20 Episode results for "Institute Of Politics"

Ep. 277 - Khizr Khan

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

1:06:36 hr | 2 years ago

Ep. 277 - Khizr Khan

"And now from the university of Chicago institute of politics and CNN the axe files with your host, David Axelrod. Qazir com became an instant national figure in the summer of two thousand sixteen when he and his wife appeared at the democratic national convention in Philadelphia, they told the story of their son captain Homayoun Khan who was a hero who saved many lives and gave his own in Iraq in two thousand and four as gold star parents. They talked about their son, but also their love for a country they had come to adopt as their own. He came by the institute of politics last week to talk about his life, his son, the America he believes in and is moving book, an American family, a memoir of hope and sacrifice. Qazir con. It's a great honor to to have you here to have you at the institute of politics in welcome. I, there's so much the talk about about where we are as a country about what you're doing now in advance of these midterm elections, but your own story is so extraordinary. And so in some ways American that I wanted to, I wanted to ask you about that and for for those who haven't had the the opportunity of reading your book, talk a little bit about how you grew up in Pakistan and how that shaped who you are. If I may. Say couple of things. One is when I was invited by the institute to come and and speak here. I was thrilled that I'll be sitting across the table from you. Thank you. And I wish to pay tribute to you and Susan and your family for the service that you have provided to this nation at a great cost cost comfort of the family separation, and we are grateful it is that example that is missing today. And I wanted to take this moment to remind us that it is leaders like that those who serve the country with great sacrifice to be admired an appreciated sold that we may follow in there for the step. So thank I deeply deeply appreciate that. Right. I'm humbled by it because I'm sitting across from someone who made the the ultimate sacrifice of the loss of a child in service of our country, and having part of my service was to have the honor of meeting young men and women who are serving their country in dangerous places. And I've, I never, I, I'll never forget it. And so let me return lemme return the compliment in the appreciation. We'll talk more about about all of that, but let me let's go back to the beginning because it's been quite a journey from your early days in Pakistan to to this moment. Talked me about how how you grew up about your family about those influences that shaped you. Well, I, I am number one in the. Family siblings of ten altogether, a modest family. I grew up. I was in middle school when we had fuss martial law in Pakistan. My toss was to make sure that Russian card is renewed every week and so used to go in his stand in lines and wonder why Kahn Regis go to store and we have the money and buy the food. Why do we have to get an by mush Lloyd minister giving us the permission to buy food, but I could not find Unser. Second time I was in law school when the second Masha llah was was imposed in Pakistan, and that is when I saw generalists being killed. I was watching the procession. There was a baton charge, and I cannot shake that that that scene, that all journalists were standing under a shed of a stole altogether with their cameras in hand and snapping pictures, and all of them and the procession was moving on the street, and I saw that the baton charge was offered and then shooting was offered immediately and the police instead of shooting towards the mob they were. They immediately turned towards the flock of journalists that would have standing under the shade of the shed of the shop. And I wondered why are they being killed? Why? Because several of them fell. Doing that martial law, the newspapers were were press. The press was burned, and the newspaper was shut down. And few days later, the newspaper would be released to publish, and then we will see a picture of the martial law administrator on the front page with the full medals and praises of his what this Masha llah administrator is doing. So I grew up in that circumstances where one day we have the liberty, we have the rights and the second day we cannot even by the food and we cannot read the newspaper and we cannot hear the reporters on radio or on television unless they were praising Marshall on your story. A about the the journalists is particularly powerful this week when we're we're considering the the apparent assassination of Saudi journalist who had. The temerity to from a distance because he had to leave to challenge the the, the Saudi prince, the Saudi ri- Royal family. And I think you know, I'm a former journalist, we so in this country's sometimes take for granted how fundamental that right of a free press is and how important is to functioning democracy to have that free press. But you must have a special appreciation for that having witnessed what you witnessed. Yes. And now I understand after having read the world history and having observed how these taught detains and dictators proceed to manipulate the public and people and we can draw own conclusion and connect the dots hair their common team to the world. And now I can. Speak with the some clarity that that is the first step the Torah Teheran's and dictators and strongmen do, and that is to malign the press shut down the press. They do no good their enemy of the people. The second thing to do and this is a tradition of most of the Masha llah administrators. Most of the dictators is that these judges are no good. I will appoint my own judges. They do not know how to dispense Justice. I know under my autre the justices will be appointed. Judges will be appointed and they have done through our world. It is under those circumstances that I find myself in second year of law school, and I took a course constitutions of the world. Four constitutions were were in the syllabus. Constitution of Soviet Union. Most Americans probably do not recall what Soviet Union was, but I studied it. I studied its downfall as well and the role that United States played and that they do not. They have not forgotten that downfall of. So we at union, so constitution of Soviet Union, Germany, and of course, Magna Carta and the constitution of the United States. There was no textbook, but the lose materials which I got from the an on-air that story in detail in my in my book when I got the materials, I travel by school by university bus and brought it to my door, placed it on the table and the meet my eyes wonder to the very top page of those materials, which said, declaration of independence of the United States of America. I was struggle by looking at the world declaration of independence. Could this be possible? Who are these people that are declaring their independence and I urge entire Medica I urge every American to read the declaration that embodies the spirit of this nation that they declared in seventeen seventy two seventy four, which the days declared the declaration of independence. And I looked at the year of the declaration of Indian said, Holcombe rest of the world had to endure the colonization for another two hundred years because Pakistan got its independence in nineteen forty, seven. I read the declaration all twelve hundred thirty eight words of it. I did not counter then, but I sense amazing grievances listed in in that document, but that created an image of this nation of this country. Then I did not have the cutting edge of the strength to dream that one day all be able to. Be part of this great nation. So those were the formidable days and readings than the articles. I now ender stood why article one the congress? Why office of the president is in article two judiciary article three. Now I understand scheme of those article, one article to article three also, that is how when civilized nation gains its independence under those circumstances narrated in declaration of independence. That is how we will live our life as a free nation. Yes. And undoubtedly read all the painstaking debates that went into the creation of of that document, the constitution and all of the nuances that were considered and thrashed out extraordinary in extraordinary legacy. That we have before we get into the substance of that. I just wanna take you back a little bit further because you know you perhaps modestly left out in portent part of your story, which is how unusual it was for you to make the journey made from what was significant poverty to getting your education and then pursuing a law degree. You spent a great deal of time in your youth with your grandfather who is a great influence on you. Tell me about about him. Well, we lived very models modestly did not have elected city or running waters. So the entertainment that I had every night was his company. He would come before. I would fall asleep to my bedside. He would sit there and he would mate story. Or would tell what had taken place during the day or at me some questions and all that. So his stories have had an amazing impact on me. In and that not just in early but, but in Persian in in in several languages? Yes, he was. He was a reader of Rumi and roomies writings, and so he used to Nate those in Persian language. And that has tell you English as well as English as well. English became my second language and an attack has since then. But those were the formidable humble and modest days spending time with him and learning from his company is and there are those in your family who would be wilder as once you got a higher education that you'd go on and get a law education as well. Why did you decide to do that? Yes. When I was completing my BA. I could see the struggle that lawyers have launched in Pakistan against the military dictatorship that they had become the leaders of the nation and towards the freedom from the from the martial law and from the dictatorships of the of the state. And so that influence my decision making that I want to study something in April myself so that someday I'll be able to to help others. And it is dad defined Dacian that. Took me to law college and then to one of the things that touched me about your your, your college years and an earlier was how how you adapted to not having the resources to buy your book. So you'd sit in the bookstore and they'd let you read the book in the bookstore. So you were determined. Lake of resources is, is is no excuse not to pursue what you're passionate about. And I suddenly because of lack of resources were never never a hindrance and it never had been entrance. Tell me about your decision to come here and to study. I you, you went to do by tell tell me about that sequence of events that led you to come here after law school, I passed the bar and was licensed and through the recommendation. One of my law professor heater commended that if I'm looking for employment and looking to make life little better than practicing in the district courts of pongy without any resources, Orrick mundane off family influence, I, he mended that there is an employment in Dubai and I should apply which I did, and I was accepted and I did not know what who it was and what it was. It turned out to be an American oil company that had opened office and they needed a administrator in the office to to run the show of the local personnel and local operation. So I wanted up there again without much resources. You really struggled when you got there. I, yeah, I I understand. He made the cost of Dubai then and with the feud appease in my pocket. I purchased the ticket and and got to do by and I did not know where to go and where to to to stay. I got there on Friday. The office did not open up until Monday, and I had two days to spend. So I talked to a cab driver who was very helpful. Any allowed me to sleep in his two bedroom place and which had no furniture and just the bad floor and the door. So I spend two nights there thinking how still how grateful I was that I was looking forward to Monday and you. And what was your experience when you when you when you showed up Monday and what? What were the revelation? They're nal. I. Meeting the medical in my life for Stein, and I show up there. I was of course exhausted. I couldn't sleep, didn't have money to eat so, but anyway, I show up to the end. I narrate that in the book in great detail, introduce myself to the receptionist and Margaret. She says, ole Ellen is waiting for you and and let me let him know. So she gets up and goes and tells my soon to be fussed boss, Ellen crawl and Ellen walks out and shakes my hand and brings me to his office, sit piles of files and things in his office. And and he begins to explain my task would be an why at hair and what a short amount of time we have to get Dopp ration- going full time and this and this. And then he looks at me. With with with the amazing in intent and concentration. He said, Keyser, you look tired. Where have you been sleeping? I I laughed, and I said, I had been rented a room from cabdriver and I've been, he said, you don't look too well. He picks up the phone and he called somebody and he speaks to two person on the other side. And then he begins to explain that we need to do this and we need to do this and this about fifteen minutes later, a lady walks into his office and I look at her and she extends her hand to me. And she said, I'm Lisa crawl. He had called his wife and told her in in in a vis bird at white is our Genton important that we arrange accommodation for keys. For star. Gender, Assisi, compassion of America. I am faced with it. Okay. Let's go island and she's gets up and says, come, let's go said wherever you're going. You said we have a place for you to rest. I don't have a place to rest, and I didn't want to take them to the humble place where I was staying for the last two nights and he's a no come. So I followed them and we go to get into car and then go to building few blocks from there in Dubai. And we take the elevator and go to the floor where my where displace was, and Lisa opens the door and we walk in. And. It's a beautiful one bedroom, apartment and lease is showing me instead of frigerator. It is cattle for your TV and then she opens the fridge door. And I'm in total. Of the generosity kindness, vidartes me uttering award seeking hell. Extending such a such generous help. She said she will push through. She saw there's bread and the butter and jam, and all that just in case if you need something and and then she walks and she said, this is your bedroom. This. I had. Never seen. That many pillows on the bed before. It is it is that generosity him my first day. Talking to Anna Matic. And since then that moment, that incident has left such an impression on my soul on my heart. And then you got a job in Texas? Yes, I wanted to complete my education because that was instruction. My grandfather has given me that a person is not complete less his education. Her education is complete, and I wanted to pursue the law degree. I wanted to pursued further education. And generally the trend was that everyone with means was going to London to get about it law after completing the law degree, basic law degree in Pakistan. But I, I had read declaration of independence. American spirit had touched my heart and my soul. I wanted to come to the United States and study. So I worked there and save some money. And then we finally wind up in in in in Houston because there was the connection of the company oil company and Houston may have. Little better employment possibility for me. So I came a few days in advance to rent a place. We rented a one bedroom apartment in Houston for two hundred dollars. A month rent. And a few days later in both kids came into the seved them brought them home and took their suitcases inside the -partment and closed the door. This is second time. I am touched by a medical gender -sity and decency and and. So the so there is knock at the door and who could be don't know anybody at pairs. I look opened the door and look outside that is elderly lady and she introduces herself. She said, I'm Paulette, I'm your neighbor. I saw little kids. You have two kids said yes. With the I said, they are sleeping. They were tired. So they have, we have put them to bed and she has two sacks of Tang's in her hands. And she said, oh, I brought this for you. And for the kids I said, what is this? She's not least. I took it from her and place them on the table, but I wanted to tank her first and she said, you're were neighbor on what, if you need anything. Let me know all end. I closed the door and I look in the in does grocery bags, and there was water. Male can often juice cookies and bread. I looked at because I LA. And. I said, we, we want to raise children here. She on search. She said, you know, we used to pray that we want to make life better. We have come to the place and an i. politics. These. Incidences in my life is such that even today what I needed them. Whenever I think of them, I begin to lose composure. Because of the power of that compassion that Sean to meet kindness that was expressed towards the stranger. Paula did not ask us in today's vitamin. I want to read the story as loudly as part of she did not ask us, what have you come from? What language you speak, what fate you practice. It was just pure decency, compassion towards your neighbor. And and so these would formidable events in our life incidences and are just so many. We have netted some in the book, but there are so many of them that we have faced and we continue to continue to face. So captain him I own con grew up under those circumstances. You went up to Harvard you, you got into, we refer to Harvey. As the university of Chicago the east here. But you got into Harvard Law School and did a a master's program in the US. It was your second masters and then you move to Maryland. And before I wanna talk about your son before we before we go there, did you were you politically oriented at the time? I mean, where you I, I was this much politically oriented President Reagan is about to give his farewell speech. I am home. And used to work during the day, and then some nights has all, but that was my night off. I intentionally set in front of the nation and waited for his speech to begin. And that is speech captured my heart the way he expressed the city shining city. It has all, but that wall has doors anyone with the cutting edge and with the spirit of contribution can can walk through those those those doors that was image. And that remains the image. Even today that remains image in my heart of America. And obviously, you inculcated your your children with that feeling as well, because because your son Homayoun enlisted talk to me about that and his decision to to to join the military. Yeah. So we wouldn't Madeline and I was working in Washington DC. It's not too far from from my work. Everytime guest would come visit us from overseas or from. But in the United States, I would always take them to show the monuments in Washington and the most favorite monument was Jefferson memorial and I would take them and I would ask them to read, what is it in what is in in the ceiling of the dome? And people would read and would be inspired after a couple of times whenever I would take guest, kids would make faces and withdrawal. There is that there he goes again, taking us back to the Jefferson memorial and they used to kind of imitate me without me knowing that I would tell tell me when you show people what is written on the walls of Jefferson Memorial Day also. Reenter acting standing behind me, and it was those moments that probably imprinted in the hearts and minds of children, and especially my own. He was the peacemaker, very balanced person. And I remember when he decided so he goes to university of Virginia and writes a wonderful essay that admits him to head for dormitory and our TC auto TC, any joins auto TC, and we have a conversation about that. And he says to me, he said, I have heard you speak about public service that how how it elevates, not only the person who is serving, but those who is sir. Irving, both sides elevated to a more dignified level, and it is with that determination to serve that. I wish to join ROTC and I wish to continue to serve in army and used to say, if you go to army ROTC at university of Virginia today, they have a small conference room that is named after captain whom I in con- that is a that is a pedigree that he had written. And in that paragraph, he talks about learning the lesson of public service from Thomas Jefferson, that how important it is for people for democracy to to be defended and democracy and people living in democracy under democracy. People ought to be vigilant because it requires vigilance and sacrifice and. So that was that was my own and he rose through the ranks and in the midst of this nine eleven happens and we became engaged in Iraq. He got sent to Iraq. What? What were you and your wife thinking when he went obviously, you felt pride. Did you have fear as well? Yes, as as as any any patent? We were concerned about his wellbeing and but he used to assure us that look, I am. I am responsible for my unit safety, not only my unit, but to everyone else around me. So I am very safe. I don't want you to what he and make sure I take care of myself and my unit and the people that we protect in doc item member, the conversation he had on the last. Mother's day with Allah, and she kept saying to him, I don't want you to be, he'll I want you to protect yourself. I want you to be safe. I want you back. And I asked what was on sitter. And she told me that he kept saying to me that look, I am disponsable for others, safety and my unit, and my entire based depends on on me. Therefore I am ready safe. I don't want you to about, but what we would concern, we will concern and you wrote wrenching -ly about that day that fateful day in which he he despite everything was a hero. Despite your wife's admonition, he fulfilled his duty as as a leader. And what was interesting as I listen to you, describe it you? He talked not just about his responsibility to his unit, but also to the people of Iraq who he was sent to protect and that. It's really what came into play. Both of those impulses came into play that day when he lost his life, they would about three hundred Archies at the door at that moment on Tuesday, June eight, eight o'clock in the morning. We were told, we are told by his commanders and the people that were at at the door at that time and it all key sent us even now this pictures of the family letters and and telling us this story. And so there were oxygen mentally, three hundred the door, the the at the camp warriors coming into the camp service, and there were scores of US automate soldiers on the other side of the wall, having breakfast getting ready for the days. Operation and he had started a program where instead of importing people to work in the camp on for provide services that was his initiation, his commanders have liked it and locals have liked it that why don't we employ local people to come and do this work inside the Cam that will help the community that will establish the goodwill of America in the community. And so it did. So this is eight o'clock in the morning. He's not do at his poll still eleven o'clock, but he comes as was his habit. We told that he would come at the entry and exit time to make sure that the operation runs smoothly and he sees of eighty five. I coming car towards the gate and he knows. What is taking place on the inside scores of US soldiers getting ready to that eating breakfast, getting ready for today's event and these at Ocoee outside the gate, he must have realized because of his training and because of his instinct, what is what danger discount maybe bringing and the people that have worked in his unit, I have met them. They have come an explained to us that he could have simply pointed to us a pointed us to shoot the cab and we could have done that. But he did not choose to do that because there had been mistakes in the past that we had shot. Innocent people that were lost were coming for a carelessly towards the camp. So he tells his his staff that is at the gate, hit the ground. And and then he could have done exactly same thing himself, but he must have realized the danger that if he did that the cord would DRAM and that's why they, the reason they chose eight o'clock in the morning was because there were scores of US soldiers on the other side of the wall, the damage he may have his mind. So he instead of sitting down, he extended his hand, and he moves towards the oncoming car takes about tennis steps. We are told and causes this car to prematurely detonate, and the bomb went off and several folks at the gate were injured, but no one was killed except kept in him. I in Khan and. We, we found out that really day nal. I have met the people that what they're and especially lady there was a book signing in Washington DC. A lady walks with the three of her children with her and. She has pitcher. She greets me and at the book signing and she said, Mr.. Khan signed book, I signed the book and then she shows me the pictures on you recognize this. And I saw that I because I had seen it before that was kept in my own cons, unit specter, all the unit, men and women standing, and he's standing with them and she semester con- you see this lady, that's me. I was in his unit. And she says that since we deployed to Iraq used to cry literally every night and I was so afraid and I was never been overseas. I have never been at such a place, and even though I was a soldier, but still and captain con used to come every night. Me and I was rooming with with under soldier and other lady, and he used to sit and used to tell us to on worry, I will protect. You want you to be strong, and I want you to never never be concerned that you will not be protected. Allah protect you. And she had to con- I was Tecate. With this happen. All I could think at that moment was that true? He was to his words. He said that protect you, he protected all of us. And so somewhere somewhere in his training in his growing up, those words of Jefferson was conversations about the constitution about the set of others about the greatness of this nation because I used to tell Ellen crawls and his wife's compassion and poets compassion to folks that came to visit us in kids must have heard it. He must've heard it. That's why he was so kidding. He was so kidding. And and that is why this is story needs to be. The reason I ordered this book is that we need to share these the goodness of America. We need to share with one another on these difficult circumstances where we are. We, we have. Become so tribal that we're losing goodness, but I am. I'm I'm, I'm certain. I have felt throughout the nation in my travels. I have felt that this is a good nation. This is it's DNA is based on compassion. It's DNA is made a of respect and dignity for others and it. This may be a momentary Thomas time, a momentary anomaly, but we will get back on the right track very soon. As a as I listened to your words and and and I see gold star on your lapel. I, I have to say, I was in tears myself being a father, reading your words about that sense of denial you had when they called to tell you that your son had been killed, and I just need to ask you about that and that horrible, horrible task of identifying him. Yes, I. Believe me. I don't to share this with with very many people. Even today. Sometime. When I. Look at the back of soldier. Walking airport street all at an event or someplace that if lection that, I feel that may be. Him, I miss their, he'll turn around and say, oh, I am. So it is the hat. In one corner. I continued to hope that some day even get to see him. But that was the moment that no parents wishes to, which is to go through where you have to his body had come was brought to the funeral home and the. The loss officer and one of his captain from his unit was accompanying the coffin, and I had to identify to sign it so that. We could move forward to prepare for the funeral. And yeah, I remember. That moment. And when they lifted the front portion of the coffin and amazing piece on its face, I was. I was thinking prior to because that would be the forced and the last time since he paused. That would be more damage to his face or his forehead. We were told that sharpen stuck in its struck him in his foot head, the left side of the foot head. I was thinking that would be more damaged his face and all that. Not at all, not in scratch and amazing piece, and. As if he was resting for awhile and he will get up and I recognize, of course, that's him. And we moved on. Let me ask you about you you you are. You became a national figure and that was not necessarily you couldn't have envisioned that. Tell me about the decision to speak at the democratic national convention in two thousand sixteen because I can't have been an easy decision in December of two thousand fifteen. When that statement that most bigoted statement was made by then candidate than Republican candidate that I will ban all Muslims, all Hispanics will be thrown out. Fair judges. Do no Justice and women are not entitled to equal dignity and all of this newspaper reporter, James king from New York called me and asked me if I have any thoughts. So my first question was how did you. You get my phone number. He said, Washington Post, has your telephone number and your address because they have written a couple of article and they had done that. They had interviewed me couple of articles. He said, I got it from there and named person that I spoken with me from Washington Post. So I, I was trying to verify that I'm speaking with a legitimate person of, so I spoke with him and I gave him my pots and what I felt, and what I thought. This was taking place on one side on the personal and private side was that after that statement where we would go. Indefatigably my children's families, their friends families with small children. Birthday parties, get togethers, and I would be invited and we would go line. I would go and people knew that are practiced law in I, I know little bit about the constitution as well, and so they would bring their children, middle school elementary school, high school children say will ask, ask on con- if we are going to be thrown out of hair. And so these kids middle school kits, they would reach out, is this true? But we're going to be thrown out of here because when we go to school, we're bullied little girls. The kids bother us and this you will be thrown out of fear while you do your homework. Why are you studying so hard? Once he becomes the president, we are going to throw all of you out and all of this, and these are not kids. These are just regular, but they look different little brownish little, not so white, and so I would heart on them. I would hug them. I would heart him them and I would tell them, no, this is not true US constitution for TNT amendment, and I'll narrate equal protection of lock close to them. And I said, this is just because of the politics and all of this. So we would hardening these kids and I would then ask you days later, call their parents day, doing their homework. They going back to school. Most of them would say, no, they don't even eat well. And what did they are not sleeping well, and they have taken this. To their heart. And so I would speak with them. Let me talk to their order phone and I'll try to heart on them. And this is this is taking place when I'm speaking with James king. And James king publishes that article and democratic national conventions committee picks up that article, and I see a call that. We are preparing for a semi annual convention or conference in Minneapolis, and we've issued to pay tribute to captain Hawaiian con- do you have any objection? I said, no. So they prepare a two minutes tribute to captain him. I in con- where Hillary Clinton narrates part of the words that I had uttered about then candidate and his threats and. So we'd see what link few days later that this is the tribute that we have prepared. You have any objection, no objection. At all. Few weeks later, we receive a call that we have invited other goal star families to the convention. Would you like to come. And something we have not been political. We have voted, but we have not been making speeches or supporting candidates are other things we have had over favorite politician presidents and and other all in one party or another party. No, all in looking back after Ronald Reagan, we have been in on the side of Democrats because their values and their their programs and platforms mashed over values and. So so I said, could we think what a day? Yeah. Okay. Let let us know day after tomorrow. And so I talked to allies said I got this call and they're saying that if we would like to come when they pay tribute, they're paying tribute to other Goldstar members and their families are present. And she said, really have not been part of the noise and all of this, you think we should. I, let's talk to over kids. We talk to them and they said, no, this is not your Cup of tea. Do not go, please your reputation, your piece, your comfort, everything will be maligned. This is advice from other two sons in Charlottesville. I taught there being over protective. Let me talk to some of the folks that are a little more savvy in this business. They said exactly. Same thing that we know your temperament, we know how you have lived and how you wish to live in peace and private, and all of this. Please don't go and on personal side, those kids and their parents and their questions, and their concerns are in my mind and was align. I are sitting on the second day and we are about to call yes or no to DNC convention committee and said, what should we do? And she said, just, let's call them. Let's not be part of this noise this is we will continue to do our part privately and quietly to heart these kids. So. And then she looks outside. We live in Charlottesville, yes, at the southern end of Carter mountain under the grace of Monticello. And so she sees the the mail truck go by. She said, the mailman just went by, I said, okay, let me go and check the mail. Soco incidental. I go to check the mail and then we will call them and we will tell them that we really appreciate we appreciate your inviting, but we will not be able to come. So I go and I opened the mailbox and I pick up the mail and I'm out of curiosity. Looking at at the bottom of the mail was white and. No stamp just Mr. MRs Khan and sealed. So somebody must have come to place it. And out of curiosity, I'm holding the mail in one hand and open the envelope with second hand. Look at the card. It's a small card with four names on it. Fifth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, sixth grade, and the name and there. The sentence says Mr. MRs con would you make sure. That is not thrown out of this country. We love her. She's a friend. She's a good student. I had it. And walked back to living room and showed it to us that I said it'll be at people faith, we believe in prayer and guidance in all of this show the Torah. I said, remember we had been praying that some guidance should come. She looks at it. I was hundred percent thinking that she's little more wiser more balanced, like my own deliberate and all that. She's going to say to me in that, no, let's just call them and tell them we cannot participate in this. She looks at me and she says, call it. Tell them we will come. We will go and you did. And maybe the most memorable moment in that whole convention was your speech with your wife standing next to you? Clearly clearly uncomfortable, and as as as most people would be in that situation and you taking your constitution out of your pocket, which you carry with you and challenging Donald Trump as to whether he had ever read the constitution offering to lend them yours. Was that something that you did spontaneously of since bossing of captain con we use to give at the graduation at the commissioning ceremony at autumn Jato TC to every commissioning cadet Senator McCain's book. Why. Cottage matters and the reason for that book and that connection was that that was the last book I sent to him in Iraq to read Senator McCain's why cutting matters. I read it. I found it inspiring and I sent it to him and he did it. And he mentioned to me because I often what would the phone did you read Senator McCain's. He said, he, I got it in my friends are reading it. It's a wonderful book. Thank you for sending are used to give that book as a token of over every nation of them joining and taking the old to serve the nation as military officers are used to give that book. So we did that for first few years. I used to take about twenty twenty five twenty two copies of it too. I would buy them and take them to Senator McCain's office, leave it in his office with the names of the cadets. And he was so kind so kind. He would inscribe and he would sign each and every cadets name and his signature and best wishes. What commissioning and for serving all of this. And this went on for several years and and it was getting a little expensive because the number of cadets joining commissioning was growing in it was thirty. Now I thought there has to be a cheaper way to every she and acknowledged. So I was renewing my American Bar Association membership, and I saw on the advertisement on their page. US constitution ninety nine cents this I can afford. So I offered since then I've been keeping a copy of of it in my pocket. And the reason for that is that the every time they would be guests from overseas off even local guests. And we would talk about declaration of independence the grievances and especially the grievance number seven, this forefathers complaining about the lack of immigration, because what image. Parents bring to to to to this country and. Anyway. So I used to keep one in my pocket, and I would show it proudly share it instead of just talking, I would read fourteenth amendment the first amendment. And so I had been keeping that that worshiping that were she now sits in junior historical society's making Virginia section there is, is that became a historic moment. So. Go ahead. So I just want to end that conversation. So that was the reason I had that constitution my pocket. I always captured in my coat pocket. The original sentence in the speech was not. I lend you my copy, not at all it was. You have not read the constitution of the United States. If you read it, look for the word liberty and equal protection of law and all that. And that's that. So now we are in Philadelphia. The cab has come to pick us up, take us to the commission to the convention. And the last thing I put on is my coat and we were told not to bring any keys or any metal things. And so I am checking my, I feel bulge in my coat pocket left side. And I see that the constitution is in my pocket smell veer in the elevator getting in the cab. And I said, I said, was this constitution. My pocket and I'm making reference to have you read the United States constitution. Why don't I put it out and say, I would lend you my copy instead of saying, read the constitution if United's needs. So she said, no, she always had been a balance in my life and she said, no, no, you cannot do this. Let's take permission for. So once we arrived there, we will take permission. But in the meantime, because I had pulled it out, she said, you're pulling it out upside down. It really wouldn't mean much. Make sure we, let's practice. And so she around to that. We are in the cab and I am practicing this this way or this way or this. So that's when idea came. We got to the green room in the convention hall in the basement, and we talked to the producer and raw other people to help and all that because they. Take you there to get familiar with the lights and flood annoys and all of that. So you don't lose your composure and your senses when you face all of this outside up on the stage. So I asked him that this is I have in my pocket can ice instead of saying, I would like you to read the constitution if United States, why don't I just say I would gladly lend you my copy. And so the producer is standing there and he comes all the way up here. And he looks at me standing here and said, Mr.. Connor, you showed you going gonna do this. I said, yes, go ahead and do that. And so that's the smart smart produce. Yeah, he must have been. So we, we have to wrap up, but you mention that you live in Charlottesville, you saw what transpired there and what the president said in response to it. You've seen everything that's. Passed since the moment that you've made that speech and yet you, you said earlier that you're optimistic about the future, and so I wanna ask you as we leave, what about and you've been, I wish point out. You've been traveling around the country, the last several months you've you've had contact with a lot of people. What makes you so up to mystic in in these very frayed times to things they would. We see tons of wonderful, wonderful supporting male and every now and then a bad letter. We have taken precautions to avoid that kind of thing. One letter that whenever I get tired of I cannot take this flight to go there or speak their one letter, twenty six pages written by a second World War retired army nurse. She tells her story in twenty five pages on twenty six bayed sheets. This Mr. Khan continued to speak had more people spoken. We could have a wider the second World War. We could have a wider that Tross teas that were committed against brothers and sisters against a Jewish brothers and sisters in the second world continue to speak. Even if you're the only one left is speaking. It is that twenty six page gets me going every time and I was there. On the eleventh of August is saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears, the chance, the slogans, the guns that were being candid. I've was going to get my book in Charlottesville that I heard this noise and I thought maybe data the traffic jam or something we stopped, and I saw people standing outside their cars than when the procession came. Everyone went back in their cars and I heard the chance I had my windows at all. We were told because of the familiarity people recognize on the street. So I lowered the the, the shade of the car, and I slumped in my seat, but I could still hear the chance. And the only taught that came to me down and comes to me today. We left those chat some that ugliness in second World War we but it over men and women. Toes of them died two buddy that ugliness that division that hatred in yada. How did they have made it to the streets of Charlotte's will how they made it to United States? This cannot go on. This cannot go on this nation knows itself. That is why implode every American to read your founding documents. If you're if you have plenty of time and resources, read the federalist papers. I have read them. I'm re reading them all seventy five of them. Federalist papers and seventy five anti-federalist paper to become aware of the history, the journey that this nation has traveled, two hundred thirty one years of this remaining beacon of hope for the rest of the world. How dare this division, this tribalism. Has made its way back in in United States. It is that that gives me that scene on the eleventh of August evening, eleven of August and twenty six th page of that second world nurses letter keeps me moving that we must continue to speak. This cannot go on for too long. I know the DNA of this nation. This is this is one of the best nation best country in the world. It must get back on its Pat to uplift the mankind rebd read the Bill of rights. I call that document as enshrined with human dignities because I have lived without those dignities. I remember the day I took off of citizenship. I paused outside the courtroom and set to myself something about to happen about to change. When you take the old, you become US. You will become a whole human being the dignities that will be enshrined on you. You have never had those up until this way moment. And when I received that green certificate of citizenship, I looked at it to my Velde is it didn't say certificate of citizenship and actualization. It said certificate of dignity, and that is what it must be told. It must be shared, must be said so that we can get back to the uplifting mankind being the beacon of hope for the rest of the world for the humanity. Well, Mr. Khan lemme say, you are great American, and I thank you for your voice, and I thank you and your family for their sacrifices, and I'm honored to be with you again, David. Thank you. Thank you for your service for Susan service. Your family says that. Thank you for listening to the ax files part of the CNN podcast network for more episodes of the x files subscribe on apple, podcasts, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app from our programming from the university of Chicago institute of politics, visit politics, dot EU, Chicago dot EDU.

United States captain Homayoun Khan America Iraq Pakistan president administrator Dubai institute of politics CNN President Reagan Washington DC Susan university of Chicago institut Thomas Jefferson Charlottesville David Axelrod
Ep. 323 - James Carville

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

1:00:58 hr | 1 year ago

Ep. 323 - James Carville

"And now from luminary media and the university of Chicago institute of politics, the accident with your host, David Axelrod. Sui generis one of a kind. That's my buddy James Carville in the world of politics. He is a singular figure, a brilliant, brilliant strategist, passionate, funny, hilarious, really and incredibly incisive. He engineered the election of Bill Clinton as president and was involved in many many other battles over the years electing Democrats across the country, and he's still a huge important voice in democratic politics. I sat down with him this week at the institute of politics at the university of Chicago to talk about his life and career and this two thousand twenty race. That's just unfolding. James carville. A my my old friend great to see you here at the institute of politics. You know, I thought I knew a lot about you. But I studied up for this conversation. And I learned that when you're great grandfather came here. He didn't come to Louisiana. He came to Wisconsin. Right. So you could your the rage cage, and you could have been the Barkan badger. Well, let's go back. It was actually my great-grandfather in the story is fascinating it, I did not know it. So I will ask about my family when I've kid about who he washed it. Well, it was fun Wisconsin at asthma, and he came to lose Yana, and I was taught at didn't make any goddamn sense. And so I noticed that like my grandfather's name was author and we had on Garfield and uncle John Madison. And my dad is named was Chester as yours. Yeah. I was reading about how union people would name their children after president or you know, African Americans back immigrant children Jefferson of Washington that was not uncommon. That was way that you. So said, this doesn't make sense. Why do we have all of these things family in a come to find out that first of all he was my grandfather, not he emigrated from Arlon? I think went through Toronto ended up in Wisconsin served in the union bridge or in the great famine. You know, our started was it. It was contemporaneous. But we will from County Monaghan, and that wasn't part of the fact that was right on our border with Northern Ireland. And I asked my relatives there. And this is probably just a case of too many kids in to few cows. So anyway after the war he moved to lead him, but comes a Republican member of the legion legislature was actually govern a pinch back. The reconstruction African American governors Louisiana floor leader, and he married if history is complicated. So just my family histories concave to married great-grandmother Octavia do haunt who is part of a failed Belgian colony in Guatemala somewhere. And of course, she didn't quite share his views in so people did after whites did after the war because you Surtees member prohibited. Involuntary servitude. If you had a plantation yet plantation store, so you would pay your laborers in scrip, and I actually have the coins that that still layer which you know, it's horrific part of you know, it's ridic-, but that was the way to operate, and it just goes to show you. Get my great-grandfather. We don't think he saw action, but he was an officer. And he went to I dunno high somebody funded Healy lit to like a boarding school in Indiana. And it's enter families have interesting stories, but that story of my great grandfather who was a Republican member Louisiana legislature. And you grew up in Carville, Louisiana, a presumably named for okay? Another interesting story. My quarters in of my break brand, Paul. Wife who the plantation also became the postmistress right after that time. My grandfather became postmaster in Carville. Call I land will del outta islands Louisiana's action island janitor system, con island sort of post office decided that they wanted to change the designation of the post office. Larry speaks Reagan's guy with. Looked all up on me and on June ninth nineteen oh nine the post office changed the designation to Carville because some bureaucrat sought at there was a Carville at wash both Masset was currently postmaster. In fact, my dad became the postmaster after my grandfather. And so we're just history of eurocrats classy post master's, and that's I got his name. But I I let all the girls thinking because we had big plantation. That worked for you, sometimes tried. So this is a town. That's about fifteen miles from Baton Rouge element more, NAT they by you know, it's right twenty miles south. I'd say by twenty fifteen twenty south of tiger stadium to south into the place. It is very famous place because his way foremost center for the treatment of Hansen's disease would be his leprosy exists in for one hundred years. It was de center the number one place in the world. If you contracted leprosy really would go. Yes. It is drop dead. Gorgeous place to list day. I mean, it really kept it up a great book in in shout of outcasts. Neil guy can think of his name, but it make a movie of it. It it became a federal prison. Neil white became a federal prison after closing ninety four. There's no reason to colonize people were procedures really be that was an antiquated thing. And it became a federal prison for awhile guy. Roy had a literary journal in Oxford Mississippi was kiting checks to make payroll and got caught. So he got sentenced you end up spending nine months in the sanctuary of outcast. And so he was at the time to open was still ASO. He wrote a book about it. And they're gonna make movie of it. Very good book. You you mentioned your your dad was the postmaster, and he had a general store that. Well, I don't how each other sane door. I am. Reminded of the fact that you fame you are probably the former world's expert on Andy of Mayberry episodes of how much was may berry. Like Carville, not not. I mean, one thing that may vary did which you couldn't if you let it just acted like black people didn't exist. I mean, it was just some kind of the Carville was. Probably ninety percent African American five percent people patients and five percent Caucasian. So either got along very good life. But, but when you when you I would coming up, it was it was a segregates the whites and blacks it when I was a movie theater in white satin abou- Guinea, really show you white. All right. Yeah. But but we didn't have. A little bit different expense to we didn't have any any public places to integrate in hospital because it was a federal facility was obviously integrated way before anything else, and they also had nondiscriminatory hiring before anybody else. So if you were an African American nineteen fifty eight in Carville, and you had a job at the hospital. Pretty good shake me yet a little retirement you wore like a khaki uniform to work every day. Had to healthcare and prestige. So it was a to that extent. It was very very good local produce of jobs in the jobs were they paid they will people respect. So it was very helpful. It was it was economic engine. Obviously drove the whole place. So all of what was coursing through the south when you were growing up did not touch your town. Not that much because they wasn't anything. Lunch counter. They wanna move at the ADA, right it. So I mean, we were certainly aware of everything. And then of course, you know, the whole topic of conversation, but it really didn't in daily life in a place where I grew up there just wasn't that conflict to there was nothing conflict, and how did that shape your views on race inundated? I literally you I was like fourteen fifteen I can't I just had to that thing is not this is really doing to to black which it's not right did became very sympathetic to it. And I think I got tired of the singular conversation, I know Gary wills who did a piece meal time ago each just been talk by the house can we just talk about football team. Can we talk about anything of thin? You know what? In. I think it was just I was just rebelling. I think I hope I would like to think in part against that it was discrimination. And I didn't like it. But it was also in a fearing would other things in my life because there was just such an obsession but race on everybody's caught. How'd you folks, you you wanna eight right? You know, my parents were we would descend. So like, are you really going to say this will never allow to use the inward more? We would we couldn't call talion people too. That's ugly. Don't talk about an evil like that. That extent. They will we will not raise with many at that. But they weren't also activists anything kind of accept it. Just grandma's grandma was awful. Man, I know forgetting in in that era people didn't talk back to their parents. And she was just add going to, you know, this too in that every other word they, mama. You know, she wouldn't talk like that for the kids. And she says, well, it's my house. I'll say what I want. And he said, well, they my kids. So we're just gonna leave. And I was just like so startled at that. He would like do anything. I can't tell you what active familiar courage that was to do that. Again, it doesn't sound like much, but given the element the time. You know, my mother they actually kinda both Democrats miss nippy, miss nifty show named out triumph. She's named two. She was named after a Hobo ahead. A during a depression had in the rural south, particularly hobos drive rails. And it was one behind house, and she would take food from a house in hobos. Name was knit with nip. In. So people started calling her nippy. So my mother's actually named after a triumph are Hobo from the depression era, which everybody everybody in town called her miss nip everybody, that's not there's no there's not five people in that regime at no named his first name is Lucille, you you went to LSU. Had were you the first in your family to go or? Miles to own in my immediate family. But no my uncles. And my dad all went I think pick it up. I've twenty two nieces and nephews at graduate damn. You know, bunch of brothers and sisters. So no we. You know, I had a cousin della shoot anyone MBA at halted and stuff. But you know, we'll actually been thought about going. House cost anything bagged it. And you got when there now I do I have my oldest young the clue as you've got an LSU dad APPA. So as a cute genius tripping moderator, and I didn't have sheets she took her own tour. We're gonna go see university of Georgia and Wake Forest and TCU SMU viewing that kind of thing. And she just said dad, I think I wanna go to LSU. I was like stunned save me load of money. A good time. I'm happy about it. When you're kid before we get to LSU, I should ask you politics. Was that part of what you guys discussed? I love that sort of a civic sport in Louisiana. And I from the get-go me, I my grandfather was on the board of a Bank in Baton Rouge. And knows young teenage I'd have to run back and forth to the state capital because they hit the account like the land office to get the money that day said it could start drawing interest. And I'd go down on watch legislative. But our, and you know, it was big theater then it was. Yeah. Well, you know, the longs cast such a big shadow there, you you were after of Asli Huey long. But but we were talking before we start rolling about Earl on who was governor three different times, an a really colorful character. And I started telling you story foolishly because obviously, you know, Erling stories far better than I do. But this is the story Earl in aid campaign and enroll south Louisiana in. Aide says look this Oatman swallow backed at fifty people that live there in if he endorses you you're going to get fifty bucks a good go down instead of goat on this dirt road at the end of the road guys sitting on his front porch and go you said spot. Oh, Berlow eulogist. I'm Ryan again for government like to have you supporting people he says, I'll tell you what I'll do I'll out both for y'all. And all these people vote played only saying it, we need is. You gotta get this road. Gravel could sit rains a lot. It gets washed out. Our God, we could go head heart attack and couldn't get him out of the people. Just can't do it. He said, you gotta deal said election comes in. It's like all of them is fifty zero zero zero zero. And about three months after election. A guy shows. He said, hey, Mr. swallows out there to see he says hell that he said, that's the guy that you too. He got his people vote for that you grab improved road. And he said, well, what have you got fifty votes and autumn wanted to see him? He said, well, what are telling tell him a lot? Relied too. So tell me what tell me about long as a as a political figure. You said you said before we started that you thought he he was one of the three most right three greatest politicians you've ever seen the long traditionally would not very interests so Huey it was just into power. I mean, I I don't think he had like a burning desire to help black people, but that was instrumental to go in so this famous story that during the depression three or four black preachers from all the governor. And it said governor, look if we could get two or three state job, some wet it could support, you know, ten different people would just really up against the wall. So he thought and he says I can get you five jobs, but you may not like how do it? No matter government, do anything you gotta do. So Huey announces that he's having an inspection to charity hospital. All in denote ahead to radio stations in the local paper. So he walks out. And he said, I have just witnessed the single most disgusting thing I've ever seen in my life in that hospital. We actually have white women changing bedpans a bike man that will cease and desist immediately. And we'll only have black people in bedpans a black people and everybody clapped, and he got five jobs, right? Right. Not the most Admiral way to do it. But nineteen thirty right. Who person had to do, you know, did it? So Earl really never was Pena was into. He didn't like to segregationist and everything, but he was always fighting back against them. And he was very courageous guy. And he had a way of like sticking hyphen the in stabbed way of it. That would have y'all bourbons that people at had power long time. In fact, my family was Andy long, but not me. No. So he was he was. On the from the outside. You know, there was a sense that he was a little bit off. You know, he probably like anybody else who drank too much. They didn't take himself. He gambled. The man Goodhart hip. Yes. But any was smart in he he's one of the best communicators that I've ever seen in American politics. And he did it in a way that is hard to get that someone with that much political skill. If you think Louisiana in fifties. It was to Catholic south Protestant north. It was the kind of conflict in the state which made it a little different other states. So HALE Boggs was running in a course HALE Bodrum student running lers. Yeah. Was huge Lindy Boggs. Right. One of the titans of box became the majority Machar's. Right. And so did even he was a student loyal Dona depression. Is it some campus group that they somebody laid a claim was like a communist front, you know, that kind of gear. So so early campaign. He said he'd say, hey, oh box is a communist. I'm gonna tell you right now that is impossible. This is terrible people bring this. I know for fact, it's impossible for HALE Boggs via communist because he's too good. A Catholic to be it's I mean, he knew how to get. He was an expert of setting you up with in coming in for the kill. I just wish I could see that more and more. Well, you you were saying also earlier that the ability to tell stories is is an essential ingredient in in politics. Why? Three years since the first time the first in being toll sombody about and a parent every every story that ever exists has the same arc. It cannot have any it's called set up conflict resolution. So we would say in every play every movie every book always has to same narrative in it is the way that people receive information is to only way they receive information. And so many politicians. We don't get inflammation through ten point plans. We get a Mason even Trump had a story that America used to be a great country. We saw sells out to the international I don't know money people and the immigrants in the stupid politicians, and we can be great again if we he had. He had an arc and everybody. Understood everybody understate. Let me ask you a question about that. Since you went there since you've gone there. I was gonna ask you about it later. You're obviously, very very close to the Clintons. It was my sense that she didn't have a narrative arc in that campaign that she did have a hundred policies. Right. All trees. No forest. No are no story. Why I think they bought she did not him really fair here into dicamba coalition, and she was convinced that. Would be sufficient if they would make Trump unacceptable to suburban women like Montgomery, Delaware. You know, suburban the Detroit. Thing that that that was the way that was to pass the victory, and it didn't, you know, by distributional fluke. Trump did win. I, you know, I know the Russians Komi it as a thousand things that went wrong. But I think it's a fair thing to say that they could have been more relevant. So what happens is the party learned its lessons that said, you know, we're gonna go out and recruit people are gonna talk about stuff that matters to people when we get wonderful class of freshmen come in in congress in congress in what we do recruit CIA FBI business. People women Manar made the most diverse, but native Americans you name it. It was all in this class. In six hours after the election. We off on every ravaged track that they can put us on. We're talking about reparations. We talking about changing the rules of the Senate. We're talking about the electoral college. We talk about felons. J O voting. Do you? Learn anything people. Do you do something? It works. In the next thing, you do is something that has no chance of working. We're going to hope park the fuck because I want to get to the we we got we got some politics to talk about it here right now. But I don't wanna lose the threat of your story. You out you were so you had this fascination with. You had this fascination with politics had had you. How'd you get into it? I mean, not not organized politics. But you started you started organizing yourself as a young guy. Even when you were in college isn't guy price LeBlanc who is like a real character. Ran for Louisiana legislation. I put up signs for him and stuff and be lost. But it was I just was fascinated by started young Democrats at LSU like we started three of us went up to southern in helped him start the first young democratic captive people selling university at one time was the largest black university in the world. And I'm from an African now big of it. I think it's still a largest in the United States, and that was considered radical in nineteen sixty God. What would I do? How'd you get in? How did you get? How did you get the fight and all just kind of up there which students, and you know? Whatever you did to get something sought of activated. So I was interested, you know, even at that point, sixty four. Was the year that LBJ passed the Civil Rights Act, probably a historical starkly black college was the best place to be in the south to try and organize everywhere else. Made a been a little dicey. Right. Yeah. But I mean, it was obvious perceptive. But this never had been done. No, right. Yeah. You. You join the Marine Corps. You went to law school at LSU as well. But in between join or what happened, but is I? Freaked out and I was going to be drafted. And I saw this article said the Marine Corps now except in to you. And listen, it's and it's like you going to jail. So why not start Cindy's e can? And so down. In June, the sixty six nineteen sixty six and, you know, six sixty six I'm sure to sign and social fun. On like. Carson of my house aged fortunate because I was in for two years, and it was I didn't get I think it shot. You didn't get shipped. I did not I was gonna get shipped on February fifteenth nineteen sixty eight if you're a member that was tat. I have I had a machine gun MOS. I wouldn't be here. And they said anybody who has a discharge date prior to June fifteenth fallout. Benham on June, six soda first Arjun comes up, and he says up they would do give you an extra stripe. I'll make you call give thirteen hundred dollars. If you sign up for two more years. I said Ghani top. I signed and shit. He looked around. I don't blame the lucky son of a bitch. Now, get the hell out. What did you? What of those two years do for you? You know, it gave me kind of pride of being part of a fundamentally good organization. I needed some unneeded experience. I'll being part of something and making my bed every morning of having the show up and having no choice whether or not to be late. I mean, it just gave me a needed two years. All right. And I. Unfortunately, that's not available of able now and the military is not a place for way would use to go and find a place, and but at that time, I was just fortunate enough that it all worked out for me. And you came back and did you finish college? Taught school in San gains parish during because that was when you first had integration. It was like a good southern liberal. I wanted to be part of the the grand experiment, and then after that I would law school in nineteen seventy what'd you good law school? Just always assume that boy can talk and needs to be a lawyer. Want to be a lawyer? But it was a good experience. And it didn't cost anything. It was was like one hundred ten dollars like why not eight now? You know, these kids go to law school and taking on two hundred thousand dollars in debt. And if you know, I wouldn't tell anybody. Did you go to university of Chagall couldn't get in? Anyway, don't cutting LSU law school you truth. No one would pay that kind of tuition for three year experienced just like think of things differently anymore. The world doesn't work like that. You did practice law. I did was not very good at it. I say. My best one day and said, you know, if I had a lawyer, I wouldn't hire me I'm getting L out of I don't know no-one tried to encourage me to stay gold in James you do need to rethink this decision. But you were you were you were involved in campaigns. While you were at that law firm all the time, and we were very head day who hard me executive council at one time to governor Edwin Edwards. So another colorful care another really colorful characters. So yes, and I got their got my teeth cut. And when I left. Definitely started out and kind of political consultant schlepping around the country, raise Struther. Raven strata a one of the early giants media player media Casselton taught me how odd from Louisiana our work. Right. It ahead apart Gus Weill who didn't came on nasty famous. But those guys taught me a lot, and they understood. Raymond, really understood the value of narrative, and really understood the value messaging. It was a Raymond from port Austin, golden triangle, and he went to high school with Janis Joplin or is that right? Yeah. Yeah. Guys Montana now. But Raymond was real real real important. And what were you doing for him? I was like going out shoots and go to meetings and that kind of stuff. You know, general flunky, you know, I mean, they'd let me speak up every night. And but that was not very good putting TV spots. But you made the move from television to managing right? Why maybe because you want gonna put in? Started in the genu- in nineteen eighty two was working for the may abandon Rouge in Petah heart guy in Mark shield is Donna guy unsuccessful candidate for governor loot in nineteen seventy nine I mean, but him above Henry. And so I called him. And I said, I'm working at the situation. I was in was not tenable in the Maison Baton Rouge. And I said look a forty years old. I gotta do something and on forty thirty six. And so Peter said, you know, I think you have Skillet politics. I got an idea on a call. Bob Thomas, guys, like a big lobbyists and Virginia and dick Davis running for the Senate. And so they hired me as a campaign manager in Virginia eighty two and we lost the close race, but we loss and then in nineteen eighty four Lloyd Doggett was running Phil Graham for Senate in Texas. And that result was predictable. Yeah. I will say this though, I I was that was my first year added journalism in politics. I was running Paul Simon's race for the Senate up here. And I know my campaign was David Wilhelm Rahm Emanuel. And all these guys who went in and some gals who went on to prominence in politics. Your campaign was another treasure trove of brilliant young people, including Paul Gallup, Mark McKinnon. Yeah. You know? Keyboard your eight envy to eighty eight eighty eight Loudon Berg campaign Largos, Lonzo John Angelo, hall gala dinner, no leak. Yeah. I mean that was that was one of talented statewide campaigns. That was when I was, you know, in one thousand nine hundred eighty eight I used to like all campaign managers getting office early at lily sat in my desk. Instead because remember I had that experience of saying nine hundred seventy eight if I had to hire a lawyer would harm me so nasty about else too. And it's the best feeling of my life. I said, you know, what if I had Harkat thank manage it got him. But I would harm. Yes. That one shining moment like you have confidence that you can do what you doing. And that's a great gift in life to just have that for any any period of time in your life. So it's it's also a gift to have around you. This family of of of of highly charged young people God in a relationship in this whole thing about the whole Ninety-two Clinton people all talk to each other four five times a week. You know, all like complaining about our prostates and hair loss, you name it. But the great thing about it. I think James you long ago stopped complaining about a hairline probably. No. But, but but the sense of mission shared mission. And man, you know, I miss it. Yeah. Yeah. I just that you walk in and just has a certain. I saw grizzly os and Francisco very and take it just you just can't it's stunning. And you see them all have kids know grandchildren now United. I the first time I met you. I think was at a birthday party for Bob shrum, and you had just managed Bob Casey's eighty six gubernatorial campaign, the father of the current Senator he had lost three times three time loss from Holy Cross. Exactly. And you in a sense you were like looking for a winner too. I mean, you guys both were this was redemptive for both of you guys. Got me berry in Dave Dokan. Bob Trump, and I will like to he's got this girl in upon was bar. We couldn't go. I couldn't get anybody to hire me, and he can gain by workable. I mean, we were both flat out losers in nineteen eighty six and. Got love. Oh, man. He was a. Different kind of guy. I will say that. Right. Really different into the sun. Is that done a brilliant? Good job to admit. If someone was honest people I dealt with my life, you know in two thousand and eight Bob Casey junior. I guess he's the third is he I don't know. But Bob Casey's son. Bob case Senator called him called some comments that he'd like to speak to Senator Obama. This was on Easter Sunday. And I hooked up the call, and he told Obama this is right entering the Pennsylvania primary that I want to endorse you and. Obama. So that's great fantastic. Great to have you. And then a few days later, the Reverend Wright's story broke and Obama call Casey and symboblic, I really appreciate your offer. But I wanna give you chance to get out of it. If you feel like the story is too hard for you. I don't want to. I don't want to endanger you and Casey said, I gave you my word. I I still feel the same way. I did keep my word, and he spent six days on a bus in Pennsylvania primary. He knew we were probably gonna lose who introduced him his mother client, Harris wafford. Yes, introduced. Philadelphia's fate. I I want to I wanna talk about that because. Yeah, you had this the series of winners you had Casey, and you had Loughton Berg, and but you had Wallace Wilkinson. Governor my life L Miller, and yeah, Georgia you were on a newer on a roll man of Heindi one. You did this special election in Pennsylvania for Harris Wofford against dick thornburg, who's a former it was a special for a was I guess John Heinsohn see Law Center Heintz was killed tragically crash and the foul out in suburban Philadelphia. So so Thornburgh was a former governor of Pennsylvania, and he was like they had like a a hundred and ten point lead. When this race. I started and nobody gave Wofford a chance, right? And you had this famous conversation with uaw-ford Tom about healthcare. And he told you about a conversation you had with a doctor. I this interesting because this is this is you go to storytelling this, storytelling two point. So we might dominant who is different of mind. Now run out. Post in your right? We the first while we were down sixty two twenty one or something like that. But we did. But is commonly done. Now. We did a paragraph describing taunt Bergen paragraph describing Wofford the house cafe in. We'll hit after one read. So we kind of knew we had to magic dust so often come in. And he said it was talking to. Akam attracts podiatrist, some kind of guy. And he says, you know, if the criminal has a right to a lawyer, why don't work in person have a right to see a doctor. And bingo like they had watched. And it was just one of these magical things where if you look at the chart of the Poland out it it's almost in a in a perfect upward line. Yeah. Well that that ad then then when that. Ball. Right. Yeah. You know, Harrison's issues, you know, if a criminal has a right to lawyer wanted to work in person have a right to the doctor, right? Reminded that oath in Baton Rouge. It was like the dope be a loose. If Iran is spots. Let me ask you something. If a thirteen year old can find a drug dealer. Why can't the police, of course is the thirteen year old drug looking out? Right. Not the belief. But it's one of those people here to go. Oh, yeah. I like that guy. So how much of a I mean, you know, you your Europe certifiably, brilliant guy, and everyone in politics recognizes that, you know, you have a genius for this was that sort of at the core looking for those sort of clarifying those clarifying moments. Terrifying phrases that just sort of crystallized for someone who's watching. Yeah. That makes that's right. Yeah. I mean, it, you know, in generally, it's follow listening to other people that you hear in our slept by the way, you know polling. We make so much of polling. I've learned so much more from focus groups qualitative research, where people are speaking in their own words, because they always find a way of saying it better than you would say it without listening to them, you know, so. This is literally one of my favorite stars in politics. Blount. Berg was running post got Pete Dawkins. Yes, darkened was this was his first race right wealthy businessman Heisman Trophy winner against a Heisman Trophy winner. Right. Who was a military totally youngest general in the history of home be watching customers general twenty three. But that's okay. That was part of his stink. And so he was just really good-looking Cindy Armstrong guy in. So he was announcing in Bob squire doing meeting shy said, Bob and cart. Ask you. Yeah. I said caught up caught of action the league in said, let's get somebody to tape. His. Announcement to great. And so I said we do in focus groups and Anna Bennett. Homeadvisor. Doing opponent said it was just one thing that this guy picked out, and he says, you know, my wife, and I've moved twenty lived in twenty one different places in twenty years. But we've never found the place that we like more than our beautiful garden district foreign state, it struck me Saudi usual, political background noise. Bullshit, I'll tell you what the people in south Chicago to find paper that kind of credit. I get this. Call after focus group in an assist man ain't really react bad too. That should really. So I started going to focus growth in. They would play that tape and people would go. He's full of shit. I wouldn't live here. I had that kind of money. You know somewhere about him. Not cake it up. Going all I was doing was just waiting for when they would show that. 'cause you just knew them come out to chat. So Karl put an ad together. Doc and on why he moved to New Jersey, and it was just him. And at the end, it was come on Pete be real that was. Was in. So if forced to add runs Dern, either Rosh Hashanah Yom Kippur Jewish holidays. So Frank is like two we run that ad on TV. I mean can eleven hard points. So he calls me dot, dammit. Macy's put Kimble's own goddamn Ahah. What are you people? Do it and people here, you know, synagogue. Oh town. This is crazy. I'm giving you money, and you run this asshole on TV saw said, yes, we'll get it down right away. It's still Russia over the weekend. We couldn't blabber black. So mouse and go in both guys, dick. There's no campaign left. We ran ahead of everybody. It was just all it was was in our wish I said that when I saw that I knew people would react like they did. But boy, I didn't. But man, and that was just an accidental intern or whatever head back in pulling Tapu, but he has what you says so important, you know, we all think we're so smart, the most important thing, you can do is listen and understand what you're hearing in campaigns. So this this brought you to the you guys were the hot ticket you and Golic, right? We're like Crosby and hope right? And you were recruited by all these presidential campaigns. And you got a call from the governor of Arkansas what attracted you to Bill Clinton shit, and you talk to everybody else. And then you talked to him. It's like really, you know, what attracted you to Babe Ruth. Right. I mean, it was just Michael Jordan. I mean that was Michael Jordan and was not great guys. Anything? He was a hall of fame athlete and not just a good one. Yeah. He was like, yeah. And how'd you how quickly did you figure that out? Was there a moment that you said damn this guy has come down the stretch in New Hampshire at one event and Kanye Hampshire till this day. A this is when he was under fire he had been hit by a Jennifer flowers story that he had vacated the draft the charts draft, and he was pretty much being written off by all the really smart people in politics out poll numbers appropriate. And that was that where he said I five for you to the last dog guys. Yes. And I mean, I just never seen anybody with a back to the wall perform with that level of skill. And he kept saying they are doing everything they can to make this about me. And I'm doing everything I can to make it about you in. God almighty, you know, I watched to list day. I wa. Gotcha. Politician in in in the thing that anybody at home can do watch how much time this mentor about himself and how much time talking about boats. If the ratio is anything less than four to one voters to themselves and the only thing that matters about their story. It's how it it's in the lodge in Clinton immediately. Easiest thing to know in politics that no one ever learned. And he taught me that. You know, you make me I don't wanna do that. I wanna make it about devotes and that always in its awaited. It's a lo-. It's pressure bashing. But his pressure bash would skill right right in and it's very thing. Mid him unique was that he had the he had the analysts say affect because it was real. But of a guy who grew up in. Arkansas Hope Arkansas, and and the intellect of STAN between step dad beat his mom, right? Yeah. I mean got it knows paint. But he also was a big league intellect road scholar could handle the material. So let me ask you about. This though, you often were you're the guy went out and defended him and effectively. And a lot of it was oftentimes about his his personal life is scratching on. There was the Pala Jones story. I think that was when you said you'd drag a hundred dollars hours actually talking about Jennifer and her. Drag a hundred dollars. What you come up? Right. Jennifer flowers, actually, pay two hundred fifty thousand dollars in clar. All right. I it was in Linda greenhouse to hook credit wrote the story. Instead, I was looting Paula Jones. And I said tell you go look at the transcript again, it was at like the Sperling breakfast. And she called me back and took her James of horrified. You're right. Do you want me to do a correction? I just let it go. But you know, where I'm going you look at it through the prism of today. And could he have a skilled, and as an as brilliant as he was could he have could he have thrived in this environment? Would people have accepted the behavior that he engaged in? And should they have well for myself? Okay. In this is kind of old Louisiana kind of probably a French thing. It's just sex. Hi eight if stealing in it's lying about sex. I'll tell people did have me against the wall with the blindfold on the cigarette. I'd say Hsi-wei, I never touched. I mean did not. To bomb. Mine. It doesn't even rise to the level of a misdemeanor now mores and things have changed him because my fellow framework in nineteen ninety eight and you know. Yeah. Look, I think that Al Franken got the motion bum deal of anybody. I'll ever seen. I really do. I, but that store old that we live in. You know, you got to be very cognizant. I noted like I do not no way my teaching. I'm gonna be by myself with any female student. I mean adores going to be open. It's going to be somebody. And not that. I think that there's anything most people in America, David. They touch each other to go and meet people when people, you know, I mean, there's there's there's a lot of that kind of stuff in. This is particularly true. Among African American people hugging people, and and just just just a way to do around the country. And I think some. Different kale? I don't think Joe Biden has a erotic photos Bino. All right. I I agree with you on this picture of him. He came in visited, my my daughter-in-law, and my my my granddaughter on the first day that she was born he happened to be he happened to be in town, and I have a picture of him. And he's got his forehead pressed against my. Daughter-in-law's forehead. And it was a it was it was in no way anything other than him being warm, but the Clinton is different right? What he had an erotic? Yes. Well, not just in a Roddick he acted. He did did it and sometimes with people who work for him and sometimes with young young people. I at the time. I wasn't still not particularly that is consensual. I you know, what what look I wish you have done it said during the whole thing. He's a good man did a bad thing. But what else can I do? Our thing was not stealing. It wasn't like hateful anything like that. In my Cajun mine. It was sex. You are on the point. As you always work for him during that impeachment period. What do you think? Now when you see like Lindsey Graham, for example, who you know, who was who who led the prosecution in the impeachment in ninety eight now, basically dismissing the substance of the mullahs report and saying, well, there's nothing here to see. Let's move on here. And I thought oh friend of mine, Mark. Yes. And former Republican governor that focuses south Carolinian. Like hanging every fortnightly when Mark snap lost that primary because he attacked Trump blended. Cram correctly. Way out if I don't make a course Viessmann here right in South Carolina, talk about not even having a Republican primary 'cause it'd be a waste of money. But once Mark Sanford caught hanging that change everything. And they never was a he was in congress and he lost his seat because of he was critical anti-trump, Dan. And the person who beat them lost the C Joe democrat, Greg I hear more terrific things about he's so much plot of I haven't met him. We we slept calls, but people say that kind of lamb that guy's going to be president one day pass. Yeah. Yeah. He is another level, Pennsylvania. Let's let's skip ahead to where we are. Now, you're the guy among the many phrases like you could fill Guinness with your quotes, but your characterization of Pennsylvania as being Alabama wedged between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh ta explained Pennsylvania because it's going to be big again, Trump cannot in my view, you may have different unless he repeats. What he did? I don't think there's a state in the country is gonna win that he didn't win before are we as we used to call. It turns to talking. It is in in. Of course, like everyone else. I mean, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh booming. So so I mean just booming, but the rest of the state not so much. So absolutely, correct. And I got in the middle Khanna's race, which is a district that Trumpcare about twenty points on neukolln lambs grandfather who was governor Casey's legislative direct in. If you you notice as well as anybody, the governor's legislative director is really good at politics. He really knows the state or the governor's really bad. Yeah. Yeah. And so that was encouraging one of the projects that I'm working on is we are targeting forty counties in four states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida, and it is my belief when I looked at the return for dick Lynn, Florida. But I looked at Pennsylvania. We got slaughtered. I mean, like eighty five fifteen I mean, just I mean disgustingly slaughtered in if we could cut that from eighty five fifteen to seventy five twenty five as you guys did in eight and twelve we'll run the table little things produce these big margins in, you know, we're told that we have this urban counterargument for just run up the numbers in this in Philly. And it would makes me uncomfortable is a democrat role white people. I'm one aren't they? If I the reason most people become Democrats is Little Haiti body that generally is the emotional reaction. We have when we choose it. Why? If I said that all. African American same. Oh, Jews the same. Oh, Irish people the same. Oh, Asian people were saying people change, you can't say that this individual, and I would appropriately be chastised for that. Right yet. It is okay. To say, I'll roll bite people sank, right? They're not right. Some have college degrees somehow some marriage. I'm not go to church, some some have some don't have guns. Some. And most importantly, some may some may have racial views some derision or did they? But don't and if our if what they perceive is they're not part of the hip urban educated diverse ascended coalition. Well. Amasau Paul Krugman saying they don't understand our policy is actually better for him. I think Paul is right beheading understand the nature of human nature of I'm left out. And I'm not part of your friend. I told my daughter she goes LSU, and she didn't want to. You know, high end sororities, oh, five eight and one hundred twenty eight pounds and drive BMW's. Everybody hates you, don't you? You walk around campus to other people like, you know, like hell without, you know, rich girls, just, you know, sitting there, all you know. Watches and stuff, and that's the ARA. We don't cry party gives off the same ARA decay dis at LSU cooler than everybody else. That's a terrible. That's that's why would ever intention was. That's why when Hillary used the word deplorables. It was a outta worth part of that. Yeah. Okay. She had done it like eight times before. And nobody said Madam secretary. We could probably refrain this. All right. In that's the tragedy in in what two other tragedy of the thing is in a lot of of Clinton, Thais it. She was actually much more of a populace than he was her instincts were that was not her instincts. And she grew up in down in Virginia. And I I don't know she doesn't like NAFTA at all she was offered against it. She all she. She was very skeptical of corporate power serious in somehow another he became the people die and she became the. You know, part of the new coalition, and I think she got talked into that. I think he he was just a hell of lot better politics. She was great a government instincts will more understand. Yeah. But I I agree. So look at the field who among this group can reach those voters. I hate to say it but to determine. And somebody you, you know, political skills people can grow and people can kinda frame frame issues. I, you know, I don't see anybody may appear interviewed him, you know, right now, you know, based on what I know now even vote for myself. But there's a lot more that we're gonna learn about these candidates as a lot more. We're gonna learn about their ability to to develop a narrative and to see what political skills are how they handle attacks. How did it whether they see coalition Todd? They both know this because we've been through this these campaigns are long auditions their tests people want to jump right to the end. You know, I learned you talked about what you saw a Bill Clinton in New Hampshire. I learned all about Barack Obama during that campaign. I it mired him. I thought I was with the right guy. But I didn't know he was going to handle all the pressures. That would come in. We didn't know what the test would be and that's part of auditioning for president of the United States. The other thing is that we don't know the primaries, just Hort exhausting their unending. You don't even know where you are. You know, once you get to the general, you got planes and staff, and you know, I mean, it did the generals not that really difficult. But the primaries really really, and we're going to see a lot of fumble stumbling regrouping here in hopefully, we're gonna see some unappreciated like political skills as we speak. Joe Biden has just announced his candidacy, you know. Well, I know him well, how do you assess him he's a front runner? Oh. It said New York Times, I understand that they made that man that friends of mine, Mike, Steve Shetty, even a know by Biden. Well, not as well as not these guys. And I and I believe this to only organization that has been run by eighty arose this, Roman Catholic church. I don't know what the country needs for sure. But eighty year old president is not one of. I mean, I'm seventy four seventy five this year. And I just can't you know, when I used to do west coast speech used to say I like to get out today before now like to get out the day before the day before I mean, you just cannot. Can't do what that job requires. I don't care how experience you are. I don't care. How many good people you have around you. That is not a job eighty rose. And I'm sorry that you're something. I really believe. I can't let you go without asking you about Mary. You know, you guys are like a sitcom script, you're a you're a chief strategist for Bill Clinton. She was political director for the in our in our c. When in nineteen Ninety-two when President Bush was running for election like how does that work and now twenty five years later, how how did you guys manage all of the Mary up number? The Mary Madeline Mary aren't twenty thousand dollars should call right right sheets by the steel mills. You know, we've been married. Twenty got ni- three. So we're twenty six out of her Serie coming up, and you know, I think we're not a novelty anymore in just kinda oh married people like this weekend. We sat kinda watch binge watch. Documentaries. She snapped at me when I asked to she'd read pay if I'd read Peggy Noonan column while Street Journal, sad not to go to. I got two kids we love and van of been fraudulent. You know, got married at forty nine and I've been married watch which is under certificate freak. I don't know. So it works for me. And survive called me about George Conway and Kellyanne said good past batons. They can have it. But it was a it was just one of those things into you know, we got married, and you know, it was a stunt. It was like Washington. Hedge fund was very thing else. And. Now, I think we're gonna pay shoes people. All right, James and Mary. Listen, you are you are a living legend in politics. But the thing about you and everyone who's worked with you. And everyone who knows you knows this. You're as good a person as you are smart. Well, David I had and I and I appreciate you. I can't I can't leave at no people noticed because show. But I know anybody in politics that I've met nobody years, and I've always had a very good relationship, and it could gone frayed during the two thousand eight primaries, it could've gone frayed at at any point people in politics. I'll have big egos and everybody wants to get better than that. And I think that one of the things are values. I think we've always enjoyed our relationship. We've always had like mutual respect each other. And you know, we played tough. But at the end of the day, we knew what we would do in. And I do appreciate your friendship, and I'm just really happy to be part of what you do. And at the university of Chicago. Thank you. Good to be. Thank you for listening to the acts files presented by luminary media and the university of Chicago institute of politics, the executive producer of the X files is Matthew Jaffe, the show is also produced by Pete Jones, Zane Maxwell Samantha Neil and Allison Seco for more programming from the IOP. Visit politics dot EU, Chicago dot EDU.

