not enough women but women were changing that. [applause] who would give you their word as to what they would do and when circumstances changed that it would make it more difficult for them to do it they still stepped forward and did it anyway.
and then we started to see, at least i did, in the 90s and thereabouts people with promise you what they are going to do and you would work out something and then say, i'm sorry, my circumstances have changed. i can no longer do that. these men and women, including olympia snowe, who is here and our former secretary of agriculture, never never did that. there is a second thing that they have never done. the lesson i learned from mike mansfield. when i first got to the senate i didn't want to be there and senator mansfield and kennedy and the fella named pasteur who you may not remember from the state of rhode island and fritz hollings and later the senator from ohio sex be one the funniest guys i've ever worked with, they all came to see me and said come and serve for six months. i really thought they needed me just to stay for six months.
george, you heard me say this before but i used to go to his office every tuesday at 3:00 and i would get an assignment and i really thought as a kid all senator scott assignments. i really did. i know that's naive but i'm the first senator i ever knew. [laughter] but i really did. it took me until about the beginning of may to realize he was just taking my pulse to see how i was doing. one day i was walking across the floor down to the well to find out when the last would be to get on the train to go home to delaware, and jesse helms was a dare excoriating you lob and ted kennedy for precursor for the americans with disabilities act , talking about how we had no obligation than i thought it was
heartless. thank goodness although i never had a temper as you know thank goodness i went in and sat in front of him and he spoke in clipped tones and said what's the matter, joe? i went off on jesse helms sankey had no social redeeming value on what's going on and how could he be so heartless and so on and so forth. and he's set and he listen to me and he said, joe, what would you . and jesseld you -- dot and jeese helms adopted that young man. they did. i said, i feel foolish. he said, joe, i learned something a long time ago.
it's always relevant to question another man or woman's debate, and you never need to make any apology for that. that it is never relevant to question their motive because you do not know. on, wheneverent question anyone else's motive. once you question the motive, you cannot get to go or a place where you can reach an agreement. our politics, as the reason the center was setup and jason you are doing a heck of a job, has become too negative, too petty, too personal, and yes, too partisan. compromise has literally become a dirty word. we don't just question their judgment and disagree but we question their motivation. if you don't agree, you are in the pocket of somebody, our you are being bought off or you are not a good person if you don't agree with me.
we don't know each other anymore. it is hard to dislike a woman or man on the other side when you understand their problems. you realize they may have a son or daughter with a serious health problem or wife or husband with breast or colon cancer, whether they have struggles at home. it is hard. it is hard not to understand them. we used to travel together. i went out with guys up in the senate dining room, the private one, the tables are not there anymore. we used to sit down and eat lunch privately. it is gone. no one is there anymore, george. i went in to see if i could catch up with my old and newer colleagues. there is lounge chairs in there but no tables. there used to be two big tables. so, folks, i guess the point i
want to make is this and you have been standing too long unlike any other nation in the world, we are uniquely a product of our insutitutions. you cannot define an american by their ethnicity, race, religion or the culture which they come. you cannot do it. it is not possible. you can't even define an american anymore and we will not be able to shortly as a predominantly white, european stock nation. what holds this nation together and always has has been an intuitive expressed commitment to the constitution, to our institutions. our institutions are what have held us together, a belief they can deliver.
what worries me the most and i never thought i would have to make this speech, or want to make this speech, but the almost drumbeat of denigration of the institutional structures that govern us is dangerous. when you delegitimize the court you delegitimize the legislative body and it it makes it impossible to reach compromise. we are a diverse and great nation and in order for this democracy to function we have to remember it requires consensus at the end of the day. without consensus, we have chaos. it is not just joe biden saying this. it is an our constitution. we have to remind ourselves how important this document is and i am not trying to be professor joe biden and talk
constitutional law. i am talking about the essence of what it is. it is that we really do believe all men and women are created equal. that is the deal. we really do think that there should be separation of powers without knowing the doctrine of separation of powers. we know the court has the right to overrule a congress or president when it it rules. it should be adhered to after the appeals are had. we know, we know because we have been through constitutional crisis together including impeachments and other things happening since 1973 when i got the. we know we have to check the power of presidents. the legislature and congress is as important. they used to kid me in the white house. i was the only guy who actually thought there was a congress and
that it mattered. you think i am joking. but there is a tendency today to nod as we look over the thishistory and time. -- a tendency today to nod. as we look over the story of our american institutions is that they have always sustained the crisis. when we lift these institutions up, we derive strength from it. it is the basis upon we can make the compromise. when we tear them down we do it at our own peril. i must say these beliefs are so basic and fundamental that i think average americans fully get it and understand it. when we lose confidence in this nation of laws and not man and that courts make a difference and they are the ultimate arbiter things begin to crack.
ladies and gentlemen, i am somewhat saddened that this is the first time i have made this speech to such a distinguished audience. i stand in this room and building and i cannot help say there is another institution. the fourth estate and free press that if we undermine we do it at our own peril. let me say something -- [applause] i have taken my fair share of hits from the press being covered by the very best and some of the worst. some of you press guys are lousy just like some senators are lousy, doctors are lousy, lawyers are lousy. but it doesn't matter. we should never challenge the basic truth that an independent and free press is the fundamental element in functions of our democracy.