Louisiana James Carville Bill Clinton LSU Bob Trump president Baton Rouge Pennsylvania Senator Obama Wisconsin university of Chicago institut institute of politics Andy long Carville university of Chicago Bob Casey Senate Joe Biden
Ep. 311 - Claire McCaskill

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

56:03 min | 2 years ago

Ep. 311 - Claire McCaskill

"And now from the university of Chicago institute of politics and CNN the axe files with your host, David Axelrod. Early in the history of the X files. I sat down within Senator Claire mccaskill to talk about her life and career now, she's former Senator Claire mccaskill having lost her bid for re election in the fall. But still full of interesting observations about the process, the state of the Democratic Party the Senate in the country. She's been a fellow at the institute of politics this winter. So I thought I'd take advantage and sit down with her and sir catch up on. What her thoughts are today? Claire mccaskill great to see you again. Great to have you at the institute of politics. The last time we sat down together. Like this was in episode sixteen of the acts files way back in the prehistoric times of two thousand and sixteen early in two thousand six that long ago. Yeah, I know time flies when you have a fine. You know, but and so I'm not going to go and rehearse all of what we talked about there. Because there's been a lot of water under the bridge since then. And that's what I wanna talk to you about about. I I'm not sure at that time that you had formerly said whether you were going to run for reelection or not I don't think you had I was really struggling with it. Yeah. So let that's where I wanna pick this up. Tell me about what you were struggling with. And what the decision making? Process wasn't did the election of Donald Trump tip you one way or another in deciding to run for reelection. Yeah. I, you know, I was really. There's all the jobs. I've had to terms has been the maximum I've ever done. Now. I don't know if this is a character flaw, or if this is a good thing. But I have a tendency to want to move on. Let's do could be healthy. Yeah. I think so. And I was getting to the point that I I wasn't sure that I was going to have the have a lot of energy. Yes. And I didn't ever want to get to the point that I was mailing it in. I really wanted to be in a situation where every day I was just after it after it after it. And I was feeling tired of the grind of the schedule is just brutal in the Senate. I'm not complaining. I was blessed to be there. But the facts are the facts you've gotta get on a plane and fly flew south west every Monday morning. I flew home Thursday nights. I had to work most weekends. I have a large family. I have almost twelve grandchildren. Now eleven twelve will be here any minute is. So if you cut this if you cut this conversation short, we'll know why? Yeah. Right. And so I was struggling with whether I was going to run again now Schumer didn't wanna hear it. Oh, you're running. You're running and everybody. Oh, you're running your own. But I really seriously my husband, and I had long conversations about whether or not it was a good idea if Iran, again, let me ask you question about that. Obviously, you weren't successful. Do you think that that ambivalence on your part was something that like unbeknownst to you was something that people could read or another way of saying it is do you think that people tire of their elected official? I think people tire their elected officials when Trump one I've really felt that I couldn't walk off. I just couldn't walk off there. There really wasn't anybody. I tried to talk to others that would have been, you know, Jason candor would have been a great candidate. That no one was willing after what happened in Missouri. And Trump won by what nineteen points almost twenty just short a twenty. And you know, so it was like nobody really wanted to to step right up and go. Yeah. I wanna run as a democratic candidate in a state that Trump won by twenty. So I really felt like I had to. Did would was the ambulance something that people sensed I once I get into something I'm pretty intense, and I worked really hard at the campaign. You don't do fifty town halls in one year. If you're just warming up a main fifty town halls and one year is a lot. So I was really in it. I was trying as hard as I could. I will say that, you know, I do think that the fact I been around so long was a big problem. I make the joke it in my stump on in town halls that, you know, can you imagine if they're willing you into the operating room, and the nurse leans down. And goes, I got really good news for you. This surgeon has never done this operation before you go back the gurney up act, the gurney up, but in politics now, having absolutely no political resume is much better than having a long one. And it is something I think we've got to kind of come to grips with. I'm I was a better Senator because I was a prosecutor I was a much better Senator because I'd been an auditor, but all of that experience in the eyes of voters added up. Well, you know, she's been there long enough. She hasn't solved anything where you better Senator for. Having been in the Senate for twelve years. I think I was I think I was a much better Senator, I think I I learned a lot from my colleagues in those years, I think I learned on how to be effective in terms of using the committee process to do affective oversight. That was kind of my main deal. I did a lot of oversight lot of experience as an auditor harass acute Iraq. I mean, I really went after it in hearings. And and so, you know, I think it did make me a better Senator the time I spent his a Senator, you know, I think from there such John about Washington, and about politics now that I think that people suspect that learning how to navigate the system is learning how to swim in the swamp, and that's part of it that just by dint of participating in the process that has been so tainted in people's minds that you you become tainted. Yourself. I think that's one of the things. He's presidential candidates are gonna have to deal with honestly being of Washington to many voters is just right at the very starting gun is a disqualifier. I think that's right. You know? It's also true that Barack Obama was only the third US Senator like one hundred twenty years to get elected. And I don't know whether it was because of that that we just discussed or whether people just didn't see senatorial experience as presidential experience. But it you know, is Warren Harding, John F Kennedy, and Barack Obama wasn't that common. A thing. And one of the reasons why so many senators are running now in part is because Democrats lost so many governors which used to be the wellspring of presidential candidates that there's there's this void that is being filled. So you see senators running in mayors running. And you know, a couple of former governors and so on how did Trump you talked about the fifty town hall meetings. What were those like post Trump, and what did what did you see there that said and this can be a tough row? Well, you know, I I've done town halls all through my time in the Senate. And when most of my colleagues were hiding under the desk after we pass, the ACA, I said, Nope. Nope. We're going out there. Now, I will tell you. It was not as bad as the town halls during the ACA. I mean, the townhall never forget is. When we had a terrific, young minister, do a prayer it one of the town halls after the ACA, he got booed in the prayer. So, you know, and that's rare. You know, it's going to go downhill fan to read the crowd cocaine buckle in a hot one. We didn't have anybody boo and at the opening gun at these town halls, and yeah, there were some very strong Trump supporters there, and they were you know, in my face. But with midwest politeness, I don't it. Never. I never felt like any of them were out of control. And you know, I think that there is untapped in. This country is the recognition that if you show up and you legitimately opened the doors to anybody who wants to come in. And you legitimately answer any question. They want to ask you there's a certain goodwill that springs from that that kind of take some of the edges off. They could see I mean, one of the things I do in my town halls as I asked right at the front who is positive. They will never vote for me under any circumstances. Andress them to leave. No. They always their hands, whoever they are. And I asked them to hold the basket and draw the questions so at the very get go. I hand the basket of questions to somebody who can't stand me and that kind of helps take the edge off. So we really I mean there were there was some, you know, there were people that said, why aren't you voting to impeach him at most of the town halls. And then there were a lot of people that said, why aren't you supporting him? Why are you fighting this thing that you say about showing up reminds me of the bettle Aurore campaign in Texas? And you know, there was this. It struck me that it wasn't issues that was that were propelling him forward so much as the fact that he went everywhere was holding. These town hall meetings was showing people respect by listening to them. And I think part of what has so roiled our politics is this sense that people were being disrespected and the act of just showing up and hearing people out and explaining your point of view, even if it's not their point of view probably gets you somewhere down the field. Listen, my state did not reelect me, but I will fight anyone who wants to look down their nose at the people of my state who voted for Donald Trump. You know, I get it. There's an angst and frustration about whether or not people are. You know, playing by the rules working as hard as they know how they're not really getting ahead. They can't afford to retire. They can't afford to send their kids to college. And you know, everybody who runs for presence as they're going to change things our friend fan for president on a message of change and things haven't really changed that much for a lot of these folks. And they really, and I think Trump got that. I mean, I don't think he gets a lot. But I think he gets marketing, and I think he tapped that vein of frustration and anger in if somebody is frustrated and angry that they don't think the world is giving them a fair shot based on their hard work. It you need to listen to that. And understand it and not look down your nose at it. And call him names and say, they're all racists, or they're all this or they're all that. Because it's just not true. I'm not saying there aren't some bad apples in the crowd. But there are in every crowd. There are in some of the crowds support Democrats. So people may get upset that I'm saying this. And say it's false equivalency. But I know these people that voted for Donald Trump and some of them I don't care much for and don't like much, but a whole bunch of them. I get and I hate it. When people in Washington, especially people from bright, blue states, just said, well, the only people voting for Trump or stupid people. No. That's not true. That's just not true. Yeah. I have a place in room Michigan. And my neighbors all had Trump sense in the arts. And I know for fact that some of them voted for Brooke Obama because they wanted change, you know, one of my concerns is that and we'll see, but you know, change we have this economy. That's being kind of turbo charged by. By technology, and globalization, and it's changing so rapidly. We can't really get our arms around and that the same time we've got a divided country and a system that's meant to go slowly when the country's divided. So you've got this warp speed change and a government that is not terribly agile in responding to some of these challenges. I worry about that alienating growing. I agree. And I think you know, what Trump did that. I really can't stand is that he's pedaled. The fact that the problem was the Mexicans in the Muslims instead of the microchip. I mean, the microchip has a lot to do with this even under the tax cut. They passed. I mean, a lot of the money that these corporations are realizing is going for new equipment. Well, you know, what that new equipment doing is causing the need less people. So it's not as if this. They're solve. Being this problem of advanced technology, requiring fewer people to do manufacturing and soon many jobs in the service industry driving a cab. So it is I think it is an issue for our time. And it's one that the president kind of did did a fast when he did a bait and switch he convinced everyone that this had to do with with with Mexicans. And of course, that's ludicrous. Yeah. And and the the efficacy of that strategy was most pronounced in places where there really weren't many immigrants. Correct. Which is acceptance agricultural communities, right? There are certainly a lot of workers that come in on a seasonal basis. I know that's true in my state, especially in the booty or were those, but they weren't taking jobs that other people were currenly, correct? And where they resented in those communities. No, no fact, I had a lot of the farmers and the boot hill is kind of say to me, hey, you know. Can you help out this? You know, this guy's been coming up here to work my father for a number of years. And now it's gotten a lot harder. I can't get enough of the visas that we need for the workforce. And so, you know, but the majority of the people particularly in in in rural America, I think we're willing to buy into this notion that somehow Trump was going to bring back manufacturing in a in a way that would replicate the fifties and sixties and seventies. And that some of it has the there there is more manufacturing the economy was growing when he became president. It may be that you on point five trillion dollars in tax cuts and some of that is going to. You know, it's gonna wind up. But I I would say in my state there's a lot of pain in small manufacturing because of the input costs of stealing aluminum. Because of. Yeah, you. As in every campaign, you there are things that happen that are unpleasant. You got caught up in a deal early on. I think about the use of you using your private plane, and you are in an RV tour and in all of that stuff. I mean, how irritating is that? I mean, I assume that there's a good explanation for what you were doing. Well. Yeah, it was just kind of you know bit. I can't really complain because I've done this a long time. And I know sometimes the smallest things get blown out of proportion, and they were looking for a way to make me not of Missouri. This is where I was going because there's not just it's not just economic. There's a cultural thing right that the elites are looking down on people, and you want your straight says a candidate has always been your like, your your home. Era, and and they wanted to chip away at that. And so, you know, I I don't think you're. You are flying around and looking down your nose at people if you do fifty town halls my opponent hadn't been in probably even half the counties in the state, Josh hall. You got elected he wouldn't go anywhere. He wasn't. He wasn't going anywhere answering questions. And, but that's not the point the point is that, you know, who we should have published with the press release the schedule because then it would have been obvious that I added on a stop for veterans. I wanted to veterans stop Saint Joe, and I couldn't make it with the original schedule. So I said, well, I'll just take the plane up to Joe and the meat you guys in Columbia, and we'll finish up. We were on the V for vast majority of the time. I mean, probably seven eight so the time we were on the RV. But the fact and by the way, anybody who saw where I was and it was all, but he knew the press newer. I was you could tell I couldn't have driven. It wasn't like we hit it. You couldn't get from Columbia to Saint Joe in the time that we had. There's kind of a parable of modern campaigns appear -able amount of modern campaigns. We shouldn't have called it an RV tour or we should have said we're going to do an RV tour, but she's going to add on one stop at no expense to her campaign or tax payers. So that she can see veterans and Saint Joe you, but I think you're right. The point was to make everybody remember recall, the fact that your husband is a very successful businessman, and you have access to plane, and it was it was a cultural point. It's like, you know, you're unit here. If my my husband should is in the dictionary for what the Republican party believes in his first job out of college was in a steel mill. He has created great wealth and thousands of jobs in a free market system where he's been smart and worked hard and succeeded beyond anybody's wildest dreams. Now, if he were married to a Republican woman Senator he would be perfect. But because he was married to me. He was attacked cheat and son of a bitch. You know, I mean, he was like, you know, a bad guy. And that's one of the hardest things about my campaigns. Is that how rough they were on him now in the grand scheme of things. I'm blessed. We have a great family were close metro seat say it was it's worth trouble. He'd he would say that he would say that because he's a wonderful man, but it was terribly unfair. What they did to him. And they were always trying to do. Oppo dumps on him. It got so bad in this in the nursing home industry, a long time ago, you know, like MO. More than a decade ago hasn't been anywhere near him for years and years, but it got so bad this time that they had a woman calling around to his former women employees is trying to get them to say bad things about him. And that's how bad it was. He started getting calls at his business from women who used to work for him saying, you know, somebody is calling us trying to get us to say that you were inappropriate with us. And you should just know they're doing this. That's how bad it's gotten. Speaking about a speaking of charges of inappropriate behavior with women. The one one of the issues that crested at the end of the campaign was the cavenaugh hearings. And you've spoken about this. You you feel as if if you had a shot that this was a momentum stopper, it it kind of crystallized in people's minds. Why Washington socked how bad it looked from a distance? I make no mistake about it. Whether you thought Cavanaugh was great nominee or terrible nominee. It was messy. It was chaotic and it was hard. I mean, this was a very difficult situation. So, you know, had we had all of this happened earlier. And with just one hearing in still wouldn't have been easy, but it wouldn't have kind of gotten people off the couch. Our chance of winning Missouri was about motivation, and we were running ahead in motivation. We were doing really well people were motivated we had an amazing amount of all in tears. We knocked on more doors than any of the campaign in the country. It was really a motivated group of people in Missouri. That wanted to reelect me they weren't that motivated. I mean, they were running about ten or fifteen points behind us on motivation, then cavenaugh happened then the caravan optics, and then Trump came in camped out and those three things got everybody off the couch that was in rural Missouri. And so we did had record turn out record vote totals. Anybody says we didn't do well with progressives doesn't have any idea what they're talking about. We did great all the blue areas of Zura record-setting historic. But so did the in the country. And that's what happened. He got a motivated and got him off the couch. Was the, you know, it's interesting to me yours look at these things through different lenses through, you know, through the lens of sort of the Washington, certainly the the the community that was opposed to Kevin on through the eyes of Democrats that looked like a a real problem for Republicans. And then almost after after blazey Ford testified. Almost on a dime. Lindsey Graham and others. When after Democrats for essentially politicizing the thing holding this information, and so on and that's like a formula in our politics. Now is that you partisan is these debates in a way that takes them away from the issue at hand, and they were pretty effective at in in sort of weaponising that whole thing to their advantage. Well, I think now there was a backlash I should say when you look at what happened in the suburban areas, or and among women, I think there was a there was a backlash, but in terms just in terms of motivating some of these rural voters, particularly men pretty effective. I think that one of the things that I hope that whoever is our presidential nominee can convey to the American people is that it's important. We understand why people feel differently than we do. I mean, this is. Important conversations, we need to have a there were so many Missourians that believed. This was a political hit job that was unfair to this guy. It was high school. It was just, you know, his word against her word now as a former sex crimes prosecutor, it's way more complicated than that. But you have to realize how people felt about it. And the way it all came down. There were hoping figuring that by like Rush Limbaugh of Cape Girardeau horse, of course. And Fox, News course, of course. But I just think the biggest mistake we made was when the letter came in from Dr Ford, the FBI as you well know, Dave, they do a lot of work confidentially on background checks. There is a whole lot of stuff. They uncovered that. It's confidential background checks. You can trust the FBI to keep it background. Check confidential. They they should have shared it with the F B I right away and said this woman wants to remain confidential. But we want you to have. This and the fact that that didn't happen just lent to the appearance that this was a kneecapping at the eleventh hour made it harder against the explosion for that was that she didn't want to come forward is that she wouldn't have had to come forward. But the fact that they didn't tell anybody about the letter until the eleventh hour, I think was a real problem. I think it was a mistake. We made on our side. You mentioned the caravan. Which was talked up to eleven on a scale of ten by the president rallies in your state and every state before the election, and then kind of silence the day after election day, but you feel it was effective. Oh, yeah. I I mean people who you have to understand wherever I go, Missouri. That's not in the greater Kansas City or Saint Louis area there. It's Fox News on TV and it was on a loop. You know, and it was visual. And those visuals were powerful. I mean, did look like they were gonna storm our border just from the videotape. That was being shown of the in some of it was be role that was played over and over again of when the crowd looked the largest and so forth. But be that as it may those optics were were really helped. I mean, somebody said did did Trump organiz the caravan? No. More than a few people. Don't they helped they helped him in a number of states, and you? Explain to me what happened here, you ran a radio ad at the end of the campaign to try neutralize that issue that you got criticized for. Yeah. I mean, there was some things going on. I said I think the phrase that really talked people with my said crazy Democrats somebody in the ad said, she's not one of those conversation people. She's not one of those crazy Democrats. And so, of course, you know, people outside of Missouri got all took a little bridge. Yeah. Like who's a crazy democrat, and I quickly pointed out we had a state Senator Missouri that called for the assassination of the president on her Facebook page. Well, that's a crazy democrat. I think crazy Democrats are people who go into restaurants and get in people's faces and torment them when they're sitting in a restaurant with their family. I think that's just a little crazy. I I don't have any problem with defining it. I wasn't saying that all progressives were crazy or anything like that? I was just trying to convey that. I'm somebody. That is happy to work in the middle. I'm happy to be part of a compromise to actually move the needle, great ideas. Great ideas, and they move us in the right direction. But the America's gotten pretty cynical about proposals. That don't happen in that cynicism is what breeds an electoral result like Donald Trump, so talk you're obviously sort of leading into an issue of where we are. Now, you're looking with interest as everyone is to two thousand and twenty what do you see in the early stages of this presidential race? And I should point out that may that people have stepped forward so far our colleagues of yours old colleagues of yours. It's very weird because I know so many of them so well, and I know them both personally, and in the context of their work high know, their work ethic, I know their character, and it is very hard. For me to pick if Avery. I do think this process in a strange way because I think Donald Trump will unites at the end. So in a way, I think this is going to be good because you understand acutely. What these things are like, you know, what you have to fight through. This is a huge thicket that candidates to fight throat. Yeah. Right. Right. 'cause pick it first of all all these young people here at the university of Chicago is like they think I have the secret sauce who's going to win tell me who to work for. And we don't know we know that it's going to be hard. They're gonna have to fight to a lot. When somebody pulls a head. Everybody's gonna pile on. How do they handle that? How do they do with grassroots fundraising, which I think is going to be huge this time and a year from now, I think the two or three that are really in contention will be obvious. And then it's going to be a matter of can they appeal to the voters in the five state. It's that Trump won that he had no business winning. The I couldn't agree with you more. You know, Democrats now I'm gonna get I'm gonna get dog for saying this. But I say this with faction, you know, there's a lot of hand wringing. That's it's a favourite thing. Right. And now the hand wringing is there's no who's the there's no candidate. There's no we don't know who the can't with. But the process is really important. I mean, Barack Obama would not have been the nominee of the Democratic Party had he not run the entire gauntlet in two thousand eight because people sensibly understood here's a guy was four years out of the Illinois state Senate, and we wanna see him handle all of the pressures and challenge and everything from Reverend Wright to every living room and Isla and had he not pass those tests. Right. He would not have been the nominee, and you know, in in two thousand sixteen there was less of that. They'll bernie. Sanders became a formidable candidate challenger to Hillary Clinton, but she was pretty much. There was a consensus that she was going to be the nominee use boarded her of fairly early on the process is valuable the process is important. It is a lengthy tryout for for for the hardest job on the planet. It is linked to tryout in this election will be so much different than twenty sixteen because you know, one of the things that kills me when people say, well, if Bernie would have been nominated he would have won. Well, there was a reason. There was no negative on Bernie, the Republicans were fine with Bernie taking the nomination. We're not going to see that in this presidential cycle. There will be a lot of negative on a lot of these candidates and how they handle those moments when the op research gets dumped on them when something is unfair as Oshii took her own plane at her own expense to see one more stop a veterans. You know that that became a touchstone of negativity for my campaign. Rain just tells you how weird it can get and how you handle those moments whether you can in how how well how will you get organized. How good is your organization? How do you attract the talented people? Do you keep them there are they treated so that they feel like they're part of something bigger, and they wanna go all in. So I think this is going to be, and frankly, I think the key if I had to handicap anything I would say I give a little bit of a nod to those candidates who've been through rough campaigns before. If you've if you've not had millions of dollars of negative run against you ever. It feels awful when it happens in knowing that feeling and knowing that you can fight through it and survive, I think that gives an advantage to to a few of the candidates who've had tough campaigns. I think all to having the experience of having to seek votes in a diverse state, correct? With vastly different kinds of populations is is valuable so but in terms of Bernie Sanders, just let's stop there for second. He raised six million dollars in the first twenty four hours of his candidacy people wondered whether he had anything left in his tank. That's a lot of money to raise in in one day. I'll predict that that record will be smashed time and time again in this campaign by maybe him, but also other candidates. It's a new day, you know. You're looking at somebody who was frankly, not the favorite of the online wing of our party in terms of the progressives. We did and we had two hundred eighty thousand donors are average contribution was fifty one bucks, and we raised forty million dollars. Now, if somebody would have told me twenty years ago that that was going to happen. I would say what are you smoking? That's not gonna happen. But it did any look at Beto eighty million would have told you what they were smoking was legal exactly both both. And so I just think that this online. No question, Bernie has a loyal group of supporters who are used to giving him ten dollars twenty dollars thirty dollars, and they believe in him, and they're showing up right now at the beginning of his announcement. But I don't think that means that he is going to dominate online fundraising. I think it will end up being a much more equal process between. Several front runners before it's all said and done you mentioned that he didn't have negative run against him in that campaign. He he also had a clear path in that. He was the only challenger to Hillary Clinton had a United kind of progressive right path thorough other candidates in the race. Now who Elizabeth Warren, maybe comma, Harris and others who will Cory Booker. Chris celebrators Jilo branch voted no on every single Trump nominee. I don't think she even bothered to look a bios. I think she just decided I'm against everything this president stands for into discussion, including every nominees made. You don't you? You're not your net offering that in approving way. I sent you know, I'm not disapproving of it. I'm just saying it's a fact that there are a number of candidates that are running hard to the left. Yes. So this is where I was leading before because you were. You were talking about the ability to kind of reach reached the the middle of the electorate, are you concerned that the that the campaign will take the party to this is, of course, a Republican mantra at this moment, which is at the democratic you heard Trump's state of the union speech era commentator now, you heard his state of the union speech. And you know, it's basic argument he made his positive argument from south in that Democrats are socialists, radical on abortion believes in believe in open borders. That's the campaign that he's gonna run right. There's no question. I mean, we're going to hear a lot about socialism. So I think whoever is our nominee better hit it head to head. And I hope that everyone realizes that Medicare for all sounds wonderful until you explain to people that means they have to give up their insurance that they love at there. Workplace and get whatever insurance. The government says they can have now that's gonna feel that's gonna make ObamaCare. Look like a very light touch because all ObamaCare said is, you know, we need you to buy insurance. And you know, you must buy insurance. I shouldn't say we need you because it was a mandate you had to buy it. And that was what was so unpopular was a government mandate. That's what made it so unpopular in many, many states in this country. So I do think that our candidates need to be careful about being. About getting so far out there on some of these issues that they can be purloined with the the socialism label to the to the extent that the president's clearly make that the more whatever they're gonna try and hang right? Hang it on them. And I guess you don't wanna hazard and you don't want to. Dissect the people are out there already. Yeah. You know, I'm I'm going to try not to do that. Because first of all who cares. What I think second of all can we're trying to get people finish this podcast. I know I know. But I I really don't think my opinion of all the candidates is something that is at the top of everybody's list. And I really wanna see I mean, it's like asking me to fill out my bracket for next year's tournament. Right for for for two thousand twenty not twenty nineteen. I mean, I could do a halfway decent job with my bracket right now for this year, but not for next year. So let's wait and see this time next year, you know, who who has done well who has performed well who has listed the pressure who has raised the money who does well in these debates in June all of that matters. I hope you don't feel obligated to put Mizzou in the final four. No my God. No of you know, bless their hearts. Is not going to be in the final four this year. Now, we could get one of the Puerto brothers back. But so far we've we've struggled as the kind of candor retirement allows you yes to tell the truth. I love his new, but they're not gonna be in the final talk to me about in. We're recording. This a week before we expect the Muller report to go to the the Justice department enable offer some sort of summary of the report least, that's what we're given to believe. What do you expect to happen on the hill? When this thing lands, I think it depends entirely on what's in it. But how? But what if what if I get a hint, very partisan? These are the kind of insights that I knew you didn't have that didn't have that figured out. So I thought I win. You know, Lindsey Graham will have righteous indignation about, you know, this is nothing, and you know, Adam Schiff will be saying web. There's so much more. There's so much more. We don't know we need to know more. And you know, the American people will probably split the difference. I'm guessing in many of them will believe that, you know, clearly if these going to release it next week, it's hard for me to imagine that there's going to be an impeachable offense that will be contained in it. But we'll see maybe. And what was your sense of what was going on there with Trump and his kind of peculiar behavior behavior? Relative to Putin. Was it just potentate envy? Or I think that that. I think there is a lot of if you look at his business career. The Russians have been a part of it. And I think he didn't think he was going to win the presidency and he saw this run for the presidency. Maybe as a way to because he was the nominee that he could get close to Putin and then have his way in terms of doing deals in Russia. I think he was totally lying about that. He had no business interest in Russia. Never had obviously, that's the case. So I think a lot of this has to do with. The fact that he'd never gotten a deal in Russia and wanted to deal in Russia, and then he got elected, and I think he is taken by these strong personalities. I mean, it's the weirdest thing to me that he is cozied up to our enemies. I mean, I think of all the things that he has done, and I imagine what would have happened if Barack Obama had done those things I mean, just Konya west MFN in the Oval Office. Now, can you imagine how heads would have exploded? If Konya west was in the Oval Office when Barack Obama was president and did an M F live on television. I mean, Sean Hannity's head would have exploded. But it was like, oh, well, you know, he's different. And so the same thing with being friends with all these strong men, these are enemies. He clearly doesn't get that part. And he believes this despot in North Korea. Who's a thug? He believes this thug in Russia over our own. Belgian community which by the way is almost all veterans. It's just amazing to me. You put the Saudis in the same category. I put in Bs in the same category. After what happened in Turkey when they murdered that that man, I think that there's a there are business connections there that explain the behavior. I, and I think in Bs is obviously a smart young man, he came over and made friends with Jared Kushner, and then he figured out very quickly what Donald Trump wanted. And I don't know if people remember, but that was Donald Trump's first foreign trip and what the visuals of that trip. They had Bill from wagging his sword. Yeah. They they had billboards everywhere with Donald Trump's face roses thrown in his path. I mean, it was an extravaganza of celebration of a guy that loves adulation. So they just adulated over his, you know, what it was like so memorable to him that he. He was loved in Saudi Arabia and NBS did that and it was it was strategic and and and frankly worked for him. Because now he is refusing to do what every United States Senator knows needs to be done. And there need to be sanctions imposed on Saudi for what they did. What NBS did in murdering a journalist? And you know, he's going to let it go. He's just going to let it go. And once again, can you imagine what would have happened if that would have been a democratic president? I mean, he would be they would call. They would be impeaching him. They would be impeaching him for treason. Talk about the institution of that that you just left, and you you said. I think properly that when this thing lands would have the reaction is it's going to be partisan. And that's part of what I think frustrates people civilians about our politics in about government is that it is all very predictable has gotten worse in the in the years that you've been there. And and where's it all going? I mean, how do you penetrate that? Yeah, I think it has gotten worse. The first year. I was in the Senate. I I think I voted on three hundred six amendments my last year in the Senate, I think voted on forty. Because that's what the leader would allow on the. Yeah. Yeah. What's happened is and this door swings? Both ways. I mean, we did some of it. There was a little bit of you know. You know, which came first chicken or the egg because Mitch was being an obstructionist. Harry Reid not letting people through not letting nominees through Harry, finally threw in the towel and said, you know, we're gonna go to fifty one on certain appointment on on lower court judges and on on the nominees for the cabinet when he was an obstructionist Harry would fill the tree which is a technical term for putting amendments already on a Bill so nobody can offer an amendment. So we began down the path of having fewer amendments when Mitch was being an obstructionist while then now the roles are reversed and Mitch is gone down that path with vengeance. With literally we're not debating amending legislation anymore. The power has gotten so concentrated in the leaders office. It's made it much more like the house. The tax Bill was written in Mitch McConnell's office the build overturn ObamaCare was written in the leaders office. There. A handful of staffers on McConnell's staff that are basically in charge. And it is the committee process is not what it used to be. And there's John McCain's great lament rabbinal oration to the Senate. Right. And and you know, hey. Every once in a while the committees are working like they should. But not on any of the big stuff. It is either being blocked or it's being written by the leader in consultation. I mean, I know this on the tax Bill. This is a true story. We are debating the tax Bill, and there's going to be a managers package and a friend on K street. Call my office and gave us a list of amendments. I went up to Ron Wyden who's the ranking democrat on the finance committee. I'm on the finance committee. I have this list. I said Ron this is the list that they're going to offer. He said where did you get that? I said well K street has it. So they were talking to k street about what was going to be the final minute. Yeah. The K streets lobbyists. They were consulting with the lobbyists on the final list of amendments. And nobody on the democratic side had any idea. What was going to be offered? Well, that's that's messed up. That's also exactly what peop-. Suspect. Yeah. No question and there, right? I mean, there's the lobbyists had much more say about that tax Bill, then any duly elected member of congress? It was a democrat. So gimme a few things that would help change that well citizens United would help if we got rid of that. That's Mitch Mitch McConnell's love letter to the country. He cares. More about all kinds of dirty money unlimited money and politics, and he cares. Really? I think about any other issue. I mean, it's been his life's work to make sure that he could open the floodgates offended. He was the great opponent of McCain. Feingold grand. Yeah. So I think that I think we're going to have to figure out how to fix that. I think it may have to be a constitutional amendment. So that we can behave like other countries do around elections where it is not. He who has the most money has the ability to distort to the point that people. Throw up their hands. And don't know what to believe I think that that is that's a really important part of it. And I think the pendulum will swing back to some appreciation for those people who are working trying to get things done and not afraid of compromising. We are right now at a point where you know, compromise is way out of fashion. But these things have you know, history has many examples of where things have gotten very polarized. And then there has been a coming together. It's gonna take a good leader. And I hope that the the president we elected twenty twenty which is not Donald Trump will be that kind of leader. Are you do miss job? I miss parts of it. I am shocked obviously, not the flights back and forth shocked. How happy I am. I expecting much more of a hangover. I feel exhilerated by the freedom. I feel exhilerated. I'm very fortunate in that I've got a strong close family, and and and and opportunities are knocking on my door. That are exciting in fun. So I feel really good about this next chapter. I feel good about trying to help others. I feel good about getting to work on some of the issues. I really care about that. I can actually work on outside of being a member of the government. You know, Josh Holly reminded Missourians every ten minutes. I've been doing it for thirty eight years. I was when I got elected I was a shiny bright thing once upon a time back in in in in the eighties. So this is I'm fine. And I'm happy and do I miss being able to cross examine people in hearings and really get. It, you know, getting the point across I loved oversight hearings. I loved doing that. Yeah. I miss that. I miss my friends. I missed the clear geology of it in by the way. I did have lots of friends that Republicans. I miss both kinds my democratic friends, and my Republican friends, but overall this is good your Republican friends that would have been if I were more artful that would have been a great place to stop. But I just have to ask you because you mentioned it your Republican friends how candid where they with you about their feelings about what's going on. Now about the president about their own situation. Very candid very candid. And I I will tell you that no less than a dozen Republicans have expressed to me everything from disbelief to share panic over this president. Now, he's behaved in Oval Office. I think one of the themes that. Runs through their comments to me is how unsettling is that he knows nothing about the policy that he really does shoot. From the hip and has no intellectual curiosity about learning about the policy. I had one Senator say to me, it was clear and the conversation about this topic that he had no idea what he was talking about. And everybody in the room knew it, and it really did feel like the emperor's clothes. You know, this is one of those moments where his staff all sitting around going. Oh, he shouldn't be talking. See clearly doesn't know what he's talking about. That's scary to people that that's that's the commander in chief. That's scary. And a and yet they feel constricted and trying to do anything about it because he has enormous powered influence the base of the party. He does they are trapped. Some of them have been more courageous than others. Some of them have been willing to. This vote coming up. This will be an incredibly big vote in history because it couldn't be clear about the disapproval of his national emergency. The resolution of disapproval that the Senate must vote on it cannot be planner than the nose on someone's face that this is an unprecedented breach of constitutional norms. So all these guys including my opponent who ran is a constitutional conservative. If they actually say, it's okay for what he did. Then then I think the congress has probably taken a blow that will take many years to recover from do you if they did vote that disapproval, and we know from reporting that Mitch McConnell warn the president that that was a real possibility he would veto it. And then it would require I think thirty four of the Republicans to override his veto. Do you think that that's possible? Not possible. Not probable possible, not probable the boy. Wouldn't that be a profile? Encourage wouldn't that be a moment in history if it happened, but I always. But I always profiles in courage was a slim volume for reason, it was a slim volume for a reason I'm happen that off, and you know, they've got a really know they all know that they're saying that the congress doesn't have the power to procreate because that's really what this is. He's just taking the power to appropriate away from congress. It was interesting to watch McConnell come on the floor and announce. He looked peptic. I mean, more than usual saying that he low bar that he didn't that he was going to support this -mergency order having made clear that he didn't think it was a good idea, and he has held himself up as a guy who believes in the Senate and the prerogatives of the especially when there were democratic presidents. But that was like a it seemed like a total emasculation it was, but he was thinking of the alternative the alternative is the government judge down again, and then their poll numbers continue to drop and that was a disease. Everyone was suffering from not just the president the entire Republican party suffering. So of his goal is making sure he holds on to the majority in the Senate. He looked at the two paths one government shutdown not good for my members to get reelected or I can give a pass to the. Senators that are in tough states. They can vote to disapprove of what he's done to cleanse themselves. Thom Tillis is Joni Ernst, the Corey Gardner's all the ones that are tough states and will live to fight another day, and I can hold on the majority in twenty twenty. That's how his mind works. It's all about well checking Legna avenue, the president was thinking, you know, maybe the courts throw this thing out. But at least I look like, I'm fighting, and you know, we'll deal with that when it happens, but I can't kind of submissively give in to the reality. Which is I lost. Yeah. And I think people forget that McConnell doesn't look at this as a. US poll of how popular he's looking state by state. He's looking at the states where he wants to hold onto seats. And he's making a calculation clearly just to determine whether or not he can hold onto fifty one seats in the United States Senate. I think that's a student Alice's. I just wanna say you may have thought that you're not the bright shiny thing anymore. But you certainly been the bread shiny thing around the institute of politics and have lit up a bunch of kids here and inspire them. And so grateful for that. Listen, it's been a blast. And these kids you when I used to get depressed in Washington. I would ask my staff to bring me in the list of resumes of young people who had applied to work in the Senate, and it would always lift my spirits, and being here, it you can't be pessimistic about the future. Spend a lot of time around these bright young people that are thinking things through and care deeply it's been great for me. It's a little bit. I don't really have a hangover from the loss. But if I did this would be this would be the great antidote for it. Well, we're lucky to have you. Thanks so much. You bet. Picks. Thank you for listening to the acts files part of the CNN podcast network for more episodes of the X files. Visit axe vials podcasts dot com and subscribe on apple podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcast app from our programming from the university of Chicago institute of politics. Visit politics dot EU, Chicago dot EDU.

Donald Trump president Democrats Senate Senator Missouri Barack Obama Washington Mitch Mitch McConnell US institute of politics Senator Claire mccaskill CNN congress Democratic Party university of Chicago institut Lindsey Graham America Trump elected member
Ep. 362  Heather McGhee

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

15:37 min | 1 year ago

Ep. 362 Heather McGhee

"And now from Luminary Media and the University of Chicago the Institute of Politics The axle with your host David Axelrod. Heather mcghee is one of the most brilliant young policy minds and progressive politics as the president of Demos and before she is a recognized expert on the burdens of debt and approaches to dealing with it and has written on inequality and a range of other societal challenges. Heather just finished a stint as a fellow at the Institute of Politics University of Chicago where we sat down to have this conversation about where we are in America and where we're Gong. Oh Happy New Year to you all in just a brief announcement that we're going to be taking a little break. After the first of the year for a few weeks when we return we'll have some exciting news about the X.. Files podcast and now. Here's my conversation with Heather. mcghee I think you know the the disinvestment than disengagement from not just public the schools but the public period. That has happened over my lifetime. I was born in nineteen eighty. You know I think it started under Nixon but really etc celebrated under. Reagan has been one one of the saddest part of American politics and American policy making and the book. I'm reading right now about the cost of racism to us all Really one of the chapters is about how racism starves the public. How you have a very close correlation between A community becoming more diverse. Whether it's you know in the nineteen late nineteen fifties and nineteen sixties when what was a segregated town or community community or public resource then is forced to integrate and then you saw in towns across the country not just in the American south towns deciding to close. Is there public pools. Their public parks public schools. White parents you know. Pulling out of Public Infrastructure and public schools you know the growth of private private schools segregation academies and parochial schools and ultimately. I think everybody loses out white. Children lose out from the gift and and The resource that is you know learning in a diverse environment whites white parents have to pay a lot of money to to avoid what is public And of course you know students of color were left behind Are Are not invested in the way that they would have been had you know the the Commons remained kind of a white only space. So I think as I started out as an economic policy person You know those questions. I talked about in terms of my childhood. The kind of big economic story that was happening You know in our politics which was really scapegoating. I think Single MOMS Where the the real economic story that was happening in my backyard was the closing of the factories? It's an incredible economic decisions. Have Iraq Obama came to Chicago. Right in the you're three. I think the arrived here to work work In the shadow of those closed steel mills which had such devastating effect on the communities around it and Particularly Wrigley on the South side. That's right and I mean that deindustrialization You know which was followed by the growth in crime and in Las In public you know public sector resources which then hit you know the other half of families that are often You often have like a man working in the steel mills and A woman working in the public sector in some way. And you know it was sort of this this one two punch you know. That's the economic problem that I kind of started out my career to solve which was why is it so hard for for working families to get ahead and David I will say that over the course of the ten years the first ten years of really working at a class organization right my organization was founded by a handful of white men. It was seventy five percent white. When I became President Komo News? And you know the goal was to address inequality and race was a sort of accelerate of inequality right. There's disparities when you talk about inequality but what I discovered over the years was that race wasn't just an acceleration of inequality it was a driver of inequality. And so many of the stories of just bad economic policy making and self sabotaging economic policymaking and predatory economic policy making exploitative. We're really driven by By you know racist attitude. Racial Animus You Know Bryan. Stevenson was here last year and was very moving and re challenged The audience as he does everywhere. He goes To really confront the legacy of race in this country which is of course his his mission And it was to me you know and I consider myself pretty thoughtful on these issues and I were you know for a lot of ground. Groundbreaking leaders who people of Color and but the But just focusing on the the the legacy of essentially abducting millions of people bringing into this country enslaving them and all the ensuing developments since the compounding of it how do we How we confront that legacy and how do we have a conversation about it? That doesn't doesn't become you talk about trying to find paths for people to have these commerce. How do we have this conversation particularly environment? We're now you know the plants. The plants have closed at a lot of different places. You've you've got a bunch of people who are white who are who've been displaced in the economy opioid addicted Depressed and don't feel privileged. You Know Oh and so you know The concept of white privilege is inflammatory concept. You know even though you can make a strong case as for what it means. I mean I think part of the problem is that we approach We have the American mindset is often and falls into a zero sum trap where progress for one group is coming at the expense of the other. And that's because that was the way a brutally reinforced racial hierarchy would have it be in a slave based economy you did have the exploitation and a miseration of millions of people you know become the wealth of a nation right. That's pretty zero sum. But that's not where we are anymore and yet we still have zero sum mindset. And so aw I do believe that when we talk about there's been a vested interest on a personal level on a political level to just diminish the role of slavery of Jim Crow. redlining of mass incarceration in shaping the America that we know today you know not to mention the near genocide of indigenous people. I mean the list could go on on and so I think I. We need to recognize that. We can't move forward while still telling ourselves ourselves lies about who we are and what we've done. It means that will always be locked in this fight about what the truth is instead of. You know joining winning arms and rolling our sleeves up and having some American sense of pride about moving pasta right I mean we could actually say in not in a way that feels hollow but really tones and is true about what we've done on Stephen Imports as the Germans. Do exactly exactly exactly so i. I fundamentally believe that and I think you're sort of alluding to what. What could the reparations conversation be I it needs to be a truth? The Commission Right I. We really need to get closer to a common narrative and I think that's really hard right now because we have a sort of racial resentment meant for profit factory in conservative media conservative corporate media which will try to fight tooth and nail as they do? Every time I remember winchell Obama said that you know she was living in a house built by slaves on the right wing. Media went crazy bill Riley was on talking about how slaves had potatoes. I mean it just it just it. It makes it makes their session. Investment in denial is that it's hard to get to a commonplace but I don't think it's impossible. I think Americans put a man on. The moon invented the lightbulb in the solar ban on the congestion. And we could do. These things are of course different Because because they don't they don't involve human you know he he the emotional components that this discussion has so oh just returning to the point of before that I asked before how. How do you have this discussion? And can you have this discussion with people who say I'm I'm Kinda flat on my back here and so you know I i. We've faced this. I mean whenever I was in campaigns Particularly later in the later years people felt like You know white working class. People people felt like the the wealthy got bailouts Poor people got what they would call handouts and that they worst I that that that you talk about narratives that was the narrative and we're we're in the middle now notwithstanding the fact that many of them were using using You know we're we're failing so's food stamps and other things so I mean this is what I'm yeah because because these the you know the Dow trump has has done is he has he has weaponized this really big way That sense of loss that sense of resent Batman. Yeah I'm so on well we D- most demos action our political arm. You know we wanted to go straight to this question you know how do you create a multi-racial working and middle class coalition You know what is the story that allows you to talk to someone who lost their a a black man who lost his job in Gary Indiana. You know thirty years ago and a white woman who lost her job on the line in a rural part of Oklahoma five years ago three years ago and what we discovered. This is a project with a notch. Shankar who's a wonderful linguist and inhaling Lopez is a law professor Berkeley the author of Dog Whistle Politics. Was that the story about the economy that we tell needs to have a villain right. You can't actually actually say this is the economy's like the weather and this is just sort of happening so we know that the popular story the Progressive Story is. It's the people who are you the wealthy and powerful enough to be setting the rules right. There's you know those. Those factories didn't just close right. People multinational corporations close them and open them other places except for whatever it is You know the the Wall Street firms didn't just get bailouts. They needed them because they cheated they crash the economy but now how particularly race is so loud in the conversation because of what happened on the right and trump is the manifestation. Shen of it is player. He played to an audience. I think that was created much earlier on the right in the right wing media you think in response to Obama. Of course yeah I mean I think it's old right. I mean this is Nixon stuff. Johnson talked about yes this right but I think it it accelerated and it grew into a bigger commonsense sense with the unhappy happenstance of Fox News becoming powerful and Obama being president for years at right after a financial crisis where where we didn't do enough to save people's homes and we didn't do enough To make sure that someone was held accountable. So you racist really loud in the room and so progressives don't win by ignoring race which is what we try to try to. Hey if we can just do an economic populism white people will be like yeah. It's the plutocrats fault. Not You know Jesse Jackson. I remember when he was running for president. Used to say everybody's the same color when the plant lights go out right and I think that color blindness narrative narrative is insufficient today. Because everybody knows that everybody's not the same color right and everybody you know. Immigration is a huge flash point on on on on these racial issues. You know black lives matter totally changed the conversation by the way you know trump is he. He's seized on a narrative that is not just listen American narratives. Oh yeah but a global narrative so the election in Britain but you overlay that Brexit vote and it looks very much like the TRUMPF. Oh that's right. It was very similar types of people in some cases similar. Same people Using immigrants scapegoating message to get Britain's to to vote for something that would cause them a lot of economic pain certainly in the short term But so what we discovered was you have to talk about race but specifically typically talk about who is using race to divide us to divide people who are ultimately in a similar boat as you know as Jesse Jackson said and and so what we discovered was you have to call out and in the trump era. It's very obvious you have to call out the fact that we all want the same things but the wealthy and well-connected and the politicians that they pay for are telling us to point the finger at Brown people at immigrants at poor people so that we ignore what they're doing which is you know rigging the rules in lining their own pockets and only if we come together across racial lines can we You know build a movement that will take power back for working people. Let me ask you Thank you for listening to the X.. Files presented by Luminary Media and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The executive producer of the X.. Files is emily standards. The show is also produced. By Aaron. Buckner Samantha Neil Katie. O'Brien an allison seagull for more programming. From the I O P visit politics dot EU Chicago Dot E._D._U..

winchell Obama president Luminary Media David Axelrod scapegoating Chicago Nixon Jesse Jackson America Heather. mcghee Institute of Politics Universi Institute of Politics University of Chicago Public Infrastructure Heather Reagan University of Chicago Institut Britain
Former Congressman Steve Israel 5-19-19

CATS Roundtable

10:17 min | 1 year ago

Former Congressman Steve Israel 5-19-19

"The morning, New York. This is the cats roundtable. Chime catch TV's here, Sunday morning. We have retired. Former congressman Steve, Israel with us, and he was a congressman for sixteen years was at the top of his game. And then he left and now he started. A new career higher. Education is the director of the institute of politics and mobile affairs at Cornell University. Good morning. Congressman Steve, Israel. Oh, you more. Good morning, my friend. I let listening to you on Sundays, and thanks for having me on. Well, thanks for coming on. I'll tell us about this new career that you have. And what are you doing? Well, thank you know, you what you mentioned that I was in congress for sixteen years, and I left unindicted and undefeated which as you know, it was like a triumph too these days and I launched this institute of politics and global affairs at Cornell University in Manhattan. And here's what it's about John. You know, where we are in an age of partisan sound bites on both sides of the aisle, and I don't think soundbites ever solve any problem. So what we do with the Cornell institute is we bring major global and national leaders, national leaders on both sides of the aisle for serious dialogue on complex issues. And we are we are bipartisan so last week, I had speed the speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi, but on September tenth I have rights pre-bus talking about what happens inside the White House. We have Representative Tom Cole somebody that, you know, is a senior Republican leader in the house of representatives on me thirtieth, and congressman Adam Schiff on June eighteenth. And you know, people won't always agree with our speakers. But at least they're going to hear a good discussion so that they can form their own judgments. We just wanna raise the discourse. Deep deep in people's understanding of, of what's happening. And finally, we also travel, so I took a delegation of people to. Egypt, less w airy, we were in Israel, several months before and right now, we're considering future trips to figure out what's happening in China and some NATO countries. So this is just a way for people to kind of plug into topical events without all screaming and the frothing at the mouth. And you know, the disrespect that we, we hear so often in political discourse. The where where these. Where is it happening? Virtually all of these events are in New York City in so Cornell University has several buildings in your city. They also have an amazing campus on Roosevelt island, in queens, which is the Cornell tech. We, we've also done it in different locations at the Cornell club in Manhattan at waterside plaza, which is located near the United Nations. So if, if people are in the New York City area, these are very easy to access and very convenient. Well, I want to invite you to come. And I think people would love to hear your views because you're you're very important to actually you're one of the few guys, I know was important to both sides of the aisle, you know, we, we make decisions based on, on leadership. And who's in the news? So as I said before, you know, rights pre-bus, who, who I know, well, you know, he has a lot to say about how the White House operates and he's a supporter of President Trump and Nancy Pelosi who has a lot to say about, you know, Democrats in the house of representatives. So these are really global leaders, national leaders people who were in the headlines. But what's different about this is it's not just head license headlines and sound bites. The rule is no sound bites. You have to have a reasonable and, and lengthy conversation and take some tough questions so that we can try and get to solutions rather than dwelling on problems, broadcast is podcast broadcast who's invite? To come to listen to it. Well, it is livestream to through cornell's network. So it's livestream to students and faculty on campus and to alumni, who have access to cornell's platform. So right now, that's what we're doing. And maybe we can figure out a way to get some of our speakers to agree to appear on your show before they speak at our events would love to would love to something like that we can rebroadcast, the let on podcast speech this reaches that sounds terrific would love that. I think that'd be really good combination. I agree with you. Tell us about what made you start to smoking cessation. One of the real frustrations that I had in sixteen years in congress was that people didn't really take the time to try and understand one another. You know they didn't take the time to you just have conversations. And we're so up on our disagreements that we forget, there are things we can agree on, and I'll give you. Example, infrastructure. You know, going back to the business of building in this country. Building roads and bridges, and improving air transportation, Republicans and Democrats agree on that. And so when I wanted to do when I left congress was not waste my time, you know, beating up Republicans and having Republicans beat me up as a democrat on areas of disagreement, but invest, my time trying to get bipartisan dialogue on areas of agreement, and it's so liberating. I have to tell him, it's liberating, first of all, because I don't have to ask, you know, people for money for my next campaign anymore, that by itself is joy. But it's also liberating because I'm able to bring people together in a bipartisan forum and talk about solutions rather than dwelling on, you know, partisan problems and attacks in those sound bites. And you do this once a month once a week reviews, you know, we do it when we have a good speaker. So, you know, we so far we've had by the way, we only launched last March. So we're relatively new. And since then, we've had several senior members of congress ambassadors dinner with the Chinese consul-general to New York, where we're talking about trade and tariffs. And so when we find a speaker or when a speaker approaches us, we schedule it and invite folks, you know, I'm also, we could rebroadcast a podcast or, or on our system, and we're in fourteen states now and also I, I am the vice chairman of the police athletic league and, and we have speakers once a month if they wanna do both weather in the city, we'd left to have. Well, I love to do that with you. And by the way, I have to tell you, I am so thankful to you. I, I don't know how many people tell you this. But the work that you do with the police athletic league is is so important. And I think everybody should support we've doing with the police athletically. So helps. How is it? It helps kids of the inner city and I spoke to Colin Powell few weeks ago, and he does some wonderful work with the boy boys clubs. And I said, let's, let's try to and he has a college at City College, which makes these inner city kids, and I'm dedicated to helping the kids in inner city, you know, when I ran for mayor, I couldn't run as a democrat, even know ever- everybody knew me as a democrat, but I ran as a Republican liberal, which means I have democratic tendencies, I guess. Right. Now, people were. I was just going to say so many people respect you because, you know, you're, you're not, you know, frothing partisan, you, you re reasonable guy, and I know you agree with Republicans on some things, and you agree with Democrats on other things. I just wish American politics had more people like you, you know, who just, you know, can't be pinned to one side of the aisle, or the other. But just wanna meet in the middle spent two minutes in Washington, since you left us, her Washington is broken than ever. You were common sense, democrat, what's going on in Washington? How can we fix? I think the biggest problem we have, and the reason that Washington is so polarized this thing called congressional gerrymandering where politicians draw districts for members of congress based on the party. And so if you are in a democratic state, the democratic state officials, who draw congressional districts will draw to protect Democrats, and if you're in a Republican state they draw the district to protect Republicans. So here's the impact of that. If you. Are a moderate Republican or a moderate democrat, in congress, and you'll district has been drawn to protect a democrat or Republican. You don't fear a challenge in a general election. You fear a primary from your far left or far? Right. And so you have to veer even further to the left and further to the right which is why congress is so polarized. You remember I was the chairman of the democratic national campaign committee. I can tell you firsthand that of the four hundred and thirty five districts in the house of Representative, John all, but seventy have been drawn to the far left or the far right in those seventy districts compromises valued meeting. The middle is rewarded by the voters. But in all the other districts, compromises, devalued its you're punished if you compromise. So to answer your question sickly, what can we do? We can't stop partisan gerrymandering, Android districts, based on the census and population and not incumbent protection, politics. That's the smartest thing we can do. I agree with you. One hundred percent and anything I can do to help you met end and make peace between in Washington between all our people. Look, I believe we should argue all day long but like the old days at five o'clock, we should sit down have a beer and hug each other, and, and befriends. Yeah. That's what tip O'Neill. Ronald Reagan, did you know in the old days they yelled during the day, and they had a beer at night and they worked it out. We maybe you can make peace John castle Makita. So I will get you for the Nobel peace prize. Well, thank you very much for calling in the Sunday morning, emits catch-up seeing, they get this roundtable. We'll be right back.

congress New York City Cornell University Washington Representative Israel Congressman Steve Nancy Pelosi congressman White House Manhattan institute of politics Cornell institute Cornell club John congressman Adam Schiff cornell cornell Roosevelt island
Ep. 316 - Alex Kotlowitz

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

58:44 min | 1 year ago

Ep. 316 - Alex Kotlowitz

"And now from the university of Chicago institute of politics and CNN the axe files with your host, David Axelrod. The nineteen ninety one Alex Kotla wits, then a reporter for the Wall Street Journal released a book called there are no children here, and it was a searing account of life in the housing projects of Chicago that became a international bestseller and introduce people to the horror that children in these projects faced Alex state engaged on these issues for three decades. And now he's released another book equally powerful called an American summer love and death in Chicago, a deeply impactful account of crime and violence in my hometown. I sat down with Alex recently at the institute of politics to talk about this book. And why these issues have become his passion. Alex kotla? It's always great to see you. I realized when I was going through your. Your biography that we grew up in roughly the same place at roughly the same time, you're New Yorker, I am Upper West side right from Stuyvesant Stuyvesant town. Yeah. And your folks had interesting stories of your your your dad and has like a intriguing. Yeah, right war. It's always I come by my work, honestly. And so my dad was, you know, well, he, you know, he was a magazine editor for number years. He was at Harper's during the heyday winter William marris when they had how her stamina Norman Mailer and gay talese writing for them. And then he went on and spent public public television started the macneil Lehrer report. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And then and he was a writer. That's really what his loveless. He we spend weekends. We lived in a well true. Like, you are reasonably small New York apartment, so weekends. He would write and my brother, and I had to we were gone. I played basketball weekend that was my escape, but but he wrote novels, but his his best book, which you alluded to as book before their time about is experiencing World War Two, which is just tragic. Yeah. Tell me about that. Yeah. He was a with the Kotla which is come from. So well, so my both my parents are from Baltimore my, but my grandfather was from Poland. And he was a cantor. Yeah. And he had a Schule in synagogue in Baltimore that he worked at and but my dad went off to war, and he was towards the end of the war, and he was in France and his platoon they were going over ridge. And he were they were diamond shaped, and he was the end of the diamond they got ambushed by the Germans and everybody in the platoon was killed except for my father, and he played head to play dead all day and was ultimately rescued by the Red Cross. But it his book is really about kind of going crazy in the aftermath of that. You know, the sort of you know, he was unable. I think in fact, I I mean, I I knew that there was some story about the war, but he never talked about when he was in his late sixties, he set down and put pen to paper and started looking actually some of the men he had trained with and new from the service and began going through the records. To begin piecing together that that and was a cathartic for him. Yeah. I think it was really cathartic. It's funny. I hear this now from Vietnam veterans who are in their sixties and seventies in some ways. It's when everything begins to come back because, you know, suddenly, they stop working, and they have all this time, and for some it can be really difficult and traumatic and I think for others. Well, my dad had the capacity to write it. And I think there's something cathartic about telling your story. But when you say, you went crazy, just the just the burden of having the survivor, all your when all your buddies gone, this all this guilt, and the sense of what could I have done differently? And why me you know, and the worst of it is that the army after this incident they assigned him to go through the they weren't body the bags of all the belongings of soldiers who've been killed and that was his job warehouse. So it was. You know, he was so it just made it even doubly difficult for him. You had an exchange of letters with him about all of this to this predate his book did predated quite a bit. So we actually yeah. We we didn't essential letters in the New York Times magazine. Yeah. It was really fun to do. And and it was just really about our relationship about we had a kind of I think growing up really difficult relationship, and it wasn't why. I mean, I'm not asking an accusatory way. I had some difficult relationships. Dad was he was a syncretic in his own way. And he liked to space. He was a bit. He was judgmental. And he wasn't terribly available in some ways. But it was interesting. I can tell you like the moment at turned was after I wrote there are no children here. And I think one he took a great deal of pride in the fact as he should and but Farrell the boy in the book who is very close to our family. We went back to visit once and my dad was he never hogged. It was just and I remember we got off the train to visiting them at upstate New York. And he just gave fair this big hugging news in that it was sort of and that kind of cross this line. And so we became actually really close. I mean as in as an adult, I talk about work and family and this grey. Yeah. You you say grandfather was a candidate was your home, particularly religious, not at all my dad ran from it. So it we were not really I mean, I was born midst of it. But we were. We were not religious at all. And did you go to public schools? I went to public schools up through elementary school, and then went through pri- private school for high school and you went to Wesleyan university. But you didn't go there to be a writer. You went there to be a biologist. Right. I thought it was right? I that's what I wanted to do. That was my passion. And then I took organic chemistry realize that you know, how many times this comes up in these conversations people who had all these intentions I want. I was going to be a scientist. I was going to be a doctor. I was going and then organic chemistry. I am not cut out for this actually ended up end up dropping out for a while. Because it was so disorienting and you went to Atlanta. I did I was actually going down to New Orleans was going just go work as a way to. I I went through Atlanta. I can't remember why? But I when I went through Atlanta, I met this Episcopalian minister white man who had moved to the side of the land and started to settlement house May US house and was he was really a community organizer. They would organize well for rights organization tendency organization, and I ended up staying and Where'd you meet the guy I met him on my way down New Orleans. I can't they must've been some connection. But I can't for the life of me. Remember why I stopped when I was in Landa talk with him. And had that your change you. You know, it was really it was transformative. I don't think I realized that at the time. But I spent, you know, first of all I mean, I grew up in. New York when we were growing up there was incredibly integrated place. Right. I mean, it was really unusual, and you sort of thought, well, this is how the world works. Of course, you get out in the world. And you realize how exceptional it was playing ball in the playgrounds there. Yeah. Yeah. But I don't I never been exposed to the kind of profound poverty, I saw on the south side of Atlanta. It was second poorest census track in the country. Second only to watch in a way. And and I felt some shame. I mean like how is it? I couldn't know about this and also a sense of anger. And so I spent my time there I worked with kids I worked as a community organizer a help that with a welfare rights organization. I helped tenants get some money that was due them from the housing authority. And it was you know, it was my first real I think I think visceral realization how unfair level the playing field was in was this. This objectionable to your folks today wonder what you were doing not all and my my my mom was a social worker, and she was kind of very politically active. She drags off to anti war rallies. And so no fact she came down. I remember I was in a house in the seventies. And so it was the tenth anniversary of Selma. And I remember she came I was going over to driving over to Selma. And she came and joined us, she was an administrator at the John Jay college of she was a social worker that was her, you know, so she did what she ask you this because obviously relates to the work you've done later in your life. But would she into the sociology of crime? And no not at all. I mean, she taught cop. I mean, when she was there most of the people John Jay wanted to be police officers or firefighters, those are the people she saw. But no she was there. I mean, I think her passion was these people who, you know, many of them first generations. Students. So they were kind of shoes in this program called the Matic. Studies kind of help them get their footing in college. You went you went back to Wesleyan. And when did you decide that you wanted to be a journalist you won't be around as an act, I graduated from school? I didn't know what I wanna do ended up. In cattle ranch for years. I was going to ask very city slicker ish to me Jewish guy from New York, but it was clear with a real ranch and I loved I love the outdoors. And I I was there for ten months and once we'd rent up the Cadillac needed to do something. And there was an ad classified ad mother. Jones looking for an associate editor at a small turn of newspaper in Lansing, Michigan. And I applied and went out and interviewed and got the job. It wasn't that. I knew I wanted to do journalism. But I knew I wasn't cut out to be a community organizer. I wasn't for a cattle ranch or cattle rancher or Pol doing electoral politics. And and I was there. I really very quickly realize man, this is what I wanna do lows at like that early experience what kinds of stories where you right? You know, I was doing the kinds of stories and someone I'm doing. But not with the same deafness. I think, but you know, what I loved about it is that it it pushed me, you know, I think left to my own devices. I would just hold up in my office in my house. And so it pushed me out into the world and force me to engage with people. And then I had this luxury of being able to go and disappear for week and craftsy stories, and you know, it's interesting you said, you you were kind of estranged from your dad, but he was a writer wrote four novels. He was a journalist and so on and here, you kind of stumble into you. You think, you know, my mother name my sister because she said, I wanted names, look good and bylines. My mother was a journalist. And I, and you know, you want to you have free will. But then I ended up as a journalist, you know, I know, I know I I'm fall the I went to I was estranged from them. But for all the difficulties we had you're absolutely right. I thought the. He clearly had this incredible impact on who. I am today. I mean, the one thing I will say is our house was just lined with books. I mean when he passed away five years ago, I think we had twenty five hundred books wanted to get rid of. And so it was kind of one constant in my life says love for weeding this love for literature love for story. Yeah. So so you were gonna tell me the kind of stories you did in in Lansing in your infancy as journey. It's hard to remember. You know, this story about a boxing, you know, a small boxes center for kids go to box. I did you know, some investigative pieces about a health insurance company. I only lasted at the paper freight months. It was the only place where I didn't get along with the editor. And so I laughed her got fired depending who you ask and ended up staying, and I stayed in Michigan state freelance work with Michael Moore. Yes, he was in Flint. He had an alternative Haber there. Yeah. Michael was publishing the Flint voice. And and so I go up there, and I crash at his house for a week and we'd work on the paper. And I loved I mean, Michael I haven't seen Michael in years, but, you know, Michael's this incredibly irreverent, you know, guy, and I'm just famously he's he's done quite wellbeing river he has and good as well. And I'm much more measured. And so we kinda complimented each other. But I love, you know, but it was I was there during this incredible moment in history when the beginning of the industrials -ation of this country, and you saw that especially the auto industry, and it was it was just wreaking havoc on the lives of people in that city. And and it's also the city to get this incredible history as the birthplace of General Motors. American industrial might and also the birthplace of the United Auto Workers. Yeah. And yeah. Yeah. You know? And you think you flash forward years later, it became a symbol of neglect. And the. Wonder system. Bright became a national issue was Michael Moore. Did you at the time say this guy's going to become this guy's going somewhere? No. But he had a he Michael had a presence. You know, there's no question about it. And he was he was unusual and something special even back then and and wearing a hat. Yes. And we're in a hat. And then you decided to move to Chicago. Yeah. Why? Well, partly out of frustration because I desperately wanted to work at a daily newspapers. I plied all these I really wanted to work at the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press. And and because I felt like I needed the newspaper experience. Nobody would hire me because I didn't have any newspaper experience. Yeah. Catch twenty two. Yeah. And I played about a dozen papers. And I kind of threw my hands up, and I moved here. I was also doing a lot of work for NPR. And so they had a bureau here, and I moved here and when I moved here. The last paper, I applied to whistle Wall Street Journal, and for whatever reason they were willing to take a gamble on me. And you you got on the speed of urban affairs and social policy. Did you pitch yourself that way? No, kind of slowly how I probably spend do much in my life like kind of slowly weasel my way into that. I hired to cover org. Innes labor, which I'd written a lot about and to cover these industrial companies like John Deere, and what was then international harvester. I was terrible business reporting. I really admired people the paper who were good at it. And so I kind of on my own time began doing these stories that I really cared about. And ultimately, the paper saw the wisdom and just let me wander off and do and do that fulltime and. The the book. There are no children here began as part of that work you want to places. You wandered was into the Henry hornere homes here on the west side of Chicago. How did that unfold? Right. So, you know, it's interesting actually, so in nineteen eighty five Chicago magazine brought in this tiger for Steve Steve shames to do a a photo series of children growing up in poverty in Chicago. And so he took photos all around the city and the magazine asked me to come in afterwards and go write a paragraph or two about each of the kids. And so one of them was Lafayette, Henry young men who became the subject of. And and I went Lafayette was I think he was maybe nine years old at the time. And I walked into those projects and talk about censorship. I mean, those projects were just you know, mile and a half maybe from my office, which was then downtown. On. And I just thought to myself. How is it possible? I could live in the city and not no I mean, the conditions were they were mortified, and I remember also that day that I spent an afternoon with him. He began to tell me about a young a teenager who had been shot and killed on the stairwell outside of his apartment building. And he didn't have any affect. Yeah. And so I to be honest. I don't know that I fully believed him, and he must a sense that because I've visibly. Remember him play me, by my arm and taking me out to the stairwell to show the bloodstains on the steps and I was haunted by that afternoon. And my initially clinician was actually wanted to go back. I began thinking about the kids I'd spent time with in Atlanta, and it had been ten years and thought maybe I'd go back and write about them, and it wasn't logistically possible. And so I went initially and spent that summer with Lafayette to write about a summer living in the projects, and you became. I first of all just to one of the things that struck me. Was you obviously were conspicuous right here. You're you're not an African American young man and somewhere I read that. And this tells you about the sort of. The tenor of things in these communities young, man. So you coming and sort of spread eagled against a wall because he just assumed that you were a police officer. 'cause it was the only whites spent any time in that committee where the cops and the teachers, but the teachers would drive into the parking lot and go into the school building. So that's the thing. I had to fight initially was this notion that I was a plain clothes cop humidity. And did you feel how did you feel in the community? I mean other than that you obviously weren't. You know, you were alien to the community. But did you feel threatened? Did you feel unsafe? No, you know, it's interesting one of the things. So I wanted us committee met Lafayette, and I go back there two years later and I'd lost touch with Lafayette, Matt time. And so, you know, I'm smart enough. I think to know that I can't just walk into a community like that and just start knocking on doors. And so I went to the boys and Girls Club resent, actually, just the boys club that had some respect and dignity and introduce myself to the people there, and they let me hang out there. So I spent three weeks just coming there and shooting pool and playing basketball with the kids just getting to know people and major Adams who ran the club took me around introduced me to people and unbeknownst to me one of the things he was doing was introduced me to all the gang leaders and telling them that I was okay. And to be honest people kept an eye out for me. I don't I never felt threatened by anybody. Eighty there and destroy always tell is the irony is that the only time I felt threatened working on that book was in when I was at a high school and I had walked in. I was trying to talk to some teachers, and I went into the bathroom downstairs and was at the urinal and realize that when I'd walked in on the drug deal that was taking place through the window. And I really realized I was in the wrong places along time and got really anxious. And I the guys I think we're just as anxious they broke into an old temptations rendition, and but that was the only time I just felt like I should this isn't a place where I wanna be at the moment. And what what caused you to want to write the book hadn't written a book before? When did you realize? This is a story that is a book, not just magazine. So, you know, it's interesting after the story came out in the journal, I got all this attention probably more than anything else. I've written for a newspaper magazine and parley it had to do with the fact that it was the Wall Street Journal and. One of the things I loved about working there as I reached this exposed people who should know about this. And don't. Yeah. Maybe speaking to the powers that be you know, all these. And and so I felt like I said everything I needed and wanted to say and I got called editors agents, and it was his agent. David black my agent today who? Convinced me that there was more to right here. And also convinced me that writing a book there it would be around for a long time. And so I mean what I now I didn't think about this thing because I was too naive. But I do feel like one of the questions. One should ask themselves before writing a book is this ten years as this book and feel as resonant than as it does now. And so I ended up spending, you know, next year and a half every day with these two boys in the projects and real. Yeah. Became sort of in ingrained in the family and green in the community and tell me about how that relationship develop because it's a relationship that transcended just the time you were working on the book. I mean became a a lifetime relationship. Right. Well, you know with Salafi fair at that point were twelve nine years old Lafayette was the older boy fairly younger, and I remem-. Early on. I mean, I was out at my notebook at all the time. I just wonder mind while I was there. But they didn't really I mean, they were so young. They didn't know what I was doing. I've didn't know what I was doing either somewhat. But, but I always remember that the thing the question they had from me was am I still going to stay around for the book came out? It was the constant question. And I promise them that I wasn't going anywhere. And that was really important, and I feel really strongly about this. I, you know, one of the things I love about my work is many of the people not everybody. But may the people I write about become a part of my life. You know, and I feel like my life is so much richer for it as my families, and you know, as you point out, and you know, with in the wake of their own children, your, Lafayette, and Farrow and others. I wrote about are still friends. It's been almost over twenty five years now. Yeah. And we should note the book was. In extrordinary bestseller. And really brought these issues to the fore Oprah made a movie my claim to fame and the community was that Oprah. Yeah. That must have been mind-boggling when you know, you this story that you, you know, you wrote for the Wall Street Journal found this story and now it's internationally known, right? Yeah. I mean writing that book has been just incredibly rewarding and I probably got spoiled early on in some ways. And but it's allowed me to do what I do. Now. It's allowed me to write about the things that are important to me. And that's I feel really fortunate. You left the journal in you just became a writer and right? I write Saikal together this life, right? As life is not. At an easy one. You know, even when you have success. And so, you know, I I teach in with western I give speeches and I right? I mean, that's for me. Really what I want to be doing? So tell me about Lafayette Farrow and take us beyond the right? So I don't wanna share want tell too much only because when I was working on the book, it was clear that I was there to write about their lives publicly. And so, but what I can't say because I read about this in my current book Ferro after the book came out he was really loves school. And so at one point he asked if he could come I was living on the north side. I was single and asked if he could come stay with me for a week or two 'cause it was a lot of traffic in and out of his mother's apartment. And he just needed some place of of solace in a place where he could really study and that week or two turned into six years. You know, he was twelve years old. And it wasn't like at some point. I said, okay. This is permanent. Just sort. A happened. And and you know, in that subsequent year, I got married and my wife, RIA bless her heart was open to the idea of having Phero with us. And so he stayed with us until he graduated from from high school and he had his own challenge. Did I mean, I think you know, naively thought this is offering this kind of place of respite, and and and peacefulness will be great for him. But what I didn't reckon with. And is you know, he was in the throes of adolescence trying to there's any adolescent trying to figure out who he is. And here he is living with these two white people or unrelated to him, and he was trying to figure out who where he belonged don't mean physically. But just really where he belonged. And and so there were some in his family and some friends who were pulling Adam. And I think that was really hard for them trying to sort of figure out who he was in. One of the things I I want to talk about a few of your other projects. They don't want to talk about the book you've just written which to me was as certain ways as impactful and and jarring and moving as as your first book, but the commonality between them is what the reality of day to day life in these communities is and you can't help. But read these books your books and not ask yourself. How does every child in these communities not have peed PTSD and has this affect their their their lives moving forward? Even if they survive the violence of the community, right? No. I think you're right. I think that that's sort of what nobody speaks out of. It was interesting. I was just was it a few. You weeks ago when we celebrated or celebrated Mark the one year anniversary of the parkland shooting and all the stories were about sort of how these students were managing to move on. I mean, really important stories about how you move on with carrying that weight along with you and carrying the burden of of what you've witnessed and what you've lost. We don't ask those questions about kids growing up in the south side or west I've Chicago, and that for me is is where we won one place. We really miss. Yeah. It's interesting. You know, I think about your life and the dialogue you had with your Vavi who experienced this horror, but he had the ability to to grapple with that. And the right, but it took them a long time did, and I always I think a lot about, you know, Tim O'Brien the things they carried and towards the end of the book, there's this line in the book, you know, this much is this much not true stories. Can save us. And it saved my dad, that's sort of you know, that capacity to be able to make sense of this. What seemed to lack any sense? Yeah. But what about these kids? But that's the problem. Right. And so an infect one of the things that's really striking is not only they not encouraged to talk about what they've experienced. They're actually discouraged from it. Because their parents are fearful that if they do the somehow be held culpable for what they've witnessed what then what they've experienced. And so people keep it inside. And it leads to this other sense of of loneliness. Yeah, I wanna let's let's part this conversation for and come back to it. When we get to the book because I'm really interested in how we get out of this hell that we were in in some of our communities, and how do we? Help people save themselves. You know, the euro another book called the other side of the river that I particularly appreciate it. Because I have a place near these towns of Saint Joe Benton harbor, and for those who don't know Saint Joe Joseph Michigan is kind of your quintessential mid western, you know, middle-class beautiful community. It is. Yeah. Right on the lake and across the dominantly, white predominantly, white and across the rivers Benton harbor almost entirely African American and incredibly impoverished just divided by one it's over. It's America there personified. So tell me how you came to do that book it Senator around a murder and a body that floated down the river from one town to the the scene coming out of writing their children here. I realized looking back on it people. Asked me if I have any things that I regret about not. I don't know. Why people always ask us of writers? What do you wish you it included in your book and let me scratch that off listed? But the thing is I realized I never really any kind of really forthright way. Tackled with issue of race in there on children here. So I wanted to try to figure out a way to write about it. And one of the tough things about writing about race in this country, not so much in this moment. But certainly the past twenty years has been the absence of any connection of any conversation. And how do you write about that absence? And so I learned about this story. The death of a sixteen year old boy, Eric mcginnis African American kid who lived in Benton harbor, and unusually had some actually some white friends and Saint Joe, and he was over in Saint Joe one night, and apparently was breaking into a car and rummaging through the glove compartment, the car owner caught him there and the. Jason suit away from the river. And they ran by deputy sheriff who happened to be having dinner, and Eric disappeared and few days later, his body was found floating in the river that separates to towns. And which so intrigued me is how these two communities came to the death of this boy from such extraordinarily different angles. Having everything to do with race. I mean, everybody in Saint Joe is convinced Eric knowing that the police are looking for him try to swim the river to get home and accidentally drowned and everybody in Benton harbor to this day to go up there. They tell you this that Erica died as a result of foul play most likely because he had been dating white girl, which in fact, he had and so it was kind of Russia mon- of race about how race so affects the way we perceive the world and this was right on the heels. You remember the Rodney King beating that was caught on video and outside and people came to that video and they saw what their own personal experiences told him. You say not so much today. Race is front and center in in ways that it wasn't in the past. How's that changed things? Well, I think what's going on. Now is both really dis- on the one hand really dispiriting, but maybe an opportunity and say dispiriting because the kind of racism, we see coming from people in positions of power is just it's remarkable. I, you know, I just I'm I it's hard for me to fathom that this is going on in two thousand nineteen. But on the other hand, maybe it's a reckoning. Maybe it's time mobile sort of look at ourselves as a nation and realize how far we still have to go. Because the truth of the matter is we don't talk about race. I mean for me the moment when I think of Chicago when they tore down all the public housing high rises, you know, the one thing nobody talked about was thinking this is an opportunity to think about re of integrating the city by race. Nobody talked about it. And so maybe the now who knows I, but it is this remarkable moment in time. And and really distressing. I think these I think the reality is that the wounds of race have never left us. And what's changed is people who more overtly willing to exploiting race for their own political purposes, we saw it in the past in the sixties George Wallace, and so on and then there was kind of politeness that settled in so even those efforts to exploit these divisions were done somewhat more subtly now, it's very blatant. Right. And you know, and I don't want to divert the conversation. But Trump is given them permission to do that. And that's. You wrote another book called never a city. So real series of profiles about people in Chicago. My happy book my wife calls it. Well, and that was fifteen years ago. So that was it your one flirtation with happiness, but also a great book, including writing about really colorful characters like get sad Lau ski who is a great, so renegade. Labour leader, progressive labour leader, I wish she was still around you know, he passed away this past year. But he he saw this coming. His daughter is an alderman does she is in the city shows, you how much cog is changed because he was part of the progressive group that was fighting the machine down there. Ed, Verdel EAC and the machine pardon everybody in the world, who's listening to this who knows nothing about Chicago politics. And and now said Lousewies daughters sitting in the chair that was once the seat of power in there. Some Justice out there, you you were involved in a in a documentary project called the interrupters. Hours in two thousand eleven that really focused on the issue of gun violence. And that issue has I mean, it was clearly an issue when you wrote your first boy, but it's gotten worse. Well, that's the I think it hasn't gotten worse. It actually was when my book came out in nineteen ninety one. There were nine hundred fifty homicides in Chicago almost twice what it is today. But it's just that we're more aware, it feels I tell you what I think is chain it feels as intensive not more. So now did that. And I think part of it has to do with the fact that the city toward dental the public housing high rises because talk about outta sight outta mind. I mean, that's the the violence occurred, and nobody was paying any attention to it. But yes, my longtime friend and filmmaker Steve James, and I produced the interrupters in. It's you know, we spent a year with these three individuals who work for an organization that the notion is these are people formerly of the street who have some. As some respect. And they go out and interrupt disputes before they turn into something more as cease-fire was running name of the the organization and talk about what what level of success, they achieve which hard to tell to be honest. I mean, they I mean, I will tell you that the three people we spent with in the film. I mean, their work was just remarkable. And it was clear that they on an individual basis they made a real difference. You know, the question for program like that is how can you scale it and make it work. And ultimately how their numbers are still unclear as to how effective it is. But I can just tell you from the ground level. It felt it felt very real. And it felt I mean, and you capture that in the film, and I felt these they were making a difference. So, you know, I think the crest the question you raise the one that that should be the focus of our. Russians when we talk about this issue of crime and violence, which is obviously bigger than a policing issue too. There's so many dimensions to it. But they're all these ideas, and how do you scale them up? Right. And you know, how where how do you bring resources to bear? It seems to me we always limit ourselves in the discussion about what we should do because everybody says, well, you know, we can't there's no money. And my thing is let's think about what would actually make a difference and figure out how we do it. Right. No. I agree. I mean, I think that for me one of the things that's most sobering. Is in some ways. I wrote there on children here in nineteen ninety one. And how little things have changed. I always I was thinking this moment when I was when we at one point when we were taking the film around to screen. I brought it down to danville prison this medium security prison in the. Only screening I've done where they had to keep the lights on screen and read about one hundred men there and I remember right afterwards. We did a time for Q and A and the first two guys who got up had been imprisoned twenty three years in nineteen years respectively. And the reason I know that is because they got up and told me that and in the context that they both the both. These men were from Englewood, which is one of the communities featured in the film, and they were near tears because they couldn't believe how much worse it looked in the film that when they had gone in two decades, one of the things that you hear all the time is that in their eagerness to. Subdue this gang activity. A lot of the gang leaders major gang leaders were imprisoned prosecuted imprison, and the problem actually metastasized because there was no one to actually discipline these organizations, which which were sort of quiz. I businessmen. Is that is that? Yeah. No. It's the consequence of public policy. Right. You think you're doing the right thing, which let's cut the head off the snake? Let's dismantle these gangs, which on the surface make sense, these were very hierarchical organizations, which as you point our organized around this, really robust, drug trade. And so they cut the head off and then in the subsequent years, they just begin to splinter. And so now, you know, the police estimate there anywhere between six hundred eight hundred different factions, crews, clicks, whatever you wanna call them that are blocked to block organized not around any business, but just out of and so they get into disputes. They can't even remember what they're about with the gang adjacent to them or or gang in another neighborhood. And so it's made it until ways the situation even worse than I think it's one of the reasons why the violence feels more intense now because it feels more random the the question. That I get more than any other when I'm talking to people around the country about this is why is Chicago particularly subject to this. You know, every their gangs everywhere. But Chicago seems to be more subject to. Yeah. But you know, Chicago, I mean things are bad in Chicago or not even in the top ten worst Burda rates and in the country. The gang issue, particularly Schubert, the gang issue was really bad in LA. It sped elsewhere. I'm not sure the thing that I can't quite figure out why Chicago over the years has been this kind of epicenter for all these really horrific murders of and by children. You know, you go back to the nineteen nineties. Eric Morris who is dropped from the high rise outta be wells. Yummy Sandifer Ryan, Harris daring, Albert Hadiyah Pendleton these moments in time when the city just bows its head and sorrow and censor shame all the. These national international reporters come here. And, but that's the thing that I can't understand is why why Chicago. And I don't have an answer for that. You you wrote this book that is just published in American summer Levin death in Chicago. And which I told you this this is not. But I I mean, I loved it. I hated it in some ways because of the story is so hard in places in your tears reading it. But it was so well done, but the thing that struck me at the beginning you address this was where saying spent the summer of two thousand and thirteen it's like two thousand nineteen. You know, what happened? My my editor asking the same question. You know, I started this book one of the things that attracted me to writing this selfishly was I thought well, this'll be a reasonably quick book to write I spend the summer a report out for another six months than I sit down and write. And of course, what I realize is just being naive as it landed on these stories, and you know, I couldn't help but stay with these stores some of these stories as they unfurled over time. And as they did they came to reveal so much more about the people in them. And so what I thought was going to be year year and a half project turned into five years, and it's not just I mean, what is this a series of in yet s-, and it's a series of and yet about a whole range of people who are impacted by violence in the city, not just the victims of families, the teachers who are trying to enter traitor and the and the perpetrators. Yeah. And so tell me what your concept was going in. So I just had this notion that I wanted I knew I wanted to write I knew right off the bat. I didn't want to deal with public policy. Because in part because it changes from year to year, and I felt like whatever I wrote would be we'd have moved onto something. Some other notion about what works doesn't work, and what I really wanted to do was to write this really intimate book about how the violence gets in your bones. What it does to shape one's sense of the world and censor themselves. And so what I was looking for stories and some measure knock me off balance apprise me left me asking questions. And so I just you know, there were couple of stories I knew that I wanted to write about before the summer that I could land in that summer. And then I spent my time looking for all these stories and had you fund them, you know, it varied. So I, you know, spent a lot of time these communities I went back to people I knew I hung out of places like candy hospital embedded with a homicide unit on the south side. Spoke to people I met working on the interrupters. And there are no children here looking for stories and some of them I kind of just stumbled into one of the stories, you know, which involves a young woman who is called a shower in book gets under real name. But it's a story. She she's brought by single mom, and she's just her father's left the family, and she's just constantly just appointed by all the men in her lives, and she ended up wanting to get as far away from the cities. Yes and goes away to college and settles in Philadelphia. But the beauty of this story as it turns out, well, the beauty and the tragedy is at her best friend from childhood is involved in a murder, and they begin correspondence. When he's in the county jail these beautiful graceful eloquent moving letters between the them. But the way I found her was that I knew I'd heard about these two brothers one who has been in trouble and one who was a postal worker. You know, kind of good Br. In the bad, brother. And I thought about writing about them when I met areas the postal worker he calls up his childhood friend Shara and says, you know, they got this reporter wants to talk to me, and she says who's the report, and he goes, Alex Kotla, which will turns out that a shower years earlier had called me out of the blue she'd read their own children here. I don't remember this. But she does clearly and just wanted some guidance just wanted some kind of mentorship. And so, and that's how I met. And so when I met her I thought this is her story. Yeah. That that story ends in a sort of bittersweet way because she ends up being disappointed again right by her friend. Right. But you know, I read these stories, and as I said, I was moved to tears in places. And I felt like you're such a gifted writer that you draws into these stories, and you come to know these characters and you feel like wrapping your arms around these kids. And trying to protect them. And I can only imagine what it was like what it is like for you. Because you live these stories with them, right? I mean, you're translating them to us. But you're there, and you you're close enough to wrap them up those who survived. How how how hard is that you said your wife jokes that was your happy book, your your Chicago book fifteen years ago, how how does impact on you to live in this in this world? I mean, not just when you're there. But when you're sitting in your Rier. House and writing this. Yeah. I mean, I almost hesitate to talk about this somebody's because I know whatever I went through doesn't pales in comparison to what the people I wrote about when through, but I will say this was a really difficult book to write emotionally. And I there was a moment in time. When I was had begun writing that I kind of lost. They never had this experience before lost all sense of joy, couldn't even when I tried to smile, and I was in a real not not in a good place. I was just paralyzed. I couldn't right. I mean, I was able to pull out of it. And to be honest part of it. You know, I went into therapy. But there's no question that I think what was taking place, and I think I'm aware of it. Now, I don't know where of it. Then was this kind of secondary trauma. And then of course, I had this great catharsis, which is I could sit down and tell these stories much like your dad right much like my dad. Yeah. Well it. The question. I mean, the one thing you do is that. You don't judge and one of the things you've said are written is that you've learned over time. Not to be as judgmental. This was true of left hit and pharaohs. Mom, right. That you got angry at her for being what you felt was neglectful, and and you came around because of. If is from some poet from Harvard at some writers, but to become to to fee, more empathetic. So that's these these these characters are not good or bad. Even the even the perpetrators. You know, I it's interesting because they did they took lives they maimed people and so on, but they, but they come across his whole people. Yeah. I mean. Yeah. I mean, you're right. I mean, look people are complicated. And the truth of the matter is there's very little good and evil in the world it exists, but most people fall somewhere in that spectrum. And so the challenge I think if you're going to write about somebody is to be able to capture them, fully and richly. And honestly and the truth of the matter is in the end, most of the people not everybody. But most of the people I write about on some level. I'm writing about them. Because I admire who they are. Are or how to how they've managed given their circumstance. And so I try to be absolutely honest. What I see what I hear knowing that that that admirations will will find its way through all that. And and I also think leaders are pretty savvy. They know when you're pulling punches, and so it's really important to be honest. But I think you're right. This notion, of empathy is kind of it's a sin triple forces, storytelling. It's what you know. And it's also this in triple force that community. In fact, I always remember I tell the story a lot that in those when Obama was running two thousand eight us to give these stump speeches about the empathy gap. He saw people were is glaze over. And so he stopped talking about it. But but he was getting at is. It's what connects us what's hold together community. I actually think there's going to be a market for that again in this next election because there's such a stark contrast out there. I mean, whatever you think about Donald Trump he fundamentally. Preaches, a gospel of self interest. It is anti thankful to the notion, of empathy, and generally people look for the opposite of what they have. So I think the ability to connect is going to be important, but you see should kind of divert me into these discussions because now you're getting into my politics my politics mode. So. Did you? The thing that I these people you come away from feeling much more understanding about what they're going through what they're trying to do sometimes they fail and doing it. Even the p the people are trying to help the people who are involved and so on what about hope? I mean, do you have hope? Yeah. I mean, you know, it's funny. My my editor number years ago. This before I started working this book. She said, why are you right on all these subjects and I laugh because I don't think of that. I know I I'm not being manager said that you went through trauma. I don't wanna be disingenuous here. It's not that. I don't recognize the grimness of the landscape, but for me, you know, the stories in this book are all people who have somehow emerged and are standing, you know, standing in this world, it's slumping around them and some of them a moving forward her roic, you know, they're pushing back. And so that's the hope that people somehow manage through all this and try to make sense of what they've experienced in a number of the people in the book, you know, are actually working to try to undo some of the damage. They did when they were younger. So let that gets back to the question that I raised before which is what what what can eight community do community at large. Not just a writ large, not just the communities that are deeply affected. What can the community do to help support those people who are who are trying to fight their way through right? So I mean, first of all there are these wonderful program. There are programs out there that I think are working in small measure one of them, for example, Eddie bocanegra, who's, you know, who's from marketable human being I just I'm an off him who knew at the age of eighteen took somebody's life spent twelve years in prison and his story in the book is about somebody trying to find a way. To forgive himself for what he did. But he now runs this program at Hartland alliances large social service agency in Chicago in which they work trying to get young people jobs, which is you know, nothing new about that. But he requires him to undergo cognitive behavioral therapy group therapy sessions where they sit around and talk about their experiences and trying to would try to do one is make people feel less alone. 'cause it's really clear to me. It's one of the things that one of the consequences of the violence is kind of how disconnect people from each other and trying to get them more self aware about what they're experiencing white. Is there so easy to anger white? Is they self medicate. You know, why why does they have trouble sleeping all the things? You can imagine. Soldiers must experience returning from combat and show programs like that are programs that we need to find ways to support. And then the other part, which is goes back to our early conversation is. We need to find ways to rebuild these communities. I think cities across the country are grappling with this growing economic divide. And you see cities like San Francisco, New York and Seattle that have become prohibitive for anybody who's not privileged. And so we had a big out-migration of poor African American close hundred thousand in the past ten years. Yeah. It's remarkable. And it's you know, and and we need to find a way to undo that. I mean, one of things I love about this city. One of the things I loved about growing up in New York was kind of messy Talib's, you know, the diversity, and we can't lose that. It's what this country's about. And it's also the great paradox. This grand experiment is that we like to think we're all in this together. And yet we lead such disconnected lives. Yeah. What is your where do you go from here? You are you going to continue on this? I don't mean on your book tour, I'm talking about with your with your writing. And so I think I've I think I've said what I want to say about the violence in about the what's happening to our cities. I've now what I know for me. I think these are these are really distressing times we live in really unsettling times. And and I don't what I find for me. It's disorienting is I don't fully recognize my country anymore. And so I wanna find a way to write about and remind me what I love about this place. And that's what I'm trying to figure out now. But I think it's hard as a writer to try to weigh in at this moment because we these are really troubling times. Yeah. One thing I would say though is the ability to honestly, depict people and give them dimensionality and express, some empathy and is deeply needed now. Because we have so silent ourselves that. And it's easy to dehumanize people in your own consciousness because you don't have contact with them. You don't and somehow rekindling national dialogue is so important right now. Yeah. I mean, I've been spat. I wanna talk about what I'm working at the moment. But I've been spending some time in a small town zuri. Yeah. Big Trump come just as an effort to try to get to know these people who you know, are for the. Most part decent yeoman being just so this is the thing that bothered me after the election of Trump. I I have a place in rural Michigan not far from the town's about which you wrote. And I've a lot of neighbors who had Trump signs in the yard some of whom had voted for Barack Obama, and I know them as neighbors not as caricatures, and and and then I'd come back to Chicago. And basically the attitude was these people are all to listener races. And to be sure there were there there were some caricatures on the other side as well. But if we if that's what are now. That's what our senses of people. Then it's going to be a lot harder to to solve these problems. Now, it's going to be impossible. I mean, that's talk about lack of empathy. Right. That's precisely what's going on is just sort of maintaining these tropes in. Caricatures? And well, you have the ability to penetrate them and an extraordinary gift, and I we've known each other for a long time and reading this book, which I think I urge everyone to read a reminded me again of what prodigious gifts you you have. So I real to sit down with you. And and I I look forward to everything that you do Dave. Thanks so much. There's been such a pleasure. Alex, Kotler experts. Thank you for listening to the ax files part of the CNN podcast network. For more episodes of the axe files. Visit X-Files podcasts dot com and subscribe on apple podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. From programming from the university of Chicago institute of politics. Visit politics dot EU, Chicago dot EDU.

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Ep. 309 - Lisa Madigan

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

58:23 min | 2 years ago

Ep. 309 - Lisa Madigan

"And now from the university of Chicago institute of politics and CNN the axe files with your host, David Axelrod. For sixteen years. Lisa Madigan was one of America's leading state attorney generals in consumer advocates suing the student loan industry and for profit colleges who took advantage of young people. She's one of the attorneys general who uncovered the disturbing scandal of pedophilia in the Catholic church. She went after housing lenders for predatory practices after the two thousand and eight crash on issue after issue. Lisa Madigan took the lead. She left her job as the turn in general, Illinois in January is currently a fellow at the institute of politics at the university of Chicago where we sat down last week to talk about these battles and her very very interesting life. Lisa Madigan, my friend. It's great to see you, especially here at the institute of politics where you're killing it as a fellow this winter quarter inspiring a bunch of young people. So thank you for being here. David. Thank you for having me. And what you have built here at the university of Chicago. This ensued a politics. It's just extrordinary. I have loved my time. Here was giving. It's great to have you actually we can stop right there. No. No. I. We've known each other so long the the the great thing about doing this podcast is that you know, I have to study up on people, and I learned all kinds of things about them as I did about us some of which I remembered, but let's let's start at the beginning. You're born here in Chicago from Chicago was born in nineteen sixty six. Yes, fifty two for a while longer. And and you you your your parents divorced when you were two years old. I was very young at the time. Yeah. I mean, what do you remember about that? It wasn't a good situation. So it was a bit of a rough time. You know, I think I did much better the second time around when it comes to dads. Yeah. You're famously your mom married. Mike Madigan who's the longest serving legislative leader in the in the country. We'll we'll we'll get to that. But and I don't want to try it on on a difficult rounds? But headed impact you as a child these what you describe as difficulties. Well, I was an only child for the first twelve years of my life. And I certainly saw what it was like for single mom to raise her daughter at a time where not a lot of my friends if really any of my friends families were divorced not a lot of the moms who were working fulltime to support the family. And so I was kind of, you know, one of those latchkey kids before the really was such a thing that I at least knew about. But in a lot of ways, you know, there's always good with the bad. Right. And for me, I had an opportunity to see my mom out there working and to recognize she was working a law firm. She was a receptionist at a law firm, and I had an opportunity because of that because the people who work there were very nice. I would sometimes go there after school. And so I grew up in some part in a law firm, and you know, so getting to see what lawyers do, and I still remember when they hired the first woman ask at the law firm and thinking, wow. And it was really interesting because, you know, of course, all the secretaries and all the receptionist the paralegals, they were all women all the lawyers were men. And so when they hired the first woman, it was really interesting because she was somebody who was friends with obviously, both all the men who were the lawyers and all the women who were on staff, but it really opened my eyes to the fact that. Look, this is something women can do. And when you were ten or so. She remarried. I should ask you. This was your birth father in your life at all or he was up to that point. And then he wasn't for a long time. And he's now deceased. But. I think to the point you're about to get to very startling when my mom got remarried impart because we move from the north side of Chicago to the south west side of Chicago. Because that's where his district is. And you know, you know, Chicago, very well. It's a whole city made up of a lot of different needs distinctive neighborhoods, very distinctive neighborhoods, and the south side of Chicago is is nothing like the north side of Chicago in some ways. Side. Did you live? We were on the near north side, essentially, you know, in between Diversey in Belmont near Broadway. So we should just for those of you who aren't from Chicago which appoint the cultural Gulf, especially at that time. I mean, the nearside is Kaga was sort of the hub of liberalism anti machine ISM. It was kind of more avant-garde in terms of culture. I think we're in the forty third war. I remember going to the very first pride parade when it took plays. And then when I moved to the south west side, I remember of Catholic, very Catholic. So do your point. I remember riding my bike and being stopped by some girls. Roughly my age ten eleven in being asked what my nationality was. Well, I didn't even know what that word meant at the time. And I remember looking on the southwest. This a true embarrassing story. And I remember looking at them and saying, well, I'm Catholic. They're like, no, no, no, no, no. That's your aluminum. Like, well, I know it's my religion. But I don't know what we know what nationality means and it ended up one of them said. Well, look, I'm Italian. I'm orig- where to you. And I was like, oh, okay. So I'm Spanish and French. And they're like what anybody like that. So it's a different world in different world. I mean, more than I think most other cities, and and even today, you know, I mean ethnic enclaves, really distinctive ethnic enclaves. So Michael Madigan is is a politician professional politician. He's been doing it all along than we have all longer than longer than me than. Yes. I mean when I arrived in this town, and I came to this campus. And I started writing about politics for the high park herald he was already up and coming leader in Springfield. So you were if you if you're formative years between two and ten you got to hang around a law firm now, you're you're now, you gotta. A whole new world. Right. So school would end at the beginning of June and all my friends would go off to summer camp. And I would go off to Springfield pretty much from the time that I was eleven until I was eighteen or so every summer every summer, and this is when the legislature used to be in session through the end of June, and as you know, all of the big pieces of legislation and the budget. They're all debate. And they're all voted on during those last week's those last days obsession, and so I used to go down, and I got to be an honorary page and be on the floor of the house of Representative. It's an honorary page, and you could do. Who came down? There are lots of people who would bring their kids in their families down particularly for the end of session when they were in day after day after week. So you had an influx of kids and family, but it was this tremendous opportunity to actually see government in action that so few people get, you know, you might go down on your sixth grade trip to the capital, or you might have an opportunity when you're in eighth grade to go to Washington DC, and again to see just for a few minutes, what goes on or you know, these days you could watch it on C span or something. But, you know, at the time, it was a lot different in the sense of you didn't have all these different opportunities. You what was taking place, and obviously to be on the floor and to listen to the debates that would take place had an enormous impact on me. I mean, I still remember sitting on the bench on the floor of the house of representatives when they would debate passage of the ER a and. Talking to my amendment, equal rights amendment. And they everybody knows that David. But for those of you who may not I don't know. I don't know it hasn't been debated lately. Well, it finally got past last state of Eleanor. But what it was? So fascinating to me. Even at that age was what is this debate about? How is it that we can't all agree that women deserve equal rights in older? You I would have been fourteen fifteen sixteen. So I was a teenager at the time. And you know, this would have been what late seventies early eighty. Yeah. Did you? And when I mean, did you have any interest in all of this before then or this was a whole new world for you? He was a whole new world. And I found it fascinating. I mean, did you see yourself at that moment when you were watching these debates going onto did you could see myself, absolutely not. I wanted nothing to do with it in the sense of. I don't I don't think I ever saw myself running for elected office and growing up that was a question. I got all the time. Oh, are you going to run for office and say, no, absolutely not? And so no that was never my ambition until one day. I really looked back and said how can I help more people? How can I have a greater impact? And then I said, I know something I know something I can do it. We'll get to that. We'll get to that decision. You you you you weren't you were not imagine you weren't named Madigan until you're eighteen and you change, but that wasn't a pre. Lewd to running for office. Not at all. They're probably have been times in the last fifty two years or in the last thirty where you thought that maybe being named Murray or would be a better. Ballot name for me. Now, you know, look, and again, we can talk more about this. Obviously, it's a double edged sword right enormous benefits. And it's brought me, you know, a series of burdens, but, but I wouldn't trade I wouldn't trade father for the world. Yeah. Again, I'm I feel blessed that he came into my life and of phenomenal father to me. So from that, it was all good. So you went to you just, but you decide to go to Georgetown, right? So you were going to a very political environment. I very much wanted to be somewhere around government because I had a great interest in government. Even though I didn't at the time have an ambition to be an elected official so being Georgetown, even during the Reagan years was a great opportunity, and in fact. That's how I know you right. I took a chance to work on Paul Simon staff when he first got elected to the US Senate. So I don't wanna get a braided for telling people what you think they already know. But we ought to explain Paul Simon because it's been awhile since we're not about the singer here. We're talking about a really phenomenal guy who he got me out of journalism, and I went to work for him when he ran for the United States Senate. He was a congressman from southern Illinois, a guy who quit a college and bought a small town newspaper in southern Illinois and crusaded against a crime syndicate down there, and and fought for civil rights and political reform and very courageously and was kind of one of a kind big jug years and horn rimmed glasses. He wore bowtie, perfect voice for radio, you did he had this. He could. Have done the farm report every every single day. But he also I don't know if you know this. But you know, when I was working for them. I noticed that his suits were all a little short his pants, and I suppose you're and it turned out that a constituent passed away and was so fond of Paul that they be quite their suits to him. And he never got them. Never bothered to get the pants adjusted. A great story. And it's not a surprise. You know, Paul Simon was in extrordinary public servant, clearly a public servant at heart. And he was I mean everywhere we went he would talk to absolutely everybody, and he hadn't ability to connect with into engage with a broad range of people and what I will always. Remember about him is that even if people disagreed with him, they respected him and he had such a following. Because there were some issues that he was you know, out in front of war. He would be you know, I would say in southern Illinois being against the death penalty may not have been considered the politically frankly for civil rights, correct absolutely on civil rights, but people respected him, and he always took the time. I think because of his journalism background. He was always writing. He was putting out those weekly columns, and he was explain themselves and staying connected with the public in with the voters. And so he did very very well. And even when he left office he continued like you to develop the next generation of public servants, southern Illinois. Exactly, he was a in everywhere lovely person. I miss him still you left after college. You went to South Africa. And I was wondering whether there was a Paul had anything to do with inspiring you in that regard because he was a huge proponent for foreign exchanges. He also had a big focus on Africa. So I'm wondering how you came to make that decision. So when I was working in his office in Washington. My recollection is that Paul actually chaired the African subcommittee from the foreign affairs committee, and he did an enormous amount of work, particularly in Nigeria. I recall in your hundred percent right about his advocacy that young people travel outside of the country. So they have a different perspective. And they learn about other people in other cultures. And it did have an impact on me. I already had an interest in Africa and taken an enormous number of classes about post, colonial sub Saharan Africa in. So when I graduated in. In nineteen eighty eight. This was at the time where the anti-apartheid movement was very strong, and you had universities and colleges around the country who were under pressure to divest their assets in South African companies eventually, Georgetown. Agreed. They would do that. But in addition they wanted to add something into the country. And so what they decided to do in partnership with the South African Catholic Bishops Conference is to send over recent graduates to volunteer teach in needy Catholic high schools and so several weeks after I graduated I got on a plane and went to Johannesburg, South Africa. An ultimately went down to a place called Montebello, which is a school that was about an hour and a half north west of Durban in KwaZulu, and I found myself with a government degree in an English minor suddenly teaching to giant sections of algebra. I was teaching Seventy-three ninth graders. English. I was teaching earth science. I was teaching European history. I was volleyball toes studying it's the hardest job I ever had. So it's not just it's not just preparing for the next day's class. But also, great and all those papers teachers have a really tough job and people need to appreciate that they do. And and were you were there many Americans there or were you alone? There was one other woman from Georgetown, and we were it for many, many, many many miles or we would go to we would go to a town roughly thirty miles away. And they would know who we were because we were the only Americans around. So people would stop us all the time and say, oh, are you? Are you the American teachers, and what was it like the environment in South Africa at the time? It was pre- the freeing of Mandela. Correct. Bella Bartha, right? Mandela was still in prison at the time. And you know, those a low level civil war so to speak going on. Now, the reality was it was the white government that was making no of that happen. But it was a really difficult time. So most of my students there were all women they were all Zulu, and they came from the townships outside of Durban Pietermaritzburg, some more from his faraway is Soweto, which was certainly a long way from where we were. But the violence was such that we would learn every several weeks certainly once a month that somebody's father brother uncle had been killed. And you know, the toll that that takes on not just that student, but on their family if significant, but David what was so extraordinary to me is that my students in their families recognized how important getting an education was even though. At the time you didn't necessarily see that apartheid would end soon after those funerals. Those girls would come back to school because they knew that if they had any chance of supporting themselves getting a decent job really being part of the change in the liberation that they were going to need an education, and so their families had sent them away from the township. So that they could be safe, and they could get an education, and they were dedicated to doing that. How did have that experienced change? I will were you frightened for your own safety. Now, we certainly went through times where you'd go through they had roadblocks at the time, and they would stop you. Or in the circumstances where the weren't a lot of us who it was a an old German mission that had been given over to an order of Dominican nuns. They were all Zulu, and they were running the mission, and it had an elementary school for girls and boys. There was a high school. There was a. Spital? There was an orphanage there in the very few people who could drive and so when one of the students would need to go home for funeral. There were several times that I would end up driving somebody back home. And in those circumstances. It was interesting because you'd end up in a township and the township at the time were being patrolled by the South African defence forces, and they would come up and say strange things like are you lost? Do you need are you? Okay. Do you need any help in as soon as they hear the American accent? They back off since I wasn't a white South African. So you drive these young people home for the funerals of their own a couple of times. I did let's. That's. It it's it's very heavy. And Purdue when you understand that it's political violence, and is, you know, I think to the outside world it looked as if it was black on black violence when in fact, it was white South African government really instigating that type of violence. You know, I have to say looking back on all of it. While I was a teacher. I learned more than I think I ever could have taught my students, and I keep in touch with some of them. And actually, I got a chance to see some of them this past August one I was in South Africa and Mozambique. But they're commentary back to me, which I really treasure is the fact that a young American woman who had just gotten out of college and had, you know, any number of opportunities available would come and live, you know, in South Africa during such a trying time and showed us that we were important and that our futures mattered. And so you can never underestimate the power of simply presence. You know, I like to think that I was able to teach them some things I like to think that I improved, you know, some people's grammar an English. I certainly did not improve anybody's grasp with algebra. But it was a it was a UNESCO. Paul what you describe as why Paul these exchange programs were so important. I read somewhere that your your dad wasn't that enthused about you talk to me for a long time. Was he worried about you? Absolutely. I mean, as any legitimate parent would be both of my parents were and my mother, actually, and my grandmother came to visit me over Christmas when we were there. So I did have an opportunity to take them took them to Cape Town. And then they came back to school with me. So they could see where I was living. But they were very concerned because all they knew about South Africa's what they would read in the press, and it was you came back here, and you didn't go right to law school. He worked at right junior college, which is on the northwest side of Chicago. And you got involved in a variety of community activities. Tell me about your your thinking there. And I I want to ask specifically about Catholicism. And and how that impacted on how you looked at the world, and what your obligations were. So I think I'll take your second question. First. Okay. So to me. Catholic christians. It's all at its heart about social Justice. And so I've gotten to a point in my life where I can say look, my mission is all about service, and it's about Justice, one of my favorite, bumper stickers of all time is the one that says if you want peace work for Justice, and in you know, that's just what I feel my mission is in terms of probably experienced South Africa, only reinforced that absolutely. And so when I came home, I really wanted to find a job where I would have an opportunity to translate some of what I had seen in what I learned back into communities, and for people here in Chicago because as you can imagine there were a lot of people who said to me before I left, look if you wanna make a difference. You don't have to go to Africa. They're plenty of problems right here in Chicago that you can address and I didn't disagree. But I knew I wanted to give back in a way that I probably wouldn't have the chance to later in life. And so that was one of my motivators to go to Africa. So when I came back, I really wasn't ready to go to law school. But I found a job where there was a phenomenal group of women who were former head start leaders who are working at Wright college, and they had recently decided to partner with the fifteenth police district in the Austin community. So the far west side of the city to pioneer community policing strategies as a crime reduction method that had that point not been adopted citywide in Chicago, but there were some jurisdictions in the United States were they were doing that. And it was being affective. And so it was interesting. I went on sort of an informational interview that somebody had connected me to these folks. And they said to me, look if you could do anything, what would you be doing right now? And I. Very honestly said, look, I wanna be you know, helping kids I just had this extrordinary experience in South Africa. And they looked back at me and told me what they were doing. And I said, oh, my gosh sign me up, and you know, it was kind of random situation. But after that, I was spending my afternoon in my weekends in the roll-call room of an old Chicago police station, more on the hill street blues model than these fancy new ones, look like libraries or community centers, and we were bringing kids in after school and on the weekends. And it was everybody from first graders through twelfth graders. And we were trying to kind of keep them engaged in their education. But we were also trying to keep them off the streets and away from the gangs. So they didn't become part of the criminal Justice system. And instead, you know, they would stay engaged get an education and be able to you know, help themselves and help their communities more. So it was this just another really unique and. Important opportunity, but it was both being in South Africa. And then working on the west side that finally said to me, oh, no, no. I want to law school because I want to have a credential that will allow me to continue to do the social Justice work and to help people. And so I finally decided I would go to law school. But to be honest, I wasn't so sure I was going to like it or be good at it. So I went at night initially to loyal and turns out great, and I loved it. So even though it's supposed take me four years to get out after a year and a half of doing part time. I, you know, squashed on my classes into the last year and a half and got out in three years. And and you you spent four years in a law firm, and then you ran for the state Senate on north head. And it was you ran against a guy who who had been there for quite a while as a state rep and a state Senator a guy who was a loyal at. Here in to your your your daddy's may a part of the caucus in the house. He also is a guy who is under indictment. I think at the time that you challenged him, which is sadly, not an heard of development here in the city of Chicago. But he was resentful. He was openly resentful because you were speaker madigan's daughter, and and and he felt like he had been a loyal foot soldier now. Here you were challenging him. How was was their awkwardness associated with that had thing play? So let's talk about that. But beforehand, let's talk about the. The decision to run because back to this is actually something that Paul Simon used to say. And I remember this vividly when he would do government day down in down in southern Illinois. He would always say to kids. Look, nobody's parent is ever going to tell them to get involved in government and politics to run for office. And that was certainly true Mike as well. I saw somewhere you've your father said he tried very hard to talk you out of it. Correct. So that's my wanted talk about for a second. He did he kind of sent me off on this mission of here. Go talk to these people. And I think, you know, I'm sure that you know, he'd called all of them and said, you know, you sit down with my daughter and tell his terrible idea. And so I spent about a month going out to these lunches, and then I went back to him and said, look, I still wanna do this. And you know, who was the person who told me I should run for office, Paul Simon, right? And so, you know, the world is funny. And you just never know who you're gonna meet and how things are going to turn out. But you're right. So I decide I'm going to run for the state Senate, and I live up on the north side. You know, as far as I'm concerned, you know, back to my. Even though you're one hundred percent, right. It was, you know, just portrayed as you know, you are begging district shopping that kind of exactly but. So I mean, I still remember, you know, the wards in my district. It was virtually all of the forty seventh ward. Which was where it was all Ed Kelly view is for those who don't know. And that's probably all of you. He was a powerhouse in Chicago politics for a long time ahead of the park district and a ward commitment, and that combination was pretty powerful because there were a lot of jobs in the part stops a lot of jobs. So it was the forty seventh ward half of the thirty third ward. Maybe two thirds of the thirty second ward and that made up eighty five percent of my district. And then I the time lived in the forty fourth ward Bernie Hansen was in charge over there at the time. So it was a couple of presence in forty-three. Okay. You and I are the only people are going to provide us so all stop this. But really what it amounts off on it? But. Scratching their heads. Maybe have a lot of people from Chicago political junkies. Have more for this podcast there, you know? So there were a fringe around the district of what you and I would call front liberal wards. And they were supporting me whereas Ed Kelly wasn't dick Mel Terry. This is the peculiar thing about this is all these guys were old line ward commitment and allies of of your father were worked with him in the democratic organization. And so they're all against me. I took seven months off of my job. I took a leave of absence, and I went door to door every single day and some days it was four hours many days. It was six hours some days. It was eight hours. I carried power bars in my pockets that was my launch my dinner and those were the early days of power, right? Yeah. They were. You such a progressive future. I should have invested. But I've met people and every morning I was going to L stops and the train stops. And as you'll appreciate right since we're here in Chicago. It was a democratic primary that was the rate that you win the prime. So it was gonna I'm art hazarding. Bruce Farley was not he was not going going door to power bars. Probably not even power bars and wasn't showing up at the community events that were being held. So you know, I got one might not if when we're under correct? And for that aspect of it again. But but yeah. So it was kind of a weird political circumstance that you can appreciate another may be able to appreciate. But anyway, what one of the things I remember going door to door and standing L stops. There was one morning. You know, you go to these L stops at what six six thirty in the morning. So you see all the morning commuters. And somebody said to me it was snowing and freezing and somebody passed by. Lisa. This is the fourth time. I've seen you here. We know that you're emitted. Go home and get some sleep all vote for you. And that's what you know. Okay. Maybe I can you know, I can settle down a little bit. But but I won and it was a horrible big through to one. Yeah. One big. It was it was a great night. And so he had to day I think so just perfect. So even though we know you're you're French and Spanish, but right? But no one is to know. So they're lovely things to be the. Yeah. But I rish names are great on the ballot here in Chicago, as you know, but you went to the state Senate, and you had a really interesting seat-mate state Senate. Who's that? So then just state Senator Barack Obama was the person that I sat next to and we had our offices next to each other. So that turn tell me about what you I mean. I knew back then you knew him back then from your vantage point, what what were your what were your thoughts about Barack as everyone knew him back in the day. Very clear that he was super smart in vicious. You know, he had been a lawyer probably wasn't the time. Right. A lawyer in private practice plane of side, he was teaching constitutional law here at the university of Chicago. You know, it seemed in some ways a little unusual for somebody with that profile to be in Springfield. But in other ways, it was absolutely terrific. He sat on the judiciary committee. And while there's always chatter on the floor. Even when people are. Baiting bills. He was one of the very few people who when he would stand up to debate. Everybody would quiet down. They actually wanted to hear what he had to say. Because even if they weren't necessarily going to vote for the position he was taking the knew that he would have something to add to the debate. And he would probably be right on his position. He like you had a reputation for reaching across the. Across the the line to Republicans. They're e became sort of famous for building these these bipartisan coalitions around some fairly difficult pieces of legislation. Some of that happened after you after you left, but. Well, you really had to write because at the time the four years that I served the state Senate we were in the minority, and I think that that was to me what was most exceptional about Barack is that he had that ability to be a leader. And to get things accomplished. Even when he was just, you know, first second year in Springfield in even though we were the minority party. So the only way you could get anything done is if you had the cooperation and the agreement of the Republican party, which at the time, you know, it was paid Philip again, nobody will appreciate that. But very travel comes to mind, which people males on the note that made, but you can imagine. So anyway. Here's my here's my lesson. From all of that people use your phone to take a lot of pictures because I simply don't have enough pictures from the time in the Senate together. And another thing, you should know is you don't know where people are going in their future. And you know, it's another you didn't say, I know this guy's going to be present in the United States. Any of us said that at the time, right? I mean, we served at the time when he ran for congress against Bobby rush and Donny Trotter. And so I watched that badly sewed. Right. And there was you know, there was really that feeling at least in that race. You know that he wasn't from the neighborhood. He wasn't black enough right, which now you look back, and you know, there's some irony to that as well. You actually leapfrog ahead of him for a while there, and you got elected attorney general in two thousand and two and one of the questions, then was and this was a place where the Madigan name was a help and a hindrance, but you hadn't practiced law, very long and were you qualified for this job. And you had a very specific view of what the job was. And felt you had the right skill set for it. And it wasn't. It's not a criminal in the main a criminal in Illinois. It's not some state's attorney generals have more criminal prosecutorial responsibilities not in Illinois. So in most big states in the United States. The attorney general is not your frontline criminal prosecutor so here in Illinois, New York, California, right? They all have state's attorneys are district attorneys. Is that they're electing out of counties to be the frontline prosecutors? So when there's a murderer rape robbery. Those are the people that bring those indictments whereas in Illinois, your state, your state attorney general is really the lawyer for the people of the state of the three hundred plus four hundred lawyers in the annoy attorney general's office. Eighty five percent of them are civil lawyers. So yes, there's a criminal component. But it's very different component with much more constrained authority than your state's attorneys. Now there are times when the attorney general will step in to the role of a state's attorney. But that tends to be limited to circumstances where there's a conflict of interest. So if an assistant state's attorney is convicted or is picked up for drunk driving that office can't prosecute one of their own or in this happens with some frequency. Unfortunately, there is a. Triple quadruple murder that takes place in downstate county, where they don't have the resources to prosecute that case, then we had a very elite group of criminal. Prosecutors who would come in and work with that county state's attorney to affect that. We're just the attorney general of intervene here to appeal a sentence that was given to Jason Van Dyke. The police officer who shot and killed Liquan McDonald. You got a six and a half year sentence and the attorney general and the special counsel, prosecuted Van Dyke are appealing to the state supreme court on the on the length of the sense. So that's another place in which the ju- agree, by the way with that decision intervene. I think that that was the right decision because there is an open question of law. It would take us a while to talk about it. But in essence, you're supposed to sentence somebody based on the most serious offense and. Well, to you know, the average person second degree murder sounds more serious than than aggravated battery. The reality is when you actually look at the sentences in situation here, the second degree murder is only a first degree felony. Whereas the other one is a class x felony and one of them only carries the provisions that fifty percent of your time needs to be served. Whereas the other one is eighty five percent of the time. And so it's a little flipped, and that's why they've asked because there is case law here in the state that would say that the judge may not have followed the law. The last thing you did as attorney general was a to enter into a consent decree with the city. Over the issue police conduct police reform, what what what is the status of police community relations here, you know, this is been from the time. I was I arrived here. This has been an issue. Ralph Metcalf was a congressman in Chicago who broke with mayor Daley in the seventies over a police misconduct and excessive force and so on what did you find? When you got into this issue. So as part of the negotiation of the consent decree, the Ellen way Turney general's office actually did a whole series of community roundtables in some of the most affected communities in the city. And I was just every single night impressed with the number of people that came out to have the conversations about what they hit experienced in. What they were hoping for. Because there were a lot of people who said, you know, what there is community engagement fatigue. People are tired of talking about this people just want to see change. And what we found was that the majority of people who would come out and talk about it would say, look we understand that the police have a very difficult job. And we understand that they need more support. But we also want is to be treated like human beings. And we want the police to know who we are. And we want the police to work with us because we're willing to work with them. We don't want bad people in our neighborhood either. We don't want crime in our neighborhood either. But when they show up, and it just turns into yelling and screaming and were called names and treated like animals, it's very difficult for us to work with the police. So I think that there is an absolute desire for significant reform and. For the rebuilding of trust between community members and the police department, and I would say, you know, we also had a whole series of focus groups with police officers themselves, and they made it very clear that they haven't received the training they needed. They haven't received the resources or the support or quite frankly, even the discipline that has been necessary to make sure that people are, you know, doing their jobs properly not improperly. So the wonderful and hopeful thing about the consent decree is that, you know, from start to finish we've looked at every single area of relevant to policing and made provision for the policies that are necessary the resources that are necessary benchmarks to make sure that, you know, the training taking place and that there's a count ability. And so for me, there's real hope that after decades and decades and decades of problematic policing and problematic community interaction that we're going to be able to rebuild that trust. And really. Have a modern police force in the city that works for everybody. Another issue that you worked on we spoke earlier about your Catholicism, you you you got deeply into this issue of the abuse of children within the church by present found we had Josh Shapiro here from Pennsylvania recently who did a program with you. But you found much of the same issue, which is a much larger problem than had been reported and a pattern of on the part of the church of of ups, curing these offenses and first of all as a as a Catholic. How hard was that? Did was there any just leave it right there? I think the question is clear. I let me say this. You know, I have to give. Credit to attorney general Josh apparel because it was really that Pennsylvania. Grand jury report that exposed again, just the breath and the depth of the abuse problem that has taken place in the Catholic church in terms of, you know, the sexual assault in the sexual abuse of minors for decades and decades and having read that report, it was gut wrenching is a mother as a Catholic is a human. It's horrible criminal activity that scarred people and ruin their lives. So to me, it was imperative having read that in recognizing that it wasn't just I selected to Pennsylvania. Those priests were moved around all over as as as it wasn't isolated to to Massachusetts. When spotlight investigation uncovered this in two thousand and two correct? I think right. It's the combination of those two things where you like to think that there has been changed. That has actually been affective. And then you find out that really the Catholic church has never come clean into some extent. They may have cleaned up. But there are people that you know, we probably encounter every day who have had some form of sexual misconduct happened to them, and it is an incredible burden for them to live with that. And we really oh it to them as Veivers to make sure that they receive some measure of accountability and Justice from the church, and so after I read what Pennsylvania had done I reached out to the bishops of all six dice is here in Illinois into that to them. Look we're going to open an investigation. I would like your cooperation, and you can either do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way, and they all agreed to cooperate. And that has been true to some extent in. And what was just shocking even after a few months of reviewing files that they've voluntarily turned over is that it was very evident that there were hundreds and hundreds more allegations that had been made against Catholic priests and clergy than it ever been investigated or reported to the public. So when we started the investigation back in August September of last year, there were approximately I think one hundred forty hundred fifty priests that had been credibly accused of sexual assault or sexual abuse against a minor here in Illinois, as we were going through files we were seen circumstances where there'd been an investigation in. It looked as if those people were credibly accused that had really happened. Nonetheless, that information hadn't been disclosed in fact of the six diocese here in L annoy, only two of them even maintain public list of those priests. And so as a result of our initial investigation. Every single diocese here. Nelin annoy has now published a list, they are continuing to add names to those lists because his work coming across people were saying to them will why isn't this person on the list publicly, and you know, there's adding them. So again, as I said when we started it was about one hundred forty five as of December it was closer to one hundred ninety but overall the number that we saw six hundred eighty so there were over five hundred priests and clergy members who had allegations of abuse against them where there may have not been an investigation or the may have been an investigation, and they chose no not defined that a credible allegation or they found it a credible allegation and never disclosed. So there is still an enormous amount of work to the church that there needs to be some external process to investigate this thing. The Catholic church cannot police itself they've made that. Clear, and they shouldn't be allowed to treat criminal behavior. As an internal personnel matter that should have never happened. And I think what they have moved to is sending allegations to law enforcement, but historically they held onto them for so long that the statute of limitations had run. And so really the other question. This brings up is. Well, who knew what when and was there a concerted effort to cover up this behavior? So that there would be no, criminal liability and that is wrong. And so I think is these investigations go on here now annoy and other states around the country. There really is going to be more of an effort made to determine are their people out there who need to take responsibility for what happened are there criminal prosecutions that can be brought you've worked to a whole range of other areas. We could take up hours talking about all the work that you did one of them was on the issue of student loans and the. Consumer fraud essentially wrought against, you know, thousands upon thousands of of young people. We've seen a change in policy on the part of the federal government under the Trump administration secretary device at the department of education. Are you concerned that we're going backward? We're absolutely going backward. I'm not just concerned. That's the reality of it. And you know, before I left the attorney general's office. I feel as if what every other week we were either, you know, right in the letter to oppose what the department of education was doing or gain involved in lawsuits directly challenging what they were doing. You know, we spent an enormous amount of time, particularly aftermath of mortgage foreclosure dealing with student lending because so much more very active in unwinding all of that after the financial crisis, and recovering some money for people who've been defrauded right and the the use of that in some ways was that it gave me this expertise in lending and almost all of the abuses that I saw in the mortgage lending industry. We were trying to get complaints about on the student lending industry. So it was every. Thing from you know, students being put into loans from four profit schools where the lender new seventy eighty percent of the students were going to default because they were never going to get a better job because they had gone to allow Zee on a credited school, and then when people were turning to their servicer the person they have to make the monthly loan payment to find out. Well, what can I do in firms of being able to actually not default on my loan instead of being given the information about income based payments? They were put into deferments that at the end of the day just increase the overall amount that they oh, so really some terrible tactics. When I was the attorney general, Illinois, we were the ones that initiated the investigation and navigate and Sallie Mae, the largest student lenders and student services in the country. And that'll be the one issue that was not resolved while I was still there that I'm most dissappointed that I didn't get to see the. Resolution of you know, I was one of the people who try very hard to get you to run for the US Senate in two thousand and ten and we we did everything including bringing you into the Oval Office touch your old seat mate about it. And you resisted why did you resist because of the authority inability that I had is the Ellen OI attorney general to make a difference in people's lives was enormous. And I felt that I would have more power as the attorney general to that in the world's greatest deliberative body. Yeah. Then in the US Senate, particularly if you would end up in the minority, and so you have an enormous platform, and you can spend a lot of time on TV, and those are important things to do in terms of moving public opinion. But I'm a worker bee. I like to be in my office. I like to sit behind my desk, I like to directly talk to the receptionist this to you. Right. But one place where you would have potentially more impact. Then the attorney general's offices. The governor's office two thousand fourteen you a pretty far down the road in terms of running for governor. And you this is where life gets complicated. If your father's the speaker of the house, and that issue became public in that you issued a statement finally saying you thought it would be untenable to be the governor. When you're father was the speaker of the house, and he said, she always knew I wasn't going to rhyming this all played out publicly strikes me as very awkward. It's a little bit awkward, right? I think that's inevitable. I mean people like didn't they talk about this stuff cheer? We did. And I even pulled it look I could've won it would have been ugly. But at the end of the day, if he wanted to remain in the house of representatives, and as the speaker, I just didn't think that that was the right thing to do. For me and for the people in the state. And so he's been there longer. You know, anybody? That's right. But then I also had the opportunity to serve as a turning general longer than anybody in the state of Illinois. Was that a that put a strain on you guys know, we still get along? It's all good. But in the moment, sure, it is. You said it's it was awkward, and I think it was you know, unfortunate. But it is what it is. And so, you know, the wonderful thing that I know from my life experience is that there are innumerable ways to serve and to make a difference. You can do that direct service teaching you can do that as a lawyer you can do that as an elected official. And so I'm really blessed to have served in elected office here in the state of Illinois for twenty years. I never lost an election, and I like to believe that along with the tremendous lawyers and staff that I had the opportunity to work with we really made significant differences in people's lives. So you're months out of the office, even months sixteen not even a month. Okay. And while we were we love having you. Here. I'm wondering how one adjusts after doing a job that is so high profile so vital. So demanding. I mean, do you find yourself waking up and saying and missing it in Saint, gee, I wish I was still doing that. Now, actually, I haven't yet I've been waking up, and I've had an opportunity to come and engage with bright young minds, and it has been so satisfying. And in some ways almost feels full circle of going back to when I started teaching almost thirty years ago. And I really have enjoyed the engagement because algebra. Thank god. No, I'm not teaching algebra some some poor student came in and told me, they just taken their calculus midterm. And I said gosh, I evaded calculus tire life statistics too. But it it really is in. We were talking about this before we started taping. It really gives you hope for the future particular time when you know, you look at the national politics, and they appear to be rather bleak somedays. Some really horribly Blake. But there are young people. There's an nother generation, and that's something else that I thought about for myself as look twenty years that's a long time. That's a lifetime for many people that many people don't serve in elected office truly lifetime for the kids. You're talking to is a literal lifetime for them. And so look it's we saw during the November elections, and in this group of new congress people, and they're, you know, it's a huge group of women and their diverse, and I am so excited that I can be in a position where simply by serving during the time. I did in some ways you get to serve as a role model. And now I can be behind them in supporting them and other ways and running for office again sometime, you know, what I'm old enough. And I have enough experience that I know never say never. But that is not something. I see myself doing the immediate Juneau exactly what your path is from here. Yes. Spring quarter. I'm going across the mid way, I'm gonna teach at university of Chicago's law school. Yes. Okay. So we'll just keep you on campus nauseous long as we can Lisa Madigan. It's always great to see you great to have you here. And thank you for your service. Absolutely. Thank you. Thank you listening to the X files part of the CNN podcast network for more episodes of the X files. Visit axe files podcast dot com. And subscribe on apple podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcast app from our programming from the university of Chicago institute of politics. Visit politics dot EU, Chicago dot EDU.

Chicago Illinois attorney United States Senate Mike Madigan Paul Simon South Africa Africa David Axelrod Lisa Madigan United States university of Chicago Catholic church Washington South Africa Springfield Georgetown institute of politics
Ep. 403  Chasten Buttigieg

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

58:33 min | 5 months ago

Ep. 403 Chasten Buttigieg

"This show is sponsored by facebook. FACEBOOK has taken steps to better secure their platforms. What's next their support of updated Internet regulations to set new standards for data portability privacy and elections learn more at about dot F. B., dot, com slash. Regulation. And now from University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN audio the axe files with your host David Axelrod. A. What's been said about the trajectory of people to the first openly gay candidate to run for president from small town mayor to top tier contender. But there was a related store and that was the emergence of pizza husband Chaston as perhaps the most followed spouse on social media is often witty. Ferry human observations made him a star and now Chaston a teacher on hiatus has written a memoir called I have something to tell you about his own journey and a spouse's life on the campaign trail. I sat down with chest and Buddha Jeju earlier this week here's that conversation. Jason of all the candidate spouses. I, think you spark the greatest interest and following certainly on on social media Were you surprised by that? Were you surprised to find yourself? You know six months earlier era classroom teacher, and now you're like a social media figure I was surprised. Yeah I. Often I sort of felt like an impostor in that in that reunited really feel like I was supposed to be there and I was surprised that people were paying attention and wanted to hear what I had to say some of is your style, which is funny and personal, but a lot of it is your own story. So I want to ask you about that. So tell me about the Glens you're you're you come from a kind of typical working class family from the upper peninsula of Michigan tell me how they got. There might grandfather's family is from the up my family lives in northern Lower Michigan. So they all trolls because we live south of the bridge. But they're. They're very insular dedicated family I grew up with. Family reunions every summer family is deep into tradition religious family. For while there, it was quite rare for anyone to leave home. and. Most of our family's still lives up here in traverse city Bama my mother's. Father found his way back to traverse city because he worked the Coast Guard, and this is where the family settled down. And where's your mom's family come from? That's my mom's family. Or Your Dad's family don't know too much about my dad's family. I think he had one grandma who was Polish. I think there's some french-canadian in there on my mom's side. I've always wanted to do one of those. was like twenty three in me or whatever. It would say, but I've never gotten around to it. It's easier on Pete side just a Maltese. Yeah. We we know where they're from Yeah Your Dad grew up struggling in his family struggled you explain why you have you have a Jif Tattoo. On your arm jif peanut butter logo explain why that is yeah. Without the letter and so sometimes people think it's just a flag. But there's this story. That my dad loved tell anytime we were complaining we didn't have something. My Dad would tell us about how he used to live off Jif peanut butter. He emancipated himself when he was quite young he left home he was. Flipping Burgers at a local diner you didn't have transportation so he was walking across town. to school into to work, and then late at night and fed himself. On peanut butter sandwiches a lot and so my dad always told us that if you could afford jif peanut butter, not storebrand peanut butter that you were doing just fine in life and so we ate just peanut butter lot growing up and in college I'd lament about living on a tight budget he'd asked me if I had jif peanut butter on the show. and. It was just a good constant reminder to be grateful for the things that you have and so. I thought I. Would. Go for that. He he ran a landscaping business in town and the way describes a sort of a tough love. Kind of guy you. You have this amazing anecdote about You guys would go fishing at a time when he left you alone at of an ETA fishing spot said, he'd be back and then went across the lake and never came back and just watch to see how you would handle the adversity of him not returning. Yeah. That's I mean Dad's. Sort of as a as a momma. Bird Mama My mom kept me very close. But as a my dad check this out of the nest to see if we could fly and. when we would go up north in go camping, he would. Test me in see what I was capable of doing, and luckily I passed that test myself a fire and. Waited around and That was just sort of how dad saw. Imparting lessons on us that we were GONNA learn the hard way and we usually you know we only got one try to learn it too. So there's a lot. There's a lot of tough love, but he's a very quiet person but he loves he loves joking he loves playing tricks on US ON. That's why I write about how it's. It's so rare to hear him laugh. But when he does, it's just fills the room. It's so special because he does have this sort of gruff quiet demeanor to him You know beneath that facade he's got a really big heart your mom. Sherry. was she was a nursing assistant and then she helped out a sheet helped out on the landscaping because you almost done that Yeah. So mom mom. Still does the books for the company and she was also working at the hospitals. She was juggling two jobs at a time. My Dad had all of his landscaping business than also he's notorious for fixing broken lawn mowers and snow plowing and just doing all these odd jobs in you know when you're raising three kids t needed to. To bring in as much as he could and Really really hard working. He's still he's still out there. He's still building retaining walls and putting in lawns, and for those who are listeners who are looking for help. You should know needs to be a big business now him and I think he's got two guys working with him is sorta dialing down the business, but he's he's just so well known around here as a hard worker and it was pretty special growing up in that sort of environment where he imparted those lessons on us from very young age. But you know the traverse city is also you know a, it's culturally conservative it's politically conservative you talked. About sort of being thrown out to to survive in the woods. But you you had a different survival story as well, and that's part of what makes your book so poignant and so powerful you. It was your awakening of your own sexual identity and and and and that that happened over time but you write about feeling different from a relatively early time of in your life describe describe what that experience was like. I felt different in. So many ways I talk about sort of the the classism in traverse city grew up on the outskirts of town elementary school I went to was regarded as the trailer trash school and I remember feeling. Confused about why kids said those types of things we didn't live downtown outside of. The city and I was at a lot of different programs where I was in four age on the bowling team theater. In most of the groups I belong to, I just felt like. I didn't. FIT IN. Especially when you know. As a four H. Kid going to the county fair. You're showing your steers kind of a gruff. setting and. I just sort of always felt like an impostor that I didn't one feel like could be authentic and true self because if I were to tell people that as I described in the book I was convinced I'd lose everything if you know not something worse. and. They'll reasons they were. There were reasons to fear that at that time you grew up in the era of the Matthew Shepard Brea nightmare tortured and killed in Wyoming, and that would store that got national attention weird time in our history because culturally gay people were were sort of mainstream you know will and grace and you write about this and Ellen and. In towns like yours not so much. Yeah. It felt like you could began television like you could gain pretend you could go to Hollywood and began on TV and the you know watching my my mom laugh at. Or my family be okay with watching will and grace was a glimmer of hope. But then when I learned about Matthew Shepard torture, it seems so plausible that you know one of these guys driving around town people still drive around Trevor City with confederate flag waving from the back of their pickup trucks. It's really did seem plausible that one of these guys could do something really bad to really see to if they found out who you were you talk about being bullied being the subjected to bullying that also probably compounded your. Anxiety. Yeah I think it was just such a toxic. Toxic masculinity in in highschool was insufferable. I felt that you know everyone was trying to. To, fit in be on top and I was. Terrified most days going to gym class going Locker Room walking down the hallway these the things kids would say to you not because they probably knew I was gay but just because those were the slurs that they so often used to try to tear somebody down. But in the back of my head, I was thinking, oh, they know the secret about me you know and Do they do they know something that I'm not even ready to to say out loud myself and then what's going to happen when one of them decides you know they're gonNA take these taunts further by the way. Did you talk to anyone? Could you talk to anyone about this? No. I reached out to quite a few friends and I was reading the book just to reflect on our time in high school and I actually made more friends after high school that had gone to school with. We didn't really talk very much in high school but. I wanted to check what their experience was because I think we're all. Living in our little bubbles inside bigger bubbles in. Who came out after high school and we were we were pretty close in high school and never talked about it. We never felt safe enough to talk about even in private would we would we even name it or approach it so there was there was no mentorship there is no safe space. There was no club on. There is no center I could go to It was all all in my head in the only place that I even felt remotely safe was watching people on TV now I, ask you about that because you gravitated to drama. And I I want I was wondering you know wh- whether there's any connection not just between what you saw on TV, but just trying to create a escape to a different kind of place. When I, my mom would take me downtown at the Old Town playhouse, drop me off her theater classes in when I went there, they encouraged me to be goofy different, loud and funny dramatic and flamboyant in the more creative I was you know the more characters could play the more I felt free because I could go on stage in a way perform my own identity but I was doing it as a character I was playing pretend and people applauded that. But if I did that at home, you know that was something to be fearful of an or embarrassed of But when I went into drama classes, I just came alive because I felt so safe. That I could just. You know. Saying in dance jump around and be goofy and people people liked me for it. I made friends and my teachers appreciated it and you had a particular teacher drama teacher who is a real mentor to you yeah and I wish you know I I've talked to her about this a bit too that I think she could tell I think she knew in high school but. We didn't even have teachers talking about gay rights in high. School. Teachers who have come to know after the fact who have either come out or feel free to be a little bit more vocal about their politics. But Mrs Bach My High School Theater teacher would let me hide in the theater could eat my lunch in there. Come see her when I was having a bad day. It's not that I could ever come to her and tell her I was struggling with sexual identity. Your was fearful that the you know the things the boys were saying, the locker room were actually going to cause harm to me but at least I could hide in there and she really made a safe space for me. You not only escaped to the theater, but you also escape to Germany. And you went off as an exchange student in high school, and that's where you really began the process of. Of coming out of exploring who you were and and talking about it and you came home and you began to tell your friends but you write about the dread with which you. Thought about a telling your family talk about that. What was that high ran away to Germany because they just felt like I didn't know what else to do found the scholarship program I got accepted nine I just ran it had been studying German in high school. So at least I had that going for me but when I was there, I make friends who had I just had to tell us this thing is is brewing inside of me and in his crushing and I think it's GonNa eat me alive and I have to name it and I've I've finally had friends who looked at me and said, maybe you're just gay and that's fine. You know and I had never had someone look at me in the eye and say. Your normal your it's okay to just be you, and so I came home and started opening up slowly to two friends lost some. found strengthened other friendships. You know people who affirmed my identity and my worth, which is really a mark of Alice ship to have not only people in your life where you know love you. But who will say it out loud who affirmed your worth? Who say you know you're safe with me I see you fight like hell for you on that eventually gave me the courage to write the letter to come out. To my parents I talk about your parents in a second. But when you talk about the friends that you lost where the French it lost to you or surprised to have lost where the friend who who's who's reaction jarred devastated you yeah. It's mean it sort of seems like it's from a Itchy high school movie but you know friends who say why I can't believe you would choose that you know or or say that. You know sinful and you know if you make this choice. You know you'll go to hell and we pretty religious place appear in some of these kids Gonda Youth group with CD within. It wasn't as surprising because I felt like I was sort of bracing for I initially just thought I'd lose everyone. and. Then when I had friends who I didn't, you know when you have friends in your corner, everything feels a little bit easier to navigate. So the revelation wasn't the ones you lost, but the ones that you that you kept and strengthened at Ain Yeah. So you wrote this letter to your mom. not to your dad to your mom. and and tell me why you wrote a letter rather than. yeah I mean your book is called I have something to tell you I assume that that is a reference. Yeah. Tell me about that decision how you approached it. I was a mama's boy. So I felt very different from my father from my brothers. They were kind of you know roughneck working on trucks and were not in the yard and doing their thing and I was inside performing dion songs and reading. So you know my mom and I remember. Yeah I mean seriously come on. I don't think I had the to tell my father and. I never felt like my. Never. Felt like the hated me I just felt like I was such a disappointment that I was. Ruining everything that had. hoped. For me And I can tell you that that that is profoundly sad to me. That a young person should feel that way should have to feel that way was a different time. They didn't. They didn't know anything. They didn't know anything about being gay meant It truly was a bubble and I popped it. You know I I a handed her the letter, and I said, I'm really sorry I gotta go and I I took my bags I left I didn't even wait for her to read the letter and I just gotten my car and I and I left and I was so convinced that they would be disappointed me. They'd be embarrassed of me they want to be associated with me that I would. It would crush them. So. I just ran not because I felt like they hated me because I felt like my parents had fought so hard to give me. A good life and they were good. People well revered in their friend groups in the community well-known. and. If they were known to be, you know the the glassman's have a a gay kid. What a disappointment that must be to to their friends or community to my Dad's my dad's business and. And your and your brother's kind of your brothers kind of played into that. You say that you overheard them say no brother of mine and so on. It wasn't an easy. It wasn't an easy time in You know at that point I, just I was so convinced I lose it all like I said that that nothing nothing really shocked me. But then when I didn't I was so filled with hope because I I truly thought I would just lose my family forever. One of the really moving stories is after you left and you spent some time sleeping in the back of your car and elsewhere because you felt like you had, you could not go home you got a call from your mom. She remember right where I was. Some of the most vivid memories a half. Of that time when I handed her the letter, what it felt like an Anna when she called me and I came right home I was so tired I was going to school and I was working fulltime and everything felt hopeless and to have my parents welcome home in you don't mind my dad's saying. I love you all the same and my mom asking these questions saying one I don't know why you would choose something. So hard we had to have the conversation about what is a choice in what isn't, and then behind that was just fear. She was so fearful of what life was going to be like for me and they knew it was going to be hard and they didn't have any answers and I think that's what was so frightening for them as. They had protected me for eighteen years and then they had no idea how to protect me. Yeah. I mean that's such an interesting distinction between. Shame and fear and that fear comes from a place of love. which is. Like your mom says it leaving the fact of her thinking that this was a choice aside. She was worried about the obstacles that would be placed in your way and the the the menace that that might be. Place in your way because of who you are. And we had to keep having those conversations you had to keep coming to the table you know saying. I didn't choose. This is just in me. I was I was born with this. Why would I choose something hard? Why would I choose you know a life of all this vitriolic hatred and and then you know that was that was I opening to them like of course, he didn't choose us and then you know everything that every obstacle that got my way it was so lucky to have them by my side you know but the thing is I, got to. Run away from this multiple times ran away to Germany came home I ran away to school came home my parents lived here their entire lives and and they've had to face some of these conversations in their own in their own community in their friend groups in in our family about dignity and worth and space and trust and love in what truly makes a family in how you really show up for somebody that you love which I think makes them just beautiful. I. Love. Last year, we walked in the pride parade here in traverse city together, the whole family and. And just to see how how proud they were. And how heartbroken my mom was when she would see other, she would meet other kids who wanted to hug or wanted to talk mid watched her in the campaign trail. Feeling inspired by parents who were so loving accepting. We're going to take a short break and we'll be right back with more of the X. Files. And now back to the show. You went off to school in Wisconsin need neither of your parents ever got the chance to go to college. You are determined to do that. You went off you studied drama you graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Oak Clare. and you went to Milwaukee and you found this nexus between drama and teaching. that was kind of a revelation. Was My my real introduction to to. Java Theater Academy, and started teaching workshops out in public schools in was teaching at the academy started to realize I. Think I have an actress? Yeah. What what is it about that? That appeal to you? Well it's having a lot of kids in my classroom. Reminded me of myself who were different who needed to save space who wanted so desperately to you know to to be a star in the perform into live and laugh and but they also clearly felt like outcasts in I. Loved. Creating that space for them. I. I love I taught third and fourth grade at that time and you know being goofy in loud and encouraging them to find strength in their talents in their abilities are whole mantra. There was life skills through stage skills. So confidence in ourselves in an standing in front of other people in public speaking in friendship and teamwork and. In a way started to feel like I got to be the teacher I. Wish I would have had when I was younger. You know I did this podcast sometime back with Tom Hanks. Who you know everybody thinks of asserted the Ozzie Nelson of our times knows just the the all American guy. But he had a very difficult childhood lots of lots of upheaval in his childhood and he said the only place that he found community was. On stage with his you know. That that he never had a community before that. And is so interesting to hear that and it's really your describe. Yeah. I I didn't have therapy I didn't have anyone to talk to but when I go to the theater Was So quiet and I wanted to scream all the time right and then I get up on the stage they'd say Louder Louder Project this could fill an auditorium and I would finally be able to Scream, and shout and move and it felt in a way that I just express all these things that were locked up inside me not as chastagnol is probably as like. Mike TV, in Charleena chocolate factory something style. I felt alive. You know but you know I was thinking as I read that training in that experience. And I don't want to jump ahead in the story here because there couple of chapters before we get there but that must have been useful when you were thrown into the breach as the spouse of a candidate. And you had to go and stand on stages all over this country and speak I have to tell you also that I I got not not all to jump ahead but I I attended your wedding. And I remember the toasts after. and my wife Susan who you know well, turn into me and said, that's the guy who should run. He's like. So. It's funny. I got two sides of that coin that journalists would laugh at me when they'd say what prepared you for this moment I'd say theater I have a theater degree and they'd all laugh and snicker is I'm not joking I. Feel comfortable being here. Feel comfortable talking to people. I feel comfortable opening up. I have a way that. I don't want to my own horn, but I, felt like I was able to draw people in and talk to them authentically because I had I have been comfortable standing in front of people talking and I I knew how to command a room but then on the same cycles will use should run I'm a terrible politician I I don't know you know a fraction of the things he knows your too indiscreet man you say. You have your staffers crazy. I. Probably did but you know that that also was frustrating said, this people to judge is one of the most brilliant people I've ever met in my mouth. He's unflappable calm he's he's everything that I want to see in the president. He's the personal want sitting behind that desk in the West Wing because of of those qualities, you don't want me in there. I can barely pay attention to anything for an hour. So that was an interesting conversation. You're a relationship began when you're sitting at gate beef five at O'hare airport in you're looking at a dating site. And up came this profile of did it say he was the mayor? Of South Bend Indiana it didn't so but he was very clever. So he had you know the the military photo. And then he had this photo of him standing behind a podium with his name on it and people are standing around him. You know clapping who the hell's this guy. So I had googled him and then I figured it out and you weren't daunted by that I was. Allow people would run away from a politician. Well, you're cute but we had a few facetime dates ride made the drive over you know everyone wants to. Make. Sure. They're not going on a date with an axe murderer in Do. So charming. So I finally made an excuse I was driving to. Michigan. So I swung through South Bend on the way to have a date with him but I was very put off by the idea that he was a politician I read about that a lot in the did not have a political upbringing was not interested in politics. Thought, I knew who politicians were in what they were like and he changed my mind. You brought him home. You this was in the summer of two thousand fifteen when you guys started dating, you brought them home at Christmas time two, thousand fifteen. What was that like? That was. Terrifying. I was so in love with him and my parents had watched me. Get my heart broken one too many times. sometimes by people who deserve love me. And I was very nervous wanted to just bring someone home. But to nervous because it felt so right. and. You never want something that feels so right to go. Wrong. They loved him and I loved watching how our families are very different. They're so fascinated with one another he comes from an academic family and be a dif- different deal. Yeah. So but which was so sweet to see our parents you know blend. So easily I'm Joe. Peter's father is naked. I. Was So fascinated with dad's work and dad was so fascinated with Joe's world and they could talk for hours and and mom had this shared love for their sons obviously. But Just, could just watching the four of them in a room you noticed filled our hearts that this family truly felt bigger and. Yet any back to back the Christmas morning. It's you know my mom makes homemade central's she's allowed. My Mom was loud. She tells jokes in she fills a room and She's full of tricks and the way Peter just went along with her antics you know. A, little nervous. But he lets his guard down and he does really well with Oliver. goofiness is also musical. You'd probably jump in on the holiday tunes as well. All they love it because. You know he plays guitar and Piano and he'll he does the Christmas carols and. The families so taken with that. You know you. He took you to another. You took him back home. He took you to an event at the White House. Right about Yeah. A little different. Yeah. You found that scene a little daunting so much so that you had a kind of awkward exchange with the President of the United States I had never. Met. The President before I was completely intimidated by going to the White House, I didn't even own a suit I had to go by. WHAT SEVENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS WORTH OF STUDENT LOAN? So there's Every reason not to own a suit you another Ed pencils. I just the whole flight there and you know standing in line and I got put in the whatever they call it. You know the timeout been when you're trying to get into the White House comes up on your drivers license every time every time I've I think I've been twice but you know Oh crap. Now I'm not even going to get in there and not even GonNa meet them. We met them and I had awkwardly long story long I guess. ACCIDENTALLY PULL BARACK OBAMA'S FINGER BECAUSE recoiled when he shook my hand someone bumped into me and I was so embarrassed and I grabbed onto his finger and and you know federal offense. Get tackled. You know he's looking at me like what the hell are you doing and I said Merry Christmas. The Michelle came I was about ready to cry. Like? What happened is like I think I pulled his finger and like why you don't bring me places you know such an embarrassment and but yeah, just going on a going on a date to the White House was. Like is this really. Is this what life was going to be like with this guy and to be honest and I write about this. In the book I didn't think that people like me were supposed to be in rooms like that and I, felt like. An impostor. That surely, at some point someone's going to figure out that I don't know what the Hell I'm doing here. I suspect there are a lot of people in those rooms that secretly feel that way but the You guys got married in two, thousand and eighteen. And I remember the scene it was really a public event. And here we were in this in this You know middle, American city, South Bend home to Notre Dame University, and the mayor was marrying his husband and it was It was streamed and there were. There were cameras were outside and did you It was I mean. I can only speak from my perspective, which is a different than yours, but it was head-spinning to think about how fast. Things had changed in this country from the time when you were a teenager watching will and grace, but feeling terrified in your own town. to a point where you guys could have this very public and joyful wetter. Yeah. It happened really fast in in for a long time. I felt like I would never experience that joy. Had never experienced the rush of. You know the chapel doors opening, coming out to your friends and family cheering and. and jumping in your studebaker heading off to the Gay Pride Parade. Yeah, yeah, we just felt such a responsibility to. To make it a thing for our community was a really big deal, and that's why we live streamed the wedding because so many people wanted to. Play a part in that day in in so. It. In a way it felt like we had a responsibility to do right by that moment. This sort of the same way I felt during the campaign that this is bigger than us. And I wanted to get it right. That day was a blur away I want to give people the wedding advices new do whatever the hell you want don't worry about other people think it's expensive day. But on the other hand a I'm so glad we did share it with so many people and we gave people so much access to the wedding is it was also a celebration for our community South Bend Indiana for it was a lovely day. So meaningful in Indiana where the struggles had been. So pronounced over still are and I hope that people saw that. Moore of hope in the direction that we're taking. Now, you got a masters degree you worked and got a masters degree at the same time at. Depaul. University education and you were teaching at a Montessori school obviously loved teaching and a year into your marriage. your husband presented you with the notion that he might run for president of the United States. tell me about that. that must have dropped like quite a stunning. Of. News. In the middle of your new newly Your newly minted marriage. Yet it it it Develops a quickly to you know a few months after we were getting married people were approaching US asking us to consider this and I and I had. Initially just said sure you know why not I don't know what running presidents like. So I was like, well, I love you I think you'd make a great president go for it. You know like I? You if you would know what it was like, would you still have been as casual about the advice? Had I known what I know now? I I would have been able to prepare in different ways. Had I known now? I probably would have thought about it a much longer. Yeah you know I remember down with Senator Obama when he was thinking about running. I say you know. you'd need to know that. You might. My concern is not that you're GONNA lose its that you're GonNa win and that your life is going to change in ways you can ever get back The other thing that I remember clearly is the sacrifice that Michelle Obama made because she had a very, very good life that she had established herself as a professional. She had a circle of friends. Their understanding was always politics is your life I've got. My life and we'll come together around the family and then all of a sudden this happens and you're like conscript you. You know you you're she clearly believed in Barack but and was in but it wasn't. It wasn't easy to give up everything and it struck me that you you gave up your life to you. You had to stop teaching and You know that that's a sacrifice people don't appreciate. It's funny. I've Well it's one reason I wrote the book because I want people to get to know me for me. Yes and I shared a lot of those feelings I think a little maybe two candidly but you know what? It truly feels like to be a politician spouse and. I did not know. What it would it would it would do. To my family, my friendships marriage the pressure. You would feel every day I think in the end is pushed us closer together. But when you're in the thick of it in your, it feels like you're in the middle of the blender just everything is. Gushing in rushing around you it. Had I known all of those feelings in those stresses. I would have. Paused before I said, sure go for it. Because I, I was excited to go out there and hopefully inspire people talk to people about why left my husband and enduring big and think about this future for our country did not expect after go out there and defend my worth. into ask other people to look at other Americans with dignity and to protect my family and my friendships and my home you know in my data, like all of these invasive attacks that you go through is alarming. But in the end I think it was totally worth it but had I known all of those things when I was folding laundry and he said, what do you think about this probably wouldn't you say oh, share go for like he's run out to get milk. You know I don't think he'd be angry at me for betraying a confidence but early on when he started taking off in the campaign. He by the Institute of Politics University of Chicago, I remember part of the conversation was how much he was concerned about what the implications would be for for you guys as a as a couple. And it was because because it was the thing that he valued the most and I I was really moved. We had a good conversation about that. But let me just ask you go back just a couple of notches and ask you that because you started dating just a few months after Mayor Pete. came out publicly can now and he was quite a bit older than you. When when you came out? And what often comes up this question of? Like, how do you? How do you? How do you keep that inside? So long? How do you navigate that? That must have been awfully difficult and I hope he writes about that some day and that's something a lot of people WanNa talk about and that's not my story to tell but what I do. I DID THAT FOR EIGHTEEN YEARS I was so focused on not being myself and not letting anybody figure out who I was that I poured myself into academics and I poured myself into extracurriculars. I everything worked two jobs in high school and I just tried my best to avoid. Confronting who I was but then I felt like it was going to eat me alive. So I came out and I think people are so used to the idea that the trauma of. Living your life in the closet and coming out only looks a certain way and the sad part is in our stories are very different I came out the road got much bumpier. I'd stumbled going through college and I worked jobs and I couldn't really figure out who I was and I had all of these experiences. Looks different in those experiences look different than somebody who so convinced that he will lose everything in he'll never be able to aspire to the things in the dreams that he has for himself that he pushes himself so far deep into the closet that he. Goes into the military and he gets the consulting job any works on the campaigns and he goes and he goes and he builds any bills because he feels like that is the only way that he will succeed in in find joy and then he realize an all of it. There wasn't love and for me I was so focused on love that I felt like I'm gonNA lose it all. And we just went down to pass eventually wound up meeting one another. In I I don't know I feel like there's a lot of questions behind questions when people ask about Pete's experience for me, it felt. It felt like it was going to be the thing that ended me and I think for him. It's the thing that propelled him to to just keep busy but that's his story and maybe the maybe I'm wrong but I hope he in time. Tells that well, he and they'll be interest in that because he's become a historic figure you know when when you chart the social history of our country, his added AC- for President, will be a a milestone along the way because he started off as the little known mayor of a small city and wound up as a frontier a top tier contender so much so that He was On the night of the Iowa caucuses he was in a real position to take control of the race he ended up winning the Iowa caucuses but not that night at least not in the official way and so and you write about this and you talk about this, he didn't get the bounce. The bounce that one often gets out of Iowa that Barack Obama got out of Iowa, and and then narrowly lost in New Hampshire. To Bernie Sanders hetty come in I we don't know how the story Would have ended. Hubert Humphrey used to say they only that that the biggest clubs in the world are the would've club in the should clubbing meter at work belonging to. But I'm sure you must you. You talked about your robot you you look back at that and say what if? Yeah absolutely. It's one thing to think like, Oh, well, my husband could have been. You know the candidate to be honest. One of the things that really pissed me off was the. We could have had that that moment not for us for the country. coulda had that moment that night of Iowa that the first openly gay presidential candidate wins a state that night kids sitting in front of the TV. See it. You know sitting in the middle of nowhere wondering if this country is truly going to become the place they wanted to be that if our is our country really gonna forward are we really going to do this together and instead they all went to bed wondering and by the time it mattered nobody was paying attention because we were on to the next day and that. Just to think about what would have been like to be thirteen year Justin sitting up watching the results. In thinking like I'm not ready to tell my family I don't know you know the thing inside of me. That's terrifying but then to see. This gay man on television husband. Celebrating victory. In a way, it felt I mean we all the internal data you know and we went on that stage in it felt. Felt Great. But it was lacking that that moment and yeah. So mad not for us but for every person in this country who really had their hopes riding on that moment? Yeah. Yeah and no I listen I, remember the impact that Obama's. victories and his his candidacy than his victories had a for so many young. People of Color never imagined that that could happen. We're GONNA take a short break and we'll be right back with more of the X. Files. And now back to the show. Off. The thing. took off like a rocket and ended abruptly, which is how presidential campaigns work at some point. You realize not fair it's not fair Tell me about that. You know because I've experienced this a a the the idea of going like two hundred miles an hour, and then all of a sudden. You're sitting in your living room. And over. was that we were was that a hard adjustment. A little bit I don't WanNa give too much away in the book. But you know I think we're at the Hampton Inn or something America's best value in or wherever we wear in. America's Georgia getting ready to meet the carters. And You know is very clear that the math just wasn't going to be there after south, Carolina and you said legroom. Just. Go home and I remember feeling like the moment I let those words escaped my lips. I might break my husband's heart but we both Kinda just. collapsed. He was sitting at the desk Kinda pouring over. WORK IN I. Walked over the desk and I put my hand on his shoulder said I think we should go home. Let's just go home and I. The look on his face when I knew that. That was the decision he was going to make I felt so bad because he had done so well. He was so close and I desperately wanted that for him and for the country. But then the thought of going home. I just couldn't wait to get back on the plane I, I wanted to go home, and then we went into quarantine rights. That's Kinda comical. We plan to these vacations and they all got cancelled going to quarantine takes off, and now we're you know literally in the living room every day making three meals together day, which was a great way to unwind and come back to one another. But yet we we were you know two ships in the night flying past one another zigzagging across the country seeing each other to three days a week and then Bam. It's done in my own experience. There is a the psychologically the letdown is hard. It's hard. You know you're looking at your phone and it's like we're all the emails where all the taxes that schedules literally empty. Yeah and that's a tough adjustment Tell me the the the the thing that strikes me is he's a young man you urine even younger man a you have much of your lives ahead of you and including the potentially more hills to climb in in politics. But right now you just wrote a book he's written a book that will come out soon but you're kind of on hold. Aren't you? Yeah and that's sort of been. The heart adjustment is that I'm not back in the classroom and When the campaign ended it was like I, I can't just go back. I can't just go back to my kids. Had the book project for for over a year was happy to wrap that up then. You know what's next and we're we're doing a bunch of work for Biden and. Fight like hell to make sure that that's that's the right choice. America makes this fall beyond that. The. The possibilities of a bit overwhelming and that such a privilege we talked about starting a family and then the campaign to Goffin. Now, we get to sit here and. You know revisit those dreams having a family in the middle of having young children in the middle of a campaign is is brutal. impossible. We knew we had to delay that one. I WANNA get back to the to the future back to the future that should be a movie. I WANNA, get back to the future in a second but from the campaign one what you've been speaking lately about Comma Harris and her husband Doug. MFN and you speak very highly of them as people that they you got to commune with all the candidate spouses and the candidates and tell me what was what struck you about them. I guess what striking is I didn't get be commune with all of them because not everyone not everyone was interested in a conversation or or or warmth but. Doug was Jill was I remember the first debate I walked into the room and I just so intimidated that you know. It's his first debate on would be really well, there's all these spouses they're lined up in the front row and. Make this job kind of felt like an episode, a dance moms where everyone's like there to fight for kid. Had like no time for anybody else in Jill Biden jumped up right away and she recognizes me and introduced herself. She was sitting next to Doug Doug stood up introduced himself very kind, and then you know a few events of running into doug later we stop phone numbers and it was really nice to. Actually talk to somebody who was going through something similar. You can rely on your friends and family to talk about this crazy thing you're going through but. To Talk Doug, genuine to no other astronaut such. It's such a weird experience and defined warmth and other people even though you're competing against them was surprising. I wasn't sure that everyone would be you know as warm and welcoming. As. They were and Dr Biden is such a she such a force and she has this sort of people gravitate to her she's so kind and Doug is I really love. Yes. Well, we're good people you know. The thing I loved about Doug he's just a chill dude. You know around the trail out there speaking about our spouses but then we can talk about other things in his you know he's not a politician he's doing his thing because he loves his wife and You could always feel that come across this that that genuine when there were moments in the campaign where Pete had. Tense exchanges with one of his opponents on the stage has at play when you're sitting there with their spouses in the spouse pen in the front of the room do you shoot each other? Cross look Sir do you give finger or what do you do? If you WANNA, see the real drama pan the camera to the spouse sex. Everyone's just sitting there like tents. You know not doug and I used to text each other emojis during debates. you know sometimes, she'd say something that was great. Sometimes Pete Woodland a line and. We're very supportive of one another and the doctor didn't text me during the debate. You know we would we were. It was so funny to be able to just find common ground and there was this unspoken rule like I don't WanNa talk about this. You know like I don't want to talk about what's happening up on stage and I really wanted to talk about politics and I really appreciated that You know Jane Sanders figured that out pretty early on that I just I didn't want to go into punditry and so we just talked about. Families in vacations in you know fixing up homes and whatever you know small talking I appreciate that people could just leave it alone. You know like we don't need to. Get into all that end. There's you know for most people genuine sense of camaraderie. But sure there were some tense moments where especially as a spouse you know I'm not a politician. So I have some thoughts and I have some words. but it's best to keep those locked up inside and smile on. Do. You feel better or worse about politics having gone through this experience I feel much better because I was able to go out and. I guess do politics. I was meeting thousands of people day. I was you know I had my own team in schedule in an agenda we were out there touring schools and lgbtq centers, Homa service providers, arts, organizations, a lot of things that I talked about wanting to champion from the east wing and I was out there doing the work every day, and when you get to meet all those people right and look at them in the face and talk about this this idea, this idea of belonging and inclusion in a more. Future in politics it felt a lot better than just sitting at home. You know scrolling through twitter and lamenting about the world yeah. I think that is missed that people. Are. Good people are inspiring. There are so many inspiring people in this country who? Live by admirable values care about each other about their communities They get lost sometimes in the easy to be cynical online, and then I go meet this theater teacher in the middle of Nowhere Iowa who's operating, you know a a theater troupe, but it's also sort of the underground LGBTQ center because we're all these kids are coming for a safe space and she's doing. That out of her own pocket on our own time just to provide a safe space for kids and meet people like her all over the country who are actually doing the work. They're not. You know sitting on twitter and watching the world burn. They're they're out there rolling up your sleeves in doing things and I got to spend all day with them and it. It made me more hopeful for what we could actually get done together as a country. The other side of the coin is that you heard chatter when Pete was doing so well, that G he's great. He's very, you know he's incredible on the stomp firing. Thoughtful. But if he gets nominated, they're going to be all these pictures of him. you know kissing his husband, all of that, and that's going to be a problem culturally for us. Politically I mean obviously, you heard that chatter to give but I never heard that chatter about the straight people. It's so funny to say you know hear people say he's out there kissing his husband onstage like it's a thing that nobody. All the politicians are up there hugging and kissing waving and I had never thought about that. When at the launch we didn't even talked about it. Just, like you know come out, we talked about our approach from the left right but then it. In the moments like I was. So proud I gave him a kiss on the cheek in that blew up in email at some events. Just. Instinctively would would kiss him or down you know put my arm around him in and I would find it in the news like it was something. Remarkable an unseen and I. Just. Thought I'm not. GonNa, police myself in change myself so you know to protect. Some people's opinions. This is just who I am in. It is a measure of the progress that we have yet to make because you know family values needs to include families and we should celebrate wholesome supportive relationships between spouses. You know both weird to have people on. You know people on one side say like they're not enough. They're not doing enough. You're not doing enough for this moment than we would meet. Other gay people events who would who would pull me? In and say stop kissing him onstage or. when you go up on stage to say hi to him, you shouldn't put your arm around your shouldn't he know given peck on the cheek gay people who were confused the who's concerned that we were going to be two gay for the moment and so you're getting a bunch of input from every different angle telling you exactly who to be in how to be so at the end of Day push it all away and say I'm just going to do this as me taking bit. So let let me just finish by going back to the future as I promised. You know there's a lot of speculation that if if Biden wins that he will offer a some significant position to Pete in his administration. So that's what I meant by your lives being on hold. You really don't have any idea where you're going to be a year from now. Yet kinda just waiting to see. What happens with with Peyton, at the end of the day I want him to be happy because Pete is so he still alive when he's thinking big thoughts and he's working on solving heart problems. He's. been pouring himself into things like he did on the campaign trail I would love to see him happy doing something like that and then beyond you know right now, we we also have the privilege of spending more time playing what we want the future to look like and so having a lot of baby talks and. Things like that that we haven't had the. Opportunity to entertain. Kind of sitting here, thinking what do I WanNa do? What do I want to contribute to I? I would love to find a way to keep teaching or do something that. Makes me feel. Like I'm contributing to something bigger like they did on the campaign trail. Something in the arts education or the idea of inclusion and belonging I just WanNa make sure I'm using this platform for good in I'm just trying to get it right. We'll let me say Chesterton that this book. I have something to tell you is already a great contribution and I really rich people to read it because it's as you can tell your funny, your thoughtful. And it's it's it's really an important story. That goes well beyond the fact that you're married to a presidential candidate your own journey is instructive and worthy of Of Reflection there's a lot there. So I appreciate that I'm really glad we had the opportunity to talk about it. I you know in a way wanted it to be a book it I wish I would have had no his younger insurance. It's not necessarily there to do the work of my husband had said it's just it's just who I am. I'm really glad that you appreciate it while others will as well great to be with you my friend. Hey good to see you. Thank you. Thank you for listening to the acts file brought to you by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN audio. The executive producer of this show is Emily Stanton. The show is also produced by Miriam Annenberg Jeff Fox Hannah MacDonald, and Allison Seagull and special. Thanks to our partners at CNN including Corny Coop. Ashley lest and Meghan Marcus. For programming from the I. O P visit Politics Diana Chicago Dot. Edu.