i know you hear a lot quoted about thomas jefferson these days and how he argued with the press. let me remind you what thomas jefferson said. he said if it was left to me to decide a government without newspaper newspapers or newspapers without government, i should not hesitate a momement to choose the latter. that doesn't mean we have not have run-ins with the press and thought they were being unfair. but to question the actual legitmacy of a free press is one of the most dangerous things out. the idea we denigrate our institutions, i think we honest to god, weaken our ability for self-government. we understand our democracy and we undermine and become weak and not stronger.
don't just take my word for it. admiral mccraven who you know i worked with closely particularly during the bin laden raid. this is a true patriot. this isn't a left-leaning liberal whatever you want to characterize it. he is a patriot. president obama risked his entire year on trusting his judgment about osama bin laden. he just said last week that the belief the newspaper is the enemy of the american people quote may be the greatest threat to democracy in my life time. [applause] ask john mccain and finally in this building are there othe the the the the the and the the the -- ask john mccain, another patriot. finally, reporters around the world who died in pursuit of what they thought to be the
truth and their names are in museums in memorial so their services never forgotten. , this may be the first said, imy career, as i thought it was important to make the speech. but i have, we all have bipartisan responsibilities to this nation to defend principles that have long made america the beacon of hope and as ronald reagan said the shining city on the hill. to protect the institutions that made it possible for these principles to be sustained. we are all respected around the world as i said many times and been criticized for saying not merely for the example of our power but the power of our example. that is why the rest of the world repairs through the united states. that is the place we get the
gravity of our legit. ladies and gentlemen, as recent experiences made car, there is nothing guaranteed about democracy and several-governing even after 240 years. there is nothing that guarantees we will remain the greatest economic machine in the world, greatest power in the world. nothing is guaranteed about any of that. there is no guarantee that we will remain the greatest. is everyof the matter generation has to earn it. we have been used to patriots like bob dole offering and giving his life nearly for the
nation. it is automatic and going to keep happening. folks, read your history, there is nothing guaranteed. just like every question before us, every generation has before us, we have to earn it. we will not do that if we are tearing each other apart. we have to stop being blinded by anger. we have to see each other again and continue to focus on hope and the things that unite us. i have always believed we are strongest when we are one america. and i really mean that. rich, poor, middle class, black, white, straight, folks like my family and yours that came to the country with the dream of new immigrants arriving today. one america. we are all in this together. everybody does their fair share and we can argue what that share is. that is the difference in the parties. it makes sense to argue about it. ladies and gentlemen, we have to move beyond where we are today. let me conclude by saying i ran
for the united states senate as a 29-year-old kid for two reasons. i came out of the civil rights movement. i was just a kid in a segregated state that thought it was wrong and got engaged in high school and there wasn't anything heroic about it. sit-ins and desegregated restaurants. but i came because i disagreed with quite frankly almost all the old segregationists were democrats when i got there in 1973. and i started off on a committee as the most junior guy ever on the committee. on the judiciary committee was strong thurman. i served with him for, i think, 28 years.
he and i actually became friends. if you listen, if you try to understand what another geographic area is going through, it can actually change you. when thurman left he voted for the extension of the voting rights act and he had a higher percentage of african-american in his staff including teddy kennedy. didn't make up for his past sins but there was change. on his hundredth birthday, i got a call from nancy thurman, she called and said joe in her southern accent. she said i am here with strong's doctor. strom's dr he asked if i would come out and do you a favor. i said sure, nancy, anything at all. she said joe, he wants you to do his euloy. i did it and i was honest and didn't say anything i didn't believe.
although i started off looking up at heaven saying grandfather finnegan, forgive me what i am about to do. with all kidding aside, if you look hard enough, you can even find the possibility of some agreement and change in people with the most extreme views. last night, we heard talk about bipartisanship. last night, we heard an address that was much more presidential in tone than anything we have heard before. last night, we heard a lot about how we will continue to disagree. but there was talk of bipartisanship. but as the old saying goes, the
proof of the putting is in the eating. but my wish is that we find make progress in bipartisanship even this atmosphere but we cannot continue to denigrate our institutions. thank you for this great honor. be part of it.o [applause] >> thank you, ladies and gentlemen. a patriot.s joe biden is a political justtution and joe biden delivered the best description of political empathy that i think i've ever heard. thank you for joining us tonight. we've got the room for a few hours. spread out.
>> sunday night, journalist on her book "e pluribus one," she's interviewed by michael steele, former chair of the u.n.c. >> when does unity come into play and how does this book provide prescriptions for important corner to recognize how important unity is? book is a refresher of is in a way wrote of, we need a little help. butica is a great country we're confused about who we are and what we want and i think that's what we're wrestling with. we have topiece, break this down. the oblemith the la electis half the count waynd thetheral fesnoer
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