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Ep. 274 - Chuck Todd

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

1:06:01 hr | 2 years ago

Ep. 274 - Chuck Todd

"And now from the university of Chicago institute of politics and CNN the axe files with your host, David Axelrod. Chuck Todd, many years ago was up and coming young reporter for the hotline the forerunner of all these Washington tip sheets to follow. Then as now he was incredibly passionate about politics and into all the arcane of campaigns, which is to say a kindred spirit. He would become a protege of one of my favorites. The late great Tim russert at NBC and later the White House correspondent for NBC. During the first couple of years of the Obama administration today, he sits in restaurants, exalted chairs, NBC's political director and host of meet the press. I sat down earlier this week with Chuck in Greensboro, North Carolina to talk about life and sports. And of course politics. Chuck, Todd, we're here in North Carolina together for an event, and instead of at Wrigley field where the playoffs where the one game playoff with Milwaukee's going honest, we tape tape this, but you can be acted right now basically not looking at you looking. Yeah. Now Wilson says up here, bottom of the sex of the man who are. Strangely, you're a kid from Miami. Yeah, who is a dodgers fan and a Green Bay and Packers fan, and I think we should start by explaining that. Okay. All right. I know I get this all the time at the head, scratches and all this stuff. What people seem to forget Miami as a four-point for four sport town now, hey, it's one of the, what are we sixteen of? I think proximity that are forced sport when I was growing up, we were a one pro sports town. We just had the dolphins. There was no basketball. There was no hockey and no baseball fact the the assumption was in baseball. Will you have spring training? Why do you need? Why do you need a franchise of Florida got overlooked for long time? So as any kid is any son who looks up to his father just stops his father's teams. My father was got moved to Miami when he was a kit from danger from waterline. Okay. For those that don't know, Waterloo sort of I always say, described as small city, big town, but you said it properly Waterloo. I always had this argument. With Barack Obama. Remember it's Waterloo Waterloo. He said, I don't know what the difference is. Not one is Abba while do. You're saying one way you're singing, Abba, you're singing, Abba. You ain't winning a vote. Try to explain that. I wish you were with me so, so he's he. So he was a Packers. He's a Packers fan. It look water, Lila, Green Bay, Wisconsin, same town. You know, in some ways and he said, grownup, Chicago was the big city and raised the way there was a chip for for a lot of Midwesterners and smaller towns. There's a chip on the shoulder by Chicago. So who was the bears big rival? Well, the working men of Green Bay Wisconsin or is that and let me give you my dodger story. So he became a dodger fan. Dad was the Yankees fan, this fifties. Let's be realistic. You're Dodger's fan or Yankees fan in America. Right? Right. Unless you grew up near Saint Louis, so you grew up, you know, grew up near Chicago, but you know, other than that and my dad met ROY Campanella is a six year old. No kidding. In a hotel. I wanna say it's the Drake hotel in Chicago, but it was in Chicago, and my grandfather encourages he loves telling this story to curbs my dad go up, you know, like every. Grown man does with their kid. They'd really liked to go meet said, superstar, just send the kid and they just stand by and let the kid do all. I remember I got call your Stransky's autograph that I didn't know who has was dad was into. Yes, you name it. Mike? Yes. Kid played Florida state baseball against university of Miami. So yes, he's to hang out and you see Miami baseball games anyway. So you met ROY. Campanella and campy had just won the MVP. So he's, they guess he was the face a Wheaties. That was you on the Wheaties box? Yeah, he wasn't. He historic? Yeah, it with the time. That's right. You know, people forget broke, Campanella, African-American catcher, MVP nationally. My dad, my grandfather tells him ask him is not. Sweeties didn't need well, you know, I can't eat weedays every dodgers lose that day. He goes up the next day. I, this is one of those to check. You know, the family lawyer is at my dad went back up to them. You need to have those weeds lately. Campy says, I should have eaten my Wheaties. So dodger fan for life. By the way, I reminded all all celebrities of whatever it is ROY Campanella did that for my sexual father was a dodger fan till his death. We watched the nineteen eighty eight World Series together on his deathbed with the dodgers. That's how much this stuff means. Max Scherzer did this for my kid about three years ago, Dodger Stadium, my son's obsessed with MAC surger to the point of, like if Mak said jump, he would say how high, sir. I'm obsessed with them to ashes against those matters. Just listen and this and that is true. And so is it true that you inherit the sports habits of your dad? You know, my dad hated the ankles. He, he liked the giants, but when they moved couldn't root for the giants. And then we became Mets fans in New York, took me to lose a lot of dodger fans are Mets fans. Yes, exactly. Exactly. You know when I have Bernie Sanders on my very first podcast, we talked about the dodgers and he said he said there were when I was growing up in Brooklyn. There were three people that we despised Hitler Stalin and Walter O'Malley, and it wasn't even in that order. I'm not telling you what the order the real blame should be Robert Moses, but anyway we can. That's another story. But tell me about your dad. You mentioned that he was on his death. You were pretty young when that at sixteen. But as I always say, I don't know any different. So I don't know. And I say this because I say this, anybody who experienced this sort of trauma, certain age, people tell you all my God, but you don't have another script of follow. So it's just that's just the way life worked for you. He had struggles along the way he did look. He was. I could go down a large rabbit holes, but I don't want my mom to accidentally listen to this podcast and look, he he, he was a good dad. He struggled with alcoholism. Took me a long time to acknowledge that he was a pretty. He was pretty pie functioning colic. And so that's why it took me time to fully embrace that in fully predate that he ended up having liver disease. It's now called hepatitis c. and know what to call it in had no cure for it. Then. Now, of course, infects every Nicey advertisement for it. And hardest thing for me right now is to know that God damn pill and he'd be fine. Yeah, back then he was on the liver transplant list, but to on stable to this is nine hundred eighty eight and it and I'm thinking one thousand nine hundred as the modern era. I'm thinking this is modern medicine, and yet here we are thirty years later up pill would have cured him literally. Have he's sitting in ICU for fifty two days. They couldn't figure it out. Beef broth soup would poison his body, and yet it's so I'll admit that it is one of these reminders. It's like the advancements mankind makes on on medicine is is unbelievable on that front. You know people, listen to this podcast know that my dad committed suicide when I was nineteen and I didn't talk about that for. You know, thirty years because I thought somehow it besmirched his memory and sure you felt the same way, but because I didn't want it to be an excuse for what? What was wrong with my father? Because I thought nice pretty. I was always impressed with them. Yeah, so well, you can be. Many things you can be. You can be struggling with depression or alcoholism and still be a good dad. You know, he was incredible reader. He was obsessed with politics. He made me. He gave me the love for it. I did the other day that one of the, I'm sure you do this. I'm sure you have conversation with your father, that conversations that I sorta. I've piled up wish I had this conversation. I wish I had this conversation will the other day I'm watching Bill Cosby, get. You know sentenced, I was thinking, man, I would love to have a conversation my father and just ask them this question, his dad, thirty years of these two men one's going to be president imprison, Bill Cosby, and Donald Trump, which is which and because my father obsessed over Cosby's parenthood books that fatherhood books that they were the funniest things would use those lessons really thought highly of Bill Cosby one of these as as did all of America. Yeah, and it. So just he was one of, you know, he was one of the many, and it's just it's just amazing. Those two gentlemen in the eighties and where they are today. I read somewhere that you had to do book report any handed you profiles in courage, and that was sort of a gateway experience for you. So you know, all my memory of just our every bookcase that we had was we didn't have not fiction. It was all nonfiction. It was all history books and all the book to this day. I assume it's normal, organize all books by presidential term. And that's how I organized by bookshelf my nonfiction bookcases is by presidential term. So I always you bet it was only add another shelf here and some going to whole warehouse pump. Right. Right. And when I was trying to figure out eighth grade and I had a teacher that that you know, he, he knew I was struggling to sort of says, all right. You'll any any says, read this book and I did I fell in love with profiles and courage, and all the story that I take away the most is the story in Andrew Johnson and. Edmund g Ross Senator from Kansas Republican who who basically sacrificed his career by becoming the deciding vote to save Johnson who was hated by the Republicans and would have, let's be realistic. It's possible that if you set, if if if he's impeached and he's thrown out of office, you set off a chain of events as polarizing as things were. It's sort of cool things down just enough that, okay, we're not going to use this process to relitigate post reconstruction. When I can read, we're not going to relitigate the civil war this way. And so it's with that when you were watching this, this was near not even close to the magnitude of that. But when flake cast is vote the other day or at used his leverage to force a pro. We don't know how serious a appropriate actually, Linda. Being, did you have any flashbacks? I did. Actually the person I was flashing back most to Wayne Morse with. 'cause that I know little bit more about that. Arrogant back late. I was loving Wayne Morse because flake reminds me a him more than any of the other folks. Here's a guy who think. Was this US Senator is a democrat is a Republican independent. Yeah, and usually switching basically over big issues in order to in order to deal with a moment in time, so, but that's what I've always. That's what sort of got me into this like this. I'll admit it's taken me. It took me a long time to not. Lionize senators took me probably a good ten years of covering. Six from the my before I realize these guys shouldn't be lionized anymore. And I'm sorry for that. You also wonder, I think the answer is yes, but I always joke that, but it's not really a joke that there's a reason profiles in courage was such a slim volume. I mean, people got in that book because it was the unusual thing to risk your careers for matters of principle. But it does feel even in the course of my lifetime and I don't know whether it's the media scrutiny, but I don't think it is that we don't have these giant figures wide. We mourn John McCain, the way we did as a country. We don't have these large figures and and we we tend to shrink our and they shrink themselves in part because the polarization is such. That's very, very hard to dissent. Also we've combined are. You know, we're we, what we do too. We love to tear celebrities now as a culture. Yeah. And then we love the comeback. Tiger Woods, right? Is there, is there anything dramatic change from from the beatdown the Tiger Woods took an American in America's culture from seven, eight, nine and ten. Oh, you know to then God, it's a comeback and we love the comeback. And so in politics, we never, we doing the same. We love to term down, but we don't love the comebacks we don't. We don't. There's no routing, and at least with celebrities are just weird. Rooting interest to see how they survive it. Yeah, in politics now it's just a pugilist stick. I think we're just an appears Listrik mindset. And I think it's just a product of the aero wherein I mean, I kind of think that this this will pass, but I think it's, I think it's a, I I, you know, we are a self-correcting. I mean, democracies are self, but democracies are challenged now ways. We haven't really seen in a long time. I mean, you go back. We talked about reconstruction. I mean, that was a brutally polarizing time, but they didn't have social media. They didn't have cable television. It wasn't in your face all the time. Yeah, you know, it's a social media every time the wreck did a statue of somebody to confederacy that would have gotten covered. Right, right. You know, it's like we're right now. We're having we have conversations about whether this should be taken down had we had a collective national conversation and in different ways they probably would have created debate for putting one up. Yeah, how much do you think people, you know, I always sort of valued living in the mid west and not in Washington when I was doing politics because there is a conversation in Washington that is different than the conversation people are having. And how much do you think that? Is that how much of a disconnect you think there is? Because you and I both you more than I. But spent time talking about all of this stuff, and we tend to focus on. You know, these, the excesses of Trump investigations, obviously everybody's covering the hell out of this cabinet uring as they should and and all the related issues. But there is this also I have a sense of people are out there kind of trying to get a get along in life and thinking about those things that are closest to them rather than focusing on this conversation, and they get frustrated that we spent so much time talking about this stuff. You know, it's funny. It's like, I think the our problem in the beltway is that we've, there's, there's been a section of the of of Washington that has cried. Crisis for twenty five years now. And I think that so look at all the folks to take the folks folks in the progressive community who look at Donald Trump as this threat to to a way of life. And then you ask them, did you know use almost identical language when George W Bush was president and are the now I would ask you, okay, you know, you look back and, and so I think that part of it is is in you look at the right and they talked about my God Bill Clinton or own my God Barack Obama. And now they're looking back and I was I was speaking off the record of the group in front of a group of CEO's just off the record conversation. I said, well, you guys are gonna miss the days of the pro business administration of Barack Obama. Laughed in in realize what I what I saying. It's like the use of apocalyptic rhetoric that we've had in our politics for good twenty years now. And you know, maybe it's the maybe cable sort of help. Amplify and social media than all of these things. I think that's what's numbed America. So I think there's some serious things. Some serious things that we talked about that were were sort of hinting at this, right? I mean, how do we deal with social media? The fact that you have. A a media organizations that are designed to just tear down institutions are not. They're not. They're not there to do something. You know, they're not there to protect the first amendment there in some ways, taking advantage of the first amendment and I in look, there's not gonna get a Fox News. I presume you look, I, there's a look. I think there's some stuff on digital is much much. What I'm referring to in this is these advent of these fake truly fake news organizations. FOX's separate story and we can. We can you know that that's that is more. I think that's more nuanced conversation as you've pointed out there. People that Chris Wilson us. Right? So I think that's different new. When I'm when I'm talking about is, is this sort of rise where people get it in their new streams? It really is these digital feats. And so this is serious stuff, but I think I think there's a sense of Washington's cried wolf for so long. That you know, they look at, we survived it. They told us we weren't gonna survive Clinton. They told us, one can survive Bush those survive. Obama told us working survive Trump. So yeah, I do think there's some people going, they're discounting it not to say they're dismissing it, but they discount the rhetoric. Probably if four saying the rhetoric at eleven, they're going. I'm at a six. Let me know when it's really eleven. This episode is brought to you by slide belts. Sly belts are high quality, perfect fitting belts that are comfortable easy to adjust and stylish. Slide belt stone have holes like old traditional belts. Instead, they use a clever patented ratchet design that adjusts precisely to you at one quarter inch increments with thirty two sizing options, and total it's way more comfortable and easier to adjust than any other belt you'll wear and you aren't limited to just six sizing options anymore. Sly belts has a wide selection of straps to choose from from full grain and top grain leathers too high high-quality canvas, and even animal friendly vegan. You can also customize your look by removing the buckle to mix and match with other straps, and even add personalized engraving to your buckle. They're really, really nice belts. They're super easy to use and their fit just for you to get a better belt, go to sly belts dot com and use the code ax twenty for twenty percent off your order that slide belts dot com promo code a ex. E twenty for twenty percent off. Anura you you and your mom or left when you're a dad and you had to get a scholarship to go to college and you, you did it with music. You played the horn French horn? Yes, sir. And how serious were you about that or was it just a way to get to to just as another influence in my father? My father played French Warner's a kid. He came from a family, both my grandparents, my both. My grandparents went to Iowa State both got for you to Greece from Iowa State, go cyclones. Think about my grandmother, nineteenth class nineteen, thirty three. It still it. Poor woman was born generation to sin. All the great things she could with her life and society, and I wouldn't let her do it, but I'm going to set that aside music. Very big part. My father was raised with his sister was was a professional musician for time as an opera singer. So definitely was always encouraged. I was forced to have panel essence, and my dad finally said, SAMA plane instrument. I said, I'll play Trump and he said, he says, everybody's gonna play trumpet. You make good trumpet player and you're not gonna play French horn. You'll be good French horn, playing Alaska ship offers. And so I took my dad's advice and I was pretty good and he was right. He was absolutely right. I got. I had I had full scholarship offer to the Miami. I got seventy five percent of my tuition paid for GW. I had a full scholarship offer good floor state, in fact of the matters without it. I'd been in my community college, nothing wrong with that. But I'd have been another one of those kids who had the ability to be in a decent school, but just wanna minimum afford it and you, but, but you're, you're alterior motive was to go to Washington one hundred percent. I pick schools literally. I was I was applying to schools. I looked at. I remember looking at all the schools in DC GW, Maryland, AU, Georgetown, George Mason, and I looked to see. Okay, which ones had political science and music in the same school so I didn't have to. So it'd be easier to double major and is soon to get a scholarship. I had to double major, turns out I didn't, but I soon that first so I ended up limiting Georgetown most UW kids always joke at you. Ws? Oh, guys, Georgetown weightless. I always say I never applied. So I don't know because they didn't have music and. In the same thing, but w. Yeah, it was. Why went to to to GW over the still tooting your horn? You know. It's ridiculous. Gridiron club that I belong journalistic in that. In that. Let's just say what I joined. They found out you play an instrument, and I had bring out a mothballs and it's not so bad. I actually enjoy. I'm looking forward to having time again in a couple. You know, what is that gonna happen? Well, I figure once in twenty Trump should get his fourth term in twenty thirty to that point. I think I'm done. Maybe you can play the horn in the parade. Fourth inaugural parade. So you while you were in college, you worked for Tom Harkin, the Senator from Iowa doing f. e. c. compliance. How did you get that gig. I was just interested in working in. I was in DC and I thought there's a presidential campaign going on. This would be interesting. I was little short lived, but it was. I was joking the campaign in nineteen. He ran for president the ninety. He ran for president Harkin, ninety one campaign. We're going to see a lot of those next. It was just needed work. I couldn't volunteer. They were like, oh, we got volunteers. Well, I'm not. I can't. I gotta go work. I needed to work in school and all this stuff, and they said, all right, we'll pay hourly FTC compliant. So basically I was the kid entering in data entry and then taken the checks to the Bank. Yeah, Maryland. And. Outlasted everybody. That was the irony. And what's so funny is that it was, that's all I ever did. I never get to do like, I never was. You know. Now, of course, the way political conspiracies work. I think I've run the campaign by now. No, it's so there. There wasn't a lot of a motion high points to the filing, and I never so funny. I don't have any. I never saw it to be honest jaded me it actually well, yeah, I can understand that as a young kid. It's a sort of this is what campaigns are about. Yeah, forget it. That in profiles encourage then I got an internship at how this is much more interesting and for those who don't remember the hotline was really a forerunner of of of what we see. There are a lot of tip sheets and newsletters that we see today, but the hotline was really a dating before anybody knew that word mattered, right? That's what we did is all we did at hotline. I got there ninety two. It started in eighty seven, but it was the internet before there was an internet at a buddy who was on a former colleague of mine used to call up and he's trying to explain it. He says, we're clipping service with the brain. That's right. You know it was really useful. I mean, I used to shade and it was taxed, right? It was technically always electron ick. It was us in the pornographers on the bulletin board for doctors, the gamblers, the stock market people in us. You actually downloaded it now? Yes. Most most people of your stature, you know, bulletin board. You're like, what is that? So just give me a fax that was tech, right? As we could get back then most most of us at my age is what you're saying. I just set your firm, but you know you the two things that struck me about this one is it was pure nepotism that you got this this job. Yes. And know what's funny about that is the guy who, so my cousin worked there, yes, but my cousin never. Bob Balkan, but my cousin never told the Bailey that we were related and waited six months before Bailey. Who is the founder. Yeah, and and I wanna talk to you about him. I'd love to and he it was sort of after why goes to Bob who says kit then Bob's like, you know, he's my cousin. What's funny is that I actually my first contribution to the hotline was nineteen eighty nine. I was senior in high school, and there was a special election for Claude pepper seat. And it was a huge congressman from congressman or does he race? It was a rising star in the Republican party and Ileana Russell late -ment, yes, recruited to win running red hiring this year. And that's you've run the ran the entire her entire political career. It's done. It's like, that was my first baba call me at like five thirty in the morning says, hey, is there any coverage in the Miami Herald of the race? This is eighty nine. We even have fax machine in my house, you know? So anyway, that was my first little Doug Bailey for those who don't know before he did that was really one of the pioneers and political media consulting. And when I was first covering politics and then coming up as a consultant, Bailey dear door, he and John Deere door, his partner or the go-to firm for moderate Republicans of the sort that you don't see anymore. You know, I have this. Book that I've never had in my head, but I've always or TV movie I wanted to do or however you want to do it. And it's the two brightest minds in Republican politics in the nineteen seventies when it came to understanding, modern communications was Douglas l. Bailey and the other one was Rodriguez. Yeah. And they were the two biggest media firms in the seventies and literally Roger Ailes was the guy you hired if you had to go. Right and Doug Bailey was the guy you hired if you're a moderate trying to sell to sell that it was, and I've ever geniuses at one, so television and try to always find use for good the other one television to see the use for self. I'll put it that remember you, you were a kid, but the race for that elected Mitch McConnell to the Senate. He knew Roger Ailes. Did these bloodhound commercials, where's d Huddleston? That's McConnell and bloodhounds looking all a. For because he had missed some right? Miss votes. Yeah, Roger, Ailes specialty was making someone less someone else less electable. Yeah. Doug Bailey's specialty was to make you more electable and more likable. Probably the most famous race in a Senate contest, maybe in Illinois would be what he did for Chuck Percy. And Chuck Percy to this day was just actually I had flashbacks of it because the current governor of Illinois, he essentially tried the Chuck Percy approach, which is this idea, but may occur well, the may help at yes. And the first time that a candidate Sammy eight. I made a mistake. I let you down worked in it. It did work, but you know what? In eighty four hired Rodger ales Percy goes from Doug Bailey and seventy eight because the party had shifted and he thought he needed to shift to. I, I know this because I ran the campaign for Paul Simon against Percy, and that was when I first met Roger Ailes when we go shooting debates, but. But what it raises the question of this transformation, the Republican party, Doug Bailey's Republican party doesn't exist anymore. And there probably are Doug Bailey Republicans out there among voters, but there yet because of the nature of our politics today, you cannot be what Chuck Percy was, what. A whole series of Republicans Milkin Milliken and Michigan and for people understand Bailey. What's great about Doug is this was who he was his whole life. Do you know as a college graduate student toughs he helped run the writing campaign in the sixty four New Hampshire. Primary that got was either six or sixty four the New Hampshire primary where the ambassador to the Vietnam? Yes, Henry. Wins and Bailey. Doug as basically a graduate student at tufts. Ran that campaign I got to win after he passed away his, his son invited me over to go through some political stuff to see. And I had no idea and he had all these clips up to clips. And it was just the point was he realized that the time the party was going off either too far to the progressive in or two part two of the modern and too far the conservative. But he was always about sort of disruption through voters, disruption through small deed democracy and what I, that's who sort of I learned a love politics from in some ways, sort of an extension of my father, but also the fact that he never changed who he was. He was pushing for sort of this consensus based politics his whole his whole life. Now, I'm curious question back at you because it's a question and I'm gonna ask both. You and we're going to be doing that with Karl rove is. Because I saw Mark mar presented this to me, my deputy, my sort of partner and fellow at the institute politics versus Chicago. And he had been doing basically, he's been NBC longer than I have. He said, you know, you and I got raised with PLO that the the, the way you understood a successful politician was the politician that could create consensus and could sorta bridge a divide in this day and age. That's not a winner anymore. The winner is the politician that paints bright colors and inspires the most and four. And now the middle has to force is forced choosing aside. It's just a different style of politics. This is not. This is not the politics you were raised with. It was not the politics I was raised with, and I think for those of us in the establishment, the politics Karl rove is raised with right, you know. And I think all of us in our in our own walks of life you on the democratic side of the Karl on the Republican side of myself immediate, we're in the middle of this political transformation. We haven't quite figured it out. Yeah. Well, I mean there are four. Forces that are really working against the emergence of this. A re emergence of that kind of middle. I mean, redistricting being one of them and the and the sources, our system is not designed to reward. Pragmatism or centrism our system actually punishes it and you know what I think you're gonna see in this election coming up on November six is what we've seen through successions of elections, which is Republicans killing off DEM, moderate Democrats, Democrats kidding killing off my Republicans. I mean, it's, it's, it's, it's David really cyclical. Think about this six ten fourteen now eighteen four. We probably staring at four straight wave midterms right to for these in for the ours, and we have basically killed the same one hundred districts. Yeah, yeah, and but it also creates a situation where the polarity is so great that the risks of, I mean, one of the reasons why you're going to lose a bunch of Republicans. This time is the sense that they were falling. They were not. Acting as independence in this process because there is a strong feeling the Republican party that you can only go so far, but. Whether we swing back, I think is there are more there are more headwinds. I know Carla's more optimistic because it gives them a chance to talk about all the Mankin Asians of nineteenth century politics and how bad it was then. And he was right, but we didn't have the conditions than that we have now and we didn't have this rapidly moving media media environment and also changes in the economy that been, you know, technologies is driving everything in a way that it wasn't count me on Karl side a little bit. I think the beginning of the twentieth century when you look at it, yeah, and that's what area similar what we're gilded age. There's part of me that looks at the I if you look at basically the first thirty twenty five years of the of the twentieth century, there's a lot of parallels that actually should make us feel slightly more optimistic. Yeah. Yeah, I'm not look. I'm not pessimistic. I mean, I'm a big believer a book called believer. Man, I believe in. Our democracy, and I think that we have the capacity to self-correct edges. Think the headwinds are are are strong right now. And the the the the rate of change is very, very, very, very pronounced. So I want to tell you about a new podcast. I think you'll enjoy called, I love you, but I hate your politics. We all know arguments about politics can be tense and alienating, especially in this day and age. But when you can't stop arguing with so many love, you need a way to move forward on. I love you, but I hate your politics therapist. Janie safer helps guests who care about each other, but just don't see eye to eye on political issues. Dr safer has been married to her political opposite for over thirty years, and she uses her expertise to help her guess manage these difficult conversations in the first episode CNN political, commentators, Margaret Hoover and John Avalon share how Sarah Palin nearly broke up their marriage and how they were able to stick it out here, say for help guests like Margaret and John on. I love you, but I hate your politics search for love you, but I hate your politics wherever you listen to podcasts. Again, that's I love. Of you, but I hate your politics. So Doug Bailey was one of the great influences in your life. Yeah, there's another guy who came along and hired you away, and that's Tim russert hired you for MBC. Tell me about that and the decision to make the move you were in a very good position. You know, the hotline was absorbed by the national journal and and the Atlanta and the Atlantic you were you at. You've been the editor of the hotline, and you were very well thought of and connected, which is why Tim approached you? Well, it was interesting. He did and it was. It was one of those jobs where I thought I always said I wanna be a political director. I was always. That's what I thought I wanted to be. And I remember I really wanted to just get in the door. Remember when CBS was hiring a new political director when Katy Kirk took over, I thought, oh, they're gonna be, you know, I'd love to just get an interview. CBS wouldn't even give me an interview. In and by the way, I always had an affinity for CBS because they invented the political unit. Yeah, mar Mari, listener who I got too late in life. Yeah, one of the real treats that I've got to have. I got this job. He emailed me. We had. We started having quarterly lunches, just just old stories and like. Just one of the great great guys of of sort of television of sort of modern television news history. So I always thought I wanted. And then all of a sudden when I got the offer, I don't be honest. My wife was pregnant with our second child. We had just bought a new house on. I'm like. What do they say? It's like new job, new kid and Newhouse. Well, I didn't want to add new job to. That's a lot of a lot of, yeah, it was like all at once. And so I said, no, I don't think I drove was the Washington bureau chief in addition to being the host of meet the press. And I said, you know, and I just signed a three or contract with Bradley who was the owner of the Atlanta national journal, my boss and he treated me really well. And I actually started to think, you know, I just started to write for the Atlantic and I thought I remember thinking I've never thought of it was a good enough writer for real magazine, you know, and you're like, whoa, I guess Atlantic maybe I'm, they have to publish me. I suddenly started like, well, maybe this is the track I wanna go down and maybe I wanna maybe want to be an editor magazine, and that's what I thought I was headed and perfectly excited about that. And then I slept on it for a weekend. And I said, you know, I'm not gonna. I'm gonna always wonder what if. So I said, you know, one thing about David Bradley, I to know my favorite. Well, yeah, he's going to forgive me. Yes, and he'll take me back if it's a total disaster and I still count on him to take me back when this ends up becoming total disaster for me. No, I and look, you know is interesting about Tim. Is it Tim and Doug Bailey of the same guy? Yes. The wired varies same. So Tim and I got to become good friends quickly. It was interesting. It was like it didn't take long for him to sort of trust me and vice versa. And I always say in the last six months, the best way I can describe it is last six months of his life. I, I got to spend all this time with them, and it was like he always say, let me in on the joke. I can tell you what the Joe kiss, but he let me in on it and I understood network television in a different way and understood politics, sort of. The way presidential campaigns and television networks interacted. I just sort of learned some things that you needed to learn if you're going to succeed in survive in in in the world network television both internally externally. And you know, I, I cherish those six months where I really feel like you let me in and he's another one. I have some conversations with, yeah, you know he, he was a guy who absolutely loved the game of politics and the and revered the business of government. And by the way, people are gonna hear the word you say that word gain. Yeah, that's your problem game dammit. That really. And here's the thing, yes, it's a, it's a contest. It's a contest of DEA. It's a contest of wills. It's a contest of humanity. It's a, it's a just because you call it a game. Doesn't mean it's not serious. Kindred spirits in that way. Like I think this has meaning and you let, but the exhilaration that teddy Roosevelt to spoke of of being in the arena is something that he that Tim understood because he had come from politics with Pat Moynihan with Mariel Cuomo, not just any politics. I mean, vivid gigantic, big politics on eight people and machine politics. Yeah, you know, I'm doing this long project on sort of the rise of Trump in the in the seventies and eighties of New York. Yeah. And you know what's been great about it as talked all these people who can give me some more stories about eight beam Ed Koch and all the stuff. And then he said, hey, so I gotta tell you some TIMMY stories. Yeah, it's always TIMMY, the New York Democrat. Yeah. They always have a TIMMY story. Yeah. And by the way, one is better than the next there. Fantastic. Yeah, no, he was. He was one of the kind and he approached. His interviews with that passion. You know, you had the sense that he was a guy who understood at a very high level what the person across the table was involved in and he could call bullshit on them. But he, he did it from the standpoint of someone who had been through those wars. Look, I wish thought he found this balance and it's the balance. I always say strive for which is asking a tough question. Respectfully. Yeah. Okay. Making them you're never got the sense that he didn't respect the percent cross the table. I don't like it's funny. I'm careful with who I book. I don't wanna have people on that. I don't respect. Yeah, and I just, I'll be honest with you there. Certain people we avoid sometimes because I don't want him. I don't wanna put my. I don't want to put myself in that position. Sometimes you have to you interview people because they're the people with the information and at the end of the day's what you do, but it is. It is. I do at the end of the day, I do feel as if on on the Sunday morning show for in particular. Everybody on there should be somebody I respect doesn't matter that what they believe, but that I respect that they're honest about how sometimes it's hard to enforce that because people you have to have because there and I don't want to get into a kinda, who do I respect anyone that I would. I knew you would I was there for Tim's one of his last big interviews which was with Barack Obama was I think in Indiana, it was an hour, long interview, and it was very very, you know, Russ, it was like, you got to go through this oral exam. You know he, he administered the oral exam for people who are running for president and it you couldn't do that today, could you? You couldn't do a, you couldn't do a an an hour, long interview. I mean that that's not these thirty minutes with President Obama. The first time I had him for my first show on meet the press. I've done. Twenty five and thirties with with Trump and Clinton, and. You do get the sense. It was slightly too long for the audience. We sort of could figure that out of fortunately, look, there's just a different. I. I get jealous of reading these old transcripts, you know, Dick Cheney for the full hour. Yeah, I would love Dick Cheney for the full hour. I would love Mike Pence for the full hour. You could explore some stories, but at the end of the day, the viewers. Yeah, we're there lead measuring second by second, their sticks, and but the audience is looking, you know, and and you can find and I will. We'll get people say, no, no, I love those forty five minutes interviews. I know you do. We have other ways to give you forty five minute interviews. Yeah, the other problem though it's more and more politicians won't give like that anymore. Right? They just won't. Would you advise him to give any more. Off, isn't it? It is, but you know, we've you'd it with Obama. We've you'd. We wanted the oral exam. We wanted it. We wanted the test, you know, because we were about the business of trying to push people at a guy who has four years out of the Ellen OI Senate was prepared to be president and this, and that was one of the test we had to pass. You know, it's funny. I hope every politician to me, it was pretty obvious of what kind of media strategy works and the twenty first century because Hillary Clinton tried to nineteen twenty century perch to television media. The big interview cherry picking. I want to do a big evening news anchor interview here for Sunday over here, and I'll do Donald Trump said, bring it on, right, I'll do whatever. Right? And in the twenty first century fractured media environment do whatever, right? What was always interesting day. What I found interesting about the Obama White House as you guys were trying to basically straddle both worlds, you. Cheated traditional media, like a twentieth century protest. You get this interview, but you did embrace new media with a disruption twenty-first-century broach. I'll do Marc Maron and I'll do this. And yeah, and and what I would say is I do think the public was talking to Andrew gillum the democratic nominee for governor I, I was very impressed with how well he did in south Florida without running a single there in at and I said, I know it's a pretty fractured media environment. He says, oh, you have no idea. Is you gotta do like mama, Jo's, Instagram? Yeah, broadcast, I said, excuse me, no. He said, I didn't know about it either. He says, but mama, Joe talks to more Haitian Americans out than anybody else in south Florida. And he goes, I didn't million of those things. Interesting. Yeah. No, I mean, that is the great insight of as you as you say, the twenty th century you gotta like Willie Sutton said, you got you. Got you. Your banks because that's where the money is. You gotta go where the peop- people are in. It's a lot of different banks and you know it, it's okay. To be not polished. In fact, the less policy are sometimes more and and it works better. I mean, you you can over saturate no doubt. But if I looked at twenty sixteen and I said, well, who who's who's media strategy adopt? Seems like a no brainer Dopp the Trump media strategy. Support for today's show comes from Chubb. Why do people choose insurance from Cheb? Because Chubb operates fifty. Four countries offers exceptional financial strength and abroad range of personal and commercial insurance products for your business. Your employees is your home and the people you love whether face with a wildfire and Texas a sinkhole in a museum building a wireless network in Mexico or water damage in a family's home. Chubs insurance experts are there to come up with the best solution, deliver exceptional service. Here, Chubb customers tell their stories at Chubb dot com slash podcast. That's Chubb c. h. u. b. b. dot com. Slash podcast. Meet the press. Well, let me just finish up on Russ heard he, he died. Suddenly, I, I mean, I think many, many people felt that loss acutely not just because of who he was an all of the relationships he had. I count myself among them, but because he represented something that was that that you know, that that sense of he wasn't 'institutionalised and he policed the institution in some ways. It's interesting. I think. It sort of in the way we revere Cronkite and a previous generation, and Tim is revered in that same way, put David Brinkley that same sort of mount Rushmore aspect of it. And of course now with with how fractured media is, and frankly, how aggressive the campaign is how members of the press are treated like politicians. Now, as I always said, I'm I now have more empathy for the elected official than I ever did because I get treated. I get background search. You know, people dumping up on your wife who who's been involved in politics at becomes an issue xactly. It's so I sort of like, wow, this is not something I've been used to, frankly, you know, I have no idea if Tim we're alive today, who knows how the way media, the way the world would treat him or not. But I do think he did. He is sort of that. He was the last of an era that doesn't mean there aren't going to be new era's. That doesn't mean you, you know, as you get older will start talking about the good old days of somehow. This will consider this stuff. The good old. I remember Chuck Todd. Yeah, we'll we'll just remember the, you know, the. The the, the way Obama pain there is that sense of recent see bias there, but there's no doubt Tim feels like the end of the sentence that began with Edward r Murrow. Okay. On, you know, you talked before about how he the sense of regard that he communicated for people who are in the arena. That seems almost quaint now, I mean, you you right, you know, you and others try and treat the people across the table respectfully, but but there was a sense that he conveyed that that seems sepia toned almost about about people who are in that world. You know, it's interesting. I used to say that ninety five percent people. One other great privileges I had to work in hotline is that we used to interview these candidates early on when they were running for the house of the Senate of their first or second trips to Washington. They do it off the record meeting with hotline, Charlie cook and his teams to it Rothenberg the longtime political handicappers. Yeah, backed. I, my colleague von Ververs remembers are Barack Obama meeting better than I remember our Brock Obama made. But we had it in December of two, you know, for the US Senate and here's this skinny guy comes in. I remember because I was I was working for, yeah, Ed. So. And I used to say, you know, going through those meetings, it was a reminder, ninety five percent of the people that come to Washington came here for the right reasons. You may not agree with their philosophies. The came here to do good in what they believed was good and I and I'm with sincere and I stay, you know, and look, people get corrupted by the system. I am concerned more important people wanna use politics for selfish meets to get rich to get famous. They're not interested in it for this. I'm worried that it isn't ninety five percent anymore that maybe we're down to eighty percent are doing it for the right. Yeah. I don't know what to do with that. I do think that we've celebre fight our politics in such a way, and you know, maybe it's the natural. We've always had celebrities, dip their toes in politics. I mean, let's remain. It's not a new thing, but it does seem as the advent of Jesse Ventura governorship did sort of change how we've there was a time we used to view becoming a politician as an aspirated thing, and now we don't. It's an accessible thing, but we also don't hold politicians in high regard enough when when Tim died, how did that hit you? And I mean, it he, you know, another guy who, I guess in some ways it was a father figure to you all though you weren't together that long. Well, it, you know, it's interesting what it did do is it is it. It's made things lonely. Again, you know it, it actually. Duggan I sorta got a we. We've always Remo. We always had remained closely pass Wayne twenty thirteen, but I did find myself almost leaning on him more. You know a little bit more. It's look when you go through the things that you went through nineteen and I went through it sixteen with realistic, we're really good at compartmentalizing. Yeah. Okay. So it's, you know, it it. It takes a lot of processes things, and I am pretty big, compartmentalize her anyway. And I think part of it is just because when you go through a teenage trauma, I think that's just how the human brain works, right? Especially my wife and I had this debate it. There is something about. We think testosterone forces more compartmentalization than estrogen us. We just maybe were, maybe we think scientifically someone somebody will prove this. Yeah. Yeah, that's what we were saying that. So it did hit a lot harder because. And I say this with no disrespect to, but you know, you feel it get somebody that you could get the answer from. Yeah, hardest part right now in navigating the world that I'm in right now is I don't know who has the answers. I know I don't, but you always wanna. There's always, I'm sure you have people in your life that you still want. Yeah, touch base with my dad was one of them. See all these years later. I I have these. I have more conversation with my dad. Trimbe. 'cause you know, my dad. My dad would have been an interesting hued had an interesting reaction to this period because he would have been he very much thought he had a suspicion of New York base media. The New York, he says, does New Yorkers think they're better than us? Yeah, he would say that and he would sit and I was raised with that sort of and I always channel. I always feel like that's healthy than that because and at the same time he didn't like he didn't like somebody that was trying to pull one. So of of of just been fascinated how he would process the current political environment. And it's actually those conversations. I have that with him trying to understand what the undecided voter my thing and have these have my Tim conversations with trying to figure out. All right. How would you question this Trump White House like this didn't work? How would you do it this way? So these are the commerce, or how would you react when the when the president, the United States calls you sleepy, sleepy is Chuck Todd, don't you know that was nothing. Calling me an s. o. b. and having my kids being the first one to tell me that the president called me SOB. That was the most personally angry I've ever been. I'll admit that because I'm like made a minute. This sort of cross allows had dinner with my family and my daughter's Instagram's Ballin up. Just thirteen fourteen that's terrible age. Oh, yeah. Now you know she was funny the you're getting a feeling for what people in politics. Oh, I get it. Look, I understood brick Kavanagh's family rage. I get it. You become so protective. I think that's going by the way the cabinet I look. I just worry this is this is I don't know. Here's my concern. I think the country can handle it better than our elected leadership. I worry that we don't have the political maturity of our elected leadership to. To deal with the fallout of this. I think our culture wars are, you know. But Nita, Helen. Clarence Thomas happened in odd numbered year. This is happening in even numbered years politically weeks for a very, I gene full election, I, I'm just I fear. Yeah. How this gets processed over time. Meaning. I just think it's it's. I think it's an irreconcilable thing for for large chunks of the country who are never gonna feel satisfied about this, and I don't know, you know, it's kind of a raw shot test and what we're finding which is like it's falling right into. And I think this was actually a strategic decision on the part of team cabinet, but it's falling right into if you're, you know, if you're a Republican, you see it one way. If you're a democrat, you see another and independence. No, you dare split and you struggle with it. And I look, I mean, I'm always say I'm a human being to, and I've I put myself in both shoes and I can't believe anybody would put themselves through this. So I just don't believe in accusers. Gonna make something up. 'cause right. You're putting yourself through his crazy. I mean that that is you are real. If you're making it up, you're, you really are into self inflicted wounds, right? And yet if somebody were accusing me of something I didn't do, I'd. Be jumping up and down and screaming, like heeded, judge cabinet. So it some ways they've both reacted in ways that make them believable, though. You did say to a group of kids that was quoted somewhere and tell me if it's wrong that you thought he was disqualified, not by the particular facts of this this case. Oh, well, here's what I said. I said, I think a question I didn't say what disqualified him. It's not up to me to discuss qualifier. Decide this. What I said. I said. I believe what I said was. He is, are we getting what I'm curious about is in, here's something we don't know. He's a human being. How is this process going to change his ability to be impartial judge right? Well, he how do we and here's the thing. How do we test that right now? Right? That was kind of stunning about the way he approached that hearing. Not that he was outraged, but that it channeled itself into, and I think it was part of a strategy reprieve another question. Yeah. Okay. I'm Johnny all these. I don't know. It's. What's the difference between a partisan in an ideologue? I believe there's a big difference, but there is a different. What do you think the differences? Well, I think a partisan is less concerned about Eddie algae partisan is concerned about advancing the interests of one team or another team. I mean, people go to the court all the time with ideology. I don't think it's it's hard to divorce people from that. But if you say I am there to advance the interests of a party that that is troubling in a in a in in a judicial. What I've tried to explain it, conservative friends of mine on. They don't understand the the, they've, they've been trying to process particularly younger. Excuse me, younger conservatives have been trying to process the the sort of this vehement anger that's on the left for cavenaugh particularly among official Washington. I said, Cavanaugh Ken Starr is to Democrats what judge with the word Bork is to summer. Publican's it's a trigger. Okay. It's a trigger for like a. Of of just this guttural partisan warfare. It's a horrible memory. And so- cavenaugh being part of star has always been disqualifier for guy like Chuck Schumer and a guy, some of these Senate Democrats and it's an. Do you think this was the revenge of the Clinton? Well, that the fact that he brought it up. I don't know if he's right or wrong. I could tell you that scar tissue is there. Here's the thing he has it him saying it means he believes it's there. He knows that scar tissue is there. It just, you know. You they could've found. I mean, and I think almost this is what Mitch McConnell was trying to tell the president when he leaked ROY, pay too much paper, meaning Donald in, want him to hit him and Kevin didn't want him to point cabin because he says there's too much paper meaning, yeah, he worked in the Bush White House. He worked at Ken Starr there's too much foible information because he was a partisan worker that this is no disrespect to him as an intellect as a legal mind. But he worked in. He worked in Republican politics in some of the more, you know, whether it's the Bush White House, whether it was was Ken Starr the recount room and those are all of the roster things for democrat. So it was a version of poke in them in the eye which look, we have Donald Trump too many. To too many Trump supporters Trump is a revenge we own the libs. Now, are we own the Clintons or we owned the media that's like this mindset and you're sitting to what end and in some ways AC the Cavanaugh is just more of like digging that well does double back to ideology because to what end is that Trump has been pretty good too, in terms of the judges and some of his policies, there's, there's a payoff there. No there is, but it's just this partisan warfare. I just don't know how we're gonna get out of it. And it could be that the country or at least a majority of the country spread around enough states demands it. I mean, that's I, you know, I thought Ben Sasse diagnose the problem correctly. When he said the reason we're having these knock down, drag out fights about the direction the judiciary's because we don't legislate and we don't debate in the legislature, all of our major legislation as one hundred percent, right. Most of the major legislation of the last twenty-five years has been done with partisan basically Hartson majority in order to sort of jammed it through. We haven't had a true bipartisan well, really since the first NAFTA, right? Partly because the basis of each party our compromise has become a dirty word and it sort of a central to that process of legislating. So, but again, unless people demand it, we're gonna keep keep going down this road. I gotta go, but. I wanna ask you, I be remiss if I didn't, and I think he'd insist just just gimme a minute or two on Trump as a as a as somewhat. You've covered white houses. Talk to talk to talk about him as someone you. You said you. You don't have anybody to go and ask about how to. I'm not sure there is a template for it. No, there's not. I've tried to figure out what the templates. I had fun with doors Kerns Goodwin. And I said, I said, you know, part of me says there's a little bit of Jimmy Carter and a little bit of teddy Roosevelt. You know, you know you could. You could see there where there's this a little bit of Richard Nixon, a little bit of Richard Nixon, right? There's a little bit of paranoia. There's a little bit of island convicts it Jimmy Carter's big the micromanager teddy Roosevelt sort of, you know the disruptor. So you could look at presidents and say, okay, there's pieces Trump has the ability to be pieces of of some of these folks. You know, I, I've. I spend. I've been spending a lot of time reading, ROY comb and getting to know ROY comb, which means you get to know Joseph McCarthy and get to know some of. Mentor to Donald Trump and he wasn't mentor to Donald Trump and important mentor. Now Trump and the biggest thing he learned from Trump was you just you never give right, always fight. You always fight. You always fight. The other mazing thing about Donald Trump is he always finds a way to declare victory in always finds a way to survive. And he has had so many near death experiences where he has not died, whatever death he thought would be death right for him, not having money was would have been death right in the mid nineties. And yet he somehow survived a semester vibe that it is given him. This air of invincibility about himself. That is that is that is unique to the presidency that we've not had before. The other thing is, is that he saw the great he's, he found the, you know, every every system has a bug and he exploited the greatest bug in our system shame. The most important. Disciplinary tool we've have in this country is public shame. Works in entertainment works in sports, some politics, whatever it is we brought up Tiger Woods earlier. What got Tiger Woods to do rehab. You might argue public shame. Donald Trump doesn't ksm pervious pervious to it, and it is that is his that is his superhero weapon or whatever you wanna call it and maybe his greatest weakness as well as Minnesota case people's strength. Strengthen your weakness is the same. It's why he got there. It will undo him, but do realize that the first time, if he somehow doesn't get a second term or somehow and tries for or somehow doesn't finish term. It will be the first time he was truly failed, which is why he may why he is so comfortable touching the electric fence? Yeah, he because the electric fences never killed them before Fateh. If that happens, I, my prediction is that he will not take responsibility. It will be the news media. It will be, you know, the Chinese. It will be it will not be him. No, but history will not will treat them in different ways. My gas, but. We'll see Chuck Todd, always to see you, sir. Thank you for you day. Thank you for listening to the x. files part of the CNN podcast network for more episodes of the x files subscribe on apple, podcasts, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app from our programming from the university of Chicago institute of politics, visit politics, dot EU, Chicago dot EDU.

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Ep. 380  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

48:15 min | 10 months ago

Ep. 380 Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

"Things are not always what they appear to be not so with. Adt the most trusted name Insecurity X. Files is sponsored by. Adt whatever you want to protect. Nobody has more ways to keep you safe than. Adt Did you know Adt can help you. Customize a security package that fits your lifestyle every adt security packages designed to help. Protect your home in a way that works with your budget learn more at Adt dot com slash podcast and now from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN. Audio the axe files with your host. David Axelrod it's been just fifteen months since Gretchen. Whitmer became governor of the State of Michigan. But now in part because of her leadership during the Ron Virus Siege. She has become a person of national consequence and a great deal of speculation as vice. President Biden ponders his running mate. Choices has sat down with Governor whitmer virtually earlier this week in front of Zoom audience from the Institute of Politics to talk about the crisis. And where we're going but also where she's come from her and a what she thinks about all. This vice presidential speculation governor Gretchen Whitmer. It's so good to be with you. You and your office or in your home. I'm in my office at the state capital. I'M GONNA do a press conference shortly and so the small team here to help me do this. Trying to observe everything. We're we're encouraging everyone else to do the fifteen months ago and you raise your hand and took that oath you could not have imagined being in the position that you're in right now. Tell me what it's like from your perspective to deal with this which has just exploded on us. You know I think it's Fan Incredibly challenging obviously I. I'm sure every governor across the country would say that We'd never would have anticipated being in this situation and confronting the kind of Enormity of the of the virus that we are with As few tools as our country has to combat it. Were you surprised by the lack of tools I was. I think that Early on one of our. All Governor's conference calls with the White House and It became clear that the message was. You need to start finding this. Ppa on your own. We're not going to be able to to meet your needs. That's I think when it really dawned on me. We've got to have a whole operation that is focus solely on procuring masks and that was an aspect that was surprising We didn't we didn't stay surprise for long. We just went into action. I think is one of the first people share some of our frustrations in that process because we're bidding against one another and now every governors acknowledge that but I. I think that it's really was a big surprise. And it was very disheartening. You're one of the first to acknowledge it and it one you a nickname from the president which usually have to move along in your career before you get to that point where the president teams you worthy of of a pejorative nickname. But he he laid one on you and then he told the vice president. I wouldn't talk to that woman in in Michigan. How did you react in a have there actually been any ramifications in terms of your ability to get what you need from the federal government because the president was sore at you was hey hey reacted? I didn't sleep. I didn't sleep for a couple of days because I was worried that this kind of Petty back and forth might preclude me from getting what I need for the people of the state and you know the last thing I want is for anything to send the way of our ability to give our nurses and doctors the kind of support that they need You know I wasn't engaging and I made the same observation. Governors across the country made but for whatever reason It was it was elevated and I just. I don't have time for any of that all I need. Is You know masks. Sound like a broken record and but this is at the end of the day we should be able to say the viruses the enemy. It's not the governor's it's not the federal government. It's not the individual employees in these huge spaces where we've got Satan employees federal employees. We're all got to be on the same team on this one. This is a virus that is ravaging our country and the under preparedness. I think is something that is really dangerous and Dr Couch. She said it. I've said a number of times it's GonNa cost lives the fact that we weren't prepared as we should have been and that's a frustration but so far you know we've had a really a decent working relationship with the feds. I talked to the vice president pretty frequently. And we're not getting what we need. We're getting a fraction of what we need. And I don't think that it's because we're Michigan. I think it's because the federal government doesn't have the kind of tools that you know that we all need. We'll it impair you. Is it impairing you? We should point out that Michigan. I think I saw the latest stats today at twenty. Four thousand six hundred fifty eight or thirty eight cases. Fourteen hundred and eighty seven deaths. Are you equipped to deal with this now? Do you have what you need reb right now. You say you're not getting what you need from the federal government have you been able to fill in adequately so that you feel like you can provide the treatment coverage the medical care. That people need so Michigan like Illinois and like Ohio and You know a number of other states. We were aggressive on the front and we signed a stay home order early on. I've just re upped it for another three weeks and it's hard to do. We're asking people to make sacrifices but with a virus for which there's no cure no vaccine for which we have two little p. p. e. and it's highly contagious and deadly the best tool we have is to slow the spread by not being around one another and it's it's really that simple. I've seen doctors opine that if we could just freeze for fourteen days this virus would sputter to an end so taking these aggressive actions has helped us avoid a really peak that we ran -ticipant him. It's started to mellow mellow a little bit now. I say a little bit because I'm very reticent to say it's time to just start back up the economy we know we can't just flip a switch and go back to pre Cova nineteen days when if you really smart and thoughtful about what that looks like when it's safe to do it but the fact of the matter is these aggressive strategies that a number of states have taken are going to be what saved our healthcare systems and save lives. You raise an interesting point. Dr Found she was talking about this yesterday. Re engaging the economy is a very tricky thing because since there is no vaccine and we know so little about this virus we could be right back in the Soup Korea South Korea's now going through those concerns right now even though they have been very aggressive on this you by way took some heat for extending your stay at home order and toughening it last week. But how do we come out of it and what? What do you as a governor? Because ultimately you're going to make the decision not the president. What do you as a governor need to see? And what tools do you need in order to begin sending people back to work so we had to be really smart. I've been talking a lot with my colleagues across the country and I'll frankly there are a lot of governors who are trying to familiarize ourselves with the best science and then share what we're learning with one another so that we are strategic. We are being smart. We avoid a second wave that would be devastating to our economy when people are mad that we have to stay home for another three weeks. The worst thing we could do is to have a second spike where we have to get right back into the same posture a month down or two months or in the fall and so as we look to. What does it look like to re-engage it's gotTa be a phases and it's got to be slow and it's got to be really SMART? Well informed by the best medical practices. We have to have robust testing and that is one of the fundamentals testing tracing and treatment. If we can test everyone who needs to get tested we will have a real handle on. Who's got covered? Nineteen if we know who has it. We can isolate them and start to re-engage sectors of our economies and the the treatment when we get to a vaccine. That's not going to be for a while and so- ramping up. This testing really having robust tracing is essential to US getting back into a place. Do you have the tests that you need and not just tests for covert nineteen but you probably alternate to do this serological testing blood testing to see who has developed an immunity because a lot of people are walking around with cove nineteen and they may not show symptoms right. That's right well. We do not have all the tests that we need one of the things that was announced today. Is that Beaumont Hospital system here in Michigan Is going to be doing the biggest serological testing in the nation either working with the FDA? And I'm excited about that. They've got forty three thousand people who work in and around the system that they will start testing and I think if we can ramp that up so we know who has the antibodies. And who can we think safely? Interact back the economy. I say we think though. Because you know the our chief medical executive would tell me. This is a novel virus. We are learning every single day. We don't know how long the antibodies would protect to. We don't know if it is going to mutate and become something different and maybe those antibodies as as helpful so but having. That test is one piece of of a broader testing scheme that we've got to be able to do the actual cove in nineteen testing to see if you are currently ill with it is really important. We've never had enough of it. We're doubling our testing in Michigan. This week still means that we're way under where we should be. We need swabs and the biggest producer swabs is in Italy. We need more in ninety five masks. Most of those are coming out of China. We're ramping up on those fronts here in the United States. But it's you know it takes time to get to a place where we're actually meeting. Our own needs here in this country and so I am hopeful that on the other side of this we as a nation have a serious conversation about manufacturing these fundamentals. Because we've gotTA WE'VE GOTTA do the manufacturing here to make sure that we never confronting something like this again have you personally. I mean this is. The stories are so tragic people healthy one day gone the next and we should point out not just people who are in fragile health but people who are in good health. We lost a one of the Navy sailors on the USS Roosevelt. Over the weekend who was in good health and fell victim to this. Have you in your own? Life encountered people who've gotten the viruses. Have you lost anyone that you know gas so I think that's a really important point that I try to make? I tried to remember to make it all the time. Because we just don't know how our bodies are going to react to Cova nineteen healthy people. It's fatal for in a matter of days. Others might just feel like they've got a little bit of a fever we just don't know and we can be carrying it right now in exposing people whose bodies could have that the worst reaction to it. We lost a state representative here in Michigan about a week and a half ago it was forty four years old. He you know someone that I knew and someone that I liked a great deal on worked with quite a bit and it's it was a blow and despite that the legislature decided to come in and have another meeting which defied all of the recommendations from the medical community to not congregate. But I think that. That's you know every one of us is GonNa get touched by Colvin. Nineteen one way or another. I know a lot of friends who've lost a lot of people And Detroit is an epicenter it. Is You know what we're saying is. There's a racial dynamic to Kobe. Nineteen as well and I raised that. I was on the phone today with my fellow governors across the country and The vice president and a number of people from the White House and I raised that for the second time. Because I do think that it's important. Where sharing data we have a strategy and we are focusing on a lot of despair. Health outcomes that have historically been there. But that are really being magnified in in this moment are you. You've said and I think very well that this is holding up MIRA to the United States of America and the failings of our social safety net and and the and the the injustices within our economy poverty. I think you said was is a pre existing condition. You look at these numbers and they're startling. I mean Detroit has seven percent of the population. Your state twenty five percent of the deaths from Kovic nineteen a Wayne County similarly just seventeen percent surrounding Detroit of the population. Almost half of the deaths and forty percent of the people who've died in Michigan African American. I think the population African American population is about fourteen percent. Or so in your state. I guess my question to you is what have you learned as a governor? Are there things that you're learning when that Meera is held up against the State of Michigan? Are there lessons your learning that will change? Your policy prescriptions. Moving forward here. Well you know I During my state of the state which has just in January. I spent quite a bit of time talking about the health. Disparities for women and babies of color is three times more dangerous than the United States of America. Have a baby. If you're a black woman is and it's deadly. I mean three times more instances of death. That's a reality that we have to confront. That's a reality that we have to focus on whether it's implicit bias or has access to medical care. these are all important pieces of it. I think that This has shown we've got a lot of work to do as a nation certainly individual states. I'm glad that my colleague and Illinois and my colleague in Louisiana are sharing the data of their testing but we as a nation need to do that We've got a lot of work to do when there's not real equitable access to healthcare when there's not real equitable access to employment or educational opportunities. We see that the pain caused from something like this is felt much worse by communities of Color. This is not a new problem. As you point out this is a historic problem but it has really come back in stark relief here. Do you think it will make it easier for you? And others to take more dramatic steps in terms of implant because you know one of the paradoxes. Here's we see the the need is even greater in poor communities communities of color and yet there are also the ones we're gonNA take the biggest economic hit from this Jobs lost opportunity lost. These are I mean. I know these are next order questions for you as you try and get through this. But they're really profound questions they are and I think you know one of the Exacerbating factors frankly has been the fact that there's been so much inconsistent messaging At the at the federal level since the since the beginning and so you know I come to understand that there were a lot of mixed messages being sent even amongst the African American community that immunity When when that just was never accurate And it's just perpetuated so much misinformation and then one day there'll be a statement from the White House and the next day it'll be different. We shouldn't don't need to take this serious and now it's it's on. The governor's affects us. You know it's all of these different. Messages has created a lot of distrust with anyone in a position of power when when we are trying to make decisions and communicate with the public. People don't know what to believe and I think that that's created an even more dangerous situation than than otherwise would. Have you know every single day when I sit at home with my family? I'm cognizant of the fact that I'm lucky to be able to do that. And that one of the reasons there's such a high incidence among African Americans and the poor is that these are folks who have to go to work. They live from paycheck to paycheck. They can't afford not to work many of them work in what we would call essential services but it really does. It just magnifies the horror of this that people are going out knowing now that they are risking their lives and but doing it because they have to in order to support their families. The social safety net needs to be really examined here so that we don't face these kinds of tragic situation right. Well NO QUESTION. We should be looking at all of the different Groups that have been deemed essential right now and demand that everyone of them has healthcare demand that everyone of them has paid sick. Leave if you are essential but you can't take the time off even though you're sick we're mandating the spread and so I think that these are important policy extensions. That need to need to happen as a result of this. This is a moment to say this. Here's the reality now. Let's let's fix it because we know that there are people that put their lives on the line everyday to stack the shelves at the grocery store or to drive the bus We've seen a lot of food and commercial workers get sick with Kobe. Nineteen and A lot of bus drivers or police officers every one of them is Doing important work that the rest of US rely on the very least have have the benefit of healthcare and paid sick leave. We're going to take a short break and we'll be right back with more of the X. Files you know. Things aren't always what they appear to be. But that's not so with. Adt the most trusted name and security the X. Files is sponsored by. Adt whatever you want to protect. Nobody has more ways to help. Keep you safe than ADT. Adt offers all the essentials for convenience security and reliability HD video doorbells indoor outdoor cameras. Smart Lights smart locks and smart thermostats controlled by the sound of your voice or the ADT APP fire in carbon monoxide detectors that are connected to twenty four seven monitoring flood sensors to help you avoid flood disasters and more. Adt is the number one smart home security provider. Cook products rigorously tested to deliver the quality. You expect from. Adt You also get the largest security network with nine. Adt owned and operated monitoring centres operating twenty four seven one of the best money back guarantees in the industry learn more. Adt Dot com slash podcast? You're relatively new to people outside of Michigan and people are interested in you particularly now. Your name is surfacing on the national scene. We'll get to that. I'm sure you will expertly deflect questions about it but but what's interesting to me about your story. Is You come from a prominent family. Your father was the secretary of Commerce in Michigan under Bill Milliken. Who was the longest serving governor in Michigan History of a moderate Republican? Your mother also an attorney worked for Frank Kelly who was the longest serving attorney general and he was a democrat. But you were not as a kid that interested in politics you wanted to be on. Espn that's right. I wanted to be a sports broadcaster. I went to Michigan State University which is just down the street from the state capital and my dad. I was working at the football office. Because that was you know was what I thought I wanted to do. And my dad said you should go do an internship down to the CAP. Just just get a glimpse of it see so few people understand government wise important and what it's all about and just go check it out at all. Serve You well no matter what she ended up doing and can everything change from there. What was it about that experience that captivated you and took you away from sports. The World of sports is a big loss there. I don't know about that but I do think that you know it was an opportunity to learn everything that happens at our capitals whether it's in Washington. Dc or at our state capitals impacts our lives from the minute we wake up and turn on the tap brush our teeth to the roads. We drive onto the schools that we attend. I mean it's what happens in these capitol buildings impacts US profoundly and intimately and I don't know that the vast majority of people really get the opportunity to see that and I think if they saw it probably more people would wanNA run for office because I think You can see that it is important that we have real representation in these buildings because it profoundly impacts our lives everyday also because they might get pissed off at some of the things that they see. Yeah well they might realize they could do as good a job as some of the people that are there already. You folks divorced when you were ten and you and your siblings two sisters I sister and brother Yeah and you moved to grand rapids and live with your mom. How did that experience impact on you? I speak to you as a child of divorce. Oh I'm always interested in that. Well I'm the oldest and you know I. I don't know if I've always been the one that tries to organize everyone and takes care. Make sure everyone's okay but that that was a role that I took on You know between my my parents. They didn't communicate very well with one another. And so I often was the go-between and you know my dad worked in Detroit Michigan which is on the southeast side of the state he became. We should point out the CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield and was there for. I don't know a couple of decades. Yeah but he and Glen rapids is three hours to the west of Detroit and he drove back and forth at least twice a week. And so I was really you know. We're very fortunate that he was able to and made a priority of of my sister and brother in me so even though it was a long distance and he did a lot of driving back in those days He was a very real Present part of our lives and those good thing. They didn't get along real well what they both. They both always put us kids. I you went straight through Michigan state in law school right. I took a year off between between college and Law School. I worked actually at the Michigan House of Representatives and it was an interesting time because the Michigan House of Representatives one hundred and ten people and that was the only time in Michigan History. That it was a tie so they switched every other month it was Republicans. Were cheering all the committees and setting the agenda and then the next month was the Democrats who were and it was A. It was a great time to learn about state government and to see how parties I think should work together They couldn't just run right over one another because the other guy beholding the gamble the next month and so it was a a really cool time to be working in state government Democrats lost. I went to LAS. That was a major That was a major I mean that that is probably the most when most challenging things about our politics in the time you know I. I did a podcast last week with Chris. Christie and I posted this morning and there was just a flood of reaction from Democrats and well. I wouldn't listen to him. I'm sure when I post this. There'll be a bunch of Republicans and so I'm not gonNA listen to her and it is a really caustic thing you know because as you point out in a representative democracy if there are parties and they can't cooperate that is really really tough and now in times of all is change if we're slow down and bogged down because parties because becomes unacceptable among the base of each party to try and work together. That's a really dangerous thing. Yeah but it is. I mean it's this form of government that we have as messy. It's can be you know frustrating. It can be downright ugly but it still is the best form that there is I do think that there's a natural tendency right now too quickly. Vilify one another and to never give anyone the benefit of the doubt which is the opposite of how I was how I was raised and I find that incredibly depressing. Frankly but I think that we. This moment isn't GonNa last forever and that it's really important that we keep people engaged that we don't vilify one another just because we don't agree on something and that we turn the page and seek out the next opportunity now in this in this current environment. I have to do that every single day. I've got a Republican controlled legislature. If I let every slight mean where we're going to talk again well then we dissect talking probably the first week I was sworn in but the fact of the matter is I worked for ten million people in the state I worked for Republicans and Democrats and independence and people have never voted either. I owe it to them to do everything I can to solve these. These issues that we're confronting as a state so we're all better off talking about seeking opportunity. You ran for office at a relatively early age. Twenty nine you had a very competitive primary it was a tumultuous time in Your Life You just you. You were recently married. You were pregnant with your first child and then you learn that your mother Sherry was ill. That illness turned out to be GIO. Plus Doma Brain Camp. Galil belt blast a multiform. It's like the worst kind of brain. Tumor can get the same kind that Ted Kennedy had and and Ball Biden. Yeah so you were going through that while you were running for office while you were preparing to To have your first child while you were newlywed and you sort of took over the role of caretaker as well. That must have been brutal. It was hard. It was really hard. You know I've I've been asked a lot about it recently. And so I've been really thinking about my mom a lot You know I think when you have got that much responsibility on your shoulders being able to take him. See the big picture. What takes small steps to get through it as a as a mechanism to tackle the day to day? Tough stuff that you gotta do. But you know I don't fight an insurance company. That wrongfully denied my mom's chemotherapy. I remember coming back to her house and her head was in her hands and she was sitting at the kitchen table. And you know she was just overwhelmed. Couldn't couldn't bear to do it and have a huge bill and so I did what I had to do you. One as I mentioned narrowly in the primary you never really had a narrow race for the legislature again and then you ran for the state Senate. You're the leader in the states. I think all the time you were there you were dealing with Republican majorities. It's true I was never in the majority until I won my gubernatorial race. And so you didn't get your name on many bills. You had a lot to do with shaping Medicaid expansion after obamacare. The thing that people nationally probably remember you for was a very personal moment that you shared with everyone. Because you were fighting a bill that would have would require women to get a second insurance policy if they wanted to have an abortion and you in the midst of trying to explain to your colleagues particularly your male colleagues what that means and how mean-spirited that was shared your own personal experience of rape when you were in college. You had never done that before you'd never shared it before. How hard was that? The Democratic leader at the time and my Republican colleagues wouldn't have a single hearing they were just GonNa cast this vote And so they never gave women the opportunity to win or doctors or anyone for that matter. And you know this. Bill would have meant that you'd have to pre plan for an unplanned moment right needing an abortive service of some sort whether it's the loss of a desperately wanted pregnancy or as the result of Being being you know physically attacked and raped these were very real instances that we're going to be impacted that they weren't even thinking about our hearing about and I was trying to get my colleague To tell the story he and his wife trying to have a baby and they lost a number of desperately wanted pregnancies and she required DNC. And this bill would have meant that their insurance couldn't pay for it and so I was trying to get him to share the story so that they could see what what what would they were impacting and and how callous it was done. It was too hard for them. It had just happened and it was too emotional and I sat there and I realized how can I ask him to bare his soul. When I have a story that might make a difference or at least put a face on some of the women that are impacting and I actually talked to my staff. I had a my director of communications. A man and my right hand in the office a woman and they were split once. I don't say anything you'RE NOT GONNA make a difference and the other side of your comfortable. Do what you need to do. And it was the last minute decision and I shared it and it didn't make it didn't make a damn difference. Too many of your male colleagues talked to you about it after the fact so it was a party line. Vote one of my male colleagues on my side actually voted with the other side on it and I went home about is depressed as I ever had been. Frankly but a ten minutes drive into the office next eight. We were inundated with calls and emails and people sharing their stories with me in thanking me for doing it and I thought it was worth doing. I will say you know. In the days following a even had a few male colleagues from the other side. I'll come up and share stories about someone in their family who had gone through what I had gone through and they thanked me for my braver and I just. That was a hard thing to to listen to because they voted against me and then shared. That voted against my side. That I'd been making sure that they agreed with me and that was that was hard to take. I don't know how old your two girls were than but did they hear that story after you told it to. They did they know about it. They were they were pretty little. They were probably seven and eight so too young to really understand it too young to really understand but apparently had a call your father and tell them the story because you'd never share it with him right. I mean I'd never talked to my dad about that. And so on the way home from that debate I called him to tell him and I I know he didn't I he'd he didn't have the words because I think he was so stunned and saddened and But I didn't want him to hear it from the news. I wanted him to hear it from me as we speak In Texas and a couple of other states I think Ohio may be another The state has asked to suspend abortion services as part of this Kovic nineteen protocol. This is probably going to go to the Supreme Court. What what what is your reaction to that. You're a governor. You have to make these decisions as well. There are other procedures that have been suspended. We we stopped elective surgeries here in Michigan and some people have tried to say that that type of a Procedure is considered the same. And that's ridiculous You know a woman's healthcare her whole future her ability to decide if and when she starts a family is is not an election. It is a fundamental to her life. I it is life sustaining. And it's something that government should not be getting in in the middle of. Do you think this was a back door. Way Of continuous states. That have been strong antiabortion movements. Is this a back door way of promoting that or is it a legitimate public policy decision? I don't my gut is it's the former you know. I'm not I'm not in Texas. I don't know all the individuals involved but I do think that there is a very Concerted effort to use every opportunity to take away women's ability to make our own healthcare decisions. Now a word from our sponsors then. We'll be right back with more of the XBOX. These are tough times in so many ways people are stuck at home feeling isolated worried about the state of things better help offers online professional counselors. Who can help? You can talk to a licensed online therapist and find relief. Better help therapists specialize in issues such as depression stress anxiety relationships insomnia family conflicts and more. You'll connect with your counselor in a safe and private online environment so anything. You share is confidential simply. Fill out a questionnaire to help. Assess your knees get matched with a counselor? You'll love in less than twenty four hours easily schedule. Secure video phone sessions with your therapist. Plus exchange unlimited messages. And for any reason you're unhappy with your counselor. You can request a new one at any time for no additional charge. You can get professional help when you want it wherever you are better help as a truly affordable option for our listeners while you get ten percent off your first month why not get started today. Go to better help DOT COM SLASH ACTS. A. X. E. Talk to a therapist online and get help. You became Briefly when you were term limited out of the legislature where by the way you wear the Democratic leader in the legislature you were term limited out and you became briefly a county prosecutor in your Home County there around Lansing. One of the issues. That came up was the molestation of gymnasts by Dr Nassar at Michigan State and opponents criticized you later because they said you hadn't taken aggressive enough action against him given your history. That must have not landed well with you. Well let me start with telling you how I got how I became. Prosecutor was I was teaching at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and it. My prosecutor got arrested for his involvement in human trafficking. And so he resigned in shame with is in this sex scandal and the judges in my county unanimously. Asked me to come in and clean up the prosecutor's office and so while I was there the Nassar case started to become publicly known. And there were decisions that predated my time in the prosecutor's office that Some were trying to play politics with and holds me accountable for We worked incredibly hard to get a warrant produce that actually what sent him away and so the yeah it was. It was terribly maddening for anyone to try to use that. Use the pain of the sexual assault victims against me as a political tool and NFL flat. Obviously let me ask you though about these big time sports programs and the looking the other way is is that something that needs to be looked more closely at because these are as you know. You're the governor of the state. You're a graduate of Michigan State. These big sports programs are huge revenue producers four universities and magnets for university. So there's a reluctance to kind of upset. The apple car. Yeah there is but that being said these are supposed to be institutions of higher learning. That also have sports teams not sporting institutions that also teach some classes and. I think that it's really important that They we hold them to high standards that you know these are phenomenal institutions that have been built up over years but the fact that they get so much revenue out of sports is really. I think Turned upside down the value system. And how decisions are made. And so I do think that there needs to be better accountability. That there's a lot of work that needs to be done on. Our campuses is not unique to one state or another. This is pervasive American issue at our big institutions that have these competitive sports teams. And I think that there's a lot of work that needs to be done to reset the priorities. Have you had these conversations with your academic leaders in your trustees? I have I wasn't real popular in town but I I said you know when this first started hitting. I was one of the first voices. Say this leadership has got to go The the president who is now still facing charges. I called for the resignation long before anyone else because I know that it the buck Casazza the top and the fact that was that this man was empowered to just abuse and hurt and inflict lifelong wounds on little girls and young women who came for him because he was supposed to be the best one that was propped up by a university. You ran for governor. That's why you left the prosecutor's office After six months you weren't the odds on favourite to start and there was all kinds. You weren't well known particularly in the state outside of government circles when you announced I was interested. You start every speech by say. My name is Gretchen. Whitmer I'm a woman on the lawyer. I'm a lifelong michigander. How did being a woman plate Michigan had already had a woman governor Jennifer Granholm but there was in two thousand eighteen. Which is when you got elected. Just this real outpouring. After the election of two thousand and sixteen and women candidates all over the country emerged. We saw it in the house. We saw women governors get elected. What is it that people were reacting to responding to one of the funniest questions I got during the wild campaign was? Are you going to run a woman and you know I just remember thinking how do I do? They give you the options right. How do I respond to this? And of course you know. I've been doing this long enough to know you seek the question the question so the question behind it really was. Are you only going to be talking about women's health right being pro choice that kind of thing and I'd share that often just to get a laugh but also say listen women in Michigan Care about the same thing men in Michigan Care About? It's having a good job making sure that when you turn on the tap water it's clean and you can hang your child glass the dinner table. They want to know that you can drive on the roads without Boston your Boston the national or having to replace a windshield and so. I think that there was a lot of enthusiasm especially with the women's march in reaction to the trump Clinton election where we know that Hillary Clinton one but this this person was taking over the the reins who didn't have a good record in terms of of women supporting women in fairness we should note. She didn't win in Michigan. That's one of the reasons he's there. I don't disagree with that but when you look at the total count the point being you know there were a lot of women who stepped forward to run in in twenty eighteen. We one all the statewide elective offices in terms of the executive branch. I pick my running mate so we do have a manning Garland Gilchrist who is the Lieutenant Governor. First African American man in that position in the history of Michigan but also Attorney General Dana. Nessel first openly gay woman. And she's our EIJI and secretary of State Jocelyn Benson we won. We swept all the top offices. And I think it's because people were engaged and enthusiastic in a way that We weren't in two thousand sixteen and I'm hopeful that that we will respond again in twenty twenty you ran on the. The your tagline was fixed the dam road which I thought was fantastic just as a former practitioner and also someone who has a house in Western Michigan so I couldn't be more enthusiastic about that project but the legislature was less enthusiastic about that project. You PROPOSE TO FORTY FIVE CENT GAS TAX INCREASE. That did not go. I think you talked about a bonding plan. That did not go. This is the principle. Promise that you ran on. How frustrated are you about not being able to move forward? And how much are you worried about being held accountable if it doesn't move forward well I've got this overwhelmingly Republican legislature? And I knew the ads of me getting a forty five cent gas tax were were not very high but I also know people expected me the lead with what I said. I was GONNA do tired of people that tell them. You can have everything in pay for nothing because they know that it's not true we've got some of the worst roads in the nation. And so the what I put on. The table was a real solution now. What I would have liked to have seen is the legislature. Come back with an alternative. But instead of doing that they said. Let's sell some bridges or they've even said. Let's take money out of teacher. Pensions to pay for the roads. There's no way on earth I'm ever going to agree to that and so I- year to this year I led with a bond. We're going to move forward with that. They can't stop me and so I am going to fix the damn roads one way or another but the fact of the matter is I'd love to be devoting all my time on that issue because that was something that I know. People want us to get done and yet here. We are in the middle of this global pandemic. And how how much we're able to do on that front. We'll have to turn all our energy to that once. We are on the other side this pandemic ironically though the president and the speaker are talking about a an infrastructure a massive infrastructure program to help get the economy going again. Might that help you achieve your goal there? Yeah absolutely and I've already got the plan written for how we how we put those funds to practice. So if if that happens. I would be very pleased to be able to get to work on fixing the damn roads. Finally I want to ask you. You mentioned that you got to pick your running mate Vice President Biden now has to pick a running mate. What would you be thinking about if you were him? Well nothing that it would be surprised you. You're you know better than anybody. What should be looking for in a running mate I mean I think that he has to be comfortable. That he's got someone who who's judgment? He can trust who is going to be the extension of him who can add to the ticket in terms of whether it's a viewpoint or geography or an experience but I think he's got to have someone that he trusts and that the world can look at it as a legitimate support. I would love to see him have. I was pleased to see when he said he's going to have a woman at his running mate. I think there are a lot of phenomenal female leaders across this country. That would be a great on his ticket and you know the fact that anyone even mentions me among the names that I initially think of as an honor. But there's no question that he's got lots of potential partners out there that would be fantastic. You mentioned in passing your the fact that you mentioned you're more than mentioned you're considered high up on the list of possibilities because you're a governor because you're in a in in in a geographically important region strategically and so on. Do you feel like you're ready for that responsibility. I never thought that I would be the governor of Michigan. I never thought that I would want to run for any office. Frankly but here's what I've learned about myself when I see something that needs to get done. I roll up my sleeves and jump in and help whether I'm on that ticket or not. I'm going to help him and whomever his running mate is. Because I think that it's so important that that we make this monumental decision in November. This is not about me. This is about my daughters. This is about our future as an as a country. This is about our experience in this moment and knowing that we need leaders who can chart a course for a real opportunity for every American that will restore our standing in the world that will give us reason to feel optimistic and hopeful and proud And I think that that's that's really what's at stake in this next election right. But if you're a if asked you serve David Answer. Glad we had this time together. Hey before you go. I just have to say a word of thanks because I have a five year old granddaughter. And she was in western Michigan a few weeks ago and lost her first tooth. And was so gratified that the tooth fairy was exempted by you and was able to do her work and And so thank you for that and I wish you all the best. This is an enormous burden and governors have been on the front line. You've been on the front line. And I wish all the best to you and the people of Michigan thank you take care yourself to be with you. Thank you for listening to the X. Files brought to you by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN audio the executive producer of the X. Files is emily standards show is also produced by. Miriam Annenberg Semi Anthony. All and Allison Siegel and special thanks to our partners at CNN. Including Courtney Coop Mega Marcus and actually less for more programming from the IOP visit politics dot EU Chicago Dot Edu. Things are not always what they appear to be not so with. Adt the most trusted name Insecurity X. Files is sponsored by. Adt whatever you want to protect. Nobody has more ways to keep you safe than. Adt Did you know Adt can help you. Customize a security package that fits your lifestyle every adt security packages designed to help. Protect your home in a way that works with your budget learn more at. Adt Dot com slash podcast?

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Ep. 420  Sen. Mitt Romney

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

49:01 min | 2 months ago

Ep. 420 Sen. Mitt Romney

"The end now from university of chicago institute of politics and cnn audio the axe files with your host. David axelrod the first time. I met with mitt romney for this podcast episode. Five way back in two thousand fifteen when he was the former governor of massachusetts and immediate past standard bearer of the republican party. I sat down with him again yesterday for a live. Virtual podcast at the university of chicago's institute of politics under much different circumstances. Now the senator from utah. Romney is a bit of an outcast in the party. donald trump's party for his willingness to do what many other republicans won't and that is take on. the president. Romney talked about his fears about the final days of the trump administration his hopes for the future and the example. Another maverick republican. His father george. Romney set for him as he navigates. These turbulent times and one note for our listeners. Were taking thanksgiving week off however the virus allows you to celebrate. I wish you and yours the best and look forward to better times and more conversations in the future now. My conversation with senator. Around me. Santa romney good to see you again. You know the last time that we sat down. You would governor romney and it occurred to me as You were waiting to take some votes before we started this conversation. There's a really big difference between being a governor. A senator and i always wondered having been a manager having run things having been an executive how this all would sit with you Because now you're one of one hundred. Your schedule is at the mercy of someone else. How's it going I enjoy the job but it is a very different job. There's no question about that from being an executive in the business world to a helping organize the olympics and then having served as a governor But i've had different jobs over my career. I started at the bottom. I worked as a consultant for a number of years where you're not able to Basically do anything. You're hoping to convince other people that they should take action that so there's a bit of that in the senate. I think the most frustrating part of the job is that Over the years the senate has moved and moved to a point. Where i think. There's a reluctance to vote on things that might be bad votes for members of the majority's party so as a result we don't vote it very much not either up or down things. We agree with but if it's bad for x. y. or z. Senator y them. Then we don't want to take that boat so we've both very rarely on matters of substance and this is a particular i think in the two years i've been in the senate we haven't had a single vote on a matter relating to healthcare immigration tax policy climate change and the list goes on so long as it's nothing important you know. Yeah that's that's a challenge. Yeah look of one of the frustrations that people have is. They look at washington and they see parties positioning themselves To advantage themselves for the next election more than working together to try and sell problems. And we're in a particular moment right now where sixteen days after an election. I i remember. I was in the room in two thousand and twelve called. President obama to concede The election in four years later hillary clinton called Donald trump A few hours after the polls closed in the early morning hours of the next day and the transition began almost immediately here. We are sixteen days later and were in a state of suspended animation. And it's it has consequences doesn't it. Well it certainly does You know. I think Both here and around the world We are seeing a reduction in the confidence we have in voting and people don't believe in voting. Don't have confidence in voting. How can you have democracy. Because democracy is fundamentally based upon people voting and is united states of america doesn't believe That we have voting that's that's reliable. Why how can you expect a country. That's just becoming a democracy to adopt this practice and use it as the basis for determining its future. So yeah this has. This has consequence here at his consequence around the world. And we care about the world because we are. We are more prosperous as a nation and more able to enjoy peace if the world we trade with is prosperous and enjoying peace. So we're part of a global system whether we want to admit it or not. America's success and america's prosperity at and safety is related to what's happening in world a little bit later. I wanna talk about that because those principles are very much in contention in our politics Today but just this morning. There was a reuters poll. It's fifty two percent of republicans Felt that the election was rigged and that Trump was the rightful winner. The election that's a consequence of what the president himself has been sank right up until this moment and Vat that has consequences as well. Pure joe biden coming into office And a significant number of people in the country feel like you're not legitimate that makes governing more difficult visit. Not well i. I would presume. It makes it more difficult for president to unite the country. If if a large segment of the country feels that someone is illegitimate and has stolen something wide. They're not likely to reward at this individual with their trust. And if you don't trust the person who's the president of the united states when he or she asked us to come together for some greater purpose. Why that means that we would not be able to do so. I mean the idea was united. We stand and And so when when president-elect biden said he wants to bring the country together obviously. That's a much more difficult task. If many people feel he is not the legitimate president. Yeah isn't that part of what the president is doing though isn't isn't a little bit subversive. I'm sure that you didn't It wasn't the greatest moment of your life when you had to pick up that phone and concede an election but There are responsibilities here. one of which is to see to it that there's a transition which there is not right now How much does that worry you. The fact that There is no presidential daily briefing national security briefing for by the fact that the coronavirus teams are not Coordinate the fact that you guys are gonna have to. You're going to have to vote on nominations of the president's appointees But the fbi background checks of these appointees can't begin because there's no formal transition process because the president won't allow it to move forward. I i do believe there. There will be gaps and And that's unfortunate and unnecessary. It means people won't be able to get underway as quickly as they otherwise would have I'm i'm convinced. However that in many cases the The people that are managing for instance the distribution of vaccine will stay in place they will carry on at likewise and other agencies of our government will be a continuation that that will not be significantly impacted by the lack of a formal transition. But i i must admit that it this intervening period. I'm i'm more concerned about the actions. The president is taking The relate to For instance the firing of of chris cribs Who is responsible for overseeing the cybersecurity and our government systems this guy who came from microsoft a to attract someone like this for a fraction of the pay. He was getting before. That's quite an accomplishment. So he you know. He has been guarding our systems to fire him in. The end of term is really a very dangerous thing not to mention what happens with regards to the secretary of defense a decisions with regards to troops in afghanistan. The these kinds of of of items happening at the very end of the president's term those give even more concern than the the the gaps that may exist as a result of delayed transition. We should point out. That krebs was fired. After asserting that the election was was free and fair and not Tampered with Which is important information for the american people because of what you said earlier because people need to have confidence In the election the president took umbrage That he said that you know. I'd john bolton on this podcast Not long ago and before the election and he said his concern was less about what the president would do between when we were speaking in the election. And what he would do. After the election to the inauguration and he forecast firings perhaps military decisions and interventions. That would be unwise So we are there now President apparently was contemplating With his aides the possibility of an attack on iran I was in the situation room And heard briefings about what you know about because these topics come up all the time you know. They're a great consequences to these kinds of decisions and not only is is he making them in a vacuum with a new team. Apparently but the incoming president doesn't is not read into any of these situations. It seems very perilous. I can't disagree with you. i must have that. I think this president has tended during his entire term and his campaign campaigns actually to to break norms. If you will and frankly that's one of the things some people like about him is that he doesn't do what is expected and he doesn't play by the rules of that. We played a by a couple hundred years. Plus but i i hope that we we recognize as a citizenry that some of these norms were established by the founders and by those that followed them recognizing that they had significant impact in purpose And so i spoke with some people outside our country and they're they're alarmed because they they wonder. Can we trust america. And i think it's understandable that when they see practices that normally been employed by the chief executive being pushed aside. They wonder what's gonna happen. So for instance the decision to to withdraw troops from afghanistan we have some forty a coalition members that are also have troops there for us to pull our troops out obviously puts our remaining troops in some danger as well as their troops and they wonder how. How do we deal. In coalition with the united states leading it if there is a decision taken under precipitous basis with which we may or may not have been familiar the troops had jeopardy. So it's it's The consequences of what's happening during this lamed up period i think are potentially more severe than the consequence associated with a a late transition process. First of all is there any recourse for the congress to rein in some of the president's excesses in this period and secondly is there the will because lie your colleagues don't want to acknowledge or haven't yet acknowledged at least publicly That the election's over the there's a timidity about taking the president on well. I think also the fact that there's a an a senate race in georgia which will determine who's the majority leader. Who are the chairs of all the committees who instead are of the minority leader and the ranking members of these committees that has enormous consequence and and president. Trump could have a quite substantial impact on that election either by a disparaging of the process in some way Or by supporting and encouraging people to come out and vote for the republican candidates so Irritated the president may not be a an easy decision for people that are concerned about that outcome. Yeah there but you can speak to this from a very personal stamp when you cast. Maybe the most difficult vote anyone can cast on the question of impeachment and you voted for conviction stood alone and i just was wondering what the experience was like. And what happened when you went home. And when you traveled around because the president it's very costly to take this president on he He's not nuanced in his response. Yeah i. I've been called a lot of names over the years. And i don't give that a lot of concern at a i i can't tell you that My my biggest concern was making sure of what i was doing was right And i don't think people all understand but when we sit as jury in an impeachment trial we are sworn a new oath or we swear new rather at and it is to act as a juror. If you will to find a truth or untruth and and so. I took that responsibility very seriously. I did not want to be in that position. I did not want to be in a trial to convict or not. Convict the president and the leader of my party. But i was thrust into that position. I took it seriously and reach. The conclusion i felt was right. I must've been was anxious about making sure. Who's making the right decision. That was the hardest part and gathering the information putting together my own time line to make sure that i had all the facts at laid out in a way that was leading to the to one conclusion or the other once determined that there was in fact guilty as had been alleged by the house then the decision was relatively straightforward and the stress was reduced. Now i'm happy to report that that while i expected to be perhaps shunned by some some people talk censoring you in back in utah. Yeah the the legislature elected a vote to censure me or to actually try and remove me. There was an effort to save. Will they give me so i i. I realized very significant political consequences. I'm not terribly popular with my party in the state of utah. And that's where i've got a lot of primary and gotta get reelected choose to run again so But that consequence is nowhere near as great as the consequence of violating your own conscience. But i will say. I was pleased that i got a call from john cornyn shortly after the vote and he said. Did i want you to know. I would not want repeat be part of a group. That was angry at someone because they voted their conscience and And mitch mcconnell likewise called me and offered the same a similar message Which was that that. I should feel. Welcome in the caucus that he and others respect people who their conscience. And i believe my colleague. We're gonna take a short break and we'll be right back with more of the x. Files more than seventy five percent of identity theft victims who had accounts open in their name didn't find out about it from their bank or credit card company. What you can't see can hurt you. Don't be one of those seventy five percents blindsided by denby. Because they were looking for it in the wrong places. Get lifelock identity theft protection. Lifelock sees certain threats. You could miss if you're only monitoring your credit and bank statements and alert you if they find something that could be suspicious plus if you do become a victim of identity theft a us based identity restoration specialist dedicated to your case will work to fix it. No one can prevent all identity theft or monitor all transactions at all businesses. But lifelock can help protect you and your personal information. Join now and save up to twenty five percent off your first year go to lifelock dot com slash funds that's lifelock dot com slash x. firms. And now back to the show. You're kind of unique figure in many different ways in the senate one of which is your sort of an institution in your state. It's clear that you know you're not you're not there you know as a careerist in the senate But i always and you know you cast incredibly co Courageous vote. i'm always reminding people though. There's a reason why profiles encourage with such a slim volume It's not the usual thing because part of being a politician is getting elected. And you know we saw just over the weekend. Mike dewine The governor of ohio made a relatively benign comment. That you know by is the president elect and The president immediately tweeted about finding a primary opponent for him In ohio and the president leverage is a lot lotta weight in the republican party so these are kind of career decisions For some of your colleagues. Isn't that a big part of In addition to georgia. Isn't that a big part of this. There's there's no question but that part of the calculation anyway mates With regards to Votes and what they say publicly particularly what this publicly what they respond to and what they sort of let slide has to be a whether they might be replaced by someone who would be a lot less capable and And and less likely to follow their conscious than themselves So you know i i. I can't ascribe that to any particular individual or college group. I believe the each follow their conscious. But but but certainly if one looks at at some of the primaries you might say that my goodness i get laws up to get beat by that person because that would make our country a put in a far weaker position. But you must in your private conversations. Most of them must understand that. The election's over. I think without question people understand the election is over. And they realize. The president has a right to call for recounts and to pursue legal remedies but at this stage. We haven't heard any evidence of a widespread voter fraud. Effort would result in a change the outcome of the election. No one's presented that That i know of course. We're all watching with great interest. The entire country is so at this stage. I think it's it's it appears to be a foregone conclusion. I mean the the place where the allegations are being made mostly in the president's twitter feed Which goes to the point you made earlier about the corrosive effect of that putin and Those you know our adversaries around the world who want to undermine american democracy. They must relish that. Surprised that that there as many people as you say that give it credibility even within our own country Because the president said before the election the if he were to lose would be because of voter fraud who'd be because corruption And then on a day or two after the election vote was called by the major networks. He indicated there was massive fraud in that he had been robbed. of the victory And that was before there was any evidence that had been gathered. so it's one thing to charge a crime Before you actually see the evidence normally find evidence and then after seeing evidence than you rich conclusion of whether or not there was a crime committed. But but i i understand. The president is not happy with the result he's entitled to pursue legal remedies but But i think in a likelihood out it's pretty clear that he at joe biden will become the next president the one thing and you've said it And i agree with you. That he's not going away He's not one to To sort of retire tomorrow ago and silently consider his place in history and is apparently is going gonna move his act down to newsmax or somewhere. makes clear. He's going to be active in politics. Leadership pac may be run again. How does that likely to affect the ability to find pathways for cooperation when a new president takes office. Well i think it really affects. What's going to happen within my party. And it's very hard for me to predict obviously accurately what the president is actually going to do And what influence he will have on the party. My my guess is he'll have a lot of influence over primaries over the party's policy going forward but he may not by other people who predict that he will play a lot more golfing and let bygones be bygones. That's in his nature. No myself so. I go continue to have a big big impact I i don't think you'll have a significant impact on legislation. And i may be wrong in that regard whether he continues to play role in in in supporting or opposing a lettuce. That comes forward. I i don't know whether that's a something he will We'll find interesting and compelling not been. That's not really been. His modus operandi as president is not that he comes up to the hill works on a piece of legislation or lays out a healthcare plan or a immigration. Plant me. He you know he puts out very trial balloons to see how people react But i don't know that he's he's likely to have a big influence on on the legislative a legislative agenda but the legislative accomplishment a congress he does weaponize these issues where he thinks that they can benefit him and he uses them To divide and that would be a concern if if cooperation becomes a test of Of loyalty let me ask you about this virus You know when i asked you before about being a governor versus being a a senator I'm sure you think from time to time. If i were governor. What would i be doing now. Or if i were the executive. If i were present what would i be doing a now. What what what should we have been doing. A what should we be doing. Well going back to the the origins of the of the disease It is my belief in obviously other people. Don't agree with me. But it's my belief that in order to maintain the confidence and trust of the public that is imported the level with the public From the very beginning so that you maintain credibility and therefore when you ask the public it is something hard they know that you're shooting straight and apparently the president took a different point of view. Which was that. He didn't want to scare people so even though he knew this was going to be serious and resolve a lot of deaths he was it was going to minimize. Initially i think that meant that. He lost credibility. I i also believe that from an organizational standpoint that it was a more appropriate approach a more effective approach to respond the way. I've watched other leaders respond when there's a crisis of some kind which is to pull to pull in power to make executive decisions and in this case to have the federal government out of plan for distributing p. p. e. for distributing medicines for all of the the functions that that states are really not well equipped to carry out without a coordinated national policy And at this stage. It looks like we're moving in that direction It looks like it. And i think you have to tip the the president and congress has hand and say well done for the the the warp speed development of vaccine. Basically that idea was we're gonna we're gonna pay upfront pharmaceutical companies for For vaccines which mammon at work. So they'll spend money necessary to test them and manufacture them and And so for that. That looks like that. That's been a good approach from what we can tell and As a at for the outside being organized relatively well to get this vaccine out into the states and to get attributed to individuals. But there's a lot of work to happen. Between now and then and one of the things we need to do is get funding to states to make sure that they have the resources to do the distribution and the inoculations. That people are going to need it. Looks like we're entering a really dire stretch here before the light at the end of the tunnel when the vaccine arrives in his distributed. I mean we see just horrific statistics and stories from around the country. Right now and real pa- Panic on the part of medical administrators about the capacity of the healthcare system. So we're sort of back to where we were at the worst part of this and maybe worse Do you think that congress can will come together here on a stimulus plan. And how how important do you think it is that they do right now. Well i actually wish that we could have an immediate passage of a vaccine distribution a program that allows us to provide funding to states. So they can be in a place to get the vaccine out of quickly as possible. I do that right right away. But if we have to wait to put together a grand package and omnibus packages some kind which is entirely possible that by the way this may be connected to an omnibus budget bill Oftentimes things move as you know. Dan large bundles right And and that may be the way to get things across the finish line but I believe that we're not far apart. A whole host of various related to a a a covert relief package. So i think we're not far apart with regression the pb program for small businesses With regards to unemployment insurance. I think we're close to funding for hospitals and an education institutions. Were very close Providing support for airlines perhaps for transit as well. I think we're close the place where were further apart a relates to should we devote hundreds of billions of dollars Four states and localities. And i think one of the reasons you're seeing such a gap. There is a defining senators from some states. Like my state where they say. We don't need additional money. We're doing just fine. We have a rainy day fund. That's gonna be our shortfall. That's why we have already day fun so you don't descend us more money And and so you have other states say boy. We've got a huge problem. You've got to give us money or we're going to to start laying off people so you've got very different perspectives so different senators and so coming together on that front may may be difficult. And i think that's why it's been so hard to reach an agreement so far which is not so much. What's the scale of the Of the relief. Gonna be as to where the money's gonna go and and a number of people Republicans in my caucus feel that. This is an effort on the part of the democrats to get money to new york and california and illinois and other states that have massive a pension liabilities It's a way to solve their problems. And and the other states. That don't have those problem saying no no. No that's not fair so we're still far apart on the station. And i just put your governor hat on for a second states have had extraordinary outlays as a result of this virus and depressed revenues now for eight months or more. It's it's about to get worse. These are real problems for the states and localities they're not I mean they may be different severity from place to place but it seems like a a national problem. That is is a result of this You know pension notwithstanding these are burdens On these states and communities Are they not. And they are and the first covid. Bill is you know provided a hundred and fifty billion dollars to states and localities directed to have a reimbursement fund for their out of pocket expenses associated with responding to cogut. And and a good portion. That monty has not been taken up yet because the costs of treating kobe at the state level. Were not as great as might have been anticipated. But the other portion did she described as a gap in revenue and And state say hey we'd like the federal government to get for that gap and revenue. And that's the point. I was making that. There are a number of states represented by republicans not all obviously but by the number of republicans particularly in the inter mountain west and north central portions of the country where the states are doing fine and revenue and where they have a very small gap. And so there's some gee why should we be part of a borrowing program to help those states that are at they feel mismanaged. Now i not going to get into the the argument that they make I happen to agree that the revenue gap is very different than a spending problem but Their number proposals. That are going around. I think governor baker of massachusetts is suggested that perhaps we should increase the amount of federal funding on medicaid and that would free up funds for states to be able to meet their needs I've suggested and other alternative which is to have the states and localities apply for for relief in the same way. The ppp program did which is if you had a substantial gap in your revenue com. Provide that the treasury department and the federal government will make up. Let's say fifty percent or sixty percent or whatever the number might be of that gap In the states that have a gap would come in asking for those fun so their ideas out there. Hopefully we can bridge the divide and get something done for the end of the year. We're going to take a short break and we'll be right back with more of the x. Fives and now back to the show. What has mask wearing been co become such a political issue. I understand people's frustration. I'm sure you hear it. All the time about the limitations that the virus has placed on their ability to make a living and sawn. I'm struck all the time that we can. Most of us can do Who who are opining on this do it. From the comfort of our own homes and a lot of people don't have that luxury and a lot of people are living from paycheck to paycheck or enormous pressure Because of this but mask wearing seems like a very sensible way to try and reduce the exposure. We know that it works Why is it become such an emblem for for particularly for conservatives You know over this this last many months to be truthful david. It's beyond me. I simply can't imagine Why there have been people primarily my party. That had politicized wearing masks. It just doesn't make sense to me. Because the the president for instance his best chance of getting reelected was for the koga crisis to be behind us for the economy to be superbly. Well the only real effective tool he had was to get people all wear masks and yet it by his own actions he made. It seem like that was not a a a politically appropriate thing to do. In some cases and So he was in some respects working counter purpose At of course the health consequence could be enormous. You know it. It's true that there's no there's no one action that we can take that stops covid. Nineteen i think someone is described that as a a A series of slices of swiss cheese. Which is there are holes through all vehicles. We have to prevent the spread of cobra. Not master not one. Hundred percent effective Social distance against certain that one hundred percent effective and the list goes on and the vaccine will not be hundred percent effective. But if you do all of them if you take all of those steps why then you really do. Dramatically reduce the likelihood that you're going to get covid nineteen and you reduce the the spread that might occur by people receiving so i. I can't tell you that that the the new media meeting social media has has allowed for the spread of conspiracies that That include wearing masks out will also. I'm mean that some people won't get vaccinated. You have conspiracy about vaccinate. And they're all these conspiracies out there and You know it. It catholic wildfire people for some reason. We have a natural tendency to want to believe that people who are expert the people in charge are really lying to us and the only people that are telling us the truth are the neighbor down the street who has no expertise all It's very very strange phenomenon. During the midst of this we also had the george floyd killing and the social justice marches. And you joined one apparently sort of spontaneously organically you you you fell in with a group of evangelicals who were marching in washington In one of these social justice marches Black lives matter marches. Tell me about that how that came about and why you felt compelled to to To join well i actually. It was a sunday at actually driven at from new hampshire. Where i had been that weekend. We have a home that are driven down and i got in. I don't know four or five o'clock on a sunday afternoon and At a heard that there was a group gathering outside the capitol to support the black lives matter message and So i i just walked over to the capitalist very close to my home walked over the capitol and and zabel to march with those people as they marched marched from the capital to the white house and It's pretty straightforward for me. Black lives matter is a statement saying that we have a justice system and law enforcement system which from time to time. does not exercise equal and fair justice. And that's a that's an important message. We wanna make it very clear. That law enforcement as well as other parts of a justice system should be colorblind And should not be a discriminatory against people of color. I i happen to have an african-american grandson. I you know. I understand that there is so called the talk where parents talked to a child about the discrimination about exist because of the color of their skin. I don't know how this grandson of mine will be able to understand that and understand. Why is it that that i will be treated differently than my siblings in the my cousins simply because my the pigment of my skin is different at and i find that very troubling now now i know some people say well but how about the black lives matter organization. You subscribe to their manifesto cycle. I haven't even seen the manifesto. I don't worry about that organization. A lot of people try and take credit for movements but the movement that drop drew out millions of people here around the world was a very simple movement. Which is we want to see. More racial justice wanted to be less discrimination. We want to stand with our black friends to say. Yeah your lives do matter. You come by this Naturally i you. And i have had this discussion before i grew up as a young kid and one of my political heroes was actually your dad. Though i grew up in a democratic family because He courageously stood up for civil rights in the nineteen sixties. As governor of michigan He participated in marches. then And i wonder i how much he was on your mind. during these marches. I also wonder how much he's been on your mind. During some of these political battles that you focus your. Your father was famously At odds with the leadership of his own party at times not just you know on civil rights but other issues And often still on. And i was wondering whether he plays on your mind as you make these decisions. There's no question but the who i am. And what little courage. I have It is the result to a large measure Of of having watched by my dad exercise courage of his own People feel that that that That what he did was courageous That what he did show a degree of integrity and those things by the way only have value if there's a cost associated with with them with exercising them and and so i saw my dead make decisions which were politically uncomfortable. And which had consequence for him. But i i saw that and saw that. He was happy and satisfied. Because of it. I remember one time My my wife and my dad were were driving in boston. And the radio came on and said the bob backfire. Formerly the secretary of defense deliver johnson bob mcnamara had said that in fact he had lied to the american people about the deaths of vietnam about the vietnam war and that came on the radio and my My wife attorney my dad. Who had accused the johnson administration of lying and said you know you know. George dad Doesn't that make you feel good. You hear that. He's finally admitted because by the way mcnamara had said of him. My dad george. Romney wouldn't know the truth if it hit him in the face. Yeah we should point out for those who don't know the history that he spoke out against the war in one thousand nine hundred sixty seven and he was in the midst of perhaps running for president cost him. You know really basically cost him. His political career served in the cabinet after that. But but that was it and so. That's the context in which you're telling the story down so my my my wife said you know doesn't that make you feel good. And he turned to hurt. He said i never looked back. I'll look forward. Why would i looked back. It's very interesting. I mean he. He was not troubled by the consequence of doing what he felt was right and and i'm sure that that influenced an influences. How i think about my life. We're all influenced by our parents and i. I have a picture. My dad Marching in detroit with for a civil rights. 'cause i don't know who the people are on the pitcher has himself there a couple of big both color their number of people of color few others and no question. He was governor at the time so he was at the front of the parade and at i recognized. I'm not governor in the in the march that we had to wash i was just back with all the other folks which i was perfectly comfortable with but i did think about him. And and my my recollection is he marched more than once for civil rights and At that time for a republican governor to be leading and civil rights was was bor- unusual that event is today. I wanna ask you really quickly about The supreme court phone that you took for justice barrett i. I'm one who believes that if democrats had the choice had the option and were in in that same position probably would've wanted to move forward on that nomination because as you have pointed out that is within the authority of the president. The thing that outrage people as you know was that that wasn't the principle that was applied for years earlier when Justice scar judge garland. Never got a hearing president obama's choice for almost a full year after justice. Scalia died it took four hundred days to fill that seat. You can appreciate that sense of. I guess hypocrisy can't you out certainly at at at st lay individuals Susan collins for instance she said She said that she would not support a judge garland because it was an election year and she said i think in august of this year that she would not support a a trump nominee if it were to occur during that year and she was consistent with that in her in her boat. I hope that had. I said similar things in the past that i would have had the courage that susan collins demonstrated. I was of course not there at that time. But i understand why people feel that One argument was made at one time and it was not abided. By the second time i came into the senate of course not having made statements of that nature and looks at the very simple fact. The constitution gives the president the right to make the nomination and the senate to accept or reject. The the set of the past the senators in my view would have been lot wiser just to say. We'll give this hearing bo. We're not planning on confirming him Because we want a person that conforms to our political philosophy that would have been a wiser thing to say because of course it's been many times even during election years when presidents have put forward a nominee if if the senate is not in their party's hands while the dominy gets turned out so that's not unusual but the the logic that was given at the time i think at was not applied In the in the current circumstances. For those people i think a day after explain that yeah it just Those things are among the things that erode people's confidence in these democratic institutions of ours Let me ask you You've got a large beautiful family How many grandkids do you have. Twenty five twenty five okay. So that's a baseball team. Right there are you are. What are you thinking about thanksgiving. Everybody's worried about what they should do on thanksgiving. Are you gonna be able to get together with your family. Are you gonna forego that. Have you had those discussions. are we've had those discussions and we are all being very careful We recognize that. There's a light at the end of the tunnel vaccine light and it would be foolish for us to take a relaxed version of of of the efforts. We've been carrying out for these past many months and to get covid now. I have a son who actually had covert he had. His daughter came over my school with it. They didn't know she had it spread through his family so my son his wife and all his job in got so. We'll be having thanksgiving dinner with them because they've all had they can't give it to us we can't give it to them But that's the only a son will be an good grandkids will be having a thanksgiving dinner with. So we're we're staying safe. dave. Hope you do too. Yeah yeah no it's listen. We're agonized about it but totally. You gotta take the long view here. I just want to say before we go something that i say behind your back. Which is this. I played some small role in thwarting your campaign in two thousand twelve and eight months later. You invited my wife. Susan and me to come and talk to a group of your Supporters At a conference not about politics but about epilepsy which is played my daughter's life and We got a wonderful reception great support. But it also told me something about you and your humanity and I like to tell that story because it's important in politics to remember that even if we have different views we share a common humanity. And we have to see that in each other but for someone who had run for president to invite the strategist for the other guy to come and talk was moving to me. Gave me hope and And deep appreciation for you as a person. So i wanted to take the opportunity to say that too. Because i do say it behind your back. I want to say in front of you. Thank you david. You're you're very kind. And i have learned that people who who were my political adversaries nevertheless Without exception so far are people who love the country. Like i do and want to see a future for the american people dislike. I wanna see and and so while we're in competition with one another we can. We can be ferocious and aggressive at at us are are full energy. But we're outdated. We're fighting for the same purpose. When all is said dumb. And i i ran against ted kennedy wants. I disagreed with a whole host of policies. But we worked together. When i became governor. We became collaborators on my healthcare plan and uncertain other economic development initiatives and we became france So we should those of us who disagree with one another should spend more time listening to one another and establishing the kind of report that allows us to learn from another. And i appreciate the chance. I've had learned from you Not meeting in utah. But also watch you on a cnn election night and the next day and the next election week we call it now. Also formative i. I appreciate it. Well i hope that the ideal that you lay out is one that survives this particularly ugly period in our history and survived the onslaught of social media and disinformation because at the end of the day. Democracy kind of relies on that and the ability to find ways to move forward together even when we disagree on maybe many other things and to Into respect each other as as human beings so for that reason and many others. I'm so appreciative that you're here today. Thanks the senate around thank you. Thank you for listening to the x-files brought to you by the university of chicago institute of politics and cnn audio the executive producer of this show. Is emily stanton. The show is also produced by. Miriam annenberg jeff fox young mcdonald and seal and special. Thanks to our partners at cnn. Including courtney kube ashley lest and meghan marcus for more programming from the visit politics dot. You chicago dot edu.

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Ep. 358  Gary Cohn

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

1:03:02 hr | 1 year ago

Ep. 358 Gary Cohn

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Fourth Twenty nineteen and terms apply and now from luminary media and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics The accident with your host David Axelrod Gary Cohn became a man in the news when President Trump chose him to lead the National Economic Council during the first year and a half of the president's administration cone was the architect of the trump tax cuts cuts but he also clashed with trump on everything from trade and immigration to Charlottesville. Finally resigning in two thousand eighteen. I sat down with cone last week at the Institute of Politics to talk about his experience. In the trump administration his role as a leader of Goldman Sachs during the mortgage crisis and his own surprising. Life Story Gary Cohn. Great to see you. Thank you for being at the Institute of Politics Wchs and great great to sit down with you. You have a remarkable personal story. I know everybody's interested in your recent story and we'll get to that but I I really am interested in your your personal journey which is an inspiring one But Tell me a little bit about your your family. Your grandfather was an immigrant from Poland. When when did he come over here? My grandfather came over And as a thirteen year old you know escaping Europe as Typical Jewish immigrant. Trying to get out of Europe was early early twentieth century. Yes yes early. Twentieth twenty century the drums. Exactly the story goes something like this. thirteen-year-old eight dollars in his pocket put on a boat to escape to a better land land. America came by himself. Came through Ellis. Island had a relative in Cleveland Ohio so somehow managed to find his relative in Cleveland. Ohio and set up in Cleveland Ohio That was the end of his formal education. was basically you know being a thirteen year. Old came to Cleveland the on and started working literally. Odd Jobs Working three jobs to support himself. He was literally a bottle Washer back in the days when we had glass milk bottles he was a candy maker literally made Fudge in at night and then ultimately got himself into the Electrical Union as an apprentice apprentice and ultimately that's where he found his career as being an electrician but completely self made man with Lily one relative in America and I think very typical story of a lot of people in that period of time trying to get out of Europe trying to get through the United States. It's trying to find a better opportunity. So I I have to ask you I I. I don't want to disrupt the the narrative of your story but it has used just everyone's story informs their thinking and their their views one of the things that you obviously had a difference with the president on was the issue of immigration. How much of that I mean? Some of it is pure economics were aging country. We need immigrants How much of it though is also informed by your your own experience and you're the story of your grandfather and a million other stories like that? I'm one of them. I'm the son of an immigrant myself. Both of my grandfathers were Polish. I basically Polish immigrants so I think that clearly has an impact. On the way I think of immigration this country just from a fundamental the mantle experience of having grown up with immigrant grandparents and grandparents came to this country and help build this country and created did economic prosperity. Not only for themselves. But my mom's father one who just talking about you know. He ended up building a a relatively decent size local northeast. Ohio business and probably at the height of electrical supplies electrical contracting probably had two hundred and fifty three hundred employees You know and to me. That's the American dream when you talk about the growth of the economy here. A lot of companies are started by immigrants. You know when we look at today's economy in the technology world. I think it's over. Fifty eight percent of the billion dollar. Plus plus technology companies have been started by immigrants. Yeah and I think what's instructive here. Is You know people talk about well. We need to bring high end. Immigrants Immigrants who are highly early educated. The fact is that your grandfather is a great example of someone who came here with nothing but ambition to build a better life and and that was the spark for success and that is really how the country the country was built. But I you know back in the day when he was coming over when my father came over my father came nineteen twenty one the things that are being said about immigrants. Today we're being set about immigrants from Poland and Eastern in Europe Jews that they were diluting the the The population taking taking taking jobs ABS. Yeah no look. The narrative. Unfortunately hasn't really changed is just abdin flowed during periods of time You know the the the good news about when our grandparents came over it was a high economic growth prosperity time we were going through a bit of Ah Industrial Revolution which was a highly labor intensive part in our history We're going through an interesting time right now where we've got got you know fifty year unemployment rates Gill unemployment rates at fifty year lows at three and a half percent. We've got wage growth so where it another point in our history where we're going to continue. Can you. To grow our economy. We need more and more workers and so the times are probably very similar to each other one was a more manual labor Economy Economy and now they were more of a digital economy. And what I guess a lot of people like calling the GIG economy to some extent. Yeah We'll we'll get get back to the immigration issue in the in the modern context. You grew up in Cleveland area. As you as you point out one interesting thing about your story is that you had You had a learning challenge DISA- disability in dyslexia and you You sort of discarded in certain ways by your teachers. At an early age they gave up on your Potential Oh tential Ta talk about. Yes so I was probably a bit of the perfect storm A I had this Lexi but in nineteen one thousand nine hundred sixty four five six seven when I was going through those various formative years of learning how to read and write dyslexia wasn't Well diagnosed in people didn't understand it. We also I got caught in that perfect storm over. They were experimenting in Public Schools with a new way of reading. Something call which was very phonetic way of reading where knife wasn't spelled with a K.. It was spelled with an end the way I think it should spelled anyways So I got caught up in this world where I basically didn't see letters in the right order anyways anyways and then was shown one way to read and never could transition transition to a second way of reading and you'll in in in the sixties there was really very little information on dyslexia so you know the the typical remedy in the public school little system was that I was very lazy. I didn't care I'm and I had no desire to learn which in many respects was the complete opposite is it of what was going on so you know. Every every time I went into a new classroom setting I would go through the same. I'm horrible experience of being told I was lazy. I didn't apply myself. I if I'd only try succeed and you're like four schools by the time I mean look I the the the the issue with with a I guess a rambunctious kid kid who really does want to succeed in his tired of being told he's a failure is you tend to try and create relationships and be part of the class structure in other ways. So I get on in. Hindsight sorta became the class clown design extent and being the class clown. Maybe fun but it doesn't endear yourself to the faculty so I had a few run INS with fueled few different school faculties lease and he was asked to leave public school. And and sort of worked my way through the Cleveland School System. Going from the gamut of a public school to completely open school to ending up at a highly highly disciplined Catholics. Go Nice Jewish kid cow right. So you know I definitely. I saw the gamut of Academic institutions growing up. And so you folks kept getting told. This kid isn't going anywhere. This doesn't have it. It was really your grandparents who who saw in you. Something that others didn't see if so the reason I talk about my mom's father so much is is because he was really the one that that in many respects Saul who I was understood who I was in sort of protected me in my in my life life in he was the one who kept reassuring. My parents that know your your son is going to be fine and my grandfather kept saying this is not a dumb kid so just just keep stay with him so he kept convincing. My parents That you know there's something here don't don't don't don't throw this getaway and this was the point where The academic system was saying to my parents literally when I overheard this conversation one day where a teacher pulled my momma said said. Look if your son grows up to be a truck driver that will be a good outcome for. How did you feel when you heard well in many respects? It just inspired me so like in my mind. I knew knew that I could succeed. I didn't know what success was but I didn't think driving a truck with success. I didn't know where I could ultimately end up but but I use it as a motivating factor to get to what I wanted to get and allowed it to to to push me to to achieve more and more and more and look. It wasn't really to chill. I got to college. I could university. I went to American University. ORSI wasn't you get to college. You can sort of figure out how to quasi succeed academically. You know I'll never claimed. Aim to be a great student but for you reading was labored. I mean may still still. It's still is yeah. I read somewhere that I can't remember. What the denominations nominations were? But how long it takes you to to work through it and pay in so look what I have trained myself to do in this is a trainings. I can read a contract because a contract has to make sense. Point be has to come after point A. and point see has to come after point be so so it's very largely laid out where I know what's going to come next and so I can read sort of non-fiction because the characters are the characters in May each play their role but I can't read a fiction book today. Still never read one in my life so when people ask me. What was the last book you read for foreign? I I look at him sort across it and say what are you talking about It's sort of like you know I'm looking at the books on your shelf. And he asked me which one of those I've read like I haven't read any of those books because those books would make make sense to me. Yeah one of them you put it out with fear by Bob Woodward we'll get to that I have a sense. You do know what the Book Jacket Looks. You may have glanced through through that one. I I don't know but people have read parts of it to me so you got through college. You went home You were basically goofing gone. Yeah basically back bedroom at six thirty in the morning you had a come to Jesus with him so I I went through college so so interesting story. I after my freshman year in college I got a internship at a local brokerage firm in Cleveland Anyway which was really the moment that changed my life and I ended up in the commodities department because that was the part where the guys didn't wear ties and yelled and screamed all day long and and it was the most undisciplined part of the brokerage shop? I opened up a brokerage account for the month. I was there. I traded the Chicago New York. Gold arbitrage made paid a lot of money doing that in in time. Try To tell my dad. I wasn't going back to college after one year. That did not go well. So I'm first generation in college educated. My family my. My parents went right into the family. Businesses in kids as as parents did in that in that generation and my dad told me that he He wasn't going to have it that he worked hard enough to safer college education. We're going to college. So was the idea when you just going to. You're going to well after that. It's summer with the amount of money I was able to make with the inefficiency in the market. I said this complete waste and for you to AB paying tuition. When I can be be making obscene amount of money in a risk-free fashion so needless to say he forced me back to college all the money I made that summer? I continue to trade when I went back to school and put put things in perspective. I was trading on a payphone in the hall and the one eight hundred number. Because we're no cell phones you know. The story lost all back within three or four weeks. I lost everything I had made in the month. They lost it all back. I got angry at the system and so I graduated two years later so I graduated college in three years. They'd summer and it was Mike Plan to ultimately go to the floor of a commodities exchange. Having seen that if you you know you can't beat them. Join them so you went to work for. US steel so excited sided. One thing led to the next and I ended up working for is called all side. which is the Home Building Products Division of steals replacement Windows Gutter Coil? Aluminum siding hiding vinyl siding. So I worked there till Thanksgiving of that you went into new. You went into the city went to the commodities exchange so who I finally got myself to the new Long Island Office in convincing ninety two weeks there and after a week and a half I convinced the head of the office that I wouldn't being on Friday that Friday I got myself down to the commodity exchange in New York and spent the whole day at the commodity exchange. Trying to to figure out how to get on the floor to get a job which is virtually impossible. These exchanges are locked down. They have a lot of security. You just can't wander on the floor and in a bit of fate eight standing at the elevator. The last possible moment panicking that I had failed and thrown away the day and not succeeded. I heard a gentleman say. Hey I'm running to the airport. I'll call you when I get there. I jumped in the elevator with them and said hey are you going to laguardia. He said yes. I said you might have I ride with you. He said no no idea who he was. Not a clue in the world. Not a clue a he he like he could have been the owner of a firm. He could have been the janitor. I had I had no idea who he was. So you just took a shot took a shot. I had I had nothing to lose it by the time time. You get to Laguardia You had struck up this relationship. Yup and he And he asked you what you new. Yes and you lied. Of course. I lied so that happened to be the first week that they had started trading options on futures and he had been he was the options traders for one of the big floor brokerage firms so he asked me in the in. The taxi wanted new adoptions. Could I help him and of course I know everything. There's nothing I don't know about options. I can help you. I can do whatever you need to do. He said well. I need someone to stand behind me and tell me what to do. I don't know anything about options I need to tell me. What the by with the cell? How how to trade? So I said great. I'm your guy didn't know a thing about options at the time literally got got on the plane went back to Cleveland got off. The plane went to Barnes and noble an again got lucky walked into Barnes and noble the by book which is kind of ironic that'll dyslexic kids going into a book. But I had to do something Went and bought the Macmillan book options as a strategic investment. which is now I know is the Bible of options trading? I just happened to look like the right book at the time I picked him by the collar and went in there and memorize sort of three chapters after three. There's probably fifty strategies in the Macmillan Book I memorized three strategies. Went Back to interview them. Talked about this three strategies until I was blue Lou in the face and he hired me on the spot and I started the next week and you thrived there. I did that that going through. That book was a probably a trial trial to given you know. Yeah Yeah I mean. That's why. I chose three chapters other fifty chapters on. There was no way I was GONNA I. I was GonNa get to the whole book so I happen at show she choose three chapters that were relatively straightforward. That seemed like okay. I could get these. I can explain lane these I can execute these and seem like any in the right place there and you ended up at Golden Sachs by Thanksgiving of eighty two. I was on the floor. Stayed on the floor Till eighty nine in in an interesting moment in time by that point I had sort of worked my way into the governance exchange. I was on the board of the exchange. I got myself to the board of the clearinghouse and a funny thing happened. This little firm called Drexel went bankrupt and myself myself and another gentleman who happened to be Goldman Sachs partner. We were asked to liquidate the drexel clearinghouse position which was a massive position So I became friendly. With a guy named Jim Riley who was running the metals trading adding department at Goldman Sachs and we became friendly and that whole drexel bankruptcy process and then at the end of that year he had asked me to come up and join Goldman Zack's income trade for him on his desk. He wanted me to come up and be a proprietary trader for Goldman Sachs and you you became a partner. I thirty four four when you became a was a partner there and You had a meteoric rise you ended up as a CO president chief operating officer for Goldman one of the things that you did there. You had the mortgage Portfolio and you greatly enhanced Goldmans Goldman's involvement in the mortgage market. Obviously this had it made a lot of money for them. It also took a very a very dark turn in the in the mid to late two thousands and Goldman's come under Goldman had to pay five five billion dollars in fines And related to this partly for hedging against shorting the market they were marketing products For talk about that whole mortgage episode and How how you look back at it now? The End Goldman's role in it. So this is a complicated complicated situation so and I could spend the next three hours talking about to get to the bottom. But I'll try to it relatively high level so we good luck bad luck you know this. There's probably one of those things we prior to the mortgage crisis had opened a bank a Utah. ILC Bank And in that I'll see bank when you're taking deposits you've got investment something. We had made a decision to who by mortgages in that bank so we ultimately had a portfolio that was quite long mortgage product subprime mortgage the whole the whole spectrum more advice from AAA prime all the way down to subprime it. I ah it became more and more obvious to me as a guy running our mortgage trading business which was a very large trading business in agency type mortgages and we did create a lot of the asset market essentially aggregating and and and selling rice agriculture huge pools of diverse mortgages is into one security and reselling security which is at the core of the crisis. Yeah the core of the crisis was was was definitely that and then how. You sort of index them So but having seen all that it became more and more obvious to me the being long mortgage or spread product as they call it was completely the wrong position so we made a relatively strategic decision. There was a fairly famous meeting. That's been written but not many times with myself and then. CFO David Vinegar where we decided to hedge our bank mortgage position so you know people refer to as the big door. It became the big short. It became the big short. And and if you read into it you know we talked about the big short only to cover there are big long. People didn't want to talk about the big long that we had in the. I'll see bank. They only WanNa talk about the short. But you also so didn't WanNA talk You didn't WanNa talk about the risks of these products that you're selling That caused you to go short. Uh on on these very same product so so look we went short in a variety of different ways. You you know the the interesting thing about you. Know the commodity markets or the derivative market. It's a zero-sum market so if I'm GonNa go short and say I will make money if the market goes down own someone has to say I will take the position to be long and make money if the market goes up and so a lot of people have written about the fact that we took a position or we facilitated the creation a products that if the market went down the M- the people people would make money if the market went down. The thing that was disturbing to many many people was that a lot of people lost their homes. A lot of people Were ruined wind by this crisis and And people in the industry Who who who were in a position to to maneuver and go sh short on it ended up coming out? Okay I I think that's a very over-simplification Thirty two mortgage originating banks went out of business so I don't think any of those people feel like they were okay. Did you net out ahead. I think it was about even re- honest with you. I it was it was not a windfall profit. Let let me ask you one last question on this You We're talking to a journalist once in in About all doctorate yet. This probably discouraged discourages. You Bet You said Who broke the law? I just want to know who broke. The law was the waitress in Las Vegas who had six houses leverage at one hundred percent with no income which she reckless and stupider was the banker reckless and stupid but the banker is in A. Isn't the banker in a better position to understand The risks than the waitress trysts in Las Vegas who thought this thing was and maybe was marketed to her. In a way that said well this is a this is a pretty good deal This look it's an interesting question now is is is. Are we also close to play big brother. So if you're a waitress address and you've already bought the house and you bought your six house and you're doing no docks no documentation no income verification advocation loans and the bank gives you one and there's a rental market that justifying buying the house. I don't know who's guilty in that. I I my point is everyone is equal everyone guilty in that what information should have been given to the waitress about the risks associated with I. I wasn't part of that but I bet you the waitress was given all of the risk disclosure and she side. I guarantee you because the the bank regulations are still pretty tough now did did. Did the entire industry go too far down on lack of documentation lack of income verification lack of down payment hundred percent loan to value. Of course they did. I'M NOT GONNA sit here and say the industry was was perfect. Perfect I'll ask you. I know you're supposed to be asking me but when you when you when you click on APPs today this is not the cone funnel. No we knew. Click on APPs today and and you get nineteen pages of disclaimer and it says you accept or not. Have you read. Have you read all that. No because it may say that you may lose your house in it may say you may lose. Lose your car and it may say that we may take your information and sell it. It may say all these I asked you. Click on it I I do. That's a good point. Click on I click on it. Yes okay I have some intuitive sense of of of risk and if I think there is a risk I probably show it to my lawyer and say what are you you know the waitress in Las Vegas probably had some intuitive sense to and she said they can do lose the house right and guess what she lost the House. Yeah I And and and the country went into a deep economic Spiral because of that. But did they do. You have regrets about how you handle the how Goldman handle it. How the industry handled it? So there's there's many different ways to answer that question. There really are so so look my job at Goldman Sachs was to to to act as a fiduciary for my shareholders so acting as a fiduciary for my shareholders and protecting them and protecting the net worth of the firm and protecting the value of the firm. I think we did a pretty good job. Maybe did a very good job and sometimes not losing money is is. I always say sometimes not. Losing money is more valuable than making money. So from that standpoint did a pretty pretty good job to a very good job on the reputational risk standpoint which is always a much more difficult thing in something that we probably spend the next ten in years discussing was reputational risk and we got to this interesting saying in the firm. I shouldn't say we I haven't been there for three years. Yo It's the old can we. Should we just because we can do something should we do it. And it's a very interesting discussion and it fits in almost every industry. Sorry just because we can do. It doesn't mean we should do it On the can we should we. I think Goldman like every every financial institution small and large and start with every tiny mortgage originator all the way down all the way through the credit ratings everyone everyone involved in the spectrum and I don't think anyone gets a free pass. Everyone missed the little bit on the can we should we. They forgot this. Should we part just because we can doesn't mean we should do it so I I think everyone in hindsight owns some responsibility on the should we side let let me let me Move forward here to Your service in government. You're you're a democrat. I still am a Democrat. Always he's been a democrat. And were you surprised when you got an intriguing. Jared Kushner asked for your advice During the campaign you agonized over it got some advice. Thought this guy could be president. Maybe I could be helpful. Yes so I interface with the campaign came came after the convention before the first debate the hoster debate was supposed to be an economic debate. It was it wasn't as we both know. And I got a call from jared to ask me if I would meet with them and talk about the economic issues and I wasn't sure what to do because you never actually met with With candidate Hannity. I did not meet with the candidate. Then you really meet with them until after the after the election correct. I didn't meet with him till after Thanksgiving after the election so is literally coming up on the University of meeting with a sound like a peculiar meeting because he was very taken by you I was Steve Mnuchin there. Yes Steve was there. And and and Candidate Now the president president-elect says hey I should made you the Treasury injury secretary which must have made Mnuchin feel that we must have been awkward moment. It was a strange moment. You know Stephen I had worked together is Stephen. I had had known each other for many many years. It was a bit of an awkward moment. But you ultimately he offered you the Chairmanship the Directorship of the National Economic Council essentially being his chief economic adviser. Did you have. What was your throat with? Did you talk to your family did you. How did you process that or did you just say he's the president of the United States? He's asking me to do this. And so we we The president-elect and I had gone through a bunch of iterations of would I come to work for him. What would I do so literally the first meeting? I went in to see him. which was the Tuesday after Thanksgiving? I was under the belief that I was there to go through a economic overview of the United States and jared had asked me to come and said look exactly what you did with us in September right before the Hofstra debate. I'd like you to sit down with the president-elect and do that did you. Yeah Yeah I. I was prepared to do that but did you do it. Was He interested in hearing that no he he actually was he. He actually was interested in doing that. and he gave me quite a bit of time. People were were warning me. He wouldn't give you a lot of time. I I went in well prepared with you. Know My my three rebate bullet points I wanted to make and then I had lots of talking points below there but yes he he did. Let me talk about the. US economy he did. Let me talk about out my concerns about what what the opportunities were and what the risks were and then you know literally sort of an hour into oh supposed I do. I thought was supposed to be at ten to fifteen minute meeting We started getting in the discussion of working for him In Typical Donald trump fashion in. This is something you sort of admire about him. You know about an hour in the meeting. He turned him. You'RE GONNA come to work for me. I said look with all due. Respect was the president-elect I have one of the best jobs in America. You know really happy doing what I'm doing. I love what I'm doing obviously hadn't watched the apprentice. Because that's how it works. Yeah Yeah I don't watch. TV clearly clearly did not prep well for them. And and so it ultimately midler led to an offer. Yeah who come and were were you were going to give up this obviously very successful career in business or at least put it on hold and and go to work for a guy who was pretty a controversial in elite circles and you travel in elite circles one of the things that that strikes me is And it automatically led to you leaving but a donald trump got elected on some very specific plan. I mean if just as a political person I can just tell you that the things that resonated the most with his base was anti-trade You know Trade Trade Agreements Anti Immigration Anti you know. Climate Change denial and so on And then the argument that climate change REMEDIATION was bad for the economy. I mean there are things I know you agreed on taxes and regulation but those were sort of lynchpins of his candidacy. You knew that going in right yes I knew it but remember I also thought that I could potentially sway him. mm-hmm yeah and I also know historically being a little bit of a story in of presidential races that sometimes what you run on is not exactly what you mean when you come to govern right so you know in my mine having on the inside and trying to influence was better than being on the outside and trying to get to a more positive outcome on your climate on trade on Immigration Shen. Those were those were three areas. where I you know the President I you know had many many many long discussions on The value and what I thought the potential outcomes were or were I wear some compromise positions. Maybe and how I mean in the book that I mentioned earlier. That's on the shelf over here thing. I'm staring at your staring at Bob Woodward's book. He reported that On occasion you would remove move paper from the president's desk You know that would have Pulled the US out of trade agreements. South Korea Nafta data. Is that true. Did you what kinds of things did you do to try. And prevent what you thought would be not a destructive decision. So they look I come from a fact based world in my world. It's like you can have your opinions and I can have my opinions and we can argue all day long but if I can empirically show you facts and I can show you reality. That's supposed the win the day so I spent the vast majority of my time with President and he gave me enormous amount of time. No one should think that he got short shrift here and I and and I probably got a disproportionate amount of his time in the White House. I went in overly prepared with with factual analysis on the intended and unintended consequences of different moves that he would make make and tried to persuade him. Based on the facts and in many respects look it may not have ended up where I wanted to end up but I know for sure we along aided the timeframe months if nine years on some of these decisions and the president understood or had a greater appreciation for the potential unintended consequences that may not have affected his decision. But I knew before. He made that decision that when I thought what was going to happen APPA happened. He wouldn't be shocked by which I thought. Isn't it advisor to the president. Is My job ultimately and you know this having served as he's the ultimate decision maker. I'm supposed to do my job and make sure that he understands the impact of that decision and his supporters would say you you you you should not substitute your judgment for his judgment. He was the guy who got elected. Right didn't run for office right so you didn't I notice that you artfully didn't answer the question as to whether you remove paper from his desk should I take that as a yes. I supported the president. In best factual analysis. There was one moment that was widely reported in written about where you Around Charlottesville when you were standing next to him and he said things that were deeply offensive to you and many others and you A went into resign and he said it would be treason for you to resign. What kind of how is how did that conversation go? Why'd you decide decide to stay so again? I had an interesting relationship with the president He and I were brutally honest honest with each other always and I and I would hope that every other advisor to every other president would be limited stop there for secondary because John Kelly. I did a forum and he said when he left he told the president do not surround yourself with people who are going to tell you what you WanNa hear. Because you'RE GONNA end up getting impeach. He is now being impeached. Do you think that Kelly was right. Is there an absence of people around him to to tell. Tell him what he doesn't want to hear as you told him what he didn't want to hear when I went to the White House and it was interesting because I I I came into the White House as a complete stranger to that group of people. I mean I wasn't involved in the campaign wasn't involved in any. In fact a lot of people who were there were strangers. But when I showed up it was interesting you know. I run into a rob porter who have secretaries Dow who is amazing as a staff secretary and another guy that would just stand there and color present the truth you know you so you look at you look at rapport porter. Look at Myself Robin. I probably spent the most time in the Oval Office to get some safety in numbers just sitting there telling the president what he needed here then look. mcgann was a very good lawyer. Who is there? Also tell the president what he needed to know Kelly there to tell the president we needed to know McMaster there to tell the president would he needed no. We had an interesting nucleus of people when I was in the White House the initial team we you were not bashful. There was a group that was willing to tell the president what he needed to know whether you wanted to hear it or not. I can't help notice we have you. Are there any I was. I was just GONNA say none of us. Are there anymore so i. I am concerned that the the atmosphere career in the White House is no longer conducive or no one has the personality to stand up and tell the president what he he doesn't want to hear. You know this may be. I don't want to sound arrogant but my view was look. I'm here to be an adviser to the president. I advised the most important companies in the world. I made my reputation and brand in life by telling them the truth. I told a lot of CEO's and a lot of boards things they didn't want on ear. I wasn't going to treat the presence of the United States any differently. If he wanted to fire me he could fire me. I served it pleasure. I understood that and I was K. Hey if he didn't want to hear among the advice you You you gave them was on matters. That involve business one was on the. At and T.. He Time Warner merger and he wanted the Justice Department to intervene. In that case you were quoted Coming out of their. Ah Telling Kelly. Don't you fucking Dare Collar Justice Department. We're not going to do business. That way. Is that among the blunt advice that you gave. I gave save the truthful blunt advice understanding law having grown up in a highly regulated business. Do you think the president understood the boundaries. I look I very much. Respect the constitution and the independent agency structure in the United States like to me the independent agency structure. You know. Having been fed watcher my whole life I lived and died watching the not a job I want and watching the FTC. In in watching all of the different agencies I think the independent agency structure in the United States is very very important. I don't think people understand it. People in the government may understand understand it so when ever the president would get close to that line. I would sit there and tell him. Look Mr present. This is not where you you should go. And I send attitude the fat I send it to him with every independent obviously a time warner owned. CNN He also went after Amazon and was clearly irritated about the coverage. He was getting in the Washington Post. Where these were the kinds of where these are sort of triggers for these discussions the there we're lot to different triggers for these discussions I felt it was my job to bring the facts into discussion. So you know a another area where we had you know lots of discussion. Was this whole idea an Amazon hurting the post office and the US postal the Amazon's largest largest client Amazon. US Post Office would have to raise rates dramatically like. It's my job as an advisor to explain to the president how many packages go through the US post office. That's not what he said publicly. I understand but like you and I both know two or at least we should know that the fact that e mail has taken over almost all first class mail and the only thing that really goes straight now is third class mail and so they have lost their big client which is stuff that has to get there relatively quickly but they have subsidized that by being in the package delivery system. Yeah without that package delivery I get I get a two. But so would and was it your sense that he was ticked at Basil's and that was what was motivating. I don't know for sure I can't say that for sure So Charlottesville I left you off in the middle of the story was fine can you can you know and I know that one of your. Your children You know was impacted by this. It was a swastika. UH-HUH I actually think Bob took some liberties on the conversation because you you told him how upset you were about this in the spirit of the bluntness that you say you share with him and you said you WanNa leave and he said it would be treason for you to leave so again in in in typical me fashion. I didn't hold back with him. On my view on Charlottesville. What's Phil especially good? People on both sides of the line will resonate in my head for the rest of my life and just for you. Let me just point out. If someone who served in the Watson with the president with who am I was very very close it is not easy to sit in that office until the president of the United States. Stuff under the best of circumstances that they don't WanNa hear. I suspect maybe even harder harder with him. I don't know but I just want to set context here. These are hard conversation. Oh these are very difficult conversations these are you look. You're talking talking to the president of the United States. You are telling him right. You're literally telling him things he does not want to hear. Did he vehemently disagrees with you. Know that before you walk in. It's not like you're confused. Where his position? Yeah I confused and was he angry at you. Oh I'm sure I'm sure he was angry with me A more so than angry. He just disagreed with me. He just disagreed me too. What the context was in what had been said what the meaning of the conversations were and what was the context of treason? How would it be treasonous? Futilely well at the time it was August. I remember it very clearly. We were sort of in the beginning of the heavy lift on tax reform And I was leading the tax tax reform policy discussions. I was having all the meetings. I was driving tax reform and I think the president was Concerned that if I wasn't there to drive tax reform the tax reform wouldn't get done and that was sort of his number number one agenda item and was hopefully going to be his big accomplishment. He thought in the first year of his administration may be in the first four years as of his administration to some extent and he thought that I had left it would have fallen apart and hit. Also your how to resurrect it also would would have been It would have been an affirmation of the feeling that what he said was inappropriate and that to probably disturbed in On tax reform. You did pass the bill One of the ways that it was marketed was you know okay growth and jobs and and And wages And the critics said it's GONNA explode deficits most the money's GonNa go to Buybacks in dividends Din- given the deficits have sort of exploded. Not because the tax plan. Well that's you say that don't say that you'd be disappointed. Pointed at me. No no I absolutely the reality faction will answer is as I said I'm very fact base. Yes tax receipts are at all time record highs so so we're collecting more taxes. We collected more in seventeen sixteen in more in in eighteen minutes and we'll collect more nineteen than eighteen. Okay so receipts are going up. What people don't want to talk about is they? Don't want to talk about the fact that we can't get a budget done that every time we go for a continuing resolution and we continue to compromise on spending we have to appease both the left and the right and the way we appease is. We both let them spend so. It's not a revenue problem. We have a spending spending problem in this That's partly that's that's there's no doubt that there's a spending issue As well I'm willing to I'm willing to concede that but The corporate tax revenues are down individual tax rates are flat revenues up forty nine billion. I don't know what they go. The corporate tax revenues are supposed to be down. I guarantee you their down lead lowered corporate taxes. You know how much they're down about one hundred billion dollars so in the all-time height of your administration. The Obama Administration corporate tax revenues were about three hundred billion. There were nine percent of total collections. People get tied up in this whole corporate tax thing. We're now down to maybe I'll I'M GONNA I'm GonNa give you both extremes to make it the worst argument against me I can possibly can. So we've gone from nine percent on the high to maybe six percent on the low so we've gone from a high of maybe three hundred billion to a low of maybe two hundred billion. Two hundred hundred billion dollars swing all were talking about in taxes. So there's a young thirty thirty percent or thirty percent of three point three trillion really and we're talking about a hundred billion. Okay we're talking about relatively irrelevant. Number individual taxes are actually up. This is the the the thing that drives me absolutely crazy when we talk about factual numbers. So we talk about the actual rate being being down but we're here at the University of Chicago. I think you've got really smart. Quantitative people here. I think they will tell you that. If you take take a multiplication sort of scenario and you take a large number and multiply times a small number versus taking a smaller number multi larger number. That could be bigger and what I mean by that is in the old tax administration prior to trump used to take aac your total gross income. Then you'd start deducting lots of deductions so and then you would multiply times a higher tax rate in the new world. You Take Your Tax Lincoln you have very small deductions and you multiply times a little smaller number. You end up paying more taxes. The only way the tax rates tax collections for individuals could go. Up is if that's true because right now more than fifty percent of people. The bottom fifty percent percent don't pay any federal income tax. Yes yes but no I I I understand that they pay federal taxes taxes. It made no income tax. Okay income impact they get killed on social security tax. They pay six point two percent on on social security tax I don't want to go down the SRA we could do this hour's week at this hour this is not a rabbit hole. No this is the complete complete narrative you've that is trying to be spun by people looking at tax rate versus what percent of income they pay taxes on yeah And and if you want I guess the real question is sort of after tax Your after tax income position. And but I I don't want to. I can't let you go without the the issue you left on about was tariffs. We're now Well well more than a year is just you know my my. My ultimate decision to leave started with Charlottesville Mhm I did agree with the president to stay in Finnish tax reform because I did think it was so important for our country In the reason I felt it was so important for our country. Is I thought that this idea that we were getting incentivize companies in America to re domicile outside of the United United States to get lower tax rates and move jobs and move corporate headquarters outside the United States was a horrible position to be in and still even at twenty one percent. which by the way? I wasn't advocate for twenty one. I would've gone to twenty five percent I I read all okay And and we can talk about how many companies actually repatriated gated operations and all that but on on tariffs were now at We've been we've gone on for more than a year on these There's talk that there's some agreement at hand. Are you confident that the agreement is going to actually address the fundamental fundamental issues that American business Complaints about which is intellectual property the phase one. It has nothing to do with with the real issue so the phase one agreement is basting agricultural mark. It's an agricultural agreement with market access. So basically basically you know if you look at what they're trying to do in phase one as they're trying to get the Chinese to reestablish buying agricultural products from the United it states and open up some selective market access for US companies into China. That's all phase one is dealing with A. Ah Look. It's good that we're at least getting phase one out of the way because that's the in my opinion. That's the low hanging fruit in fact. That fruit shouldn't even have to be picked. We never should should be where we are. The real issue of IP theft copyright infringement forced technology transfer. That's all in face to phase three phase four. We have not even gotten close to dealing with that and do you think that the president is it your sense just watching and knowing him that he he will give on. The tariffs to the satisfaction of Chinese in order to get this phase. One done so that he can. Kim Declare Victory so I was in Beijing last week and met with Leo. Who and she and in in the team over there you know so? It's not clear to me that this is that easy to get done so you know. The Chinese to their credit and in the Chinese are very smart they have found subsitute Product so Brazil can fill the void on agricultural products and the Chinese are buying from Brazil. And it's not like the Chinese people are starving right now. They're they're doing fine so for the Chinese to agree to phase as one It has to make sense for them. I think the president should get a phase one deal done. It makes sense for him to get a phase. He's one deal done. We need to get our farmers back growing again. You know when when the president came into office we were about twenty nine billion ish of exports exports agricultural exports. Were down about nine or ten billion. Now you know he's talking about going back to two forty. I'd like to get back to thirty. Thirty would be great accomplishment. That is something that our farmers. How much damage is done to the economy? I think he's done a lot. It's no secret that I have been anti nerves. And and the agricultural tariffs aren't even the worst part of them you know to me. The steel aluminum tariffs have been much more damaging for the economy. So when you talk about tax patrick form and the lack of growth. That's come out on one hand. We incentivize businesses to invest in the US economy and to build property property plant and equipment. As I call it Capex on the other hand we tax property plant equipment by taxing steel aluminum. That's exactly what you need to build property property plant equipment. You don't go build a factory without using steel and aluminum so we give tax incentive on one hand but we take it right back on the tariffs so to me. It's a zero-sum game you're not incentivizing people to do what we want them to do. My my sense is he's going to cut a deal because he has to cut a deal. You can't go into the election. With the Mid West still laboring under these agricultural tariffs And some of the industrial tariffs are are also so. I think he'll do what trump does house which is to is to cut a deal declare victory and call it the greatest deal ever. Well I I would like to see that happen. I was more optimistic before I was in China last week interesting Last question Would you vote for Donald Trump again or are you may not voted for the first time. I don't know but I mean what Whoa do you having seen. What you've seen from the inside Would you Would you feel comfortable supporting him. So I think you have to give the president some credit for I'd give him credit for what he's done on tax reform. I have to give him credit. That's sort of your. You're a big a big chunk of it. Was My Powell now. I didn't agree. I didn't agree with everything in there. as as we've discussed certain things I would have gone more neutron neutral on I think that some of the reform that we've done in various industries where I think the regulatory pendulum had swung too far lar. We we've gotten back to a what I consider a neutral state meaning we still have regulation and it's good regulation but we're not over-regulated and some of the economic growth issues are there were three and a half percent unemployment in the United States. We've got three percent wage growth so on the economic side of the equation. You you you. I'm pretty pleased with what I see. That said I would wait and see what the other candidate looks like on the other side. What their policies are what their platform about this issue of institutional integrity that you spoke about earlier That seems to be the central question which is are are. Is there a regard for the rule of law the the the importance and the privacy of other institutions and respect for those. And how important is that. Look it's very important to me. You know have it was. It was really important to me. Having never served in the government having served served in government I would say it's exponentially important to me to understand the silos of government checks and balances is the independence of the various agencies. You're the president. Gets the right to appoint members they can consent of the Senate and that's his ability to his or her maybe her Ability to control these agencies but once you appoint them they act his independent agencies and to their credit we have an unbelievable history in this country of the heads of agencies taking those responsibilities abilities very seriously and trying to act in the best interest of the United States and trying in somewhat delete politics out of these things and that to me is very vary employees. We've seen them all testifying or a bunch of them in these impeachment hearings. Were you surprised when this impeachment came up. I mean the Ukraine issue in particular dealer or does it comport with your experience. I I wasn't there during any of this so But the way get him down the freezing of the funds I guess I was surprised by it. I guess I'm surprised by it. Because it in many respects Y-yo the Congress Congress authorizes funding and you would assume when Congress authorized fundings that these things go through like I i. I never thought for a second wives in the government government Once you know it went through the proper legislative channels of authorizations and appropriations and spending that it didn't get spent. I assume the Dow spent it plus. Yeah everything I saw. They spent one hundred percent of what we gave them. Plus a little bit more and it seems like maybe this is a consequence of you. Were talking about before. Which is the absence of people people to say now it? I don't know but it may be Gary Cohn it's great to be with you. I could talk for another several hours with you. And you're gonNA talk to An audience here at the university in a little bit. And we're grateful for that. Thank you for for your time. Thank you thank you for listening to the files presented by Luminary Media and the University of Sakado Institute of Politics the executive producer of the X.. Files is emily standards. This show is also produced. By Aaron Buckner Samantha. Neil Katie. O'Brien and Allison Siegel for more programming from the IOP visit politics dot US Chicago Dot Edu. Thanks so much for listening to this episode and remember you can hear all the newest episodes of the show by signing up for luminary premium. Right now at a special limited time holiday offer three ninety nine a month for a full year and you can cancel anytime just go to luminary. PODCAST DOT COM. This offer is available. 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Ep. 324  Jason Rezaian

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

59:30 min | 1 year ago

Ep. 324 Jason Rezaian

"And now from luminary media and the university of Chicago institute of politics, the axiom with your host, David Axelrod. Consider Jason resigned. The Washington Post the hero as I do all journalists who put themselves at risk to cover stories around the world in two thousand fourteen as the posts Tehran bureau chief he was seized by running a Florida. His and jailed for five hundred forty four harrowing days on trumped up espionage charges of before being freed in a prisoner. Swap with the US now Jason has written a compelling book called prisoner about that experience as down with them last week at the institute of politics at alive podcast to talk about his experience in prison u s Iranian relations and the plight of journalists who are trying to do difficult jobs around the world in time of decaying security for freedom of the press. Here's that conversation. Jason resigned. So good to see you here at the institute of politics in versus Chicago here on the acts files. You know, your story. So interesting to me, and we should point out that your mom is here. Who's a a a native of the Chicago area raised here and a whole bunch of relatives also here tonight, and we don't have to fill a room. Yeah. Deceptive these hometown hometown crowd here. So you weren't brought up here. You were brought up in northern California northern Cal. I did have two years of high school in Wheaton. Actually, oh, I'm familiar with ear for me. But tell me about your your upbringing because it sounded like a bucolic sort of. It was pretty great. You know, we grew up about fifteen miles north San Francisco and Marin county. Big piece of land. With trees and a stream running through it a couple of horses and some chickens. You know, my dad was was from Iran, and my mom was obviously from the suburbs here, and it seemed like a really normal lifetime. But it turns out it was it was a little bit different than other people's. It was and your dad was in the he he ran a rug in poor him. He was one of the first Persian rug merchants on the west coast before. Oriental rug businesses was even the stereotype in this. We're living. And is interesting to me you've talked about written about how how things changed after the revolution in Iran, and the the hostage crisis actually impacted on his on his business in a major way. I think. We used to talk about that in the months leading up to to the hostage crisis in the fall of nineteen seventy nine he was doing hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales every month. And then it ground to an immediate halt for those of you who are of the age of remembering that period of time. There was a lot of angst directed at Iranians at the country, but also Iranians living here in the United States. And I think for him. It was incredibly jarring because he had come to this country in nineteen Fifty-nine. He'd been living here for twenty years was a citizen. His wife was American children were American. He was American as far as he was concerned. And and the situation turned on him even in very progressive northern California. Yeah, we've seen some of that lately as well. How these things can turn very ugly way. He he. Had the idea of giving the hostages who are released rugs choices of rug. So they came in chose rugs. Yeah. I think some of them phoned in sent emissaries and quite a few of them actually showed up at the shop. We have pictures of of some of those hostages and me as a little five year old kid, and my big brother who was about eleven at the time. And actually one of the former hostages who had a very long career at the State Department after his release has become a friend and he lives in northern Virginia. And every time I go and visit him and his wife at their home. He points to the rug in the corner and says your dad gave me that one and he kicks it over. And there's a resign Persian rug label on the back of it still from forty years. I don't want to jump ahead in the story. But was he helpful to you and adjusting when you came back he and others have been incredibly helpful. Not only hostages in Iran. But other journalists been held captive. I always have to give shout out to my friend David road who was with New York New yorker. And now, it's a New Yorker who was held by the Taliban for many, months and escaped. He was the person that in the weeks after my release was really the most influential and telling me, you're going to be okay. But here's the roadmap to to recover in going to be a long one. You you you became a journalist, but you weren't necessarily headed in that direction. You spent a couple of years at Jesuit university in San Francisco, and then you went to the new school in my native town of New York City, which is pretty interesting place you studied stuff like jazz reggae. But also, you took a course from Christopher Hitchens kind of legendary public, intellectual and journalist, and he influenced you in in an incredible way. I mean, I knew that I wanted to write and do it for a living. I just didn't think it was actually going to be possible. And he was one of the first people that told me that if this is the thing that you think that you want to do maybe it's not for you. But if it's the thing that, you know, is the only thing that you can probably do than it is for you. And that's. That's the way he felt about it. And so I I spent a lot of time with him in the semester that I was student but more so in the years following I'd seek them out his his in-laws lived in the San Francisco Bay area. So visit him there and come to Washington to see him from time to time. And I don't write about it in the book, but we actually took a trip together to Iran. Which was I think probably the. Add been dozen times before but it's still sticks out as one of the seminal experiences for me in in becoming a journalist. You. You talked about your many trips, but you you didn't as a child travel there. This was you really started this in when you graduate from college twenty five the first time, I went to Iran, and I didn't grow up. Speaking Persian had a large extended Iranian American family. I was exposed to the language and the traditions, but. It wasn't until I was a bit older and got that infamous travel bug and started going to different parts of the world that I really wanted to go and see what what Iran was all about Tom. And what what what were your initial impressions? When you got there. What surprised you? Like other countries that are isolated for whatever reason from American view the realities on the ground are really different than than what you hear about. And when we're talking about countries that are run by Thorpe, -tarian, governments like Iran or Cuba, which I had traveled to previously the things that we. I believe are wrong. With those countries are not the things that are actually wrong in the threat that Iran poses to the to the world is to its own people. It's not to our American way of life. So I found a very vibrant society a one where there was a lot of internal debate about the direction that people wanted the country to go, and frankly, a really young country with a lot of energy. And I think anybody that's been there. I have a friend from Tehran. Who's actually in the audience tonight? We'll tell you that. A much more lively and cosmopolitan place than than we give credit for you, say, Iran, a dozen pose a threat, it poses a threat to its own people. And that's well understood. But there is this adventurism throughout the Middle East there, it it poses a threat to its own people. And it's neighborhood. But I defy you to tell me how it poses a threat to our collective way of life here in the United States, you so you made many trips in the in the first decade of this of this century in the two thousands, and then in two thousand nine after the financial crash here you as much as a as anything made of a financial decision that you were running your father's business. And you didn't see a whole lot of upside to the rug business after. Had the rug pulled out from under you, literally. I mean that was not a moment. When a lot of merchandise was moving, and I was facing certain bankruptcy. I had a small body of journalistic work that I had amassed over a decade period and thought to myself, here's here's a chance. I mean, I was thirty three years old. My resume was filled with basically Persian rug merchant. And sometimes freelance correspondent it wasn't like Google or any of the other tech shop, which is. Right. Exactly. So so I I made a very calculated decision, and I moved to I moved to Tehran ten years ago this month, and you move there at a very very eventful time the election campaign going on that turned out to be one of historic proportion. I will be the first minute that I didn't think that that campaign and the election in two thousand nine which is still being contested. Nobody including me predicted how that would go. And what moment would be and also what kind of career opening. It would be for me. I started writing about that campaign set it up for us talk. Yeah. So, you know, this is may of two thousand and nine Mahmoud Almodena, John. We all remember was running for his second term in office. There was a reformist candidate who. Was building up a lot of steam in popularity Iranian. Electoral cycles are thankfully much shorter than ours. Yeah. It's about three weeks. So a lot happens in a very short period of time. And it became clear that I'm John was probably gonna lose. And on the night of the election. It was announced that he won in a landslide. And nobody still accepts that decision. So there were massive straight Chicago elections used to be. You said it not. I'm a local I can get away with that. So, you know, the protests began very quickly and spiral out of control. And I was there to cover them from the ground. And it really opened up an opportunity for me that I hadn't had before. And in the five years after that, I was never out of work. I want to ask you about that. Because I was sitting in the White House during that period, we just taken office, and there was a lot. There were a lot of discussions about how best to respond to events there. And the president was counseled to react in a way that was low key. So as not to be come a focus of the regime's attention in anger, so they couldn't depict the reform movement. As a tool of the American government was that the right thing to do. Look, I think we can make a lot of fresh decisions in hindsight. And I know that the administration took a lot of heat for for not being more vocal at at the moment. The reality is that for the past forty years thirty thirty years up to that point. We had very few windows into what was actually going on in Iran. If you think back to the Cold War and our relationship or non relationship with Soviet Union. We always had reporters on the ground. We had diplomats on the ground, and we had better intelligence. And I think that that was a moment where we were caught flat footed, right? We didn't expect that to happen. And the response, I think could have been more vocal in support of reformers, but how could you have known what the right thing to do was in that moment without a cadre of. Diplomats and other professionals telling you what's going on on the ground. Yeah. Well, I guess that's what the and other organizations are there for but. And let's make it clear. I wasn't working for them. I understand. We're gonna get to that. Yes. Exactly. How many times did you say that? You were asked to and I don't wanna be. Think we ought to point out. It's very hard to penetrate. Some of these closed societies. And and you know, so I I don't wanna there's been enough denigration of the intelligence community lately. I don't wanna join in that. But you you talked about there was a lot of heat on the administration. There was a lot of heat on you after that election. You got called into the state security office. And what was the message? You were given the message that I was given was we can't work anymore. You gonna stop shut it down. You should leave the country. And I was there an explanation for why? Or was it obvious? I mean, it was fairly obvious. We don't want coverage of what's happening here and to if you stay bad things might happen. And you to me into others at the time, Iranian elections are usually a time when more journalists are loud in the country then than other times of the year. There were several dozen and probably half a dozen who were based there fulltime. And so I left for a couple of months went to do by. I went to do by which ended up being where I found my wife weeks later era. Good story takes a turn like this. So I met a girl, and and she was from Tehran and happened to be visiting Dubai where. She and her older sister could take a breather from these protests that were were. Consuming life in Iran, and we had a chance encounter and. We've been together ever since it gave me a reason to go back to Iran. Yeah. But when you went back. What was your level of concern because you picked up your reporting career right away. And she she also is a journalist. So I I was in constant contact with the press ministry in Tehran. And they kept saying, you know, you're more than welcome to come back. You're a citizen of this country. I hold dual citizenship you can come back anytime, but you're not going to be allowed to work and every few weeks, I would call again and say, you know, his time to come back. Welcome to come back. You just can't work. And then one day I showed up at the office and the secretary's face went, very pale. And she said, what are you doing here? It's very dangerous for you here. I said you told me it's my country that I can come back. But I just can't work. She said, yes, yes. I didn't mean it. Kind of honesty you one. Yeah. Exactly. I wish you could have given. And I played by the rules. I always in my working years in Iran played by the rules because I understood that. To not do so meant that I might suffer different kind of fate either being removed from the scene permanently thrown out of the country or thrown into a cell, and the reporting a lot of the reporting that you were doing was not. Political analysis of the situation you you're trying to convey Iranian society. Obviously that was part of what you what you did. But look I came up with the sort of recipe for myself. The the proclamations that Thor -tarian leaders make in press conference or the same things that they're going to say when they give speech or the same things that they're going to say to you and private. You know, so. AP, and Reuters and everybody else covers those things I'm going to go out and see how this these Brock? Lemay Sion's affect the normal people on the street. What's life, really like we're missing a window into this society? Can I provide one, and that's what I took as my own personal challenge. And what I tried to do for those years along the way. A lot of Americans came to see you in an Anthony bourdain episode on on CNN. And I notice your book is on his imprint tragically. He's not with us any longer. Tell me about that experience. How'd you decide to do that more you concerned about becoming more high profile? I wasn't concerned at all actually for years. I had been communicating with producer on an earlier duration of his show about them coming to do an episode when it was still on the travel channel. And the the networks insurance would not cover a team to go to Iran. But when he joins CNN the equation changed and actually. They didn't contact me until just a couple of days before they were gonna come. And one of the producers got in touch and said, you know, we heard that you're the guy to talk to about finding a decent meal in Tehran. Why? I didn't take any offense because it was true. And I gave him a whole list of places that I thought would be auG restaurants. But also neighborhoods and experiences that they could capture and. And I told them I said, you know. My wife's not much of a cook. She is now she's an incredible cook, actually, but no, my my mother-in-law X-Files files listener and you jumped in right away. My mother-in-law's a fantastic cook. And we have a really nice kind of traditional home. If you guys wanna shoot here, you'd be more than welcome to to do that. And they they were kind of not interested. And then all of a sudden, they said, would you my wife? Join us for a shoot in a in a restaurant. And we said you have course, and to me. It was not something that was alarming in terms of raising my profile for me. This was just sort of. Validation of the kind of work that I've been doing for years. And the fact that are most intrepid television personality was in the town that I called home and wanted to include my wife and me in in his showing of that place. Nothing could have been better. And do you think that was near tend to? I don't think it was at all. And I think if anything the fact that that episode aired and aired so often. During my imprisonment and Anthony board and became such a vocal proponent of our freedom made a difference and in a positive way. And he's no longer around to to talk about this. But I had the opportunity to to kind of comb those fears because of course, he had heard from a lot of people that it must have been because Jason was on your show that he ended up in prison, and it actually never came up in mind tear, Gatien's, July twenty second two thousand fourteen is when this nightmare these these days of imprisonment began how did how did it begin? So. We were preparing to take a trip to the US we've been married for fifteen months and. I did all of the the paperwork to to get green card for Yankee. And her green card was ready. I just come back from several days of covering nuclear negotiations in Vienna. Which at the time the negotiations were starting to reach a climax. And so this was a great moment in our lives in our careers. We were two fifths of the English language media in Iran. My beat was expanding. And we should point out you you were a freelance journalist, but in two thousand twelve you became became correspondent for the Washington Post. So you know, we were on on a really nice. Rise. And the the that day on the twenty second get a frantic phone call from my wife saying I have received this really strange Email. Demanding money. And if if they they say if I don't pay. They're going to expose me. And you, and I don't know what's going on. But somebody's messing with us. And I was out trying to cover a story, and I made my way home and by the time, I got home. It was clear that our our Email and social media accounts have been compromised passwords had been changed. We've been locked out of those sites. So we contacted a friend of ours who helped us do I t and he was able to regain access, and we thought secure our network, and we call them down. And we kind of thought about what we were going to do what we were supposed to. Spend the evening with our inlaws with my in laws. My mother-in-law's was having a birthday party. And as we left the apartment, we went down in the elevator in our in our high rise to the garage as the garage door open. There was man standing there with a gun pointed right at me, and he said my name. And for those of you who have not had a gun pointed at your face. It's very jarring experience. You have a gift for understanding you. Thank you. So he and several other plainclothes agents force their way into the elevator. That took us back up to the apartment made us, you know. Let them in. We went into the apartment, they they separated us the began re ransacking the place more and more agents showed up pretty quickly. There was probably twenty of them all of them had surgical masks on to hide their identities. They made us give up our new passwords to to our accounts. They took our devices they took our identity cards, and then they said it's time to go. And you know, at this point there's there's no explanation of what's going on. What we're being accused of what's happening. They walk us out of the building into a courtyard where there's a fountain in front of the house, and our neighbors are there. It's it's the Walker. Shame really. I mean, you realize in a country like Iran, this sort of thing happens sometimes people don't get involved. You know, they just know that you're being hauled off to an uncertain fate. We were put in a van with tinted windows in the back handcuffed together together hand clo- cuffed blindfolded and then take into prison which was. Fortunately, only a couple of miles from where we lived. Separated, and what was going through your mind where you're talking to each other. No, we were told that we weren't allowed to talk. Be quiet. Everything will become clear when you arrive we were separated immediately. I was taken into a large room. I knew it was largely because I could hear other people breathing, and there was a lot of milling around and. You know, I'm still behind a blindfold with handcuffs on and very quickly. This voice starts telling me that I'm the head of the CIA station in Tehran. And you know, so you've got a promotion right there. I I was a freelancer course. Station chief. Yeah, it was my my forest is pretty good. But doing it under duress blindfolded with handcuffs on. I was stammering quite a bit. But I just kept saying, you know, you're making a mistake. I'm I'm a journalist. I'm just a journalist, and he said to me, and this should have been the I q. Just a journalist has no value for me. This was the first tip that I was a part of this long line of American hostages of the Iranian regime. So that was that was the beginning of it. They said if you just admit to everything that you've done right now, you'll go home, and you'll board that flight to the United States of America. But you'll be working for us. I'm just thinking to myself. This is the craziest dumbest sounding stuff which would be a good book. Yeah. Exactly. I wish it had a panel. Something. And. And he said to me he said, you know, he's he's obviously scared. He's not cooperating but given month he'll start talking and I'm thinking to myself a month away. I'm going to be here. More than two or three hours. And then they processed me took my mugshots took my clothes gave me some very, nondescript, blue pajamas and took me to a little cell that was about half the size of the stage that you and I are on right now for our listeners. This isn't a very big stage. So this cell was about four and a half by eight and a half. And I could lie down in one direction and not the other. I'm not that tall. But. Yeah. It was it was tiny and the lights were on twenty four hours a day. How long were you kept in solitary confinement, like forty nine days? My wife spent seventy two days in solitary confinement. And then she was was released conditionally and was essentially under house arrest until I was released, but. Yeah. I it was an incredibly jarring experience. Tell talk a little bit just about the sensory impact of of being in solitary confinement with the lights on twenty four hours a day. It keeps in mmediately. I mean, you are confused. You start to lose track of time days. Fortunately, I was able to find a pebble and started carving numbers in the wall rows of four with the diagonal line. Just like you imagined. I mean, that's what people do it's what hundreds of people had done before me in the same cell could see the the numbers piling up. And you know, you don't have access to anything, you know. People ask me about this. Did you have you know, TV or books or anything like that? Well, not in solitary. I mean, the essence of solitary is is to destroy you from reality. And also, they were frankly, starving me. I was probably living on five or six hundred calories a day fifty pounds. Yeah. I lost fifty pounds in forty something days. You know, we are still bemoaning. The fact that. That I've lost my prison body. We're trying to get it back for summer two thousand easier ways to do it. My friend. Actually, no easiest way. So I found so while you were going through this. You must wonder what was going on with your wife. Did you know I had no idea about what was going on with her for the first thirty five days. And I think to me that was the ultimate. Torture. Yeah. Of the situation and and to all of this on purpose. They know exactly what they're doing. And in the meantime, they're not giving you information. They're saying, you know, your your your wife is cooperating. She's telling us everything, you know, you've been doing other days, they're telling you your wife has been released or we don't know where she is. I mean, it's all just designed to make you go mad and did. Did you? I wonder whether people knew where you were and exactly what the US government knew what your newspaper new. I I was desperate to know. And my interrogators would say, you know, we reported that you died in a car accident. And nobody's doing anything. The Washington Post doesn't care because you didn't really work for the Washington Post. Your mother was upset for a few days, but she's moved on with her life. Doesn't sound credible. Very resilient woman. And you had a you wrote about your relationship with your interrogator, which became quite involved. I spent more time with him during that year and a half than I did with anybody else. And. For those. Who know me I build relationships with people. I mean, that's what I do. And I didn't see any other option. Right. I mean. I needed to figure out what made this guy tick. So that maybe I could lean something from him from time to time keep probably was thinking the same percent. I I knew that. So, you know, you end up learning how to make multiple sets of mental books, and you know, I developed a mantra over time whatever they tell you to do the opposite. Right. If they tell you that it's. Bad for you that your newspaper and your family are making a lot of noise out in public. Probably means this is the best thing that people can do. So I got very good at acting and. I mean, I could turn on and off the tears like nobody's business. I can't do that. Now, you know, you just you come up with these defense mechanisms to get through a situation. And. And I think I did, you know as good a job as I can imagine that I would have been able to do and all the while they wanted you to confess to espionage. I think that they wanted me to confess not because they thought that I did anything wrong, but they wanted to be able to make this sort of odd Atias massive public display and a time when the nuclear negotiations were becoming so close to finalized, the people that are taken me were the domestic opponents of that deal. They wanted to do whatever they could scuttle it before it ever happened. So having American newspaper correspondent coming on television and saying, yeah, you know, what I'm the spy and the architect of the sanctions on your country. And you know, I'm Obama's right hand, man. That's what they wanted me to do. And it just you know. Wasn't what I was gonna do you this interesting point because so often in kind of casual discussion about Iran in this nuclear agreement. There is some sort of the assumption that we're talking about a monolith here, but there are very very sharp divisions within Iran on. The wisdom of having made that agreement and and the only thing that they can all agree on is that they want to keep something called the Islamic Republican tact and hold onto the power that they have everything else is kind of up for grabs internally. And I think that they're they're huge disparities in what different factions see as best way that they can do it. And. You know, it's pretty nasty internal politics. I don't know about Chicago. It's not that nasty. I'm starting to know a little bit about Washington. That's really nasty. What point your interrogator suggested to you that your mission was to change attitudes about America in Iran to to make it easier for Americans to infiltrate Iranian society? So that speaks to the fact that you're the perspective was very much from the from the right, exactly. And I think that that you know, they also didn't wanna see the image of a menacing Iran diminished in America, they like the enmity that they have. And they wanna keep it in tact. You you were taken out of. Of all when did you first? When did you see your way for the first time on the on the thirty fifth day? So. Five weeks? Is that right? Yeah. Five weeks into they told me after an interrogation session that you're gonna see your wife said win this right now. You gotta let me prepare going into this room. You're going to see your wife and don't cry. And. Have to even fake crying at that. Well, but you know, I did have to pick not crying because it was a really. I think about it. Now is probably the best moment in my life. Because I had been so concerned and worried and. Nervous about where she was what conditions. She would be in. How she would've felt about me at that point. And she was she was brought into the room blindfolded. They took off her blindfold. And there we were we had four minutes together. She was. Elated, but also horrified to see this kind of shadow version of me, not only was I thin that was very pale. I hadn't been out side much. I think my hair was. Bearden hair were pretty, you know. I wasn't clean. But it was the first sort of injection of hope. And I realized then that I had to look for those injections, a hope whatever I could find them. And how many times did you see over the course of those five hundred forty four days as after she was released. They allowed her to come and visit me once a week. And then at one point those visits were cut because I tried to smuggle a letter out to my mom, and my brother trying to do more. They were doing that. They were doing everything they were doing everything. But you know, we couldn't see that. And you know, Yankee couldn't see that on on television. And the Washington Post was not very. Vocal about their efforts wisely. But as you know, I mean, they were spending a lot of time at the White House and the State Department doing everything could to figure this out. Your brother was on the road. I read two hundred days two thousand fifteen spent two hundred days away from home. I think he flew to to Washington from San Francisco twenty times back and forth at your. How much do you think that your situation was complicated by the negotiations over the nuclear agreement? I think that they got me arrested, and they got me out. I mean, if there was no negotiation going on. There would have been no reason to take me in the first place at the same time. The fact that I was arrested without an active negotiation process. I would have not been released and we can look at it right now. They're six American sitting in prison in Iran. There are known ago she's going on right now. And you know, I've written about this fairly extensively because I feel responsibility. Those people that are still being held there. But I worry that since the current administration pull out of the nuclear deal. There's not a lot of opportunity, and there's no there's not politically. You know, the Trump administration talks about their maximum pressure campaign on Iran. Unfortunately, it seems to me that those Americans being held in prison are more valuable to this administration in prison than they are free. They have made clear the Trump administration that by pulling out by stiffening sanctions, they're hoping for regime change, that's their strategy. How do you react to that? Well, I think that if we take a close look at. You know, the top foreign policy leadership of the ministry and take the president takes State Department under my mom peyot and John Bolton as national security adviser. I think each one of them has a slightly different plan in their mind. And I think that. Embassador bulletin would like to see a very violent version of regime change if necessary. I think secretary Pompeo thinks that. Sanctions will bring the Ronnie regime to their knees, and they'll fade off into the sunset, and I think President Trump plans on fly into Tehran. He's just waiting for an invitation to come sit down and have a cheeseburger and sign a deal. Would he do that? I can't believe it. You know, I think that there's a New Yorker profile of bull now right now that says the Bolton's biggest fears that the supreme leader of Iran sends a letter to Trump loves those letters. Yeah. Old school. He likes returning to your story. You you you ultimately were tried in in may of two thousand and. Of two thousand fifty four trial sessions spread out over a three month period. And you wrote that that that you felt real terror during that process why? A combination of reasons first of all the judge that I was assigned to is the same judge who oversees every one of these cases of dual nationals, his nickname. He's got two nicknames. The hanging judge and the judge of death. Neither is good. No. He's signed the execution. Orders of over six hundred people and a lot of those have been carried out Iran. Executes more more people per capita than any other country. And you knew all this part of my reporting for years. I mean, I knew who this guy was and. I worried not so much that they would execute me. But that I would be given the death sentence, and that that would make negotiating for my release more complicated. I also worried that. If this deal over the nuclear program came to fruition, and I was still in prison and had a sentence that it would be very difficult to imagine getting me out just like I explained about people who are in prison there right now. So there was a lot of word that the that the architecture of the agreement and the relationship would be fragile and. US wouldn't be eager to rock the boat. Not so much that more that once the deal is done. In that grand moment of concessions on both sides pouring concrete into the nuclear reactors and exchange for the lifting sanctions and everything else. If prisoners aren't involved when will they be involved, and I think that that was a concern that a lot of people and win the deal was signed in July two thousand fifteen and I wasn't released and not only was I not released the very next day. I was back in court. Was a sign was a message being sent to Washington. And I think. That point that you feel abandoned. Yeah. I mean, I I spoke with one of secretary Kerry's top aides couple of weeks ago, and he just asked me said, you know, did you pretty pissed off at us really is off. I'm not anymore because I've reported the hell out of this story, and I know about as well as anybody what didn't didn't happen. There was a parallel set of discussions going on that you didn't know about. Nobody knew about that. You know, the president had decided president and secretary Kerry it head kind of come up with about four months into my into my imprisonment. And actually, my interrogator told me about this. I didn't believe. Yeah. And you in the fall of two thousand fifteen there was this sense that you were going to be released and it didn't happen. So did that did you become discouraged at that point to scourged? And just scared because I knew that the only thing left was the implementation day of the nuclear deal, which was going to be initially January first, but it got pushed back because there were different. Minor details being shifted around January sixteenth. And I thought to myself if it doesn't happen, then I could be for very long, and that was the day that was the day describe that you told me before when we were getting set to come out here that writing this particular chapter of the book was the most difficult part of the whole exercise. So about a week we can half before I was released interrogator and his boss came and told me that I was to be released, and they kind of gave me some details. You can be traded for other Iranians who are being held in America along with some other Americans being held here. And I'd heard things like this before in the five hundred and thirty something days leading up to it. I'd been told that I would be released within a matter of hours told them that spend the rest of my life in prison. I've been told that I'd be hung. I mean you. You become a little bit and cynical. But I said to them I said if if any of this is true, my my mom, and my wife will be visiting me tomorrow. There was a scheduled. Visit you'll come to that meeting. And you're gonna tell them exactly what you just told me here. And I don't know what made me think I wasn't a position to make these gas of pretty brassy there after a while you just kind of get to this point was right? What do I have to loose? Yeah. Very little, but they can't and. I'll never forget that my mom and Yankee were so kind of in their faces. Like, why should we believe anything that you said everything he says been ally all the way through, but it was clear that they were starting to do damage control that they were hoping to influence how we would respond when we were out in public. And we were told little late for gratitude. Exactly. They finally on on on the sixteenth that morning. It was a Saturday. They came and said today's day, and there was a whole series of hoops that I had to jump through to do a exit interview with state television. There was never aired. Must have been a good. Inter I wasn't great. I have to say you sitting here with you improve quite a bit. You're good at what you do. Better than those guys. I don't know how to take that. It was it was. There was a lot of elation, but the fear was they were telling me that my wife would not be allowed to leave the country with me that she still had an open case against her. And she wasn't included in the swap because she wasn't an American citizen, and I had no way of disproving that so they took me to the airport. They allowed my mom, and yet you to come and say goodbye, and you know, made my mom promise that she wasn't gonna leave until Gigi left. And then they took them out of the room in a few minutes later, a big ball man in a very nice suit walked in the room and never seen this guy before and he introduced himself. He said, I'm the Swiss and Basseterre, and I had no way of checking this information, and the Swiss are the protecting US powers in Iran. So after year and a half of being subjected to Iranian laws as if I was in Iranian. This is the first time I'm being treated as an American my first consular visit. And he said to me. There's there's supposed to be three of you. But there's only one and I thought he was referring to other Americans that we're going to be released with me. And he said your mother and your wife, they're leaving the going with you and this now, no, they're not my wife's not part of this. They explained to me that you know, she has to do the whole judicial thing here and that they would let her out soon all shook his head. And he said Jason I've been involved in these negotiations for fourteen months. Your wife has been a part of this since the very beginning. We specifically wrote that spouses would be included in your wife is the only spouse. So I was I was irate and scared, and where were they where did they go turned out that they were locked in a room in the airport had their their telephones taken from them. And the revolutionary guard. We're trying to kind of hustle me on the plane and get me to take off without them. And what they didn't know was that the plane was not going to take off without everybody. That was about nine thirty at night on Saturday. We didn't end up taking off until four o'clock the next day. I'll let you guys read the book the last chapters, very hair-raising every time I start talking about my blood pressure goes up. So, but it was it was a very incredible experience. This podcast. So we can say whatever you want. So I was talking to John Kerry about it. And he says that was some crazy shit. Argos got nothing on this. Exactly. How long did how long did it take you to recover, and I guess I should ask. Do you feel like you have recovered from that experience? I would say that I'm ninety three percent of the way there. And then I don't think that I'll ever get that seven percent back. There are little things that have changed in my brain chemistry that I can't really explain. But I know that I'm a little bit different. I have a hard time going to new places without very clear understanding of where I'm going to be who's going to meet me there. What I'm gonna do? You know? I was very intrepid person you don't pick up and move to Iran as a foreign correspondent. If you aren't. But I can't imagine making that kind of move. Now, everything is much more deliberate than it had been in the past. But Finally, I think I recognize that the the sort of dialogue in my own head as me rather than some other guy and. You know, I feel like I have a ton to be thankful for. And although that doesn't make any of it go away. It have in that sort of attitude makes a little bit easier deal with you talk about being an intrepid journalists there are many in the world, your colleague, Jamal kashogi lost his life in a gruesome way. Talk about that. And the state of journalism globally. I think journalism. Journalism that coming is coming out right now is as good as ever been great journalism out in the world. But the state of journalism both in terms of the risks that we faced giants work, and the resources that are available for people who want to do it. We're in pretty dire straits, and I think for me being in in Washington. Having Jamal murdered in the way that he was. And that was somebody that I was just getting to know. You mentioned that you know, we worked at the same section of the paper. It's a tiny little section. You know? Handful of people and to see the way that the posts sprang into action. After his disappearance, and knowing that so much of that was informed by their experience of dealing with my disappearance. Was something that I'm still trying to process, but I feel incredibly fortunate to to work for an organization that cares for its people. I goes to bat for its people the way that mine does we talk a lot about mardi baron. He's an incredible editor Fred Ryan. Our publisher is name that not everybody knows is really a superstar and one of the most important people. I think right now in holding up our ideals of press freedom and fighting for them, we don't think about very much, but I worry that that our our rights of expression are kind of contracting and. You worry about a lot. If you start to lose them. What about you talked about the advocacy of the post what about the US government right now and its role in? Look, forcing. So, you know, the the the fallout from Jamal's murder was driven by outrage in the media. And I think that. Congress really picked up on that. And really understands that our relationship with Saudi Arabia needs to have. A long hard look in the mirror and some shifts. But unfortunately, the president and his entire national security and diplomatic core have essentially exonerated the Saudi regime of any wrongdoing. And I think in doing that they've green lit. Frankly, the murder of journalists in other parts of the world. And I don't think it's any coincidence that we're seeing a rise in the number of jailings disappearances, murders and other types of silencing of journalists all over the world. What are the implications of that for? Democracy. Not good. But I think that struck me as a super stupid question as soon as it left like if you're gonna ask a leading question at least a skyser. What we do is is one of the pillars of of strong democracy. I think. Everybody understands that. And if they don't. They don't really understand how democracy works. Well, Jason I started my career in journalism. I revere journalism. And I think it is a pillar of democracy. And I so appreciate the sacrifices that you and your wife made your family. Just to do an honest job of of reporting. And I recommend your book prisoner to everyone who's listening everyone in this audience. It is a it is a gripping story. And you you feel like you're living it with you through the story. And it's a it's a great read. But I wish you all the best in the future. Thanks so much for him. Thank you for listening to the acts files presented by luminary media and the university of Chicago institute of politics, the executive producer of the X files is Matthew Jaffe, the show is also produced by Pete Jones, Zane Maxwell Samantha Neo and Allison -sego for more programming from the IOP. Visit politics dot EU, Chicago dot EDU.

Iran United States Tehran Washington Post Chicago Jason Washington president America secretary university of Chicago institut San Francisco institute of politics State Department California Christopher Hitchens White House Tehran
Best of The Axe Files: Lin-Manuel Miranda

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

43:09 min | 7 months ago

Best of The Axe Files: Lin-Manuel Miranda

"I'm Don Lemon and I'm taking on the hard conversations about being black in America real talk and meaningful solutions on my new CNN podcast. Silence is not an option. Listen on Apple, podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. And now from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN audio the axe files with your host. David. axelrod When a friend invited me a few years back to Broadway show that it just opened called Hamilton. A hip hop musical about the life of one of the most luminescent founding fathers I have to admit I was a little skeptical. Well turned out to be one of the most extraordinary nights fitter I've ever experienced his past Independence Day weekend Disney plus rolled out a film of that stunning production, so I thought it would be a perfect time to reach into the x files vault for my two thousand and sixteen podcast with the young genius who created this masterpiece starred in it as Alexander Hamilton. Here's my conversation with Lin Manuel Miranda. Lin Manuel Miranda. Worked with your dad back in two thousand and one. Yes, on a race for mayor Friday for air. You remember it well, and I remember him saying to me then you know Mike Kid. He really. He likes to perform really talented, he writes. That just know if you can make a living doing the I didn't either, and he was, so he said. I want to encourage him, but what what tell me about. He he's one of the. Great Political Consultants in New York. You must have grown up around politics. Your mom's a clinical psychologist how you ended up as a storyteller and. Musician and all of that I if you were to write a recipe for Hamilton said, let's make the guys Mama psychologist and put the Guy's dad and politics. It's the perfect recipe for Hamilton. Respect. But I think. Both of those professions really are about telling stories. It's about the stories we tell ourselves about the stories we tell the world about. My. Parents met in Grad School for Psychology and my dad. Imagine my dad trying to have patience with a patient you couldn't. And so he sort of took everything he learned and applied it to the world of politics and consulting. And advocacy. But it's the same skill set. It's about creating a narrative and it's about How ourselves and how we project I always say that always say people, so you were a reporter. How did you become a political political? It's the same it's the same deal. Were telling stories and hopefully authentic? Stories which I think is what makes them yeah. I'm hearing. You think you're interviewing me, but I'm actually going to interview you because I'm really interested in your involvement with the West. Wing West Wing fanatic. and. I genuinely believe that that President Santos storyline towards the end sort of set the template for how Barack Obama won the presidency in two thousand well, here's an interesting story ally. Addy was by then I think he may have been the chief writer by then on the Wesleyan. and He. Called me and he something of creating this character, and it was the Santos character and you. We just won the Senate race in Illinois with Obama said I'm interested in your experiences. Because I think it might help me shape this character, so we had a long conversation, but but you know. I WANNA. Talk to you about another guy worked for which Freddie for an experience he had and Freddie is. You Know Because Your Dad was intimately? Vow was running to become the first Hispanic mayor of New York and he told us that some major figure in New York to come to some private club. and said to him Freddie. You see all these people around you. They're not gonNA. Let you become mayor of New York. You're not from here. And I said that that was a really searing experience and the character. You create needs to be aware of that. Yeah, and so you're right that the those characters. Helped animate Santos, and maybe I mean the West Wing, still reading I mean I'm amazed I. have this to Politics University of Chicago these kids? They have West Wing Nights. There's still on the West Wing. Why what is it about the West Wing? Well, it's it's part idealism, its parts humanity right we. Those characters are really flawed I mean. If Toby Siegler was really in charge of communication, he's having breakdowns and fits of idealism. It would be a very dysfunctional office, but maybe realistic. Maybe realistic I don't know. But you hope that the people in that building are having the kind of idealistic debates that you hope that that's what's going on in the highest halts a power that they're actually talking about what's best for the world, and they fall short end. They lose votes, but. They're aiming for. The best of US and they do, and it's sorkin captured it in a really sort of brilliant way and in a style that is so like your. Smartest friends talking on their best day because sometimes too smart actually. Get so smart that. It you almost. Felt like saying enough already okay, nobody talks fast in this smart or is a witty and re re retort, but. Do you feel you wrote this amazing piece of work when you look at today's Politics and you think of the people who started this whole deal, the founding fathers. What would they say about? about the politics of today I think they recognize some of it I. Think they'd be off at the speed of it. I think that's the thing that is really different from then to now because honestly. The fights just our fights. I think of our country's debates. The same fights you would have with your siblings like the fight you have with your brother or sister. Now is the same you had when you were little kids. It's just the adult variation, but it's about your temperament, and it's about what you want and. act like, but I think our country debates are the same it's what is the size and shape of role in our daily lives. What is our role regards to other countries what? The legacy of slavery and its reverberations. What are the effects of that? These are things we're going to be discussing as long as we are a country, and and we're still discussing those things in this campaign, but I think the founders would be awed that you could write a tweet, and it would shape the conversation for a day, and that the number of issues spinning happening so fast. I mean they were already doing it with newspapers Jefferson had a newspaper Hamilton newspaper. They talk some about each other across these newspapers. I mean dirty pool already existed. Way Dirty in fact, some of the things that were done in nineteen th century. If. There were raised to the level of television now for. Would make people blanche even by today's standard. Yeah, absolutely, so it's I. Don't think they'd be shocked by the tone and tenor, but they'd be shocked by the speed of it and how it advocates. Shocked or dismayed I mean because you think of how those sort of contemplation that went into the federalist papers. which you're man, Hamilton had so much to do with how the notion that you know come can sort of fire of one hundred forty characters and start a big debate and the fact that decisions are made. On on on these sort of much quicker timeframes, what would they think about that? I don't know I. Mean Look at the federalist for that era that was extraordinarily fast six months, and it's one hundred. Some essays trying to convince the US to ratify. This constitution that we're all agreeing that we will be governed by this form and this document and this body. It really fast for that amount of time. I think I think Hamilton would be thrilled at the speed of it. I think Jefferson would not. Jefferson was not a guy who liked to handle. Things directly use two proxies. He used James Calendar he'd you know he'd used reporters to sort of do his dirty work for him? But I think Hamilton will be writing extremely long politico pieces right now if he were alive today maybe too long for us to tolerate reading. WOULD HE Obviously you wrote about his flaws. Some of them were very personal. Would he be able to survive in an environment like this? I think about the Salat because you think of. Lincoln, being a depressive and Kennedy had. Addison's disease, which was life, threatening and all kinds of flaws. Roosevelt hit his. And obviously. Hamilton had indiscretions that would have made news. Absolutely I think though Hamilton would have been. I think he would have the thing about Hamilton. So extraordinary is that he's incredibly adaptable. That guy suffered such a brutal childhood and survived it and came here pretty much intact. That being said his major flow as he didn't WanNa stop, so you know it would be. The twitter. Equivalent would be re tweeting some guy who does unpopular opinion and dragging all these unnecessary debates in You know I think that he would. He would never know when to stop over sharing I mean he's like the first over sharer. and. But the scrutiny that these guys came under the that the people come under now with the. I wonder if we would be if we. Would have deprived ourselves at some of the greatest leaders if we I wonder that to apply the same standards. So. Just talk a little bit about growing up. And how you like I have this moment. JFK came to stuyvesant town where I grew up in one, thousand, nine, hundred, sixty and. I was five years old, and the whole event was so transfixed that actually sparked my imagination about politics, and I from that point on I was like hooked. Is there a moment in your life when you said? Man I want to perform I. WanNa Right. I want to tell stories I wanNA. Yeah I every day. I am even more grateful that I went to public elementary school that had Ardenne music next to math and science, and they were just equal in the eyes of all I went to Hunter Elementary School ninety, four, th and park and ev. We had an amazing music teacher named Miss Aims, and the sixth graders would put on a musical every year and the entire school would come, and so by the time you're in first second grade. You're aware. Oh, I'm going to be in six grade one day. What's going to be the sixth grade play when we're sixth graders, so it's actually an entire childhood of anticipation to perform in a musical. And didn't write it. I didn't know it was west. Side story was captain was Peter Pan it was Oklahoma. And ours for our sixth Grade Plate Kinda ran out of age appropriate musicals, so we did. Like. To versions of the previous six years that's lethal dosage of musical theater at a young age, and yet I got to play Bernardo Played Captain Hook and play Conrad. Burke I was a farmer in Oklahoma was a son in fiddler. And that notion I think when you grow up doing theater week. We couldn't afford theatre. We saw Broadway three times before I was an adult. But. Doing Theater, you learn all the best values that are going to serve you in your life. You learn about collaboration you learn about doing something not for the grades or what it can get you just for the purpose of making something great. You make friends in different grades so when? You're in the thick of your adolescent drama of who likes who and who hates who and who's friends with who you can go. Hang out with your friend another grade where they don't even know anybody and so you know high school theater sorta saved me but to have a moment similar to your Kennedy Moment Stephen. Sondheim actually came and spoke to my class senior year. I was directing west side story. He was friends with the parent of a student at Hunter and he took us through how he created the opening to west side story. He said we wrote lyrics and riff was named rift, because he actually came in holding a trumpet, and he started singing us these lyrics that don't appear in the show, and then drove Robin said I can dance all that better, and they threw out there weeks of work, and that was my first glimpse of how a musicals made, and you know sometimes you throw out good stuff, so you can get to the best stuff and. And it's about the best idea in the room winning and that's that's really what made. That's the first thing that pulled back the curtain on on how to make show. When did you start writing or thinking about writing your own material I? Started writing musicals in high school. We had a student in theater group named brick prison named after our building. If you ever see hunters building, it's a converted armory. There are no windows. And so By the time I was in ninth grade, I was trying to write. Plays that would be performed and there was a student selection committee. You can make as much stuff as you want. If you propose a budget of two hundred three hundred bucks, they'll give you some lights and they'll give you a stage so I just found myself caught so caught up in making things that I sort of film by the wayside and was writing as much as I could. we got a short break and we'll be back with Manuel Noriega. When did you start writing in the heights? which was your first big breakthrough work? Yeah, I started writing that show my sophomore year in college, and it wasn't for course credit and it wasn't. It was because I really needed to write it. I was of facing why. A lot of reasons. I think it's three sources of energy that went into it. One I was breaking up with my high school girlfriend of four and a half years and I had a lot of time in angst on my hands. She was studying abroad and it was not. The long distance was not happening. To. I was living in A. Program House, Caucus. There'll be compost. It sort of write an essay to get in. It's one of the most beautiful houses on campus, and you live with other quote, unquote the community leader, so I was suddenly in a house with kids who had the same sort of first generation upbringing as me I went to hunter, so there weren't a lot of kids I was. We should point out. That's a pretty elite public school year test into it and totally totally so. It's not like in the hood kind of yeah. No, it's it's in the richest zip code in the United States and contrary I so I was in the hood, uptown and commuting their. And so it was really the first time I kind of made close friends with Latinos. My Age, who also like spoke Spanish at home and English at school, and had sort of shared cultural references like Mark Anthony Ricky Martin and this was happening at the same time that Ricky Martin had just performed on the grammy's and like the world was looking Latin culture. Be Like! Oh, you guys are cute. You're using his great. So it was also. This moment of like why have I been? Not using the stuff I live at home in my work, I'd written to musicals in high school, and they both sounded like musical quote unquote music. He didn't have any sort of cultural anything to them. They were just sort of rock ish type songs that told the story, and so in the heights is my attempt to really bring in everything. I knew about who I was. It was Latin music. It was hip hop. It was set in the neighborhood near where I grew up and just sort of like what happens if I bring all of me to something the. I I Paul, Simonon here a few weeks ago, and he talked about I was asking him you know because he brings all these electic sounds into, and I said well you know. How does that process work? He said I just hear things that interest me and I and I used them and I I presume it's the same absolutely and Paul Simon such an incredible example, too of like going to another corner of the world and playing with the best musicians. But, what comes out of his Paul, Simon. Song. I mean you wouldn't confuse it with a lady. Smith Black Bomba's song. It's it's that sensibility filled cleared filtered through his sensibility and I think that's true for me too I think. One of the fun things about finding your voices writers, you chase your heroes and you you you kind of emulate this thing from here in this thing from here and in doing so and in falling short of that you find your own voice and Hamilton's amazing I mean Hamilton is everything. I know in every influence I love and it's sort of the kitchen sink. Thrown at these characters in order to to tell the story. Hamilton I. Mean this is. You've famously talked about this a lot, but how this whole thing came about. But what? What what interested me is you going on vacation and the thing you picked up was a thick book of history. Yeah, why I'm a big biography buff. Not, necessarily a history buff prior to to Ron's book but my favorite book growing up with Chuck Jones's autobiography about making cartoons in the Warner brothers, era. I, loved the brand autobiography. It's really talk about an unreliable narrator, but it's really fascinating reading. So I'm a big fan of reading someone's. Stepping into someone's life and sort of living there for a while, so I had written a paper and eleventh. Grade About Hamilton. All I knew was that his son died in a duel, and then he died in a three years later, and I just thought that was really interesting. I was like. that. You'll hear about any other founders. How do you walk into that willingly? When your son just died of the same thing, isn't that like a cautionary? The ultimate cautionary tale? So I remember doing a paper about that, and then just reading great reviews on the back of the book and thinking this'll be really interesting reading. It'll have a good ending. And, and then really being blown away once, I started reading it. I didn't know he wasn't born here I didn't know. Any anything about him other than that. He was a treasury secretary. So his origins and the Dickensian. Survived to get here and then the other thread that kept running through the book was his writing. He wrote his way off the island. He wrote essays under a pseudonym like favorite rappers do. You know espousing independence from Britain and in doing so and in his bravery on the battlefield becomes Washington secretary, but then he also writes his way into trouble. He writes the Reynolds Pamphlet. He writes screed against John Adams while he still president. So, it's it is. Doesn't know into style. He doesn't know when to stop. His strength is also his flaw. He, he, his talents are so useful when he's fighting a war, and we have a common enemy, but when we don't anymore, they turned inward, and they turned towards his fellow founders and. That creates or two party system I mean it's responsible for so much that I just take for granted day to day. So it was sort of both an origin story and immigrant story, and you know I thought he also right so much hip hop the only way to tell it. We use more words per measure than any other genre of music. So it just it just felt like it had the energy. Makati I just felt like I knew the guy. In what point in that book did you say Hey I'm going to? I'm going to do something with this. I'm going to make I'm going to turn this into something at the end of the second chapter. Really Yeah, soon. As soon as I got to the part, there's you know. There's a letter Hamilton writes a friend. It's one of the first things we have of his. Fourteen years old, and he writes this thing. And if you were writing a musical, you cannot come up with a better sentence, he says you know I I may be said to be building castles in the air. This whole thing that'd be a fantasy to paraphrase and goes, but we have seen such schemes successful when the projector is constant. I shall conclude by saying that. I wish there was a war. That's everything I mean. That's everything about Hamilton. It's I know I sound crazy for wanting to get outta here, but we have seen such scheme successful when the projector of those dreams is constant, and then he wishes there was a war, and that is such an indicator of Oh I know that my rank and my birth isn't getting anything I need to fight in a war in order to show myself in order to prove my worth in order to rise in society, so chose this astonishing intelligence and awareness about where he is, and is Dr I saw somewhere that you also saw echoes of Your Dad in Him. I have, but they haven't so I mean. My Dad came here my dad. My Dad was really is Hamilton in his brilliance. My Dad had already finished college by eighteen. He'd Finished University of Puerto Rico by eighteen. He just kept skipping grades and your leapfrogging over everybody, and he had a good job as a manager of a bank and sears. You probably would be running series in Puerto, Rico if you'd stayed. But there was someone from nyu who who was scouting. They had a new minority outreach 'em family like. Like all of working class might. My grandmother ran a travel agency. My grandfather was very involved in. Local politics in Puerto Rico and was the general manager of the sort of town, local credit union at the. So, his dad was very politically active. And went to new. York he went to New York. He got a full ride. They offered him a full ride to Nyu for post. Doc Psychology came here without speaking English at eighteen. He lived with a cousin and. He lived with an aunt, and he practiced his English with his two cousins, who were six and four years old because they were the only ones who would make fun of him. He sold very left leaning Puerto Rican. Newspapers to to make money and he Sort of learned English and studied psychology while he was here at the same time, and then he met my mom who also got into the program and then never went back home. And You. Guys are incredibly close. I mean your family is still very close and collaborative, and and so on what would talk about what that means? I'm very lucky in that. I have a sister WHO's. Devoted her life to developing the other hemisphere of the brain. She is the CFO of my dad's company. So on all financial matters, that's who I trust and my dad is. He can't help. He's the same guy who told you. My son is talented I want to find a way to encourage him, and now they're all of a success is happened. I used to work for him in the summers and it didn't go well like I. Don't do well working your some jingles right? Yeah! I wrote some jingles for Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer before we knew what we yes. And probably a longer story to tell there. Yeah, yeah, probably I mean I never even met him. It was he was just one of my. That race, but I wrote music for that. I sort of would write whatever it was not so much jingles as background music for so I wrote a lot of background Freddie ads I can write a negative or positive ad in thirty seconds. It's not that hard. Here's here's a negative ad. On An. You know? David Axelrod says that the. Then, UPBEAT SALSA music. Freddie for rare today I'm pretty sure. This is very simple. So. That was a very nice way to make rent while I was working for him, and then now he kind of works for me, especially in terms of Spanish language stuff. because. That's such an important world and And you know. Your typical Broadway outlet doesn't prioritize spending language interview the same way. They would their Broadway outlet, so my dad's been great about sort of balance like you have to talk to everybody. How are you, are you? Are you penetrating? The communities with this I mean Hamilton is a very i. mean in elite circles. It is astronomical, astronomically popular and you've won. New Numerous Pulitzer Prize and all this stuff. How how is it? Has it reached like your old neighborhood? Yeah, I mean and that's the incredible thing is that? One of the benefits of Hamilton and I was nervous about it, but it turned out to be wonderful. If that the whole show is on the album I mean it's a sung through musical so. Actually a year ago this week we I stream the entire thing on NPR and that's when everything really started to change when people could get sucked into the story musically and really hear the whole story I. Mean there are fans of Hamilton all over the world who may never get to New York but that's okay I mean I someone who grew up also falling in love with Broadway that. Way I fell in love with man of La Mancha on camera. I have never seen productions of the shows to this day. I don't think they can match the one in my head, and so we're prioritizing because the elite are can afford Broadway. Anyway. We've got this program that was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute to bring twenty. Thousand School kids to see the show. Their title one schools. They write their own pieces. They go. What in history hasn't been covered enough and they write their own pieces. They perform them for us on the day. We do a dedicated Wednesday matinees, so they perform for us. We do Acuna and then we've performed for them, and it's the best part of the Hamilton experience by far, and we're duplicating that program here in Chicago So we'll be having a Chicago school kids, your shows just opening you. Yes, yes, we are! We start previews on Tuesday, the twenty seventh. So we'll be here at the aptly named Private Bank theater. What better name for a Hamilton show? And so yeah, so we're duplicate because that's that's really where the world changes, right? That's where you get a kid who realizes hip hop is fair game for musical theater. He Sees Hamilton's insane struggle from poverty to glory, and it becomes. They're not all going to go into theater, but they are gonNA have to reckon with Hamilton. They're absorbing it. Absolutely. You know one of the things that concerns me. Is that with all of the budgetary problems? We've had art. Music. Programs are always on the chopping block and twas ever thus. But. But it could be but. For there are a lot of creative geniuses. People like you who who who may be deprived of their? Opportunity because of that, so where you guys are doing is really important. Let me ask you this, you I mentioned before you oppose. Grammy's Tony's. You've won a macarthur genius grant. How old are you I'm thirty six. Do, you worry about. Do you ever worry about competing against yourself? Do you worry about the fact that maybe I did my greatest work? At and now what do I do? Know I. You know you can't rank it. That's the thing and actually you know what it has been a great. Example of that is these things that popped up outside the theater at the Rogers, called the Ham Ham show, so we have this ten dollar lottery used to be alive drawing now it's online, but we draw names out of a hat and you know the first row is ten bucks. So it's twenty six people see it for ten bucks. Seven hundred people showed up for our first show. What you do with that and it's and it's July and it's new. York City so it's one hundred degrees I got on a megaphone, so thank you all for coming I love you. Tommy. Cal said you should do that everyday. We're in previews because we do not want to send six hundred angry people into the streets of New York in the summer, and it became this show. We became like we're GONNA. Do a little five minute show outside, and I, brought in other cast members and I brought in Patti Lupone and. I. Say all that to say. Whenever. I do a particularly good one. I couldn't worry about topping myself otherwise. We'd get too big for the block. Hamilton is everything I know about musical theater right now at the same time. I'm always trying to learn with every product. Because I can't do something for the sake of success, it's the least. Predictable thing on Earth Hamilton closed and opened in a night. One out of surprised at how the reaction to it, yes. I knew we'd have teachers. I knew we'd get school. Groups I thought we'd have a nice healthy run. That's the practical side of me. No one knew it would sort of. Take over the world the way it has. and. That's really sort of humbling. An amazing. I have a confession to make which is that I was going to new. York Right when you're at your in previews on. Broadway and Joel Benenson who's the pollster for Hillary Clinton and was for Barack, Obama's one of my dearest friends said what we've got tickets to Hamilton and we should go see this and my wife and I were coming and say well. There's so many good plays on Broadway and I don't know. Alexander, Hamilton I. Don't get it hip hop, and so on and like everybody else. I was kind of blown away by the by the experience, but I suspect a lot of people had that same. That same experience. Tell me what you're working on now. I'm writing well concurrently with Hamilton. I've been writing songs for this. Disney animated musical. It's called Mwana. It opens November twenty third and It's really overwhelming. I mean I grew up. I was lucky enough to grow up in sort of the second golden age of Disney Musicals Little Mermaid beauty and the beast Aladdin Lion King all happened when I was really ready to receive them. So to have written songs for and NBA part of that Disney legacy I'm really proud of it. I worked on it with two other songwriters. I got that job the week we found out we were pregnant for with our first kid. So I can measure his life. He's about to turn to in the time I've worked on it. And it'll probably be as I a movie, so I'm thrilled about that, and really proud of it, and you're headed off to to London in London I'm the property of the Walt. Disney Company for the next little bit so I'm there's a? We're making a sequel to Mary poppins. And I'm with. Dick. Van I'm and I play the Dick Van Dyke position. That's not the same role. Just trying to envision yeah, totally. Emily Blunt is playing Mary poppins. It's. Jane and Michael Banks have grown up and Mary poppins is coming back to help with their kids, and so I play a lamp lighter named Jack, so I'm aware of Mary and I get to go on some of the Fund Adventures and how? How long you occupied with that? I'm there a lot of next year. So that's a big adjustment for me. You know I wrote a whole show about how I don't WanNA leave Washington Heights. Now moving to London for a little bit, but it's it's. It's an exciting adventure. Our Son is too young enough to go to school, so it's sort of the perfect time for us to sort of travel and live somewhere else one last break and we'll be back with Manuel Manuel Miranda. You see yourself doing more historical figures, telling more of those stories. I mean I kind of go wherever the inspiration takes me I, you know I, never would've predicted I'd be reading Jon meacham books and reading all of this. All of these historical books, but that's where Hamilton led me. So you know I have a bunch of ideas for what the next thing might be and I'm sort of waiting to see which one raises its hand and doesn't let me go you you you also. You've not been active in politics, per se, but you've been active on on the cause of Puerto Rico Why did you get so involved because no one else was? because. I saw firsthand stories from my family and the increasing economic crisis and and report. Family I've I've cousins and aunts and uncles a lot of family there. My Dad's whole side and so. And it wasn't being talked about. It wasn't being talked about on the news. It wasn't you know except for in political circles. It wasn't really being discussed so I said. Let me make as much noise as possible. And and you know in a congress where not even a? Supreme Court justice can get confirmed. We got something done. It's not perfect. It's there's a ton of problems with it, but. It forestalled default, and I'm grateful for that in this Celebrity culture. What does it say that you Could move I bet you when you showed up to testify congress that everybody was in their chair. which you know, you could have brought experts Officials people who are who fulltime steeped in these issues in that wouldn't be. So you're using your celebrity I yeah I think I, think what what the success of Hamilton's brought me as a megaphone. And I tried to think of it as a literal megaphone. If you see a guy in the street and he's just screaming to a megaphone all day you tune them out. So I, try to use it sparingly and in places where I think I can make a difference. You know I sort of injected myself into the debate over criminalising box. Those are applications that can you know by an entire beyond? Say Concerts worth of tickets and market prices. Because there was legislation on the table. My Dad said if you say something about this, it'll get attention. So it's about using the megaphones sparingly and when it can be effective if y'All day you're going to tune me out and you gave I know you made a big donation to a voter turnout efforts in Florida. Why did you do that I think it's important. You Know Latinos are the sleeping giant of this country. If we show up with our votes the way we've shown up in numbers. We can change the tenor of the debate in this country, which is right now. As xenophobic as I've ever seen it in my lifetime and so. You know we showed up in two thousand twelve, and there was a lot of talk about. Wow, not really showed up like we're going to have to speak to the issues that matter to them, and then someone's. No, we're not. And so we you know we've got a show back up again because. Our issues on the table You you you talk about the xenophobia How do you personally react to that? How do you feel about that? It's kind of interesting to me you. You've emerged as this big star on the American scene at a time when You have a candidate who's who's who's really in some ways targeted Hispanics, and maybe in reaction to the emergence of. lessees inch. Action. you know I? Think that I don't take it as personally as perhaps I should. Because I have a long view of history having worked on Hamilton. There's A. Long! Ignoble tradition of pointing at the newest people in this country and saying they're the reason you don't have jobs. That's that's as old as the Irish. And the Italians and Jews after war two and And, so that's that's old. That's that's really old. This is as malignant as I've ever seen it but it's an old tradition and so I think the only way to really fight back to speak up. My Dad was an immigrant from. Eastern Europe in the twenty S. he came here and I think the year or two, after they pass the big anti immigrant legislation that slam the door on Jewish immigration until after world, war two in a significant way. So you're right, this is. But. It's ugly. It's ugly and it's and particularly with regards to immigration. It's sort of something that you know. The it's gotten so heated. You can't even talk about it rationally. You can't talk about the people who are here and make a difference and you know have kids. You know they're here. Already is not a thing like they're here. And they contribute in ways big and small, and the debate has gone so beyond rational I think the only way to reset. It is for Latinos to show up in such large numbers. That can't be ignored anymore, but that doesn't seem to be happening right now right now. There seems to be a kind of indifference in in despite all of this debate there seems to be kind of indifference among goes I presume that's why you contributed. The the money. Yeah, and I also think it's I contributed money, and and we're doing. Hamilton's doing a big voter turnout thing as well I directed three commercials that are going to be coming out soon with the Hamilton cast I rewrote some lyrics. It's all hands on deck I think. I think young people need to show up and vote I think they need to be aware of the. Sacrifices so many people made for so long for everyone to be able to vote to see how legislators in certain states are trying to deny you of your right to vote and. You know. Cutting up. District so that you can't vote and it wouldn't be. They wouldn't be trying so hard if it weren't powerful if it weren't powerful you to show up on election day, so it's really important to to make a difference. When we we began by talking about your your dad and his involvement in New York politics. What about the theatre of New, York as a political? Arena using some really big figures. Some of them are trump is sort of a product of that. Environment, you ever do look at these things with a theatrical. I I look at everything. You know it's interesting. One of the one of the things that's different about working in theater in New York than anywhere else than any other entertainment medium read really. Is You meet your heroes quickly? You know it's not like music that has lots of different centers of power. There's Nashville. There's Atlanta there's LA. Or the movies you know which are in Hollywood, but you could go your life without meeting other people, we all work within the same fifteen blocks so I met John Candor off Broadway at in the heights. I met Stephen. Sondheim in as I told you. And so you know Hamilton's also the beneficiary of that that I could call John Wiedeman and say Helton's kicking my ass. You have hit vice for me. And it's also I find the theater community very collegial similar to what you have here in Chicago. In that we're all working hard to make the thing whether you like someone show or not. You recognize man. It is very hard to get to this point. And respect that and so I I find a level of collegiality with. With my fellow composers because. I can't write the way Andrew Lloyd Webber Right. It's I can't right the way Tom. Kitt writes You could give us the subject. We'd right totally different songs. All you can kind of do is. Eat Lunch and Say. Politics itself. Yeah, you you. We talked about. A two thousand and one. There's one thing that that's very interesting. That Broadway shows share with nineteenth century candidates, which is that? You can't say you. You're going to Broadway you know back in the day. candidates would never say I. Don't want to run for president, but if the people should ask me to serve, I would yield willingly I mean that's about as close to a declaration, and it's the same with a Broadway show. If you say if I said today, I'm writing axelrod the musical coming to Broadway tomorrow. Decree. Rolls off the tongue by the yeah. It's very your liberalism. Why it's not called an axelrod CAST What is your What do you hope? For your work, what? What's the hope you have? You know that's what my hope and what's committed, obviously more than to entertain. No it really is I mean you know. Hamilton has a lot of politics because it's about the birth of politics. In the high test politics inherent in because it's about a group of people living in a neighborhood that is changing against their will. So, you know my show is live in the world, but the politics in them are only inherent to the story. I'm telling at that particular time. You know one of the things. I learned in writing Hamilton. We don't control our legacy so what I hope for my shows is. Eternally, done in high schools forever. But the reality is whatever happens I have no control over that all I can control the work itself. Well we're grateful for the work that you do because it's incredibly impactful and entertaining. Little Hope you do it for. A very long time. Thank you for listening to the X. Files brought to you by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN audio, the executive producer of the acts files is emily standards. The show has also produced by Miriam Annenberg Semi Anthony and Allison Seagull. And special. Thanks to our partners at CNN, including courtney, coup, Nagin Marcus and Ashley less. For more programming from the I o P. Visit Politics. Dot EU CHICAGO DOT EDU.

Alexander Hamilton Hamilton New York David. axelrod Manuel Manuel Miranda University of Chicago Institut Freddie West Wing York US CNN reporter Barack Obama Chicago CNN Sondheim Don Lemon Wing West Wing President Santos Grad School for Psychology
Ep. 278 - Mary Katharine Ham

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

1:01:46 hr | 2 years ago

Ep. 278 - Mary Katharine Ham

"And now from the university of Chicago institute of politics and CNN the axe files with your host, David Axelrod. You may know Mary Katharine ham as provocative often. Funny, conservative commentator on CNN, whereas a conservative writer this week, she was also a fellow at the institute of politics at the university of Chicago, and we sat down to talk about conservatism in the era of Trump and the upcoming midterm election. Mary Katharine ham, so good to see you here at the institute of politics. Thank you for having me land. Glad to have. You know you've you've actually written about the need for divergent voices on campuses, and specifically you wrote about something that happened here at the institute of politics, so it's good to have you here so you can witness for yourself. What goes on. I mean, I'm happy to be the divergent voice to be among diverted voices, say to shoulder that burden all by yourself. So you know, I. I was interested to learn that you are from a long line of journalists as a former journalist that caught my. Yes. I'm a fourth generation newspaper analysts, specifically my great join. Explain what newspapers. I know for our younger young actually actually graduated from college with a journalism degree specifically in newspaper journalism because I could really see the future. I knew what was coming. Great grandfather started a paper and beautiful pits Georgia way back in the day. And then my grandfather was a sports reporter for him, and then my father dabbling in politics here and there he was the press secretary for the governor of Alabama when I was born, but he was fringing. Yes, but he was trained as a newspaper man in my most of my life was a newspaper man and an editor, and and then I worked at a small North Carolina newspaper for a couple years. Before your dad tell me about that little the four year period when he when he left journal. When I left journalism, I got lectured about you. If you go into politics, you're gonna make yourself impure. You can never come back. He managed to pull it off and he did. He did do a cleansing round, I believe of sort of grad school at Duke and then reentered right? But it was a it was a campaign that my parents still speak. So fondly of and it was you nineteen seventy nine nine hundred eighty in Alabama. So the democratic primary was basically all that existed, and they were backing fob, James and working with James was taking on the Wallace machine in Alabama, and they talk about it as just one of the most exhilarating times of their lives. It was shoestring. You know, my mom was like carting around paper, campaign materials, two different newspapers into constituents here, and they're all crisscrossing the entire state in their broken down car, and they just had a blast and loved it. So they there was a lot of politics in your house. They talked about it you, this is not an interest that you develop. Independently of them? Yes. So it's interesting because when he when my dad did go to grad school, it was for political science work. So one would think that we were very political family, but we actually weren't that political per se. It was. It was more of a news junkie family. It was, you knew who who the actors were. You stayed abreast of what the issues were. My dad watched the news. We got several newspapers day because he had to have his own newspaper and the competing newspaper. And so I was always sort of informed, but there wasn't a ton of ideology in the house when they got into the James campaign, what was it that motivated them was. Wallace's them was, it was about race. Was it about corruption? What? What was it about? Yeah, I think I think taking on the old boys was was the object, and they were fascinated by this new cast of characters that had come into run. Fobs campaign. They had a lot of faith in him entrepreneur interesting, charming guy, former football player in Alabama. I think there was just energy around it, and there were young people around that campaign and it seemed an impossible task, I think. So it was very sort of romantic to take this on. And to this day we hear stories in the in the ham household about about that campaign. So you were you were raised in Durham? Yes, not a bastion of conservative. No. No, I joke that they made me what my what I am or everybody back home. She was such a nice girl growing up. No, I think I have a, I have a very serious contrarian streak. It is not why I believe what I believe. But I had from a very young age looked around and was like, feels like everyone here is saying the same things all the time in believing the same things. And I thought probably other things. And so I kind of wanted to test those waters and I like to poke around and see what I could find out and ask questions. And I think that was that was part of my growing up. I also went to public schools and I think didn't realize it was a an ideological or political. Realization or experienced, but I just I experienced public policy firsthand that wasn't working real well for the people that I was in school with or for me, and I thought schools weren't good durum. I wanna bass, germ Durham at all wonderful special place. But yeah, there were there were it was rough in our in our public schools and don't think. A kid like a kid like me or my brothers who had my parents supplementing our education did find, but I saw it failing other kids, and I just thought, are there different ways of doing things? And that was really the whole thought. I didn't go much past that because I was eight, but I think it made it made the wheels start turning been cool if you could sell that problem when. Great. If you could do that, it isn't. It's an unorthodox way to come to conservatism because I was in majority minority. I wouldn't say intercity. It's probably more of a big city term, but Durham, that's where we were. We were. We were in a majority black neighborhood and and community and lots of university people assume. Yes, so so liberal professors in the in the neighborhood as well. So that kind of environment where where I kind of wondered what else was out there and how'd you find what else was out there? So I think you know, my parents, like I said that there wasn't an ideal out ideology pushed on us at all. There was very. It wasn't very defined what what I knew who they voted for. Basically they were Carter delegates. That well, that's pretty revealing. It'd probably be mad that I said that, but they, they went through a during the Clinton years, went through a bit of a shift to the right spurred partly by my dad's, my dad's visits to the Soviet Union. So it was it was about markets. It was about free market. So I did. I think I visited the Soviet Union for work or for, yes. Oh my gosh. Somebody's gonna start a Russia conspiracy about me. He visited the Soviet Union in the in the days of glasnost to teach journalists in the Soviet Union, how a free press could work. It was a sister city program with customer Russia. He taught himself some Russian when over and and we had great friends there, and we did all sorts of cultural extraju travel with them. I did not get to go. In fact, I still have never never been. Although he did study Russian in college for a bit didn't. It didn't really sink in. So no one, no one who's listening. We'll go back and investigate your travels through Russia that can't happen. They can investigate my freshman year Russian language class if I can still read Sorolla phonetically. So if you ever need that for a party, you have nowhere to richer. But I think that that sort of his sort of embrace of free market economics and. Embrace it because he believed in it before, but sort of renewed sense of this is this is what makes America work. And I saw the other end of the spectrum over here. I think I took in a lot of that as a he must obviously also felt passionately about the importance of a free independent press for sure. And I think having those conversations with people who wanted to be journalists in Russia with people who wanted to be entre preneurs in Russia. One of his of one of our good friend family friends became our good family. Friends was just a guy in the Soviet Union who had a motor and who knew how to create things that people wanted to buy. But it wasn't allowed to do that. I think seeing that sort of made my dad talk more about these principles and capitalism, and the free markets and why they're important and free press and why these things are important. So I probably around my middle school years was picking up more of that. He's still around has the feel about the president's views on a free press. So he's now a retired newspaper man and my parents. Were cagey about Trump in the primaries but voted for him in the general election? I think I'm correct about that. And he, my dad does an I have taken in plenty of this. He's been a lot of years in media. He knows that the media leans very far left and it is. He thinks it's irresponsible journalism, a lot of the time. Now that doesn't mean he uses the same language, but he he is very open night about mistakes that journalists make. And as a former newsman he's like, this is not how we're supposed to do things. And so I think he sees it from that perspective. Plus ideologically. He feels like people on the writer treated unfairly. And you share that view, I assume. Yes. And mostly, I think my my take is more as somebody who is in media. Now. With an if somebody who, who loves the press and has been part of the press and spent much of my childhood in one of the last metro newspaper battles and just took in so much of that. My take on media's more like helped me help you to understand these people and to not make these giant mistakes that make everyone think that you're exactly what Trump is saying. You are. Right? That's. That's where I hear that. And I, I, you know, I worry a lot about the silo wing of says a society. You know, you talk about living in a neighborhood where everybody is the same when of you, and we're doing more and more of that, but media centered in these. In basically in Washington and in New York, you know, out on the coast and there is this silo ING. And I know that there's a conscious effort to break those silos down at some news organizations, but it does exist. On the other hand, they're also facts. I mean, they're actually provable demonstrable facts and you as a former reporter. Now I want to talk about your time at the Richmond county daily journal, but you dealt in facts your your job was to to as best as you could obtain the truth, right and reported and the the, the president doesn't like that. That's where we get into the sort of fake news and fake news as far as I can see. Generally? Yes, there is this bias that you speak of, but fake news. In his book is anything that he finds unflattering look. I think he uses that term very loosely to apply to anything. He doesn't like I would also note that the fake news. Term originated with media starting to talk about how fake news had fueled the elections. So they sort of got that turned back on them by Trump by using it. But that really wasn't fake news. There was some fake news, but I think it was overblown. They they went too far down that path themselves, and then he just turns it around on everybody goes too far down that path as well, which is one of my issues with the Trump eras that everyone spins each other up into sort of bad actors, right? Like because he's acting this way doesn't mean we have to act this way because I agree with that kind of counts on that on a slowly does it in this campaign? I mean he, he counts on, you know, I said the other day that he's like the, I know you covered a little sports. He's the player who elbows an opponent. And then. Counts on the opponent elbowing back and getting called for the and he'll be the first to say he foul me, but so there there is a lot of that, but I am concerned about this issue a facts, you know, and Well, I I am too, but let me push back on this with the like the story about Nikki Haley curtains. Yeah, that was a mistake it, but is it a mistake when it always goes that direction like it always reflects badly on the right of center person. Nikki Haley, frankly is one of the great success stories of the Trump administration. And for whatever reason someone over at the New York Times will actually several layers of people at the New York Times has giant factor on an interesting. Nobody flags this until it's in the paper. It's a pretty big. I said, I mean, I it that was that was an egregious mistake and newspapers make mistakes. I was a reporter, I don't. I didn't make too many mistakes, but I'm sure I made some and you know, when you do your suggesting that they had an agenda, I'm suggesting that that perhaps the fact checking and the the gut checking are not as rigorous when you don't mind that this person is taking. That's even as we speak here. There's a lot of back and forth about this Elizabeth Warren issue and her ancestry dot com or whatever it was test. And I think newspapers of scrutinized or news organizations are scrutinizing that as well. But I already agreed with you that I think that there is an unconscious bias that comes when you write live, essentially an environment where there's. Very little where there's very little debate the Patel. Let's let's talk about the your experience at the Richmond county daily journal. You can look up many of my exciting articles on like the biggest local pumpkin while I was there. No, that would be timely. This is the season the that was a great experience. This is one of the things that I I'm more about the newspaper industry falling off is that that job as daily newspaper reporter in a small town is a really great job, and it's a really great learning experience and too often now I think I didn't do that much time there. I did love my time there as a Friday night. I didn't Friday night lights. Football is the coolest. It was so much fun. Go writers, but I had a blast and you learn the town and you learn the local government and you learn how these wheels turn on a very local level and then you move up right. And now I think it would be really helpful for a lot more reporters too hag that nut agree with you more. Journalism right here at a little newspaper called the Hyde Park herald, which is a weekly newspaper. And I, I wrote a political column, but I often was called upon to do all kinds of other stories. And then I spent before I start writing about politics several nights several years on nights at the Chicago Tribune, which was an education onto itself. And and the reason they put me on there was they say, we know you know everything about local politics, but we want you to learn how to be a reporter and part of that by the way, not to harp on this was to get every to get it right to get get the facts, right? But it also exposed me to a whole array of experiences and people who I never would have known, which is what's great about that. Yeah. I still have a pretty deep attachment to that town for that reason is because I was I was only there for a short time, but I met everyone in. In the county rock Rockingham? North Carolina. I still have friends there and I still visit there. And by the way, Richmond county a sort of quintessentially Obama Obama Trump county that that is the sort of the textile industries when away it's been patching economic life together since them, but not really felt things sort of on the rise. And I was curious after the election thought county seems like one of those one of those counties and I looked at up and sure enough. That's what it is. That's the story of that election. So Friday night football is that's a big, a big deal. I was just talking to friend of mine who lives down in in your your native state of Alabama who son plays high school football and he. He traveled travel a long way for a game on Friday night, and he was describing the scene to me and it. It's as the as the TV show depicted that TV show is by the way, one of one of those great things that I think right American blue America can both equally enjoy and it's like a nice cross cultural like you can learn a little bit about these towns because it really did bring true to my experiences in a Friday night sports fan. Where's I love? I've always love sports. My dad raised us on on sports. I was a, he went to university of Georgia. So I was a UGA football fan, and I was a town in Durham's over. The Duke basketball fan haters I know whatever earned it so. Professional basketball. So we always watched all kinds of sports and Nasr car. So I while I was there, I think actually was the first woman to cover Friday night. I was gonna ask you about that. People feel about that. There was a tiny bit of skepticism, but. But it wasn't overt. Nobody was overtly rude about it, but I think there was some. There were some skeptical folks and it and it went well at high school level. Is there controversy about women in the locker room? Yeah, I stayed clear of that. I tried to stay mostly on the on the field outside the locker room everyone, but yeah. But yeah, I, the athletes were extremely polite, very sort of small town southern thing. They always called me miss ham, even though it was like three years older than them. Yes, yes. Miss ham. I never get treated like that when I was reporter, it was it was a fun time. People didn't even use my real name that all kinds of other names for me that I did cover by the way Donell LB who has since gone on to win su- two Super Bowls. Very proud of that. That is that did a feature on him one time when he was just a skinny wide receiver in high school. What would it look like? If we all listened more listening to audio books motivates us inspires us even brings us closer together. There's no better place to listen than audible because now audible members get even more exclusive audio fitness programs. Audiobooks audible, originals and more audible has the largest selection of audio books on the planet. And now with audible originals the selection has gotten even more custom with content made just for members every month. Audible members get one credit good for any audio book. They choose plus to audible originals from changing selection that they can't get anywhere else. They also get access to audio fitness and health workouts created exclusively for audible. Plus your books are yours to keep with audible. You can go back and realistic anytime even if you cancel your membership, didn't like your audio book exchange it. No questions asked right. Now I'm fascinated by leadership in turbulent times the new book by historian, Doris Kerns Goodwin in for my fellow junkies politics and history. You'll find just about anything you want on audible. Go to audible dot com. Slash x. files or text acts files to five zero zero five, zero zero. That's audible eight. You d I b l e. dot com. Slash x. files or text acts files to five zero zero five, zero zero. You can do it with audio books. You then moved onto DC at some point, you decided obviously that you wanted to transition into something other than daily journalism and more into the commentary. What would. What made you do? Your clue, someone who has opinions? Yes. Well, when I was in when I was in Rockingham working there. I was. I mean, I've always been sort of libertarian conservative, but definitely solidly right of center. And even in a rural North Carolina newsroom, I was the weirdo. And so and then I would get some knocks for it from from editors when I would write not reported pieces, obviously don't put stuff in there. But when I would write opinion pieces which to their credit, they didn't encourage me to do. But I would get in some some tussles and some back and forth with with editors about various things. And I, I just wondered, okay, if I'm moving forward, do I just keep my mouth shut about all of this forever because I think it will probably hurt me. Or do I do sports where you don't really have to talk about it? Of course, sports sports coverage has changed a bit since then. No. Kidding. You basically do after talk about it, but should I think by the way about the whole kneeling controversy libertarian? Yeah, I look, I think as protests go, that's that's perfectly. It's basically respectful protests. I also think you can't be surprised that people associate the protest with the flag and the anthem when it's being done during the flag and the anthem like people are sort of surprised that people associated with that instead of what they're actually protesting. Right. And I think it's easy for people to get those wires crossed. But you know, this goes back to our discussion about the president before in the sort of throwing the elbow. And then I mean, this was sort of a doormat issue. Yes. Colin Kaepernick has been out of the league presents down in Alabama. He's looking for something to ignite. The crowd and basically re reignited the whole debate and and. Clearly not because there was this rash of kneeling that offended him, but because he thought there was an issue there that could work for them. Yeah. I mean, he has a savant like ability to find those things right. And as somebody who loves both football and the anthem and the flag all these things, I'm just like when I when I heard him do that, I was like, well, this is going to just spin up on both sides and sort of make this make this an issue, a protest issue for anyone who was enjoying both the athletes and the whole pageantry of the thing before. But yes, that's. That's who he is. That's and I think I think people are Trump supporters. I think to some extent, they are correct would say, look, there's always been a culture war on the other side. And now we got a guy who fights it, whether the mitt Romney's of the world would be like I touching that with a ten foot pole, right. Does, and that's, that's part of why he was elected. It is. I don't think anybody's mind the culture wars more effectively than he has. And he's gone where nobody else has been willing to go maybe since George Wallace back in the sixties, but. You know, he would say, well, I won. He said, you know, that's what he says. It works, but that can't be the standard. Can't it. I mean, is a good for the country to have in this particular case, for example, the country benefit from reigniting that I don't know. I mean, Nike and Colin Kaepernick would say, this is great. We're, we're having a super productive conversation about about excessive force in police brutality. I don't actually think that's the case. We're not having a super productive conversation about that because it is. It's a lot of signaling on both sides instead of an actual conversation. So I, I'm not sure that we are, but I'm not. I'm not sure it's entirely Trump's fault. It's like it's just signaling up and down on all cultural issues on both sides. But no, that cannot to me that cannot be the standard for politics, but it is the standard for politics. Yeah, that's one of the reasons I don't love it. Yeah, I, you know, I, I worry about. Sort of the only value being candid helped me win and you know, yes, there are people on both sides who who, who are guilty of that at times, but there's, you know, he, he expressly in braces that as his fundamental philosophy that whatever works just do whatever works what he was asked by Lesley Stahl the other night about wh-. About going after Dr Ford. And so if we hadn't done that, we would one. I don't think that's true, but that's what it says. I think he thinks it was true. The point is it was a revealing comment because that's how he operates. Yeah, I think that is how he operates an somebody who argued that he was not a great idea during the primaries thought that for a long time. I, I will not concede that he's like uniquely cynical in politics. That is not the case. He was more open about it, but he's not uniquely. So he's honestly cynical. I mean he'd, he's, he's says that he's cynical, but I think there's there are plenty of operators out there that are maybe not at that level. I mean, I. I think that he is a savant at mining these cultural issues and at understanding the modern media environment. Yes. I mean, he, you know, I said the other day that he's Pavlov and we're all the dogs. You know. I mean, he knows he, he, he, he seeks reaction and he generally gets, yeah. Now he, he can send people really. That's what he does. We'll get back to him more about you. So you came to Washington worked for the Heritage Foundation, started this blog. Now, we'll say for a young woman, looking to find a place that would be more hospitable to conservative writing. I'm not sure. Washington DC would necessarily be, let's let's go full ideological, right? And I was always interested. I was. I had not always, but like from a younger age than most people was interested in policy and was interested in why certain things worked in why certain things didn't. And so a think-tank seemed like a good place to learn some stuff and to. I mean, just get the lay of the land on things that I had not. Taken in college or or what have you. And I didn't specifically study politics or policy in college. So I thought a think tank would be a good place for that night. Ended up just sort of paying my dues and editing a journal for a bit. While I was there and and did pick up the lay of the land on policies. And I didn't always fall where the Heritage Foundation fell on things. Sometimes more of a reason magazine kinda gal, but but I think I, I learned a lot about what the parameters are of these discussions and became in the process of a Goto conservative voice. Were you surprised to find yourself in that position you pretty quickly someone who was popping up on in various places? I was. I was a couple years after I got to Washington, but it was about the two thousand six election that I first started doing some TV, and I was I was I was quite conscious of the fact that I was young. Although I had been following politics and very into politics for a long time. In fact, read the read the entire star report on the computer lab computer in my freshman. Literally. Quite. Actually more people are interested in that than the normal political document. But I had been, you know, interested in following politics for a long time, had fairly good education in these things, but was conscious of the fact that I was young and I don't want to overstep my bands. In fact, joke that the first time. On TV one time they called me the next day to be on Larry King Live the day before the two thousand six election. I said, I've only been on TV once. Right? And like. So you wanna do it, and I thought I should say, no, but you know what? This is Washington DC in this town is built on young people doing things. They're woefully unqualified before, so I'm gonna go for it. You know, with, I try to keep a sense of humor and understand that. Perhaps David Gergen had more experience with this than I did. But you know, if you have chemistry with some hosts and you can act like a normal person on TV it turns out they continued ask you back. And if you don't crash and burn do something super responsible and then you become which which can happen. We've, we've seen that happen to. I wanna talk to you about something that's not easy to talk about, which is I wanna talk to you about your your husband. Jake brewery was known to many people in the Obama world. He worked in the White House. You guys were you were like a at first situation, comedy in the make the conservative woman, the liberal guy. It tell me how that came about. We met through friends, sort of on a on a panel in Washington DC. It's so DC like a panel about media and the election in two thousand. Writes it. So no, I know. So we met on that panel and sort of chatted, but didn't really connect. In fact, I think he thought we connected and I didn't apparently, and, and so we met up again a year later on. We met up again on another panel a year later and started started dating, but we had we had mutual friends. As I, you know, I grew up with all liberal, so I have like a huge number of friends across the liberals. I do, I do. And so that was I always had overlapping social circles with different ideological groups in different activist groups. And so we had friends in common and you know, we started dating and I think we are. Our ideal Ogies are sort of a symbol for how people view politics in this way. Sort of emblematic in that I am a libertarian conservative and he he was a centrist democrat essentially like a pragmatic centrist democrat except on a couple issues where we had our crazy town, indulge crazy on a couple of things. So the world sauce as super far right and super far left. But if you actually talk to the two of us, we were really kind of hybrids that were not that far from each other in the middle. And I think that's a that's sort of emblematic of how we view politics when in fact, a lot of people closer together, it's really distressing because it's as if you, you should not. You should not have friends, you should not socialize. You should not. You should not marry outside the faith faith being. Yeah, your party. It's it's kinda crazy. Yeah, I think it's unhealthy and look. It's you're not obligated to Dayton, Mary somebody who you fundamentally disagree with on some really important things, right? You don't have to put yourself through that. But I do think opening yourself up to the idea that people who believe different things. Can enrich your life can make you better at communicating what you communicate. It was not always easy and and may be really good people. I mean. Put put put, really, you know, this whole, it's not anymore melodies. You know, I think the assumptions that we make about each other are really, really. Kind of perverse in that. You know, the assumption is if you if you're a Trump supporter, your toothless ignorant, racist. If you're if you're at a Trump opponent that somehow you're, you know any lead America hater. Exactly. And, but but anyway, but you guys got you guys got past that. Yeah, and I mean, it was not always easy, and there were times that we had serious disagreements about policy, but we would try to put it aside and focus on other things. But we, we did fundamentally have agreements on how he would raise kids and how what a family looked like. And so those were the important that you argued about whether I watch FOX or MSNB. Yes. Well, actually we didn't watch a ton of cable news because just like we could. I mean, you could do real thing. Live exactly. And you know, he loved he loved being married to somebody who was literally trained to debate on on the fly, maybe not the greatest, the greatest feature in a spouse, but things lively. Yes. So. In two thousand fifteen. You lost him and I to how to tell me about that. So he passed away on Saturday in September. He was on a charity bike ride, and I don't know the details because I've never wanted to know the details, but it was you weren't there now a charity race. I was down in North Carolina with my family, and you know something went wrong and car plus bike and. I found out about it down in Durham when I was on my way I got in the car to come back. Had one one child. We had one. We had one child and I was seven months pregnant with our second. Yes, our I was too, and she was in DC which was one of the weird things about that Dave's that I had to drive four hours before I could reunite with her after I had gotten the call from a state. You drove yourself backup to know my parents did. I was down there with my parents and my co, author and best friend guy. Benson. We just happen to be. If something like this is going to happen to you, that was the perfect group of people to be with and what what someone called. And yes, some, I don't know who it was. I assume a policeman are a troopers. It was somebody in law enforcement called to inform me and we were in the car and we had been racing back to hopefully go to the hospital. And I just told my dad like, well, we don't have to race. So. Which is sort of a brutal way to communicate that. But I was in a place. And then I spent, I think I've said looking back, it's been three years now. So if I if I speak about this in a way that sounds very casual. You have the right to about it any way you want to or not? Yeah, but I think looking back, I think any denial that existed was that four hours in the car. That was it. I was. I did sit in that car and think for the entire way back maybe when I get out there will just be some steak. It was a very short conversation with this law enforcement officer who I don't even know who he was with. Maybe there's just some sort of mix up. And then once I got to the house to reunite with my daughter and sort of figure out what we're gonna do next, I thought, you know what? This is real don't. This is your stepping out of this car into a new way of life. Don't pretend that it's something else. So how does one do that? I don't know. It just. I mean, I've had a few things in my life and people say, well, gee, how do you deal with that? It's like, well, what else can you do? Yeah. I mean, that's I'm that was the approach was simply I'm going to put one foot in front of the other and I did. I made myself some rules. I think it helped to be pregnant because I had somebody I had not only a toddler to take care of which was important, but there were thousand people around who could have shouldered that burden for me. Obviously, I felt responsibility for her to keep her feeling safe. But then I had an unborn child that like you can't mess this up man like this is a traumatic situation, but you need to eat, you need to drink. You need to take care of yourself. And so for a couple days there, I was just whatever stash ios or pecans or whatever protein I could just have to say that I ate something that day I did. I made myself. Get up in the morning. Explain. I'm sorry. Good. How'd you explain it to your daughter? Luckily, did not have to. She was young enough that. She, she couldn't really grasp it. She was ju- should just turned two and she was pre-verbal mostly. She just had a couple of words really. So it was a while of she. She attended the funeral. What kind of played outside on the lawn? It was, you know, it was a, she didn't really know other than that. There were so many people around that. She loved. So in that way, it was very comforting for her and he was out of town a lot. He worked out of town a lot. So there was a there was a moment about two or three weeks in that hit me like always not just on a business trip, and I think it did her a little bit too. And so I always, I always talked about him. I made myself talk about him to her even wasn't explicitly explaining what was going on, but I wanted her to be able to retain any memory she had and I didn't want to in a toddler's life. If you stop talking about someone for a month that that can go out of. Their heads. So I made myself talk about him to her. We prayed about him. We talked to God about him just to try and keep whatever she had alive. And actually she dug up in the two years after that dug up at least two memories that I didn't definitely did not reinforce for her that are real that she has of him. So that's pretty cool. Yeah. And you talk about praying, how much did face help you. A lot. It was. It was really praying was how I did not succumb to exile eighty. Because when you're in that situation, I mean, I would. I would just look down in the crib at my two year old and my big old pregnant belly, and I would be like, this is literally horrific. This is horrific. What is happening? And it would just, you know, your mind starts turning and you can't sleep. And in the my ticket out of that was I'm gonna talk to God and I would pray. I wrote a prayer afterwards that I prayed all the time that still pray with my daughter's a couple of verses that I would just repeat when I was feeling anxious and just sort of the hope are the knowledge, whichever way you want to see it that there was a bigger plan for my life and that. I had helped to get through this even if it didn't make any sense. I mean, that is that is what a leap of faith, because it's hard to know. It's hard to say there's Justice and you know, there's a just plan. And I'm sure there were times that I was angry, of course, going through this and like mad at at God and like, why would you do this to us. But it's part of my personality and whatever. And in my face that I, that was not the principal feeling I had. It was more like, okay, you've done. This is what's happened now. You gotta help me sort of my my position with God at that moment was like, okay, Anne, how? How? How did it change you and and how you guys doing? We are doing extremely well. I think I think we're doing better and and really I should say both strangers and friends and family alike were all so incredibly supportive of us, not like with with donations to help for my kids future with ways that they help. Just with my family, I have a neighbor who right after Jake diet just started mowing my lawn and he's never stopped. He just like in by the way, this is a good tip for people who are. In a crisis situation situation if you want to help them, if you just step up and take something off their plate, they ain't gonna be mad at you. Right? Like some people worry about stepping over bounds, but when people are in crisis, if you say to them, what can I help you with? They don't know. So one of the things, if there is something simple like that that you can take off their plate, that can be a really cool way to help people a lawn service or a laundry service or housekeeping or something. Because when you're in that place, you don't have the capability of doing those things. So a lot of people just helped us out so much in the in the early going when I was, you know, had a lot of trouble. But I think within a year after that we were doing better than I would ever have imagined. My second child was the kindest baby that ever babied. And it was so important because I think I I might have gone crazy had she been a really tough baby, but she was just the sweetest newborn answered prayer, right? No, that's. I mean, I was like this and the labor was smooth. I mean hurt like hell, but it was smooth and and she was healthy. And so that part I was so blessed. And we're doing, we're doing well. Now they're with me on this trip and we're getting geared up for Halloween, which was always a big thing for our family. So having a blast I I'm gonna ask a question that. That's hard to ask, but. The idea that that. That that your second child never will know. And that Jaekle never know what happened. I know it's, it's very strange. I almost forget sometimes because I'll refer to Jake in me and the kids, but Jake was never here when we had kids. Jake was only when we had a kid, right? But I forget because he's obviously her father and he's part of the whole picture. Now, she also talks about him because we talk about him and we pray about him and she knows his name and she knows what he looks like and all of that and. He also I had an ultrasound twenty twenty four or twenty six weeks twenty six weeks. I think something like that. And he died when I was thirty or thirty one weeks prior thirty, two weeks pregnant. So about six weeks in between there. And at that ultra sound, I did not want to know if it was boy or girl. I didn't know with either kid, but I said, you know what? Just put an envelope in case. I wanna know later right told the the ultrasound technician and she forgot by the time she got to that part of it. So she didn't tell Jake to look away and she wrote what it was. Lou and I looked at him. It was like, do you know? And he was like, Yup, has like, well, that's quite it has a very good poker face. So he knew. He knew, and I like the idea that he probably had thoughts and dreams and maybe name ideas for her. We didn't discuss any of that because he didn't want to tell me it was a girl, and then a weird thing. He went to Camp David with President Obama. Maybe the week before he died. I wanna say, and he came back with three bags of presence from the from the gift shop and they were for Christmas for like all of our relatives. And I was like, this is so wonderful. You took so much work off my plate getting these super cool Christmas presents for all these people. And like very unlike him to buy something to do that that early. But it was such a cool opportunity brings us home. He puts them at the bottom of the stairs. They stayed there for a week six days, and then he died and they sat there for a long time and people were taking care of me and somebody took them to the basement, and then it was Christmas time. And I was like, oh, we have Christmas presents from Jake to went downstairs, and I got all the bags, and I pulled out all the stuff, and there was a pink onesie from Camp. David for my littlest daughter and had I ever looked in those bags before I had her, I would have known what was going on. You got a big and a onesie, so she has actual gifts from her dad that were meant for her. Well. I'm sure everybody's listening to this is thinking about. You and what that experience must have been like. And. Well, Nuff said about that. Well, it's I even I look back on it in that really happened to me. I mean, when when it was happening at felt weirdly like a movie like this is very, it was just so extreme. The all the circumstances. And now I still look back and go, gosh, that like that really happened to me. And then I had that baby and now I'm doing this on my own. And and since then, by the way I have collected a group of. Powerful and strong and brave women who have had similar things happen to them because I think when you Google pregnant widow, you come up with me. So people reach out to me when they're in these terrible situations because not that many people have this particular thing important. When you go through as as you know, I mean my other experiences, but when you go through something unimaginable you've feel as if no one else could ever have gone through this that you're completely alone in certain ways and that this and it's comforting to people to know that others have come gone through that and to know how they've gotten through it and to know that they did get through it. So it's it's, it's, I think. Great that you're so open about. Threw it. Certainly, it's an odd role to fill, but I have learned through this that part of my processing was to tell my own story to sort of take control of my own story. Even very shortly after dick died, I gave a speech like a eulogy, but it was out a memorial service and ended up being twenty minute speech. It's online somewhere, but where I said, these are the things. This is how we're gonna live our life. We're not going to be afraid, and we're not going to be just signals of sadness to everyone. I said, don't don't let my family be a sad trombone when we walk into a room because what we happen, what happened to us very sad, but we are not sad people. And setting those goals for myself in public helped me live up to them and helped everyone else helped me live up to them. And so I have been glad so glad that that part of it has helped other people perhaps to do some of the same things in their crisis situations. Let me move from the sacred to the profane and return to no problem current political environment. We, we were getting at this a little bit earlier, but I'm sure that there are many things that the president has done that you as a conservative applaud, you know, the tax cuts and deregulation, perhaps the court appointments. And I'm sure there are things that he does that make you deeply uncomfortable and you talk to a lot of Republicans, and they acknowledged that an even you see these polling polling and focus groups, and people don't really like him, but you know, I, but I liked the things he's he's doing how, how does one compartmentalized? And is there sort of Faustian bargain involved in the? Yeah, I think to some ex- yes. I mean, there isn't a in something that people are openly acknowledging. I think there is. You can never lose sight of the fact that. And I think fairly people looked at two thousand sixteen thought. These are not great options. Right? And that's that was the sort of the story that election and it's not as obviously this is a much more theatrical version of it, but people have been holding their nose in voting for somebody for a long time. Right. And you take what you can get. I do think that like somebody who believes in like, for instance, entitlement spending problem should work on that and like free trade is really good for everyone, things like that. It's not. It's not part of the Trump, no, no things like that that have just disappeared. I don't think that's that's a service to the party or to the country. And I also think that despite the fact that you're you're getting a lot and this is what I expressed to Trump supporters, and there is I have. I have an understanding of exactly why they made that bargain, right. I couldn't get there myself, but I do understand it. And I think I think there's a generational gap, many conservatives my age who are logical and who are interested in the tracking new people, the party think. Okay, well, you can win this way for a little while, but how long can you win this way? How many people are you? Scared. Away, especially when you consider the demographics of the country and the changing demographics of the country. This this is, you know, we saw this the Republican party autopsy in two thousand and thirteen of the last election. The idea and the crux of it was the party needed to expand its reach. What Trump's there is just the opposite, which is a part needs to maximize its base, even if it's at the expense of expanding its reach. Yes and it and it worries me. And I think it's an existential worry for for the party and for winning national elections in for like, because I believe in these things, I believe that they are good for all the people. That's that's what I'm here for. I think that these things serve all the people. And so the idea that you would just hang up the idea of communicating with people who are different from you and who believe different things from you is sort of anathema to me even though I know that. Obviously, politics does some of that to some extent regardless because you have to distribute resources, but. That being said, he also. And sometimes I don't get it, but Trump has like sometimes more appeal than Mitt Romney in certain demographics that you would not expect Hispanic men, blue collar men, even blue-collar minority men that that you're like, wait, what is going on. He's doing almost nothing to reach these people and almost seemingly trying to push them away. And yet the numbers are not as bad as a more typical Republican. Right? And I think it's think it's sort of the blue-collar connection part of it. So it's a strange cultural stump? Yes. Interesting. How quickly he shifted from empathy or expressed empathy for Dr Ford too. Standing up for aggrieved man, you know? And clearly that was a a calculation on his part that this is where my is, and this is where I'm going to go to win this fight. Yeah. And I think he also any crowd. He's in an somebody made this point. I think curbing this point from somebody, so I don't want to take full credit. But when he said the thing about supporting her, he was in front of a group of reporters, so he's feeding off them in this. He's giving them what they want to hear in the goes elsewhere and gives them what they wanna hear, which is one of the things that will. Those are pretty much only the only two groups. He speaks to reporters and adoring crowd. There's nothing in between now and they want very different things. So you get different answers. But I contend that like his, he's never, he's ever able to keep a as I say, a lid on his it for too long like he can. He can do it for about a week and then the real deal is gonna come out. What are you into for the midterm elections. I think. I don't wanna be Queen conventional wisdom, but I, I think probably Democrats will take the house. I think in the Senate. Republicans will perhaps I think I think they will keep the Senate. Maybe even add some seats that as you know, the map was historically good for Republicans, so you could look at it as a lost. The Senate mouth, the Senate mountain house map is is, is it turns out in the Europe Trump not particularly good for Republicans, especially after all these retirement? Yes. Specifically, the Senate map is very friendly, so you could look at it as a blown opportunity to pick up a bunch of sleaze seats, which is it is all the midterms are tough. So I think they'll likely be okay there partly because I do think that people underestimate the extent to which people on the other side of the Cavanaugh issue were galvanized by how that went. Because the fact is they're diminishing returns for Seattle for Democrats at the point. You can only go up so far, whereas Republicans just have to find parody. Right? And so I think they came closer and that'll play better in states versus these little these particularly Trump carried and you've got four or five senators who are in states carry by. By substantial margins, what. The one question I think that is not entirely clear whether that affect would have happened anyway, whether the states will go native at the end, which is generally what com right happens and you're absolutely right that the enthusiasm gap is needs to be closed for Republicans to do well. But the fact is one of the reasons Republicans do well in mid midterms as Democrats, ten generally low right in mid. So if Democrats are now voting at the same level as Republicans that creates some issues for them. So let's just say, plays out the way you suggest it will and I agree with you, right? That's the likely outcome. What's the next two years going to be like. Oh, Lord, if I know exhausting. Well, I think that's a given. I mean, these last two years haven't been day day at the beach in that regard. And that to me is sort of the defining feeling and look. I know that there are plenty of people who support Trump who are exhilerated by the way he tweaks pay people in the way he messes with people in the way that, but there is a, there's a substantial number of people in this country who are exhausted by the the turn of everything. And I think part of that is the symbiotic relationship of twenty four hour news cycle in from. There's reason he got one of two billion dollars of yearned media. He's genius. Yeah. So we kind of again, everybody gets spun up every stories in eleven. No story can possibly be a five out of ten here. They all have to be an eleven, and I think it just wears on people and a lot of people, even Frank. Even people who are supportive of the president sort of tune out at some point and pick up here and there what's going on. And I don't know what that means for society. I find that I have to take very serious breaks from it, and I have my family to hang out with and and separate by going to children's museum or something. But but yeah, I. I don't mean to give you zero predictions, but that that strikes me as what animates the Trump era for me almost more than anything else is the sort of frantic pace of everything. Well, it's going to be interesting that we can be sure because as soon as the curtain rings down on campaign two thousand eighteen campaign two thousand twenty will be in full swing and off to the rest for the weary weary voter, but but it'll be interesting really. Well, Mary Katharine ham. Thank you so much. You haven't been here at the institute politics. We didn't get to the issue of diversity of opinion on campus, but we believe in it here and and you are adding to the discussion and we appreciate thank you so much. I appreciate you guys doing awesome job of that. Outside of me. Thank you for listening to the ax files part of the CNN podcast network for more episodes of the x files subscribe on apple, podcasts, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app from our programming from the university of Chicago institute of politics, visit politics, dot EU, Chicago dot EDU.

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Ep. 327  Janet Napolitano

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

1:00:19 hr | 1 year ago

Ep. 327 Janet Napolitano

"And now from luminary media, and the university of Chicago institute of politics, the accident with your host David Axelrod. Janet Napolitano is most impactful public figures. I know she was elected attorney general Verizon a- and twice elected governor of Arizona state not easy for Democrats elected by a landslide in her second term, because she proved herself to be a pragmatic, thoughtful leader, who could reach across party lines. She came to Washington as secretary of homeland security in the Obama administration dealt with everything from terrorism to immigrate to natural disasters and is currently the president of the university of California system, a, the largest state public university system in the country, she's also just written a new book called, how safe are we homeland security since nine eleven? I sat down with her in Chicago recently to talk about all of this, and her extraordinary career. Here's that conversation. Janet napolitano. It is such a pleasure to see you again. It's good to see David in through a lot. Gather, you know I wanna talk about your new book, but I before we get there. I wanna talk about you and your journey through life and through politics, your New Yorker by birth by the raise Munin. You weren't raised there, your dad was the son of an Italian immigrant. Tell me about your family, so my dad was as you said, the son of talian, Emma immigrants, and he was raised in California. My mother came from hardy, midwestern stock, and was raised in Saint Louis. They met when my dad was going to Saint Louis U med school. And mom was working there in the lab, they moved to New York. Dad had a post, doc at Cornell Medical school. So I was born in, man. Hatton? We spent a few years in Pittsburgh, and then we moved to Albuquerque New Mexico when I was six years old. So I really view myself as a new Mexican by. I didn't I didn't airs on it. I just briefly kind of go through went to college in California before we get there because of the turn that your career took. I thought it was a noteworthy that somewhere along the line. You were moved by the and it seems timely the Watergate hearings. Yeah. And some of the women who played so prominently in those hearings. Absolutely. I was mesmerized by them. And, and this was the Watergate hearings was when it was, you know, three networks and PBS was all that was on television. And they broadcast the hearings live. And I remember just sitting in front of our black and white TV watching, and there were such impressive members on the house side. You had Barbara Jordan and. Elizabeth Holtzman and, you know, something just kinda clicked on, like, you know, boy, that's a, that's a really good. You know, a key role and, you know, they were you know they were just exciting in, in, in, in their own ways. The fact that they were women resonated with you, would you not have seen yourself in that role if they had not been, I don't know. That's a good question. This was in the early seventies. And there weren't very many women in political office at the time. So, yeah, I think you could look on them as early role models. And the Watergate hearings themselves as kind of turning me onto the whole notion of politics and government in and how important they are our country, you went to Santa Clara university, and ultimately, you, you deal stint in Washington. Yeah. I did. It's the Senate budget committee on the Republican staff got the job through Senator Pete Domenici, who's an old family friend, and so I like to joke that it's the Republicans who taught me how to round to the nearest one hundred million dollars. But there's no way better to seek government than to actually go through the budget and to see where the money flows. So I had a really good experience and then headed off to law school. Yeah. Did you know what were you did? You know, this was an interesting that you were headed to law school. I knew I was headed to graduate school of some sort. I kind of decided while I was on the hill. You know, I looked around and, and I looked at who was heading all the committee staffs and who who were actually the elected 's. And so many of them had law degrees that I thought pick one up so I did. And you and then headed to AirAsia I did. I got a I wanted to head back west and I applied for clerkship, on the ninth circuit, which is the federal court of appeals that covers the far western states and got a clerkship with judge Mary. Schroeder her chambers are actually in Phoenix, and I. Remember, so distinctly loading everything I owned fit into this kind of two door hatchback five on the floor, Honda Accord, was my first car driving across the country. Getting the Phoenix late on August afternoon. Heat waves coming up from the Valance dry heat dry. He you know, I just said, oh, my gosh. I'm so glad I'm only going to be here for a year. Well. So do when you got sign when you got this clerkship. Did you get to choose the judge replying to or did you apply to the ninth circuit? And I don't know how that works had gotten through college. No. So you apply to judges. So, you know, I just went through the judges almanac, and identify judges who were in the ninth circuit. And in do the fact that she was a woman appeal to you, not, not I wasn't applying to her, because she was a woman, but she obviously became a great mentor and, and remains a good friend, and mentor you, you went into private practice after that. And one of the things that is striking about it is that one of your very illustrious clients was Anita hill. Yeah. Yeah. Tell me how that came about. So the. A senior partner at my law firm was a man named John, Frank. He'd been a professor of law e AL had moved AirAsia, because he had terrible asthma, and he was an expert on prim court nominations, he'd been involved in Hanes worth. He was involved in Bork. He wrote a book about it. And when the Senate Judiciary committee decided to actually, hold a hearing on professor hills allegations, people around are recognize that she didn't have anyone on her immediate team who had actually handled one of these contested supreme court nominations. And so they reached out to John for help, and he reached out to me. And we took a red Ida Washington on a Monday and met our client on Tuesday. And by the end of the week, we were in the midst of, of the hearings. So tell me about that because it's obviously. It's resurfaced doesn't issue lately. Right. What are your recollections of it, and particularly how she was treated by the committee? You know, she was she was treated terribly. And, you know, there were no rules, right? It wasn't like going into court where you could object, where you could insist on a particular order of witnesses or the like so, for example, we had been told that she would be the first witness, and we were literally in, in the kind of green room or whatever the waiting room, and they came in and said, no Thomas wants to go. I just totally things like that were happening all the time. And then the questions were. Just so out of bounds and the, the tone, taken by, particularly the Republican members of the committee was so disrespectful, and, you know, and she held up really well I mean she was a very, very good witness and a credible witness. And what's interesting is when she finally went on was in the afternoon. And she did very well. And kind of had the story for the six o'clock news casts, and I think the Thomas team recognized that he needed to do something so that it could flip the story by the ten o'clock news. High lynch. Yeah. So, so all of a sudden they decided that he could come on. And they would have an evening session, and what was kind of interesting about that is I was in the hearing room, most of our team had left to go to. Inner and then all of a sudden the doors open and the Senator start coming in, in, in comes Boyden gray would Clarence Thomas until this was before they were phones or anything like that. There was no way to get a hold of the team. So, you know, I was I was I was there and they were having dinner, you know, I have to ask you, you, you're a very busy woman. Now running the university of California system, so you may not have had a chance to watch the Cavanaugh hearings. But what you're describing sounds a little bit like what we saw, which is Christine, Blasi Ford, testified, and then all and she was very credible and impactful, and then all hell broke loose in the afternoon. It, it was deja vu, all over again. And. It was if. The Senate as institution had not evolved at all in terms of how you address serious allegations of sexual harassment. So when Anita hill, testified is a nineteen ninety one it was really the first time sexual harassment in the workplace became kind of popularly known or discussed. And as as the aftermath, there were lots of changes in the law, lots of changes in workplace policies training and the like, so, you know, things continue to evolve not, not perfectly as the metoo movement from it straits. But nonetheless, places, you know began to make make some movement. The Senate, obviously made no movement, and, and the cavenaugh approach was almost identical to the Thomas approach. So unite. I both know vice president Biden. Well, we both worked with him, you probably were to them in various ways, during your public life. He was a chairman of the committee at the time. He's come under some criticism now that he's running for president, which, of course, is endemic to writing for president for the way he handled that hearing how culpable was he for the, the way in which the thing was conducted. And how fair are the criticisms of him. You know, I think he, he himself has acknowledged that. He, he, he did not control the hearing, the way a chairman can. I think he would do it very differently. If the hearings were held today, you know, I think we have to evaluate the vice president in light of his total record. You know, his were you at that time it started were up were you at that time were you, you said, witnesses kept changing and the scheduled kept changing and so on where you aggravated with him then. Oh, sure. I was like who's running this railroad? And but there were other members of the committee that could have spoken up as well. And been more active the Democrats were remarkably silent and you know, I can only speculate that impart. It was because Thomas was a African American Rome. They didn't want to be seen as tacking him. But, you know that kind of vacuum, allow the Republicans on the committee, just drive through their counter narrative, and, you know, try to depict professor hill as a not a credible witness. Did you do think? Dr hill said that she was not satisfied with her conversation with the vice president. She just say I blew it. I'm sorry. You know. Look, I don't know how to advise the vice president on this. I think I think he's tried to explain his role in the hearings. I think he's tried in his own way to apologize. I don't think his apology has gotten over the goal line yet. I love how you handle that question. You're not you're no longer a practicing politician. That was very deft way. Handling that question. So speaking of being a practising politician, you decided, in, in two thousand to run for attorney general, or I guess, ninety eight nine for attorney general right of Arizona. That's a big decision to. Yeah. To, to run for public office and exposure, self. I mean, everybody was always telling politicians what they should do. And so on. And so when you put your name on a ballot that's pretty raw stuff because people get the vote, Yay or nay on you and you have to have a pretty thick skin to do it. Especially as a democrat in Arizona. Yes. So I'd been serving as the US attorney fares ONA, President Clinton had nominating. I was confirmed and serve during his first term. And, and I'd been in that role for four. Plus years. And I was going to be turning forty in the attorney general ship of AirAsia was gonna be an open seat. And, you know, already always had this little, you know, kind of it, I guess, that I'd like to run myself and, and I kind of thought you know, if I don't do it now, I'll never do it. And I'll always wonder, you know, the woulda coulda shoulda aspect. And, and you're right. It's a it's, it's a big jump, although I should say parenthetically apropos our previous discussion when you're you got a little taste of politics, when you reported US attorney because the Republicans in congress held you up for a year. Yeah. Because of your involvement with Anita hill. That's right. And fortunately at the time you could go in as an acting. So I went in as an acting US. Attorney. But yeah, confirmation went all the way to a cloture vote in the Senate for a US attorney position because I had the fortune or misfortune of being the first person associated with Anita hill, who had to come before the Senate Judiciary committee, for confirmation, and the and they had a memory of that. And hey back is held. Yeah. So, but Meanwhile I was in the job. So it was like okay, come on. And so that, that made you obvious candidate for attorney general. What was it like making the transition to, to campaigning to raising money to doing the things that politicians have to do? So it was interesting because the Democratic Party at the time in Arizona, was almost non-existent. So there was no kind of structure that I could feed into. So I, I had one campaign worker, young man who'd worked with me at the US tourneys office. We had this dumpy little office in a very CD part of Phoenix, you know, to card table, some folding chairs a couple of phone lines and I would literally go in there and make cold calls to raise money, you know, five six hours a day. And then we try to set up house parties. And, and then I you know, on the weekends I'd go do parades and county fairs and all those kinds of things and, you know, slowly, but surely, you know, we built an organization and we're able to raise enough money in order to win the race. How? Talk to me, a second about money and fundraising, you know, the biggest lament you hear from members of congress, for example. Now is how much of their time they have to spend raising money and, you know, you're right for an office, like attorney general, which is a kind of it's a down galleries. And but also, it's a, you know, the authority your law enforcement person, you're asking people to support support, you, but just generally because you openly ran for governor how how much did you dislike having to sit on that phone and raise money all day? Oh, I don't think any candidate really enjoys that part of that job. But you gotta do it. Maybe Chuck Schumer. Maybe. It's and you have to discipline yourself to do it. I think most candidates procrastinate they find something else they have to do at cetera. But in the end if you don't have the funds. Needed to your, your your, your staff in the media buys and all the rest. Yeah, you're toast, and then four years later, you ran for governor Zona. I remember this very well because everybody was so excited that there was a viable candidate for. Of Arizona, and you won you won narrowly you ended up winning re-election by a landslide which says something about about how you conducted yourself there. But, you know, you were very much someone who was, you know, you, you had a lot of vetoes, but you also were someone who would negotiate across party lines. There's this, there's this big debate now about about compromise about the kinds of things that one has to do in a democracy that you and estate that was, you know, obviously, you are democrat. He had to deal with Republicans in the legislature. You must have some strong feelings about that. The sort of. No compromise run over the opposition. Kind of theory of government that has been exacerbated by these battles in Washington, right? That's what we're seeing now. Yeah. But how does it work if you're not in Phnom betraying, my own view of this, if you're not willing to if there's no give and take, you know, when you're elected attorney general or governor, you're not the attorney general just for the Democrats? You're not the governor just for the Democrats. You're the governor of Arizona, and I think with those kind of roles comes responsibility to understand that there are people have different different views and understand that if you're the executive and the legislative branch is under the control of the other party. If you wanna get any part of your programme adopted, you gotta have to give and go. You gotta have to give them something in order to get something that you you've you as a, a larger good, and so I'll give you an example. I wanted. Of free all day kindergarten for every era as a child. We had a burgeoning population of families with young children. They mostly came from a lower socioeconomic status, you know, we wanted to catch them up by the time they got to first grade so that they were reading grade level by third grade, which is one of the kind of standard metrics and the Republicans in the legislature were opposed to that. But they really wanted private prisons. I don't like private prisons. I don't think prison's should be operated by for profit industries feel that way because I think that in imprisonment is kind of a core. If you're gonna do it, it's kind of a core function of the state and beyond that the record of the private prison industries, not a good record and, and they didn't want. To take the most difficult prisoners. Right. They wanted to take the easier to control populations. This is the this is sort of the difficult thing about privatization in, in all realms of government. You know including, you know the debate about infrastructure. Well, yep. Private investors are gonna be eager to do infrastructure, but not in the places where you most need them and under served areas. And sunk as there's not money to be made. Right. Right. You're not going to be building a toll road rare. Yeah. That that's right. And so long story short. We made an agreement that they would fund all day, kindergarten and that for every public prison. We built there would also be a private prison. Not ideal. But a compromise a workable compromise. And, and got us where we needed to go on, on all day. And, and that historically has been kind of how progress has been made in American history. What we're seeing now in Washington. DC is a total paralysis of that process. We saw a little I mean this. Administration. Yeah. When, when President Obama took office, as you know, I think one of the reasons I mean you were one of his early endorsers and I think one of the things that probably attracted you to him was. He was a believer in trying to work across party lines trying to rise above the partisan differences. It was really hard. When we got there, I think, in part because Senator McConnell who was there, then as he is now made a strategic decision that, you know, what we're not going to give them anything because otherwise that validates his message that, you know, that, that he could somehow harmonize everything. Right. I think it wasn't McConnell who said that they're cheap priority was to make sure he didn't get a second term. Yes. And I really thought that was an outrageous comment like year. United sta-. Dates Senate and your chief priority is to be to try to defeat the incumbent president. Meanwhile, the country was teetering on the verge of depression. And we had all these large looming issues some of which, like immigration still loom in our country. It, it just, you know, I it's just not the way it ought to be in my view of reaction creates a reaction. And that's why you have this debate within the Democratic Party of people who say you know what they're not gonna work with us. Right. So let's work with that, right. Yeah. Yeah. But that seems like a that seems like we're spiralling into a kind of really really treacherous place. You know, we're in a place now where everyone has retreated to their corner of the ring, and there's and there's. No positive engagement, there's engagement, but but mainly for point scoring. Yeah. Yeah. And, and so, meanwhile we lack a coherent immigration policy. We lack a coherent climate policy. We're not dealing with these issues of income inequality, which underscores so many other issues in our country. These are big kind of extant risks to, to the United States, you, you rarely hear about them. Yeah. It's amazing. Let's talk about immigration of for second, and I won reserve a bunch of time to talk about your tenure as at the department of homeland security, and, and the book that you've just written about where you think we need to go, but immigration is something you've been dealing with. Long before you ever got to Washington. You're a border state governor and, you know, you, you were viewed as, as relatively tough on the issue, you, you spoke off in about the need to secure the border. You, you know, there were various debates, including about fencing along the border, which you ultimately compromise done. Tell me tell me what, what you see today, relative to immigration, and, you know, which has become a real. Kind of flare point in our politics, part, because the president has made it such right? It's been a real theme of the Trump presidency and the wall has become kind of the, the, the, the picture. He's painting and I'll just say this David a wall is a symbol. It's not a strategy. The border is a zone. It's nine thousand nine hundred forty miles some of it's private land, some of its public land, some of its sovereign Indian nation land. It is dotted by ports of entry through, which thousands of trucks and cars travel, every day Mexico's our third leading trade partner. It's responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States. And so to me real strategy. Requires having twenty-first-century ports with the best technology, properly staff to facilitate that lawful traffic flow. And then between the ports of entry a combination of manpower technology ground sensors tunnel detection, equipment air cover drones to enable you to find those who are crossing illegally. That's, that's a strategy, and that's really the strategy we use during the Obama administration and we drove illegal migration down to forty year plus lows in the current administration despite the rhetoric and the kind of shutting down the government over funding for the wall at cetera. You're actually seeing the numbers come back up again. So whatever they're doing. Certainly not having the effect of deterring any illegal migration, and it's not helping solve the problem. A couple of things you, you were one of I said, you were tough as a governor, you at excuse me, a concern about violence in communities along the border. That is what the that is the specter that the president has raised that violent immigrants crossing the border bands of marauding, immigrants, and so on, what is the what is the truth of that? And how concerned should people be? So when in the early two thousands and, and this is when I was attorney general and governor by then the federal government had put something called operation gatekeeper in place in San Diego to wanna and they had put something called operation hold the line in the past. Oh, warez area. And those two operations had the function of driving. Funneling it right into what's called the Tucson sector, right into AirAsia. So that in two thousand and three I think it was over half the border patrol apprehensions in the country were in that one sector. It really was overrun. It was not under control under the Obama administration and and building on some of the work that had been done by President Bush's administration. We actually shutdown that Tucson sector, and we had it under control so that the same dynamics didn't didn't apply. And we completed all, but about fifty miles of structure, wall or fencing that had been identified by the experts as to what was necessary along the border. That's. There's a big difference between that and saying, you got to build a nineteen hundred and forty mile wall. And I used to say as governor, you know, show me a ten foot wall, and I'll show you an eleven foot ladder. And, and so, again, the notion that a single physical structure is, is sufficient, it just it just doesn't match without the border works. Yeah. Do you think Democrats make a mistake though speaker Pelosi called the low wall? Immoral back. I picked up, I think she was speaking about the symbolic. Yeah. Symbolic wall that you're talking about. But. Do crafts run the risk here of, of being positioned by the president as looking insufficiently strong on this issue. I you know, I worry about that, you know, I think the democratic message should be we want border enforcement, too, but it needs to be smart. And it needs to. Matched the need for the lawful traffic and trade to be able to traverse through the ports with our need to make sure that illegal crossings are kept to a minimum, and there are strategies that have been demonstrated to work. Those are the strategies that ought to be funded. Not not a wall. We should point out that one of the elements of the Obama program that you helped administer a DA just an ice were was under your Egypt was a pretty aggressive deportation program for people in this country. It's controversial among some Democrats, but you substantially increase the number of people who you deported, you prioritize them differently we right? We had real priorities. So, you know, it was those who had committed a serious felonies while in the country, those who are known gang members or security, risks, and those, we apprehended right at the border, we actually put them into deportation proceedings. And those had the, you know, those priorities had the effect of driving the numbers up and you know it was controversial. And I remember when the president was called a deportable and chief, and I don't, I don't think he appreciated that comment, but I also think that comment overlooked. Well who is it? That's being deported and overlooked that under the president. We did DACA deferred action for childhood arrivals. We stopped the practice of workplace raids, you know, we did other things to try to make the administration of the immigration law, better and more fair while. Advocating for immigration reform. What do you think about those who advocate the dismantlement of ice? Yeah. I think that's a mistake. I is a law enforcement organization like any law enforcement organization, it needs priorities on how it's going to expand its resources needs direction. I think one of the differences between the Obama administration and the Trump administration is that important fact that they have kind of erased any of those priorities. So any anybody in the country illegally is fair game, regardless of how long they've been here. The community ties they've established, you know, and what the real risk is to the safety of, of Americans. What about the issue of refugees, which seems to be as you point out the flow of, of immigrants from Mexico coming, actually, as has been the other way? Yeah. But. But you have this, you have the steady flow of refugees from Central America. How should that be dealt with? We've seen the family separations. Yeah. So I you know, I think we would be much better advised to try to deal with that at the source and try to me in the country, so origin in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador to fund gang of violence prevention programs to support civil institutions like judiciary like the law enforcement functions in those countries. And that's not peer. Idealism one Columbia was an ARCO state, the United States had something called Plan Colombia and over several years, investing resources and working with Colombians who didn't wanna. Live in Marco, and in ARCO state. They actually turned things around so that now Columbia is a terrorist destination. You know, people don't leave their homelands and make that treacherous journey to the United States with without being motivated by a sense of desperation for their lives and the lives of their children. And then we have to understand that, and I think we can, and we would be better advised to invest in efforts at the source of the migration, as opposed to building a wall at the output of, you're probably aware that the president has suggested that he on the family separation. He was just following on a policy. That was a policy, the Obama administration. Yeah. That, that's just not right there were times when children were separated from the adults. They were traveling with it was when we had indications that they were actually being trafficked. Or they were physically at risk from the adults. They were traveling with. But there were certainly nothing that approach to policy and nothing that approach zero tolerance policy that the Trump administration pursuit, and really treating criminalising every border crossing. Yes. So let's let's a backup the bus and, and just remind people that deportation is, is a civil proceeding prosecution is a criminal proceeding. And when the attorney general announced zero tolerance, he was saying anybody caught crossing illegally would be prosecuted meeting. They were put under the criminal jurisdiction of the United States, and that required. Then that children be separated from their parents and meanwhile, all those law enforcement resources the system. The US attorneys the investigators courtrooms at cetera along the border are filled with prosecuting what most our federal misdemeanors, just a real mistaken allocation of, of law enforcement along the border. I'm going to come back to the department of homeland security in your book, but I just want to touch briefly on what you do you're doing now as, as president of the university of California, which, as you point out has a much three times the budget that you had, when you were governor governor of Arizona and has its own. I'm sure daily complexities. Absolutely one of them that I'm interested in is this whole issue of free expression, free speech. It's something that we deal with at the institute of politics. And you know, the university of Chicago you've written about this. Has been a fulcrum of this debate, but every academic institution is dealing with it. And I, I know you've written on this subject, but how do you how you deal with it? And how do you know my just to set it up for you? My view van Jones, who you probably know was was at our place shortly after Corey Lewandowski had been there following the nineteen two thousand sixteen election, and there was a protest when Corrie came, which is part of democracies protests. But the event went on student, ask van about this a week, later and van said, you know, our job is to keep you safe from physical harm. It's not to keep you safe from ideas, you dislike or may even hate in our job is to make you strong and resilient so you can contend with these ideas. And you know, this is the Jim this is. Where you learn how to contend with these ideas, I sort of subscribe to that. And I, I suspect you do, too, but how do you do that, and still respect that in a diverse society, and particularly with more diverse student bodies, there are there are line somewhere that one has to respect that goes beyond? What is? What is tolerable? Well, you know, I think speech is speech and when you know, when there's something that arises to a risk to physical safety, then I think university can and should act, but short of that, I think the response to speech is more speech, and I think the role of educational institutions much as you said is to equip students with the tools, they need to be able to engage and to respond and to be resilient. I think we have to recognize that students who are from groups that are under attack by particular speakers that they, they are under attack and reach. Out to them and provide them greater support greater tools with which to engage with that. But I by no means think that the role of the university is to make students safe from ideas as one of the things that plagues us as a society right now is that we can create these virtual reality silos in which our views are always affirmed echo chambers. Yeah. And, and I think it's one of the reasons why we talked past we talked past each other. It's also true. I think you, you know, these kids say, will you're giving people a position of power when they come you're, you're endorsing them. My view is that if, if they're willing to come and submit themselves, the questions, then power actually shifts to these young people who are very capable, and I've seen it time and again, of challenging views that they don't agree with in ways that are really provocative and interesting. Right. And, and the other ways when you have a speaker who's just deliberately serving as provocateur isn't isn't really trying to contribute to an academic debate or anything of that sort but is, is, is, is really there to provoke and to anger another way of dealing with them is just not to go. Right. Not to provide them with that, right. Kind of. And there are speakers who who do that. And provide what I should note. No nutritional content. So, you know, it's up to the institutions to end the in the inviting parties, too. Side that and it's kind of what it was a Justice Stewart who said about pornography. I'll know it. When I see it. I mean, there is an element of that. Two quick political questions, and then I wanna get back to security. One is what why what did cause you to endorse Barack Obama in two thousand seven because. It was a hard thing. You know you were a prominent female. Executive politician in the country. Hillary Clinton was running to, and she would have been the first female president, there must been enormous pressure on you not to mention that you were pointed by President Clinton in the first place. They must been enormous pressure on you to at least stay out of it. You know, I, I met Obama at the two thousand and four national convention in Boston. That's where he really speech. He gave the keynote, he lit the place up. And the, the one thing I'm grateful for is that I was the speaker right in front of him. Yes. Being right after. Oh my Lord, but he reached out and I remember meeting him for what was supposed to be a, you know, a thirty minute breakfast in, in Washington, and it stretched to over an hour, and I just, just something clicked that the way he thought about government and politics was the way I thought about it. And, and then he made every effort to, to stay in touch, and to show that I would be, you know, part of his team. And, and, you know, so when it came time to making a an endorsement, it was pretty easy choice. It was it was a big boom for him to get your endorsement than I remember how excited people were. How excited people were to have it. Are you out of the endorsement business now that you're in your current role pretty much? Yeah, that's good. Yeah. Whereabout. Arizona is, you know, there's a lot of talk about AirAsia is Arizona a purple state now is Aaron ah in play. What what's your sense of that last time Hillary Clinton vessel out of resources, Nares ONA may more than she invested in Michigan? Turned out to be a miscalculation. Yeah. Is it fool's gold or is it real? You know, I think it can be real Trump carried on by three three and a half points. Wasn't an overwhelming victory in eighteen. You saw democrat take the secretary of state position, which is, we don't have a Lieutenant governor there. So that's the second charge the superintendent of schools. We took the US Senate seat that was vacated by Jeff flake Kirsten cinema won that race. We flipped a house seat. So. It's it's definitely in play. I will say that it it will be largely dependent on who the Democrats nominate make sense. Right. I think that Amazon's will favor if I can use kind of the traditional spectrum someone who is viewed as perhaps more moderate than far left. But I think the state can be in play someone you might say in the polygon tradition. Yeah. You can't say it, but I can say so you, you, you have this new book called how safe are we? And so I guess the appropriate question is how safe are we? And how things changed since you. You took over in two thousand and nine when the there was this. You know, we were still dealing with in a very real way, this the threat of, of terrorism. Yeah, I think in some areas, we are certainly safer than we were before nine eleven. For example, it's virtually impossible to think that a plot similar to what we saw nine eleven where people take over commercial aircraft and weaponize, them and fly them into buildings that really can't happen anymore. But one of the reasons I wrote the book was. To argue that risks to our homeland security continued to evolve and, and if we kind of miss allocate, misjudge, what risks are real versus those that are kind of theater Lee Ann in essence put the country in greater danger. So and you you, you make very clear that the action is shifting to cyber right in a big way. It's sifted to to cyber. It's shifted to the risks associated with global warming. And the, the increasing incidence of mask gun violence, the border in contrast is not a safety risk to Americans. It's a zone to be managed it's zone to be secure, but it not it is not in and of itself, a safety risk. So talk about. About these, these individuals issues of cyber talk. I think that, you know, one of the things that we deal with is that technology's churning at such a rapid rate that's hard to get your arms around all the impacts of it. But the job of certainly euro department in government has to be to be up to date on these risks and stay one step ahead of them. What are the risks and are we staying one step ahead of them? So the risks take many forms. They can be hacks. They can be the theft of personal information. They can be denial of service attacks. We actually shut down an electrical system or a water system or telecommunication system. And how hardened are we to that, you know, not hard enough, and we know that a lot of our nation's critical infrastructure. In private hands. And so this is something where the public and private sectors are gonna have to work together. You know, I think there needs to be much stronger kind of national standards that owners and operators of critical infrastructure need to adhere to. They shouldn't be voluntary as they are now. And, you know, I think that, you know, we, we have to continue to anticipate that our foreign adversaries, I'm speaking of Russia are good continue to attack our democracy, itself through the tools. They have on in the cyber world. Do you think you know, it's hard to tell from the outside because the president has been steadfast in denying that this is real and that this is a threat. But then you hear from the director of national. Telling and the director of the FBI and, and, and, and others including homeland security. Yes. It's this is real and they're still doing it and ju- have confidence that enough is being done to combat that. No. And it was interesting. So former secretary Nielsen gave a state of homeland security speech not too long before she resigned. And she listed cyber as kind of the top risk. It's an extraordinarily complicated topic because the technology continually changes you've got public and private. You've got any number of federal agencies who have some jurisdiction in the cyber arena. So just kind of organizing them and clarifying, their roles and responsibilities is kind of task number one. And when you think about our election system elections are managed by local officials. County recorders and the like, and there are no national standards that they have Ron mail to been what saved us from having the actual vote totals hacked, because he had fifty individuals systems, and that one system that was easily reachable. That's right. But nonetheless, there is enough. I think evidence and I think it's, it's clear from the Muller report. The Russians were all over our two thousand sixteen election, and there's no indication that they've stopped Trump can't simply say to Putin stop it and assume that he will, and although it'd be good if he did say that it would that would be a start winning. And you know, it's the kind of thing where you really need presidential. Leadership. If you're going to bring all these disparate parties to the table and hammer things out, you really need leadership. He's not having a national Security Council meeting that he's months on, on anything. But, but on this apparently never. Yeah. And that's amazing to me. But, but the whole national security decision making apparatus seems to have kind of dissolved in the Trump administration and that's that's dangerous too. Because, as you know, from from your time at the White House things are going on all the time and they're not things easily susceptible to just doing a gut response. They need you know thought consideration and evaluation. You mentioned climate as a as, as a threat. Yeah. As a security threat. Explain that. So in a couple of ways first of all, climate is changing my Gration patterns around the world, and we need to be thinking more globally about that wishing a really massive movement of people from the southern hemisphere, the northern hemisphere, by way of, example, their areas of the world, where climate has already caused massive economic loss, for example, drought in, in Syria in Yemen, killed the local agricultural, economy means got lots of young men, roaming around no work, no hope ripe, for terrorist recruitment political unrest. So that's one area. Pentagon has consistently name this as one of their national security. Right and correctly. So and then from. A homeland security perspective. If one of the functions of homeland security is to keep people safe. Well, we've lost more lives due to extreme weather events, traceable to global warming than than we have to terrorist events in the last years. We're seeing more landfall hurricanes. We had four in not twenty seventeen alone. More tornadoes, a greater intensity of tornadoes drought in the west drying out the forest leading to massive wildfires with the. Life than a loss of property. And so we need to be focused not only doing our part to reduce the rate of global warming. But also at app tation to the global warming were already experiencing. You mentioned you mentioned the, this epidemic of mass shootings and a gun crimes, generally, you, you issued a report or your agency did on on extremism, on, on the right. And you took some heat for it at the time, but that is coming into sharper, focus, now, isn't it? Yeah. It turns out the report was very prescient. We were criticized for the report because there was some language in a footnote that returning veterans were, particularly double and the veterans community guy. Very angry about about that. And it was not meant to denigrate all veterans or the military or any warning probably in some ways to veterans as well. Exactly. And, and really to, to Pentagon think about how. They handle when people leave the service, but nonetheless, as you know, it, it caused a bit of a political storm. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I have to say you are a great public servant. It was a privilege to work with you. You continue to be a great public servant. You've had many different incarnations public impulse life, but you've written an important book here. How safe are we? And I hope that people in positions of responsibility, read it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for listening to the acts files presented by luminary media, and the university of Chicago institute of politics. The executive producer of the X files is Matthew, Jaffe. The show is also produced by Pete Jones, Zane Maxwell Samantha Neo and Allison Siegel for more programming from the IOP. Visit politics dot EU Chicago dot EDU.

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Ep. 350  Gov. Gina Raimondo

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

25:14 min | 1 year ago

Ep. 350 Gov. Gina Raimondo

"And now from Luminary Media and the University of Chicago the Institute of Politics The axle with your host David Axelrod the extra listeners saying when he came to this country he basically worked all day and then we'll go to the public library at night and accepted him as an immigrant. So here's an interesting story David I learned this just recently my grandfather cert- my mother's father welcome to the X.. Files to the Institute of Politics I am Marie Raimondo absolutely tell me about your family and how the came here first of all thank you thank you for having me and I'm together and I grew up Sunday's listening to Italian radio and learning how to cook and I grew up listening to stories from my grandfather free on luminary hope you'll join US luminary for the rest of this conversation and more download the APP or go to luminary dot link slash the learn English and that as I've become more involved in public life that story motivates me because the thing is the library was open at night and fouls that's luminary dot link slashed the X. Files and now here's my conversation with Governor Gina Raimondo Yeah my grandparents on both my parents side came when they were teenagers alone from Italy and landed on atwells avenue in province it's Rhode Island and I actually grew up with my grandfather in in our house after his wife died we took him into our house there wasn't a lot of space who lived in the House with US served in the First World War we recently saw his enlistment papers at the time he served you and that it's true and in fact when I brought my then boyfriend now husband home his name's Andy Kids but anyway I grew up in Rhode Island my mom still lives in the House that I grew up in the youngest of three kids toby your grandparents brand is available for him and he went public school and you know basic things public library's public schools to mention the name of the country ears as a quote Unquote illegal-immigrant that's my story that's my family and he was then went on in Michigan when I brought him home for the first time my mother insisted on calling him anthony a few times but you know not an expert on ethnic names but yours sounds very Italian there you go you went out on a limb with this in this segment we talk about what inspired her to get into public service what Democrats both statewide and nationally can learn from the successful governors who ran into Mary podcast network. This conversation is one of many incredible guests we featured recently on the X. Files as a reminder new full length episodes of the X. Files are now available at thank you guys for all being here you know we I probably describe my family's very Italian my mother is to subpoena my father's Giuseppi Jason Our house but there was a lot of love and good food and noise they were six of us all crammed into a little house my brother and my grandpa shared a room in any way off to fight in the first World War when he came back they had a one of its kind naturalization ceremony for those who had fought in the army was an undocumented immigrant and the reason I know that is so he he came here he started a business here he owned a restaurant he thousand eighteen and how her role as a governor has changed in the age of trump governor Raimondo and I touched on many more subjects in our full conversation which is available only on the looming to be married had two children and frankly we need to keep that in mind because that's my story and that's the American store now he's him to change his name exactly what I was thinking he actually ate his way into my family which worked out beautifully and you know now dad he he worked at boulevard which ultimate which was based in Rhode Island and he had a pretty good job there boulevard went away his job went away talk about the impact on him and what remember about that yeah so I I will tell you that is why I ran for governor so insofar as his story and my family you know speaking of economics I missed something I in my notes here and that is and there was a big story about it in Boston Globe at the time and I clearly in his enlistment papers he lists was listed as an Italian which means he lived here for story is the story of Rhode Island and I think probably a lot of a midwestern state so those of you who don't know Rhode Island I'll forgive you you although you have to come visit now that you hearing me to come visit the story of Rhode Island is we were once a jewelry manufacturing powerhouse dad worked at boulevard we had spy dented watchers they may watch Sarah both boulevard Tiffany Koro was you talk about the ecosystem in Silicon Valley but we have the ecosystem of jewelry they were electroplaters and machine shops and that that's her people's Dad's worked I have such a memory my dad getting the car every morning with his lunch bag and the car was filled with all of his buddies the company closed down jobs went to Asia most of the jewelry jobs went to China and I say in a personal level that was really tough the Carpool and as a kid it seemed to me like there was a place for everybody at the factory one guy was security guard one guy was a custodian my dad was was fifty six years old he had three kids to support my mom never worked what do you do with that frightening beyond frightening beyond true planning it seemed secure but gradually the jewelry manufacturing business went away in Rhode Island right it all went to his island because our leaders did absolutely nothing before I ran for governor my dad and I were talking and he said Gena in crushed his confidence I mean just think think about fifty six years old he'd worked there was the one job he had no but that is our leaders led us down they just washed the dismantling of these manufacturing jobs and they did nothing to get us into new business he said we just stayed still got stuck and all my buddies and I we're all left out and so I ran for governor to try to I'm not bringing jewelry BEC I'm not bringing manufacturing back and I'm not GonNa lie and pretend than I am but let's get Rhode Islanders a chance uses and in his words he said you know Massachusetts they going into computers now that's what he said because route one twenty eight going into software story is the story of a lot of other people not just in Rhode Island Sound and this whole discussion of I mean if you look at sort of in that age bracket who have gone through these economic dislocations it's also true that there's a disproportionate susceptibility to the opioid one hundred prices in in this group and you know I think I mean I look at it in a political context about where the base of president trump support is but there are a lot of men in jobs that are growing and that's important and I want to get to that in a second but the read that story about your dad it struck me that his that there is the the terror of not being able to pay your bills and meet your responsibilities but there's also an element of about you know once in a while my dad was not in the cheers of moods and as kids we didn't love that and my mom would say you guys don't get it you don't understand how crushing that was your dad like it was a blow to his pride he had been the breadwinner he never really it's hard fifty six especially then you know to restart when I was running for governor the people mostly guys who had been out of work for a year or two and I would sit with them uh as they send the introduction Rhode Island's unemployment rate was sky high highest in the country and the unemployment rate in the building trades and listen to them when I was campaigning and they would say I had a job in a year silence anymore and that by the way today Rhode Island the unemployment rate in the building trades is two and a half percent because I was just so motivated so so it turns out that you don't propitious moment because democrats took what seven governorships in two thousand Midi and self worth that may be even more more crushing so for for a while after that happened plumbers pipe fitters carpenters was about twenty five percent yeah think about that twenty five percent that means lose my house I'm about my marriage is falling apart and then the worst things and I lost my pride I have no confidence all this discussion about free stuff people just want a chance to have a decent job in some dignity and pride and take care of their family tell me how you evaluate the national scene as it affects Democrat candidates who are going to be running in two thousand and twenty places that people really counted us out I think we're gonNA elected Democratic Governor and Kentucky this this time around it's a close race to help those guys I saw my dad and a lot of them the people don't thing is I've learned being governor people don't want to hand out you know actually a year last year we being democratic governors we elected democratic governors in Wisconsin and Kansas and Maine cer two thousand eighteen tell me you tell me so now I'm asking you to put your political hat on people care about healthcare jobs student debt and we convinced the electorates of those states have enough to do so you became chair of the Democrat Governors Association and you actually be came the chair at a running in two thousand twenty could learn a thing or two from the governors who won in eighteen we had a fantastic that are candidate was going to actually do something for them in those issues that they care most about and I so if you Gretchen Whitmer yeah ran on the blank I think it's completely false you were in the White House ask yourself and Nagina world in which see some of whom are your charges yes yeah yeah yeah so I would say I think the security aide it's unfathomable up so you know look so where it was thought that you couldn't really elect a democratic governor and the way we did it is by being very focused on the things I feel good about it and the Michigan Great Great New Democratic Governor Wisconsin and Wisconsin and we've got Alan problems but have you been following this impeachment thing this is this has become quite a thing in Washington yeah no it's not funny at all but but the reason I ask it is because you the Republican strategy used to say deepened any state you talk to people every day it's a gift to be out out of the beltway I really do where do I find two hundred bucks to pay the co pay that's required to take my kid to the doctor this is real this is every day earlier in the green room we're all kinda weary of current events and current political you know issues which are extreme when you're out in the coffee shop and the Obama picked up the phone and call the leader of another country and try to exchange political favors for we'd better we'd better have the candidate that convinces people they can do something about that so you you're focused on these roads fix the damaged roads Yeah you look at Reggie and true yeah you know again when her governor especially if a small state argument I worry that it may be let me say this I think it's Baloney it's a podcast you can say okay now phil she's she's terrific and doing I think the best you can do the right thing but I also worry about how's it GonNa play on Main Street Rhode Island it's honestly not with coming up with coming up is like last night and I saw a woman she stressed that her husband's our oh they're fighting again and we've got to cut through that I cannot emphasize enough the daily Financial Gore Eleanor Yeah forget that I'm seeing JV tonight so yeah exactly flips and places like Michigan Wisconsin Kansas because you are on main street yeah it's noise I think it's noise it's he said she said politicians you're you're saying things I am saying I am angry and disturbed and disgusted with what's going on frenzy about you know what is a historic historically troubling time in our history it's just got cut back and that's a big financial strain on her family how am I going I can't never gonna be able to buy a house because I have all the student debt they get very few questions about impeachment I imagine other than at fundraisers but when they go and do town hall meetings that's not I think we should trump out of office because he's trying to take away American healthcare I think we should throw trump out of office are much more so than impeachment it's very consistent with what the candidates are saying that when they go out because he's hurting manufacturers and farmers and taking away people's jobs I could go on in this White House and I

Rhode Island Luminary Media Governor Gina Raimondo Institute of Politics Rhode Island David Axelrod David I University of Chicago Marie Raimondo US Italy Andy Kids Michigan anthony twenty five percent fifty six years
Ep. 386 - Mayor Lori Lightfoot

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

1:05:09 hr | 8 months ago

Ep. 386 - Mayor Lori Lightfoot

"And now from University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN audio the axe files with your host. David Axelrod Lori. Lightfoot became mayor of Chicago year ago this week her tenure began with a acrimonious teachers strike. And it's ended with an epic pandemic sat down with her last week to talk about this baptism of fire aware. She thinks the viruses going and how she plans to open up her city plus her own remarkable story her journey from a small town in Ohio. The granddaughter of Sharecropper to become a prosecutor and ultimately a big city mayor and we got her status as America's first gay woman of color to lead a major American city. And here's that conversation mayor how are you? I'm doing well. You good good to see you so next week. May Twentieth One year in office. Hell the baptism you've had here. I mean you couldn't have imagined when you took that oath of office in Millennium Park a year ago that this is how you'd be marking your your first anniversary in office. How are you personally holding up? What's what is the emotional toll associated with having to lead a city through this kind of catastrophe issue might imagine it ebbs and flows. My personality is one where don't get too high and I don't get too low but certainly you know there are times when I feel like I'm I've reached maximum capacity and so I try to take some time for myself every day usually early in the morning. I'm an early riser. So I just kind of take some time to kind of slowly move into the day set myself emotionally and then I I definitely do it every night before I go to bed sometimes. I'm so tired and don't need to just fall asleep but you know there's a there's an expression In the Church that I grew up in about lane your burdens down. So what I try to do. Every night is just kind of let the what the burdens of the day to the side. Because they're going to be there the next day. I don't need to Russell with them all night long. You know easier said than done. Of course. That's a great quality. I need to take some lessons from you on that I've never quite mastered that. But that is it's important. How's your family doing you and your wife? Amy Have a twelve year. Old Vivian. Twelve year olds are not necessarily all that keen on being penned up inside. How's she doing she? She's doing fine. She starts her day off every morning with a zoom conference call from her teacher and with their classmates. So when I'm running out the door in the morning she's engaged in whatever the day's events are and then I come home at night. And she and her. She is discovered fortnight. So that's like the daily obsession between her and In varying groups of of friends. But you know it's hard I mean this. Be a time where she'd be out running tracks athletic kid. She missed a a lot of her basketball season because he had a broken leg so it was very looking forward to track and then covered hit so we tried to kind of get that as much exercise that we can reform enough to have a yard so we we do that but it's not the same. It's not the same you know being with your classmates every day and that kind of intimacy that close proximity rents but these are kids have grown up in the digital age with all these devices so it's probably a little bit different than when you and I were growing up. Speaking of the digital age you become quite the sensation online. Here you're a you're a viral sensation and you've been doing. You've you've done all these videos about how to occupy yourself at home you you've done. I guess parody of singing. You're baking. You're you've done a lot of some some crazy things that have really caught on with people. How how you eased into the role of a viral star. Well I I don't pay a lot of attention personally to social media but I've got a great creative team and when the memes started popping up and having me all over Chicago you know we wanted to kind of bring this message of Staying home to save lives We've done it in a parody of that a take off around census so we're trying to meet people where they are and this these memes caught fire. They kind of originated organically and so we rode the wave. That somebody else really started. Now Vivian catch you on tick tock in those places. So here's Vivians reaction. She's obsessed with Tik Tok and she's been trying to get Amien I to do with her and I'm like no. I'm not doing so when I came home that night and said by the way I just did my first talk. Of course the reaction was. I believe he did it with somebody else. And you didn't do. What made such as such the life of a twelve year old. Yes I remember that I remember that period. Listen you know. I was a city hall reporter when Harold Washington got elected mayor of Chicago you or the second elected African American Mayor of Chicago. One of the striking things about this pandemic is just how brutal it has been on communities of color. Those faultlines that you talked about during your campaign that you've talked about since they've been exposed in just a really tragic way Seventy five percent of the cases in Chicago reported cases have been in the black and Hispanic communities deaths half the deaths in Chicago among the African American community which is only thirty percent of the population. How do you process that? And what do we do about it? How do we begin to deal with the things that led up to this kind of tragedy? Well it's it's an enormous challenge and for me personally processing. Those realities has been hard when I first heard the data around. I'm African American The impacting Afric African-american Community. A immediately went to thinking about my mother. Now she doesn't live here but she's ninety one years old and has underlying conditions. I'm but the youngest of four and my siblings are older old enough that they fit into the demographic of over sixty and several have underlying conditions. So it's hard not to feel that personally but what I also knew is really important for us not to just drop this information on people but as you said to really come up with some concrete ways in which we as a city and then embracing our community partners could really respond to this because there is a need. I mean. It's not a secret that there are healthcare disparities inner city. It's not a secret that way. Too many people live in poverty and that black and Brown communities are cabot much higher rate of these underlying conditions that we now know. Are The death mill for Kovin. In Ninety three percent or higher than that of the people who have died had underlying medical conditions like diabetes heart disease upper respiratory disease. So that is a a haunting statistic and I think the way that I process it is to feel like we are doing something to address it that we were empowering people by giving them information that were connecting them up to healthcare systems. Whether it's a family doctor or a federally Qualified Health Center that we are being as responsive to close to the ground in these neighborhoods that are so dramatically affected and being empathetic. And making sure that we're doing everything. We can't afford those areas with resources. You know what worries me is that When when this goes when this lifts whenever that is in God knows we all hope that it's sooner rather than later that those same conditions will exist that made these communities vulnerable. You've talked a lot about and you've laid out ambitious visions and plans for trying to radically poverty in the city and getting to into these neighborhoods That are most vulnerable right now. It's also true that this viruses also eating away at cities revenues. Creating extraordinary budget concerns for you and you already had a situation where you have pension obligations that are growing that you're now responsible to deal with the stress of this. Is that when these things happen? The first communities that suffer are the communities that always suffer the poor the vulnerable. How do you want launch a war on poverty when you are in such a financial bind? I think we have no choice. I gave a speech last December to the Economic Club and then I spoke with them Yesterday and at the time in December I said that we can't be a great global city unless we focus on inclusive growth that we see the city as being something larger and bigger than the central business district. I repeated that message yesterday and while. Yes of. These problems are tough daunting. They were daunting before Govan. They're even more daunting now. But the thing that we've been doing all along and I've really push my staff is to not build temporary staff scaffolding. We don't want to put a band aid on a gaping. We're not going to solve the problem and innocent tiredly in the you know the months and the Ark of this virus but we've got to accelerate the plans that we previously had and start to address these longstanding problems now and that's precisely what we've done and then thinking about the budget and it's yeah it's the impact of this is significant. There's no question about it. I am grateful for the money that we've gotten from the federal government and got to give credit to of the Democrats in the house because we would have gotten a lot less but but for the leadership of the speaker and others to insist upon direct aid cities like Chicago. I'm hopeful that though we more because the care act money that we received already is constrained. We can only use that for covert responses and believe me. We're going to use it because we're GONNA need it but we need more support but we have to continue to speak our values even in these tough economic times if we shed and move away from those communities that are most in need right now. We're giving up on a huge swath of Chicago. We're saying that Chicago is not going to be two point. Seven million barely going to be two million because people will leave. The most of the people who are leaving are a people have colored poor people. Chicago's who really one of the only world-class cities where UC population declining. And that's where the decline is happening as exactly right and if we'd give up and say we can't afford to do the kind of investments that we can't afford to have inclusive economic growth. Were giving up on vision of Chicago that I just think is critically important to define who we are now and in the future. I I totally get that. I just don't know where the money comes from. Some of it may be from the voluntary contributions of those people. You were talking to yesterday at the Economic Club and the question is how much are they willing to put their money? Where your mouth is and try and Deal with some of these problems because it seems impossible that you can get money. You need simply taxpayers property. Taxes are high already. Yeah there's no there's no question I mean. We never envisioned that. We were going to have a the city of Chicago go it alone strategy we have to have partnerships partnerships in helping us. Think about what. The policy prescriptions should be but of course partnerships in terms of of the money in the revenue. And we've been very fortunate already when we announce for example are invest southwest program which is investing in exactly the same neighborhoods. Run out we put up money from the city but we were joined by be Mo Harris Bank to put up twenty million dollars and then we got another ten from starbucks and on and on. We can't do these things and move the needle the away without partnerships of the Philanthropy Rico up community but also the business community. I've always thought that to deal with the massive problems that go into the situation that these communities are in would require a massive response from the philanthropic community. The corporate community government simply doesn't have the resources to do everything that's necessary listened in addition to making people laugh You've also scared the hell out of people and you've been out on the street at times when there were People who are defying the stay at home order including young people partying. And you've been very blunt about your feelings about that. Now we're we're we're reaching something of breaking point with some people been inside for a long time. It was predictable that you know as time went on people would be impatient. Lot people out of work a lot of small businesses. I know you've spoken to that are on the at the breaking point and yet we're not nearly done. The virus is still out there There's no vaccine yet. So are you worried about that? Are you worried about just more and more defiance more and more resistance lack of political will To do what's necessary and then finding us as Dr Bright who testified before Congress today warned finding us back in a situation that is as bad or worse a few months from now so I mean those are all the things that we worry about in talk about on a daily basis and really multiple times a day we as humans and I think certainly as Americans take our physical whole liberty very seriously and we'd like to together in groups in our city is really built around having fun recreational and entertainment options. That's one of the things that make Chicago special and as the weather gets warm and while we didn't have the terrible winter that we've had in many years. There's there's your body I think. You mind has an expectation that when days get longer when the sun is shining it's time to be outside. It's time to to reconvene with people that you may not have seen during the winter months so we have to manage that and deal with that reality. So I've been reading a lot. Ask has our department of Public Health about how we can safely convene particularly outside and I think there's opportunities for us to not move away from the diligence about social distancing. That's going to be with us. I think for the foreseeable future but I do think that there's a way in which we can gather outside safely with limitations. Certainly mask certainly hand sanitizers smaller groups but listen to music. Play all the kind of things that we would ordinarily do inside some of what we do outside. I think there are ways giving great venues that we have to bring those experiences outside. I do think that that is possible. President has been sort of encouraging that spirit of resistance lately. I know you've had an interesting relationship. He called you. When you were elected you had a nice conversation. I think Yvonne could trump called you and you met with her. It's been a little less friendly at times since then but what do you. How would you way what he's doing right now? And his insistence that things open up and it seems in contravention of some of the advice. He's getting from his own public health. People look I mean I really don't spend a lot of time thinking about Donald Trump. He would be disappointed to hear you say that big because I don't really think that In this time in the daily press briefings that he's offered things that are really helpful and constructive for me as a leader or really for people residents of Chicago and in in many instances. And there's been a lot of reporting on and of course he said things that are just downright dangerous and so I don't spend a Lotta time kind of trying to unravel the psyche of donald trump basis. I just I juicy making it harder though for you and other mayors and governors. There's no doubt there's no doubt that he's making it harder but he's making it harder mostly because the federal response has been so halted and it's been that way really from the very beginning of this pandemic. It was too slow. It wasn't a plan. They weren't bringing us into a lot of early things that were necessary of that they were dictating. That had to be operationalized at the local level. Particularly around airports and screening. And a lot of that. We're on the ground here. We have to take responsibility for that. And they weren't talking to us and it was very clear that they didn't have a plan more recently. And we've been well positioned with things like PCBS invents because our public health department really prepares our your raw long but the one thing that we absolutely need to have some uniformity on is testing. We need a physical test kits to be able to make sure that we can open safely and acted lettering literally is every man and woman for themselves is a terrible indictment of the federal response but also it makes it really difficult for us to cogently be able to tell our residents that they're safe because we're scrambling literally every single day following every lead to have a small handful of tasks that we can put into a community center or federally Qualified Health Center or pushing our our labs in hospitals to ramp up there taste testing capabilities. But it's the scramble an agenda that's been developed because of the void left by the federal government. Will you also told people on Monday? Mayor that everybody who wants to test can get one. Well he said that before and we know that's true it just simply not true now everybody whose name Donald Trump that WANNA test can get one. But that's not true for you me we're GonNa take a short break and we'll be right back with more of the axe falls if you're stuck at home like me may be feeling isolated or maybe this new reality were all sharing is made you anxious better. Help OFFERS ONLINE. Licensed counselors who can help their therapists. Specialize in issues many are facing today's such as depression stress anxiety or family conflicts. Get matched with a counselor in less than twenty four hours after that. You can connect with your counselor in a safe and private online environment where everything you share is confidential. It's easy to schedule. Secure video or phone sessions then exchange unlimited messages. And if you're unhappy with your therapist request a new one at no charge better help makes it easy to get professional help when you want it wherever you are and when you use the discount code acts you save ten percent off your first month so get started today at better? Help DOT COM slash. Afc that's better help dot com slash. Acts you talked about people seeing a play hearing some music outdoors. One of the things that you did that got quite a bit of tension. You did it early was you. Shut DOWN THE LAKEFRONT. Which is of course the front yard of Chicago. That's where people do. Gather Ju- expect to open that up soon. I wouldn't say soon but we are working on plans on to be able to open up the Lakefront. Look I get it. I love the lake. There's nothing more calming to me than you know. Taking a drive on lakeshore drive finding that little secret spot which I won't reveal that. Go to just watch the water waves. I mean it's it's Cathartic and I get it but what I go back to. What led me to close it and we had a lot of education around social gathering danger of clustering into larger groups. We talked over and over and over again and people just flat out ignored the guidance. And what I WANNA do is when we reopen the Lakefront. We will we do it in a way that smart and that you know unfortunately in many of these things with the play to the lowest common denominator the person who's just not going to pay attention. What do we do to make sure that we can be backwards and save and and minimize the risks? That they're gonNA pose to other people so I've gotten a lot of very interesting suggestions from residents working with a lot of Lakefront on a plan. We'll get there but we're just not ready yet. That's one of the things that worries me about the president telling people that things are getting better that this is going to go away on. Its own that we we've got reopened because it sends a signal that is consonant with the situation. We're facing you. Also said was critical of Dr Phil. Chief for questioning at school should open in the fall about Chicago schools Are you confident that school will schools will be public? Schools will be open and students attending them with their physical presence in the fall. You know I'll play lawyer in. Say define confidence. I can't look into a crystal ball and say where we're going to bet your old life. You can't do that. Yeah Yeah it might my law department tells me that every look my ambition is to get our kids back in school this fall we have done. I think Yeoman's work on remote learning but the reality is we have a huge digital divide and various parts of our city that affects our young people's ability to connect up with the Internet WIFI access. And we will end up spending Multiple tens of millions of dollars to address that issue and we got to address it. Because it's a larger problem. But I also know is I think about the little kids when my daughter was a three year. Old going to pre K. The the social emotional learning at happens in that environment when they're away from their parents for the first time and there with other kids and their with their teachers and they start to learn the love of learning structure of school being able to play safely. All those things are critically important particularly for our youngest kids. And that doesn't happen when you're seeing your teacher for the very first time ever on digital screen so those kids when I think about it. It's really important that we get them back in school now again. We're not going to do it in a way that puts anybody this. We're not going to do it in a way that isn't consultation with the entire ecosystem of school environment. The principals the teachers the AIDS. The lunchroom staff. All of those people are important for the lifeblood of school and we got to do it in a way that we keep them safe and we keep the children safe but absolutely. I haven't ambition that if the if we keep trending in the right direction. We want to get our kids back in school and it may not be full-time thirty kids in the classroom. That's probably not smart but we can do it in a lots of different ways. We can spread out the spaces because there's lots of different spaces that are available in schools where we can hold up classes. They're going to be remote learning of it's done. I think at the city college level. Maybe we repurpose some of those spaces. I think the way in which we can think creatively about how to bring our children back with their teachers. There's no limit to that. And we got an explorer every opportunity because of how important it is for those youngest of children to find that connection with their beloved teachers so ambition but no guarantee basically we can't. There's no way anybody who can guarantee what's going to happen in the fall making up. There's no guarantee that can be given so You are a big sports fan. You've been a bears tickets season holder for twenty years. Everybody wants to know if there's going to be sports in the foreseeable future and if that sports will involve actually fans you and others sitting in their seats watching the game tour are they going to be consigned to watching it on. Tv until there's a vaccine or a significant treatment for this at first again we've got to be guided by the data and the Sports League executives that I've talked to of course are thinking about. How do they get their players back on the field for the obvious reasons their most valuable asset of course are the players and they all every single one of those professional sports teams as really strong robust unions? So I have confidence that will be a meeting of the minds. About what makes sense if I had to protect right now again looking into my crystal ball. I do think that sports will start. There probably could be some delay. But I don't think they're gonNA start with fans in the stadium and the first instance. I just don't see that as a possibility you I ask you that question. As the former star point guard for Washington High School in Massillon Ohio and I wanted to touch you mentioned. I WanNa talk a little bit about your story. Which is a a remarkable story? You mentioned your mom and I'm sure when you say you think of her. It's not just that she's ninety. One invulnerable shelter spent a lot of her life working in nursing homes and As a home healthcare worker and so she would have been on the front line right now she would have been one of those people who's more exposed than others because she she was out there helping people. I think lot about that as I talked to. Healthcare workers as I talk to the unions who are concerned and also just the folks that run these facilities. I know from my mom's experience and I hope I hope to God is a million times better than it was when she was out there. They are in the frontlines. They don't get the training that they should get and they don't oftentimes get the kind of equipment to keep them safe. I think it's a different world. Now and part of that is because many of these workers are unionized. But we know that there are still other workers mostly women of color who are in a care community who were taking care of. Seniors. You know. At the end of my mother's a work life. She took care of people who were sick and shut in made them meals babe them and just kept them company. Those workers they're invisible too many people and I worry a lot about them in particular now we also know from the archivist virus that congregants settings are places where is fires just spreads like wildfire. That's why our department of Public Health has been very active and engage with senior centers nursing homes and other settings like that because it's so critically important that those places understand the data have every support possible possible and that they are getting testing of their workers and the residents. Who Live there absolutely Your folks your Father Elijah. The son of a sharecropper both your parents grew up in the segregated south moved north. He had hearing loss as a result of meningitis. And you you've talked about that and how. He had to scuffle to make a living and deal with his his disabilities And so tell me about that and tell me about your your dad. My Dad's been gone for ten years. I miss him every day. I'm have a picture of the two of US side my bed that I look at at night and I look at it in the morning. He had a very hard life and in some ways I think he never recovered from growing up in the south and then adding proverbial insult to injury growing up not really having an opportunity to live out his conditions. Getting sick sir. Early on in his early twenties losing his hearing so being a black man with a high school education and then a profound disability just really shaped and confined on his world. But my dad had a great sense of humor He is loved life but he had to work hard every single day. I talk a lot about my mother because I spent a lot of time with my mother's a kid. 'cause my dad was working two and three jobs every day and just to you worked. A full-time job. And then he would come home and eat and then he owned do Work at night and then on the weekends. He was a barber so he cut people's hair and and shine shoes. That's that's that's what my dad did and Sundays. Were really only day where I got to see my dad for the entirety of of the day because his work life was six days a week But he he's very very different person than my mom and someone very different than me. I'm much more like her in terms of personality but just a good decent human being and I think a lot about him every day I see my father in the faces of a man of color. Who were working new tails off to have some dignity not at all not at all. Do you How much did his struggle forge your determination to do what you've done with your own life. It definitely deeply influenced me to see my father worrying every single day about six the utilities as car payment rent and then We reported enough to move into a house and have a mortgage. I never wanted to struggle in the way that he did. And I didn't know where my life would take me but I knew that I wanted to have some economic freedom. At least so that I can. I can help them which I have done but also be able to help myself and have some freedom when you have to worry every single day about staying in your house about somebody coming and taking your car About just being able to get through the day financial league that takes a toll on you and that was the story of. My parents live for much of their married life together. You mentioned that they were able to buy a house. They moved two years was a segregated town. Like most towns were In the day small Industrial kind of town about four hundred miles from Chicago in Ohio but they moved to a predominantly white neighborhood. And they did. That intentionally talked to me about that. And how did that impact on you because you must have been Very much in a minority in in some of your school classes and in in your neighborhood and so on how did that shape your thinking and your life. I think that Look the town was incredibly segregated and at the time that my parents were making a decision about where they could buy they wanted to buy. We lived in this area for the entire my life. We moved probably into a house that was about four or five blocks away from our rental home but they wanted to us to be able to stay close to the friends of we'd known our entire growing up years and to be in the same school system that we had known so my parents really sacrificed everything for us as children and and really the way in which they live their lives with about what was best for us and so that religious rove the decisions. And you're right when I have a brother. Who's six years older than me when he left? I Elementary School for the entirety of the rest of the time that I was there which is about five years from first grade to sixth grade. I was literally the only black kid in my school and it might town. It was black and white. There are a tiny tiny. Maybe two or three families that were Latin Mex so yeah I grew up for most of my schooling until I got to high school as being either the only or a small handful of black students in another wise white score. And how did that feel was there? Did you feel the as an outsider there or I mean Yes yes. Yes and no right. I grew up in the late sixties early seventies and while it was not Alabama segregation still issued blatant on the table. Racial discrimination was still a thing. There were certain things I couldn't do and I knew places I couldn't go because I was black that my classmates were going to and yeah. I definitely struggled with my identity as a black person for a long time growing up in very widened environment. I think the thing that was helpful to me as I was a good student so I was always one of the best in my class. Best in the school that made a huge difference and then what I was in seventh or Eighth Grade. My mother got appointed to the local school board and then she ran for election and then for the rest of my time in school. She was a member of the school board. So frankly that helped a lot. But but when I got to high school and then we were one heist one public high school in my town. I started seeing black kids. Some of them who I knew from Church and a lot of them. I didn't know and it was a struggle because I stood out like a sore thumb. I talk like I talk now. I didn't as they said talk black and there was a lot of you. Think you're better and you know a lot of the petty crap that happens in junior high and really in high school. I experienced a lot of that but I had. I had my mother in my ear constantly literally in but also figuratively telling me to push myself to do the best. I could not let people bring me down. I mean that was kind of a daily mantra in my house. Whole but yeah it was tough absolutely tough one of your siblings you brother Brian Took a different path and not a happy one And as I don't know what his status is now but spent a lot of time in the in the criminal justice system. How did that impact on you and it must have been terribly difficult for your parents. It was really hard. It was really hard on us as a family. I told the story but yeah my for some people in my brother was definitely one of them. The street life is almost like a narcotic in of itself. It is incredibly alluring and my brother started kind of going in a different direction when he was a teenager. I can remember when he was probably thirteen. Fourteen years old hanging out with a group of guys. Some of whom you know. Beat him to jail Some of whom died. He had a friend who was killed in a robbery when he was a teenager. But my brother was determined to to really take very different course And he ended up spending most of his adult life locked up. The last was seventeen years in federal prison. He got out now probably five or six years ago. He lives now in the same town that my mother. I'm lives in by when you're sixty something year old man and you've never really had a legitimate job in your life and you spent your the entirety of your growing up years on the inside. That does something to do you. Are you in touch? Kind of we go through ebbs and flows you know. He came and he was here for the inauguration and we've our context is kind of slowly diminished over time. My brother you know. He struggles with addiction still he. He's now sixty something years old and he's got some physical challenges but not having any any skill that's transferrable. We'd love to be wearing a suit every day and being an office. That's just not realistic. When you've been guy on the streets for most of your life and so the hustle is is very still very annoying and now we're from our sponsors. 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Later in your life You became a federal prosecutor and you prosecuted gang bangers drug leaders and leaders of of drug cartels and had if at all how did the experience of having senior brother go through what he went through and do the things he did did in any way impact on your view as a prosecutor. I mean it really did from the very beginning when I was going through the final stages of my background check as a federal prosecutor. My brother was a fugitive and I had to sign allegiance form which I still makes me angry. I'll use that word that I was going to be loyal to the constitution and all laws because my brother was a fugitive from justice. Yeah and of course like with seeing my my father in the men in the eyes of really hardworking men of color. I of course thought about my brother when I when I was prosecuting Chicago Street gang members and it made me want to know their stories and made me WanNa how they came to choose the life that they chose and we had a range of interesting store conversations with you know the young men that were both cooperators but also the young men were we were arranging up plea deals for some of the men that I prosecuted here on. The streets in Chicago ended up in a facility in mile in Michigan when my brother was there at the same time so that made for interesting conversations with him and with my parents. But when you you have a family member who is locked up. It has incredible impact emotional impact. You can't my brother was still locked up when my dad died and he didn't get to say goodbye and I I know that. So there's nothing about the incarceration of human beings. That is easy. That is simple. Even the people that are that are the most dangerous and that are psychopathic and some of them are that. Somebody's kid that somebody's sibling in. And you can never forget that. And I certainly never forgot that. When I was a prosecutor you went to the University of Michigan and then You came here to the University of Chicago Law School. You arrived here just when Hera Washington was Completing his first term rain-free a very interesting dynamic kind of tumultuous time in Chicago Politics. I'm wondering what your memories of of Herald were. He was having worked for him at covered him and then I worked for him by the time. You've got heroes working for him. Maybe one of the most charismatic figures that I've ever known in in politics and I've worked with a lot of people Remarkable God yeah so I remember him because when I was a junior in college I took a semester and worked in in Washington and attended American University and I just by chance happen to be in a committee. Hearing as a young staffer when of announcement came out that he had one and he was in. Washington. He's being congratulated by his colleagues so I was fascinated from him Of Him from a distance and then fast forward several years later. Yeah I you know I never knew him as a as a mayor as a human being but yeah he he clearly was one of the most fascinating charismatic elected officials. I think the city. Maybe this country has ever seen and coming here in eighty six. When he was running for reelection and seeing the machine in all of its words and glory and then understanding of the excitement that he ignited particularly in Black Chicago and the kind of Progressive Lakefront Liberals as they were called those days. And you know I remember Election Day really really well and I left in the morning and I plan to vote after I came home from class and I had like ten notes on my door saying. Hey you haven't voted. Hey you have voted now. That was not my experience and I thought how these people I didn't vote yet because I didn't understand at that stage of the dynamics but it was it was like nothing had ever seen and then I remember. I remember really clearly hearing the news. That you've done says seven months or something after he got reelected. Yeah and the days. After the how things were so tumultuous I walk through The City Hall lobby to view his body I was at. Uic would have infamous rally was held and people for who were saying. No deals no deals at already. Cut Their deal to replace him yet. Yeah Yeah No. Those were I I remember them as as clearly as you. I was very much involved in that. The great thing about that moment The sad thing. It was unbelievably sad. It was remarkable though how the city that was so divided when I got elected so embraced him at the end. And when you walk through those lines at City Hall there were people white and black from every neighborhood in this city who had come to embrace him as their leader and it and It was really tremendous loss. Can I ask you something else about law school in it relates to the conversation? We're having earlier. I asked you about how you adjusted to the racial identity issues. When you were growing up you also came out when you were in law school and I am. It made me wonder. When did you embrace your your own identity or your sexual identity? And how is that experience of deciding when it was time? And and how was that received by family well coming coming out at the? University of Chicago Law School in Eighty six eighty. Seven was not the place that I would have anticipated doing. You know eight. You know the law school. This time it was hyper conservative. Now there are very few people of color but interestingly there were actually a lot of gays in in the law school and that really helped me there were. I have still to this day. Incredible friendships among a lot of gay men and women that I met during that time and it really helped me see that I could be my authentic self. I heard a lot about losing my parents. My parents were really going to church every Sunday every Wednesday in a couple of days in between conservatives. I didn't know at the time. Of course I didn't know anybody gay that was when I was growing up and of course I would benefit of hindsight I I did and so I was. I spent a lot of years worrying about losing my parents but something clicked over time and law school where I just felt like. I'm not going to be happy if I'm not who I am and I to my parents credit when I told them they were. They couldn't have been more gracious. They couldn't have been more lovely and by father Really I think was my mother. Didn't talk much about it. Because that's what she doesn't do when she doesn't WanNa talk about something she just shut it off and you know moves on. My father was lovely and couldn't have been more generous and embracing and loving. You spent seven years in private practice and then as we mentioned earlier you you became a prosecutor. Why did you choose that direction? I WANNA cly particularly given my brother's circumstance. I am always kind of been drawn to law enforcement. You know. I'm a rules girl. I believe in justice and I thought about the FBI. When I was in law school but both because I was gay and also the time the FBI had a rule that you had to travel to a different live in a different city for five. I five years. I want to do that so I just kind of put that ambition to the side but I liked. I liked the work I was doing at the firm which increasingly became internal investigations and criminal defense work and I work with a number of federal prosecutors former federal prosecutors who Suggested to me that if I was interested I was not one of these Law School people. Who had this ambition? My my professional life was already charted out so I kind of fell into the opportunity but it was the best thing that could have ever done. Really taught me how to be a lawyer It taught me the power of being a prosecutor and by that I mean you know you do. You do literally get to make decisions about people's liberty who gets charged with against charged with how tough you go or not. I mean that is an awesome power that that one can never underestimate and I you know I got some grief to be sure from my more liberal friends saying. Why do you want to be the Maryanne right? I what I wanted to be was somebody who sat at that table because of the power and debris bring my life experiences to those very nuanced discretionary decisions that every prosecutor holds in her hand. It's a little bit of a different talent set or Orientation than the Office. You have now Prosecutors are in many ways solitary figures. They are responsive to the law and two judges but As you say make a lot of decisions on their urine a position. Now where you are. You have to build consensus in order to get things done. Yes you have to make decisions. But you can't make them all by yourself. Most of the time Has Been An adjustment for you. Why would actually say that? My experience as a prosecutor was was very different than what you described first of all. It's an incredibly collegial place because you can't talk about what you do. Every day with the world is hard to have your spouse relate and I know this from I'm having drug amy to a lot of events where there a bunch of former prosecutors she. She learned pretty quickly. Say No. I'm good you go on your own. You know it is it is it is kind of a it is a unique collegial world and of course you have discretion but you're talking through these issues which our colleagues with your supervisor on a regular basis and so I learned a lot about collegiality from that experience and I hope that my style is mayor both with my team but also Embracing members of the public is much more collegial because of that experience. And what I know is that I'm very decisive. I can get to a decision pretty quickly but the best decisions and the ones that are most valued are the ones where you bring people along the journey from the very beginning so You know a. I don't think you do a plebiscite on every decision. Can't you'll be paralyzed particularly at in a time like this? Where literally every single day? I'm making you know. Tens of not hundreds of decisions micro decisions every day and big decisions every day but but being able to have a sense of the pulse of people whose lives are going to be affected by what you're doing that's a good thing it makes things slower but it's a better thing at the end. I have to ask you in. This is a painful thing that you've spoken to but you got rebuked at one point by a federal judge Richard Posner who actually was associated with the University of Chicago. Because you're handling of one case and that thing stuck with you for while. I know you feel that was unjust. It was fundamentally unjust. I look it's too complicated to explain but you know man on a total poll involving an international extradition as you might imagine as a junior lawyer knee office. I didn't make those kind of decisions on my own and made them with my supervisor. But posner I think frankly got over skis and wanted to hold the. Us Attorney's office responsible. And there were some other. I think dynamics going on between the seventh circuit in the office at the time and I got the short end of the proverbial stick I I I pride myself on my integrity I I. I worry over particularly when I was a lawyer every word I wrote when I was signing my name on a pleading I wanted to make sure that was something I could be proud of and that I can defend and I never have ever in thirty. Plus years of practice departed from that. Obviously the seventh circuit saw it a different way but the thing that gives me then and now heart is. I had people from every side of the meeting the prosecutors defendants judges at a whole host of people from the bar in Chicago. That stood up and say I've worked with Laurie Line. Could I know who she is? This is a person of integrity and luckily pose cited that and saying well. The public rebuke is enough. But if you dealt with poster you You know he's. He's undaunted by the facts. Times quickly have to cover some very big things One is you prosecuted political corruption cases in the city. You prosecuted an Alderman when you were there at the. Us Attorney's office you also prosecuted as we mentioned drug dealers gangs on those on the political corruption issue. Why is she? I get this question a lot. Why Chicago so subject to corruption Why has it has? Has it been historically so and then the second one I get is? Why is it so subject to gang violence more so than other cities You've had a now Several different looks at this. And I'm wondering what your thoughts are are. Those are both great and big complicated questions on the public corruption. I think part of his just because we've tolerated to mall. You know think Chicago historically is any more corrupt than other places New York you know Philadelphia. La But the tolerance for it in those other places became less and less over time in in in my experience in thirty plus years of living in the city. The tolerance Ford is still a really great. If you I probably you probably didn't read the The indictment of Edberg but I did at Burke the senior Alderman in the city council longtime power in the city in the Democratic Organization. Go ahead there's a lot of fascinating things about about the indictment but to me one of the most telling and I think response to your question is there's some dude from the the buildings department that gets whistled to at Burkes word office. He stays there for five or ten minutes clearly got a set of instructions and then dutifully went and on some trumped up bases shut down a building site because from the at burkes perspective. The guy hadn't come across with the money he hadn't hired him to do the legal work. And and so while. This person probably didn't know there was a criminal conspiracy going on the obedience to this power and doing something that didn't comport all with building cold or what is actual true job wise but the willingness to be a party to it because powerful. Otterman in a staff had commanded it. We have just tolerated corruption way too long and gang. Violence is really complicated but it in short strokes it calms sail into in my mind to poverty. It's the absence of is the absence of jobs. Investments money good quality education. You know in you know. We're both experience with you. See what do they teach us? People rational economic actors when you have nothing and then there's this opportunity for something in when drug dealing becomes the only the only form of economic activity that can get you money to take care of your basic needs so our goal has to be obviously to lock violent people and make the community safe but it has to be grounded in a strategy of supplanting that form of the economy with another Jimmy and gives people a pipeline for a lifetime. Without question I think That does not. I agree with that. Complete doesn't completely explain why gangs have flourished in Chicago in such great numbers in a way that they haven't in other but that's we could probably do a whole hour on that I before I leave you I have to ask you about policing and Because you were chairman of the Chicago Police Board. You're the chair of the Policy Accountability Task Force after McQueen McDonald Was killed here in Chicago. A national A nationally known a case. Now you're the mayor of the city and the police force works for you and you've been a prosecutor and I guess my question to you is. How do you find that balance? Police officers are working vigorously to protect the safety of citizens and but there's a relationship between citizens in the community and rights are respected. And you don't have those kinds of incidents it strikes me as a terribly difficult bounce. In both cases it's often the same community that gets victimized either. Victimized by crime were victimized by overzealous policing. It's not easy. Obviously and you have to. You have to really set The right fish for what policing has to be in the city like many things in public life. If you don't have the community on your side you will never be successful and effective policing depends upon the legitimacy of the police in the eyes of the community that they're sworn to protect and understanding that kind of basic fact you you work everything else around. Meaning you've gotta you've gotTa bring officers into communities and let them see the nuance and not just the crime statistics. You've got to bring people into the academy so that they see officers it a very different light. You've got to put them in circumstances where they interact as human beings not the cops in the community. Those are hard things to do. But if you don't do those things and you don't do them consistently forever. You're never going to bridge that divide and then inside of the police department itself man. Oh man it is a complicated tough organization cultural mores run deep and it is a constant struggle. It's a bad and you gotta have a very strong leader at the top. You have a new police chief now and you make you gotTa make sure you empower that leader. But I'm also hands on as I say to them all the time. I don't have time or inclination to be the mayor just at the police department. But I'm going to be hands on it and I'm going to be a presence until I feel like we are moved to a different chapter in the history of this police department and we are just not there yet. You have a new union leader. There who Is a contentious character. Not necessarily a lightfoot supported. I'd say exactly the opposite of I mean how is that going to. How is that going to work? You know look. I don't know him but I've had a lot of exposure to him. He used to come to police board meetings. When I was a police board president sit in the front row and everything about his demeanor was hateful. I mean to just be blunt and he likes being provocative he likes being controversial. He loves the media but I also know that he is now the leader of the largest police union in my city and I have to figure out how we can forge some kind of working relationship if it's possible we've had some preliminary conversations. I'm I'm expecting that we re getting together. Relatively soon I intend to give him the benefit of the doubt but I'm not going to cut and paste my values to try to accommodate somebody whose values are very different than my own police officers important. We need to support them. And I'm going to continue to do that. No matter who their leader is but I hope that we can reach some common ground up for the benefit of their members but also for benefit of the department in the city mirror. So appreciate your time. It's always good to talk with you. There's there's probably hours and hours more that I could ask you about and want to ask you about. Maybe we'll have a chance to do that again. But right now you have a pandemic to deal within a hundred other pressing issues so I just very much I very much appreciate your time. Thank you and thanks for a viewers and good luck. Talk to you down the line. Okay thank you for listening to the X. Files brought to you by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN audio the executive producer of the acts files. Is Emily Standards? The show has also produced by Miriam. Annenberg Samantha Neil and Allison Siegel and special thanks to our partners at CNN. Including Courtney coop naked. Marcus and Ashley less for more programming from the IOP visit Politics Style. Chicago DOT EDU. Berg things are not always what they appear to be not so with. Adt the most trusted name in security x-files sponsored by ADT. Whatever you want to protect. Nobody has more ways to keep you safe. Adt Did you know. Adt can help you customize a security package that fits your lifestyle every adt security package is designed to help. Protect your home in a way that works with your budget. Learn more at Adt dot com slash podcast.

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Ep. 307 - Nate Silver

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

1:16:07 hr | 2 years ago

Ep. 307 - Nate Silver

"And now from the university of Chicago institute of politics and CNN the axe files with your host, David Axelrod. Who is Nate silver? And why does everybody in politics care so much about what he thinks? Well, it has to do with the fact that over the last ten years he's been one of the most accurate forecasters data analysts writing and speaking about politics, he came by the university of Chicago last week, his alma mater to talk about data, and politics and sports, and I sat down with him to talk about how he ended up being who he is. Nate silver, a living legend, it's great to be across the table from you and welcome back to the university of Chicago. Where all began I am a UC graduate. I'm still a huge fan of of the city of Chicago. You know, I've been in New York for like almost ten years now, and it's like a little bit of a weird interval when you come back to a city, it's kinda place Chicago university of Chicago. And then lived Chicago afterwards. Like kind of where I came of age, basically. Yeah. So it's a little bit. Like, you kind of get this like rush of like memories and emotions and like now, you kinda see the city Moore's outside or even though it was kind of your home city. So, but it is always great to. So I have the reverse I grew up in New York. Yeah. And go back there, and I have all these warm memories. But I do feel like a like visceral tell you I came out to Chicago to go the inverse, Chicago and thought this is sleepy little town. Yeah. Yeah. Coming from New York. But now. Now, I'm a thoroughgoing Chicago. And so I can give you the whole chapter numbers case for Chicago over New York. So now that all my relatives are gone from there anyway. But that's not where you started. You started in east Lansing Michigan. Tell me about that. Tell me about your folks. Yes. And my dad is a political science professor. And so I guess it's very on brand for me to have have gotten into politics and covering politics. Was he and impure or what what was what was his how he was? Originally, Sylvia talent when there was a Soviet Union. And what he would do actually look at lot at Soviet demographic data which sounds like it's boring, but it's not because a lot of it was fake. It's like China now or something as he trying to figure out like what's the real story behind abortion rates birth rates or death rates or GDP or whatnot in Russia and somebody I should say when the government is trying to look good and is trying to fudge the numbers, basically. So he worked with data and statistics. So this is not like a this wasn't a surprise that you should gravitate that. I mean, he encouraged me to to major in economics if it was going to pick pick something in in this arena, generally because it is especially you see very quantitative in very rigorous not at the other disciplines, aren't so I don't all that often listened to my parents by did this time and majored in economics at the university of Chicago. But for sure I mean, I've always, you know, part of my fascination with with baseball sports also comes from the fact that like they're lied numbers, obviously to analyze baseball and basketball particular those, and so and so yes, it all it all kind of makes sense in. I I wanna talk to you about that in a minute being a fellow sports. Fanatic, your mom in my noted says, she's a she was a community activist. Yeah. So what what what not manifest itself, it meant that she would attend a lot of city council meetings organized campaigns to to instill more like stop signs and things like that. Right. Which always used to annoy me as a cat. We're driving around on the stop sign with Rex make things slower. But I'm sure you mind when it stopped many accidents and save lives, and ultimately and so on and so forth. And so she was always like very politically aware. You know, my parents. Every day go out and buy the New York Times at the one at the one like bookstore back on their bookstores that had it, you know, in before they had like national delivery than times was able to deliver nationally. It was almost like disappointing to them because they enjoy the routine of going out and like buying their at town papers and reading it at home. So definitely like, you know, it was like a kind of intellectual family. You know, my dad was professor at Michigan state university's that's part of where it's a big ten towns. Like, it's where a lot of like the the sports things come from. You know, where I could actually hear the roar of the football stadium from my house, basically when there was playing games, I would go to had Michigan state hockey season tickets. So I'm also hockey fan. And so kind of it all makes them sit back and reflect you know, it all coast, you're shut he showed air Basque. Yeah. I little bit later on in high school. Wendy one is took over right? But we had some, you know, Magic Johnson. I guess when I was one year old with seventy nine they won the championship. Yeah. And so, you know, people in east Lansing were Lakers fans off in because like because of magic. And then of course, the pistons became big rivals with the Lakers. And so magic was still beloved, but like got a little bit abandoned. But like, but it all makes it all make sense, tell me about which were your folks sports fans was is that something that you just my mom, not realizing my dad's a dad's a sports fan. I'd say like a big sports fan not like a huge sports fan. But like, but again, we're going to like Michigan state hockey games and trying to like go to many Tigers games as we can and so forth. Go to Joe Louis arena for various stuff go to the NCAA tournament now. And then if she can stay it was was playing there was some gaming. To in like Knoxville, Tennessee, I really wanted to stay because the freshman named Shaquille O'Neal was playing the next game. Yeah. He got he was. Well, he was good. Yeah. Like, yeah. We gotta go if you'll get dinner. So that was disappointing. But, but yeah, I mean, the sports thing I think, you know, I always love was never particularly athletic or or good at sports. You know, I'm faster than you would think but like not super coordinated. But like, you know, I like competition I like applying your thinking to problems, right? And again, like Michigan's just a big a big sports state all four it's four sports state baseball football, basketball, hockey, you know, all four of those sports are big and prominent in Michigan. So you have a lot of of picking seducer. So let's talk about the the the the mix of things here, your your interest in or your gravitation to numbers and statistics and sports. So when did you start Bill James baseball abstracts came along at some time. Probably when you when you were coming of age, and so what drew you to that aspect of of of baseball. I mean, Parvez my my friend and I played fantasy baseball, my friend Ray. And I something which is. Still around. I think called scoresheet baseball, which is like you basically draft team. They simulate games simulating the way it's pretty accurate where you know, you want batters with good on base percentages knee. You want pitchers with good strikeout-to-walk ratios? And so the first year we like drafted a team, and it was full of like Ruben Sierra like Andre Dawson, all these guys that we thought were really good 'cause they were kind of famous, but they were not very good saver metric players else out too much in walk enough. We spent much I'm relief pitchers, for example. And so and so our team was really bad, and we really frustrated by that. And so it kind of brought us to the gospel of reading about reading from Bill James reading like the early days of of baseball perspectives that was growing and just kind of figuring out on our own which was like these sixteen and seventeen year olds are like two of the best managers in the country. Like our team one hundred and ten teams every year like sent around like national leaderboards. We would like call these adults in Indiana like proposed trades, right? When they dull to calm at night, and they're like drunk or something like this funny. Kids calling like you'd make make a trade, you know. So so it's always been. Motivated by by kind of a sense of of competition. I think people don't necessarily know that about me is like I'm someone who I'm very competitive, right? I wanna like prove people wrong, and I want like a challenge in computation. I wanna like win that confrontation. And so a debate champion also debate champion. Yeah. Which you know, certainly homes like a lot of like like research skills. I mean, debates policy debate is not necessarily that being the most beautiful like rhetoric or whatever it's not like a presidential debate. In fact, it was about kind of making as many arguments that were evidence driven. But also doing that as fast as you could because I'm not sure if I believe this is the right way to judge the debate now, but like at the time the paradigm was like, hey, if someone else forgets to get to one of your arguments than that carries huge weight, right? You wanna lay down as many as possible? React to it. I still speak too fast. You went to literally speak very fast because we can get more in you can get more into the podcast. Yeah. People joke because now people listen to podcasts on like half speed or whatever, you know, two x speed or whatever else. But like, but yeah. And so that definitely homes like a lot of a research skills. Although it's very very JD way of looking at the world at some in some ways everything kind of comes down to like nuclear war. It's like who has more nuclear wars and their set of outcomes and so on and so forth, and like, so it's a little strange in some ways. I I think actually now debate has become like a bit more socially aware. And they're more critiques of how debate is run. And so maybe it's kind of gone to the extreme where it's less empirical, you're sitting, but you're sitting tonight at the institute of politics who Austin goolsbee, the former chair of the council of economic advisers who was a national debate champion, and it's interesting to hear Austin talk about two bay because he was very aware of the sort of theater of debate. Like he debated and defeated several times Ted Cruz Bates, and he said the way he did it was just by urinating him in would just lose it. And he you know, he would make a point. And he said make it to the judge in that to him about him. And. And this would just infuriate him. I mean, there's a lot of also like this is something where you know, every weekend in highschool for my last two or three years. I was going to a debate tournament usually in suburban Detroit or sometimes Chicago or we went to Texas, North Carolina and Iowa we always drove right because we were like a public school. So kind of raising money out of our pocket, basically. So it was for non athletic. It's like it's very much like that. And it like takes you out of like, it'd be honest like I think high school is a good public school, but I was bored. I was ready to go off to to college do something different. And so this is a way to like, basically like have an alternate kind of education when you're in in high school, and you're meeting people from around the country in like and like. You know, we were partner, Katie Hoff. And I were we're very good team. And so, but it was it was a lot of fun. You you also wrote you our journalist at a student journalist. So oftentimes people who are who gravitate to numbers aren't necessarily the best writers, but you had an interest in both what what attracted you to journalism. I mean, so partly it was just like, I don't know. Right. It's a way to like look at the world. It's a way to like to. I mean, I like to kind of solve problems to think through problems. I love you know, what it was doing was by and large not like not reporting. It was more. More the rambled like a to'real writing and kind of criticizing how the school is run. And so forth. The traditional students your journalism. Yeah. At one point. I actually commissioned a poll where we took approval ratings for the principal, the vice principal the ethnic director and who are the fourth. There's like, you know, quadrant of four people. Right. And like, and like lo and behold the to be poor ratings in that poll, actually like had new jobs next year never ever admit that. That was the reason why you know, I got power math. Well, yeah. I know, but it was like actually got fired from the paper at some point. There was some debate tournament that was more important in. And you know, I think I don't want to relitigate things from from twenty two years ago or whatever, right. Sure, we have listeners that firing was an error, and that they are well informed of my conflict, you you are competitive. So the interesting thing about you writing is that it is a you're you're obviously oftentimes your data. So requires us. But even I I mentioned before this. I read your analysis of the state of the union it tends to be a logical kind of progression. You know, you start with certain assumptions you test those assumptions. You have a very distinct of of form of writing. I appreciate that. And something I've spent a lot of time lot of time working on and writing a book actually helps a lot with that forces you to actually, you know, revise your writing like three or four or five times, you know, sort of a I I know about this. I used to have hair before I wrote. No, I mean writing a book is maybe the most like I wanted to script from writing books. But like, maybe the most taxing intellectual thing you can do because you get so immersed in it. You know, we're so used to whether it's seeing downright in article, right? You're sitting down and usually it's not done in one sitting, but usually two or three sitting so it's all kind of in your in your short term memory. With a book you have to enter things into your long term memory because it's a too big to bite off. And so it's going to be at the very minimum project of of several months in my case running a book took for years over periods where you're doing lot of the things to right, but maybe you know, spread out over a four year period. And so, and it's embedded kind of very deep in your brain. Like the argument you're trying to make in the hypothesis that you're trying to to wrestle with. And so, you know, that's quite that's quite challenging. I will tell you this. I have the privilege of of getting to know Elliot's L, and and I was friendly at the time the time when I was writing the book, and I he asked me how it was going. And in this discussion, I said, you know, you're such a beautiful writer and said, but you know, I find myself agonizing over paragraph. He said sometimes I would just it would take me a whole morning to write a paragraph, and it makes you feel better. Her you know to to hear that. It's it's it's a hard thing. Anyway, you came to the university of Chicago, and you sort of touched on this before, but what attracted you to this place. It was like partly wanting to be in an urban environment. You know, I'm not sure I knew myself, even though I had done debate newspaper things. I'm not sure really knew myself. That. Well, when I was eighteen right? I kind of gay and come out yet things like that. Right. And so it's like I didn't want to look at a lot of schools like. Like Williams College Massachusetts, which is a wonderful school. But is in the middle of nowhere in western Massachusetts. Right. You know, I looked at university of Michigan, which is a very big very big state school. Obviously, you know, even roots Wisconsin where where my parents went. And so just you know, I was like I don't know where my life's gonna go. And so I wanna be in a place to city, and where I'm not getting all my learning just from campus campus, you know, on the other hand, I think I liked the notion that like this is a place where it's okay, like the really intellectual and be really into what you're studying. You know, I liked and I still do like the multidisciplinary nature of the U of C where you're honing your your writing skills, you know, again like in school like I actually I found like classes that involve writing and think. Skills actually like easier. You know, I had some idea like double majoring in in physics and economics and drop the physics part. Pretty fast because like for me. I'm very good with concrete problems at involve numbers data. So probabilities, you know, geometry was good at because it was just very concrete algebra was good at once you get to abstract, and you're like doing proofs like solving equations like that's not how my brain works as well. And so I was particularly good at like at that part. And you recognize that well you were here. I mean, you came to also out of self away. Also. You know, you're trying to have fun, right? I mean, I think I felt like in. In high school ahead like repressed a fair amount of that hurt because you're spending every weekend at a debate tournament literally. And so you're not necessarily like working on like your social life or whatever. And so, but yeah, I know I had a lot of funding college. I kind of made sure that like what's my rule that like every week I had to get off campus at least once going out for tacos or going to a cubs game. It was just at the time. You know, when I go to ninety six or two thousand at the very Sammy Sosa time. Yeah. Yeah. So star that window you could still kind of go, and like, and like some would say, you take it for fifteen bucks. And it was a pretty good. See just kind of be spontaneous. You know member? You know, one time like it was raining. And then so people are like oh. Takes her fifteen bucks. It was like Kerry wood against Tom glavin, and we like sat behind home plate, so total style. Contrasting those two pitchers. I like the White Sox to a lot of fun times at what was then called Comiskey park. But, but yeah, so experiments still call it that. Yeah. Well, I think finally what is it? No. It's not even you know, it's guaranteed rate field, and you know, with all due respect to the White Sox seasons ticket holder what a lousy name for and their emblem is their logo is an arrow going down which is not the logo. You want on your stadium? But if they signed Bryce Harper with money, well Chato is the guy they're going after back to this. We'll get back to baseball in a second. I have to confess that I've had some nights ruined by painful heartburn and acid reflux. So now here comes med Klein met Klein is a comfortable acid reflux pillow system that keeps you in the best sleeping position for natural relief. No, more sliding down a wedge or putting blocks under your bed frame. No more dangerous medication and no more suffering. The med Klein system is available. Three sizes and has a patented arm pocket. So you can sleep comfortably on your side without pressure on your shoulder. The soft supportive body pillow keeps you from rolling to your back. So you could get the rest you desert if you're suffering with nighttime heartburn, you have to try med clientele night for more information. Visit goodnight heartburn dot com. Enter the code AFC checkout for fast, free shipping. That's good night. Heartburn dot com or call eight hundred six one zero one six zero seven to learn more and try med Klein today. You spent one year in London. Yeah. At the London School of economics during your college years, and then you you came back. And then when you graduated you with your degree in economics. You went to KPMG as a transfer pricing consultant, very, which sounds just dreadfully Warren. No, it sounds like some job out of the office or something. I would highly recommend. Going abroad. I mean, I think like, you know, literally, kind of expands your world, align, I just think in general people should travel a lot period. Whether it's on the cheap as a student or more luxuriously or whatever else the one big downside to traveling in your junior year. Is that kind of leaves you with this like rump of a senior year way. You're not quite sure what to do with it. Right. Probably you still have some of the same friends, but some people have have moved on. Right. If you knew people who were seniors before they're already gone, all of a sudden. Right. And so like all of Li like a little bit drifting. And I'm not really sure that like that. I thought that much about what I wanted to do. It wasn't should interrupt and say one thing I read is that you came back from there in and you told your parents you were gay. Yeah. So easy way out or you. Go to London. Okay. I'll fucking different countries the continent. And so that can solve that problem. How did they had have they received that they were supportive? I mean, I, you know, they're like they're good liberal. Parents basically. But you know, people forget like how much it changes even like year to year. Right. We're like, you know, if if I were like two year, again, I'm forty one now or seventy eight if I was like two years younger or two years older, it would kind of make a lot of difference. But you're kind of on the cusp of like of where it became much less of a big deal. I suppose, obviously, you know, you see gay marriage legalized and whatever else, but like, but that was a big people forget in two thousand eight three democratic candidates cleaning Bama, where all at least sensibly sort of opposed to gay marriage, right? And so opposed again comfortably. Yeah. And that wasn't very long ago. And so it changes fast the exact kind of year in which you're born is is relevant wrote a piece actually when the supreme court made its ruling on gay marriage about your own journey. But also about the the pace of change. Yeah. Which is extrordinary and partly not, partly but probably a function of the modern media environment. You know, advancing these things at a much more. Yeah. I think. What I think trip people up for a long time is that you know, the fifties through. Well, I guess the sixties aren't really good example. But with the exception of the sixties the importance of the sixties fifties to the nineties were a period where things were just very stable, which is good. And a lot of ways it means. There are few were recessions, there was less inequality and so on and so forth. Well, they'll much more like racial, and you know, inequality and so on but like, but. You know? That's civility is actually kind of like an outlier over the course of American history. More broadly, and and politics are tumultuous one friend who's really into like, literally political theater. So like these little shows in the in the east village, you know, you like when you kind of see a show about like, what was it like in Hungary, kind of amidst the rise and fall of like, oh my gosh. Right. Like throughout the world. Things are crazy all the time in their regimes that are brutal and and oppressive in life, people struggle to have have freedom people struggle to live. Well, and like and there's tremendous upheaval that can change over the course of of, you know, months or years so tavist very long stable period in the US from the fifties to the nineties, I kind of kind of trick people into thinking, that's that's the normal period. And that's how politics normally are. Now every. Thing is. So is so crazy now when when American history is full of there's no doubt. I mean when people say, oh, this is the worst it's ever been in this country where we fought a civil war. You know? So you have to put it in perspective. But I do think that because we're being bombarded constantly with messages all the time. There is the sense of kind of frenetic change. And I wonder how much that is driving some of the, you know, these these very sharp political divides, not just here. But you know, you see it in Europe and elsewhere, but it, you know, having lived through all of this. But the the the the the pace at which attitudes toward gay marriage. Changed was pretty astonishing. You know, it was. But I think like. The lesson from that. Is that attitude can also change in a less progressive direction. Absolutely pretty fast. You know? I thought people were to say, okay. Well, things always gonna you know, you experienced progress. Well, maybe you do six ten times. He's become more progressive but still four to ten times. They don't you still experience. It's kind of big jolts toward toward a lot of reaction toward immigrants, for example. The revival of more explicit forms of racism in parts of Europe and the United States. I would argue that the the pace of change yields these backlashes, you know, so, you know, I think what's animating a lot of what we see in the base of Trump's most vocal base and the Brexit movement. What you've seen in in Hungary. What you see in France? And and and Italy, you know, is is driven. It is a reaction. It's reactionary politics. And and. Think the pace of change has something to do with it. So you are transfer pricing consultant, I don't wanna waste a lot of time talking about what that entail, but whatever it entailed. It was enough to drive you into poker. Yeah. Transfer pressing consulting involves trying to figure out how I was trying to give. Explanation that made it sound interesting. And there's not really would. It's how companies price their goods and services within the company, so they can meet tax authorities in different countries. Right. If you sell a semiconductor from Singapore to the United States, and how do you price that to make sure you're not taking advantage of the US by having all your profit in Singapore? Which is lower texture section. You're basically like trying to like work with companies to improve their tax situation without getting audited early. So it was not really something that was very excited about this was however a period where there was a poker, boom. Or would I kind of call it poker? Bubble more. So two thousand three Chris moneymaker when the World Series of poker? He was guy who had been kind of had a job like mine, he was an accountant at delight into sh. Like paid twenty bucks. Parents his story is like he like enhanced the legends. That's not strictly true. But a legend was that like he twenty bucks to enter qualifying tournament won a ticket to the real World Series of poker in in Las Vegas, and then one that to twenty bucks into two and a half million dollars or whatever. And so this combined with poker being be good with numbers to say. That's a pretty good return a very good return on investment. But also when you see poker on TV. Then you get a very. Edited version of what what poker is like, we're number one. You kind of put yourself in the shoes of the winner of the protagonist. They it's that Chris moneymaker looks like he's always making good decisions kind of underplays the role of luck. Was his name. Really Chris money made pretty much made for TV. Yes. Very very spot on a little on the nose. In fact, was there like a Joe never wins Joan era. I mean. These guys were kind of old like 'cause now the poker's dominated by it's gone through phases now on like younger kids, quote, unquote. They don't necessarily have a ton of personality. Although a lot of the better players are really interesting people, and I think. Are able to have two sources of income or they play poker? But they also coach teach or have YouTube channels or or write books or whatever else I'm still friends with with several poker players because they're actually made a living for a couple of years. A couple of pretty good living. Right. Yeah. I think I made. You know, some of the hundred fifty K one year and two hundred thirty K one year and the next year like lost seventy K and quit. But they were very juicy games for awhile. You had a lot of new players weren't that. Good. And where were you playing in Vegas or no ninety or ninety five percent of is is online. You know, part of it was like, I don't know how technical you wanna get how you decide. How do you read someone's poker face online? You don't you're trying to play the so what I would do I would play more aggressively than than other people. And it turns out I've only been talking to you for half an hour. But this doesn't surprise me somehow. But like, in fact, if you follow like the game theory approach to poker you're supposed to play quite aggressively. You're supposed to bluff a lot because you don't bluff than people have no reason to like call you down when you have good hands. And so people wouldn't play Gresley enough. I didn't like every analyze this in a proper way. It was just kind of you intuitive by repeated trial and temps, right? No here. These hands that you're not supposed to play. But like the add to my repertoire, and actually all these are pretty profitable for me. She kind of learned through trial and error just kind of being like being competitive and how many hours a day. Would you spend on this? I would spend I would say would spend twenty five hours a week. I mean, it's like five hours actually playing poker to me online for online you're often playing three or four tables at once. Right. Some people would play like fifteen or twenty. I couldn't do that. Because I wanted to concentrate more individual gangs. It's like it's talked about things very taxing mentally like playing poker where you're really concentrating is very taxing. And so, you know, so twenty five hours. I mean, we can talk about like how productive our people in their weeks a twenty five hours of like of my week. Now, I mean spend twenty five really really productive hours in a week. I hope so most weeks especially in the peak of election periods. But I work, quote, unquote, seventy hours, even though or eighty hours not as much anymore, but still, you know, but a lot of reading reading Twitter kind of thinking about something when you're at the gym, right and like going to meetings, and so it's not necessarily highly productive time. So like twenty five really productive hours playing poker or twenty hours a week like writing or things are these really high intensity tasks is a quivalent to like, seventy hours of medium intensity. No doubt. No, that's an impressive. That's impressive number. You also in this period. I guess still when you're when you were working for KPMG you developed a a system. That called the player. Empirical comparison optimization test algorithm. The name is kind of it wasn't. It was because you were playing off of a guy named Koda. Yeah. Who was serving average player for the Detroit Tigers when you were growing up. So a talk about talk about that. Because that was sort of the that was the pathway to your next engagement. Yes. So so behind the code I would say to real innovations. Only both gonna borrow from other people. What is the idea of using similarity scores? So Bill James has had this thing, for example, where we talked about before talking about like Frank Robinson, for example, you'd find like who are the players in history who are similar passed away. PC was a he was a really giant figure in the game. But you know, building heads things culture malaria escorts, you can look up and say who are similar players to Frank Robinson. Well, you know, Hank. Aaron might be might be one good. They want to ample there, aren't too many. When you get that. Good, right. You know, Willie Mays is faster, but not a terrible comparable. Frank robinson. But you know, I kind of realized okay Bill James, what do that to be backward-looking? So we're now looking back at Frank Robinson's career, we'll say we're looking back at someone who was a more not as eminently great as as Frank Robinson near looking back at Scott Rolen, for example, and the bidding should Scott Rolen be in the hall of fame. You kind of say, oh, actually this that like had numbers like Scott Rolen are in the hall of fame or the aren't or whatever else. But I thought what if you're actually using that to make projections with you look at a guy who might be twenty one years old, you know, Kris Bryant a few years ago, and he has various promising skills, but there's also the ghost of Gary, Scott or other former cubs prospects are their based project to burned out and see say what's a whole set of comprom- players that we can look at as a predictive exercise in the second part that stems from that is the notion of probabilistic forecast. So instead of saying, okay, you know, Kris Bryant will hit to ninety one with thirty four homers one hundred six RBI's next year. Right. Well, the one I can guarantee is that he's not gonna hit exactly to Ninety-one slash thirty four slash one six if you're lucky will be within a few of each of those categories. So the notion of like saying which takes the season didn't have very good year last year. Yeah. You take that probably. Yeah. It's a good year. But like, but if you being explicit about quantifying, the uncertain Tina forecast, and of course, you see for for young players. There's more. Upside and more downside for injured players, more, upside more downside. But so that kind of touched off this notion that probability which figures into into later work that we would do at five thirty eight you C O. Epstein we've sat across the table or eight table talking for this podcast. And actually I spent a lot of time with the oh because I wrote piece for the New Yorker about the cubs of years ago. And he said with just about the same level of enthusiasm as you have. He said, you know, we know about three percent of the game. And he said, and I'm just trying all the time to understand. And my my team might my my the guys I work with like another one percent of the game. What are the insights that we can gain by kind of combing through data? And and of course, he's been very successful. With that. You know, he was one of the early. Great successes with continues to be how much has data analysis. Changed sports. Oh, it's totally transformed. I mean, particularly baseball and basketball. I mean, I'm a stay the way that the way that baseball is played now with the focus on on strikeouts. With the ways that relief pitchers are used with with defensive shift -sition where I think they've actually been overused and now hitters readjusting. And so you often can make the mistake in politics or sports are other things we system as static. Yeah. When it's dynamic, right? Like the first time like someone trying to shift it was really problematic. Right. But like, but if you repeat that they and their professional athletes and their smart guys, some of them, and they adjust and adapt. And then all of a sudden probably isn't great against professional history hitter. Half the field uncovered that they can figure out how to how to work around that. But yeah, I mean, it certainly transformed baseball. You know, I think, you know, once you turn forty you're allowed to like be a in about some things, you know, I don't happen to love the very strikeout focused. Visit home runs and strikeouts are dominating Yano. And it's it's it's not as much fun as when you know, your plane hit and run, and no it's not as much fun. It's redundant and like going four and a half minutes now between the average ball in play. I mean that is that is problematic. I think baseball for a long time sort of denied that it was a problem. And I think they're starting to pay more of a price for it basketball. Also, unmistakably changed with focus on on three pointers, and you have to be a math genius to figure out that if you get three three for one kind of basket and two points for another maybe should focus on raising three advantage. And at the point now where like, you know, even the best Kevin Durant shooting an uncontested brain shot. That's a good shot. But that's the absolute tip of the iceberg for like for like win a. Amid range to is worth it period. You know, I actually do think that like the NBA's a very attractive phase now. And in that case, it's led to the game being more interesting and more wide open. Go back and look at clips of basketball from the fifties. Bunch of tol dudes like with their squeak squeaking sneakers standing in the paint. And like it's like not very attractive. And now, I think basketball's really interesting, actually, probably follow basketball. More than baseball now in part because by the way, like if you do cover campaigns for a living. Yes, then that's really problematic for baseball. Because every other year the climax of the campaign coincides with the climax of the baseball season. Whereas the other three sports are kinda perfect. You're done right with campaign early November. The season's just starting NFL. He can see the second half of the season, the NHL, whatever just kind of being in this line of work has probably it's well, this good segue. You you you writing for baseball prospectus after your poker years and probably during your poker's. And and then you started bringing some of your data analysis to the daily Cho's, and you you in the two thousand eight election became kind of a FINA. Yeah. I mean, this wasn't exactly planned. So I started getting into following politics. More seriously for a couple of reasons one of which was in in two thousand six they were efforts by the Republican congress to ban online poker. Which actually succeeded. But in this kind of beckon they attached like some other Bill very last minute. But that got me way in to tracking the mechanics of congress and the Senate and how bills worked I knew something about politics. But like, I don't know. Right. But not a lot. But so then all skinny until the twenty six midterm where it was like, okay. The hope is that number one that Republicans aren't able to pass a Bill now number two that like Democrats sick over at least one chamber of congress because then to save video poker to save to save poker. And it's not Democrats were particularly pro poker. But like you're gonna have gridlock harder to get things done. Good for my polka career. If you have a split in government. And so, but yeah, your special interest is what you were sort of. Yeah. That got me more into like following real clear politics and site like that and tracking the different Senate races and so forth. And the other thing though, honestly was like a little bit being in Chicago and having. Having a bomb run where it was kind of like, okay? This is not the type of same politician that like you're used to seeing Ron right? He's kind of cool guy. He's from Chicago. He's kind of geek in his own way. Right. He's a black guy when you've never had a black president. Yeah. He actually seems to be very popular. And so a lot of ways as you see connection. I remember when he ran for for congress against Bobby rush and got his butt kicked. And data analysis before he decided that he probably could have right time campus hipster thing like Barack Obama who the hell is that? This congressional race on every speaking at the C shop or whatever. But like, but it was kind of it was that. And it was also feeling like I was a little bored with with poker games. Because of that law were starting to dry up a lot where kind of let things ambiguous territory where in poker wasn't quite band. But you couldn't really like it was cumbersome to play. And that meant that bad player players didn't play in poker gets only. Good players, not very fun or profitable. You know, feeling like the baseball thing had had sort of run. Its course maybe to Theo's comment that was arrogant. Right. But it kind of felt like okay now, are you are in the business of baseball. He's in the business of. Yes. I mean, he loves it. It's obviously a passion. But he also has a pecuniary incentive to try and find that extra one percent of. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I I felt like. You know, the moneyball revolution had occurred. Although I think it was like much more of a bloodless revolution. That was much more a synthesis synthesis of data plus scouting kind of good management practices than people might assume. It wasn't quite as much of a not a bloody war. So you know, you you you. You your data analysis, basically took various factors. The most of which was polling data and develop probability models for outcomes we had a guy a young guy who was a field guy for us. I think in Iowa named Dan Wagner, a fellow graduate of the university Kogyo who you probably know. And he came to us in the Obama campaign and said, you know, I think I can make some reasonable assumptions about who is likely to be voted for us, and how likely they are vote, and I can segment the electric based on probabilities, and he he tried it out in Iowa. And and then, you know, by two thousand twelve we had a fifty seven person data analytics unit in the campaign, but his. Even though the techniques were similar in some ways. He also was doing different things because he was taking thousands of points of data about voters and trying to make suppositions about individual voters. You're doing something different. Yeah. In opposite. In the sense that what we're doing very macro, focus. We're not trying to to convince voters to do anything. We're trying to say, okay. What are people thinking right now? And how predictive is that? And where the uncertainties. What are the complexities of like the electoral college were how much vote, you know, high. Oh correlated with vote in Pennsylvania is a problem that you have to solve. If you're looking at polls should use a fewer number of pulse in her more recent or take a longer running average. I mean, these are all technical things that you have to spend how you evaluate a pose. And one of the things you've done is you've assigned wait two more way to pulse at have a a strong predictive record and part of a lot of what our our. My miles are designed like in some ways, it's like Mary like much on ought to put up like you're playing defense a little bit where it's like, okay. What happens if you have like a really weird outlier poll come in? You know, how robust is my model to weird things that can happen in the electorate weird things can happen in the data. A lot of times people say, well, I have a model and it works in our these in that and X Y and conditions. You know, I don't really think it's terribly useful. It's easy when you have a model or not to get the calls. Right. It's like what do you do about the weird like edge cases instead, but at the same time politics in sports are a little different in the sense that that campaigns have always been pretty sophisticated about data, and the Obama campaign might have been the most sophisticated ever. But it's not like it's not like Karl rove was Trump with this stuff either. And so there it was more like the campaigns were doing it. And the media was not very state-driven. The flip side of that from from sports where it was a teams that we're kind of old fashioned. And it was Bill James who, you know, kind of outside out shooters I began writing on blogs, and sometimes making into more mainstream media and whatever else, and then the teams kind of adopting it. So the factory was a little bit different. So you were Bill James in this analogy, I'm saying it because I know you don't want to you probably don't wanna claim overclaim. But you're not over claiming you were the first guy who brought that kind of of discipline and orientation to how media organizations looked at polling data. I I mean there were other efforts. I mean, there was like the Princeton election consortium and things like that. And like, I think some of those were were goods, and then we're not as good. But it was a combination of like of being a pretty good statistician and being pretty good communicator. And having being like a eight out of ten on. Both those skill sets and said being a ten on one and two on the other. I think was important for that getting forty nine out of fifty states where I in two thousand eight was helpful to it was helpful to. Although I don't know probably talk about the event is in a minute. You'll see tonight which probably find recording of Austin. I talk about that, you know, to me that's not necessarily the best way to evaluate forecasts. And one of the things it's like a little frustrating for me. I think we actually I think the best forecast we ever issued was when we issued in two thousand sixteen because it's so much less. Yeah. Bullish thought path on Hillary cross chances for the right reasons because they're all undecided voters because he liked to college help Trump because all these outcomes different states were correlated. So she underperformed just here in the mid west at alone could cost her the presidency from my standpoint like that was like the best model ever designed because it kind of. Sought things that other people missed for the right reasons, you know, ninety nine hundred people on the street, we'll say no, you said Hiller was seventy one percent or whatever. And therefore, you're wrong and therefore two thousand eight or twenty eight team the models were very good those are two years. And so so that is one thing you learn actually from from poker into some extent sports. Also in poker in sports. Like you have repeated trials to play eighty two MBA games. A year to baseball games in poker? The minute you win or lose a hand. You the next hand is dealt to you. Why you're collecting your chips or shipping ship over the other player? And so you really get repeated trials, and you learn that like, you know, it really is ninety percent about process. You know? Yes, if you have like bad outcome after bad after bad outcome. Then you have to reexamine and say is there something wrong with my process, but it's like it's being very process focused. It's you know, it's like impo cliff. You make tough Foale your opponent shows. You a bluff it's not getting tilted by that saying, you know, what against his entire range of hands is a pretty easy fold in the fold will make money in the long run. And so, you know, so having that or you nation. Is one thing. I don't care about politics where things are. So are so reactive and everything is so like, okay. Well, this got screwed up this way last time. So it's like overcompensate. Yeah. In the direction again. Well, this is yeah. We tend in politics to look backward returned to pal in politics to sit on the back of the bus look backward. And that's you know, I think the successful campaigns sex successful politicians are looking forward and saying you know, what what is what is new. What is going? What is different? What is going to drive? This thing in a different way. You know, it is important to point out. If you say the probability of her winning seventy one percent that means that in almost one of three instances, it's Kris Bryant getting a base it. But also it's also about where you realatively to other people if we had said that like Hillary had a seventy percent chance and everyone else was like, oh, Trump is the favorite, and I don't think we would be saying as much. Much about like actually good forecast square on the wrong side of the argument in this case, the commission was was that Trump had either no chance or a snowball's chance in hell, but not much better than that. Which I think is not what the data said. And so there also was a an I think I was guilty of it as well. There wasn't elite media bias that just there was a sense of incredulity that he could win. So that I think influenced the analysis of what was in front of. Yeah. I know for sure it was like if you had had John casick with the exact same polls. And you kind of had a trial of this in in two thousand twelve where you had, you know, Oba very consistently had an electoral college advantage against Mitt Romney with the exception. Maybe you could tell me section may be a time around the first debate. Where really got quite close. Yeah. I will tell what. We'll tell you just real since you asked is that we actually had gained quite a bit. When we had gained three points really didn't deserve in our own polling. We were set six seven points up after Romney made that era in which he talked about the forty seven percent. I always say that in our in a spirit of charity. We gave it all back in the first day on that. We never I never felt. I don't think anything in our modeling ever suggested to us that the basic structure of the race was was was altered much. No. And and you know, the campaigns are actually good about like isn't a case where the campaigns are often more sophisticated than in the media discussion. There also off I know, for example, that the Clinton campaign after the access Hollywood tape was worried because they thought that this is a little bit of a sugar high that will deflate. Inte- last three weeks. Now, they weren't worried to the point where they thought they were going to lose. But you know, but they thought okay. Well, this might might tighten up a bit. And so maybe if some contingency were to happen say that after FBI director saying there might actually be some evidence after all, you know, I mean so that affected things. But yeah. Well, I mean, that's the difficulty is that there are two elements that seems to me kind of defy some of what you do one is are these executives events that you can't. And I want to make clear since you entered access Hollywood that I'm saying exaggerates, not erogenous exaggerates events. And the second thing is that people are there. There is a non linear kind of element to this. How people react to personalities, you know, and you know. I know your analysis, and I wanted to ask you about this about the what the presence of a Howard Schultz would do first of all it's impossible to make these judgments with great precision a year in advance. But what what a what a or more than a year in advance really to almost two years in advance. But and you used a battery of issues to show that Trump had voters who were socially liberal and fiscally conservative, but it's not entirely true. That people vote only on the basis of what their issue positions. No, they don't and might see shelf, especially liberal guy from from from Brooklyn. Although I think. Democrats have been Seattle or Seattle. Right brooklyn. Right. And he talks about like that's now become warier of like. Okay. So first of all he does not formulate the best contrast to Trump where another another billionaire who says, hey, we'd businessman to come in from the outside another older white guy. Another guy who had as Trump did with the USF L kind of dalliance impressions sports ended, you know. Well Schultz actually did but his ended badly for the people of Seattle. It could be talking about like how ship is team to Oklahoma City. Okay. Or the Seattle Sonics has three pronged dynasty with James harden. But but yeah, no it looks. So some don't mean to claim that like oh sheltered actually hurt Trump. But but it is true that like traditionally those libertarian ish voters are Republican leaning, and it was true. Even in twenty six team where there's a lot of focus on on. Trill issue. So it depend on kind of how Schultz ran the campaign. I mean and also who the nominees are. I mean, one of the things you wrote in you wrote a piece that I was very motivational to me in the November of two thousand in eleven a New York Times magazine covered because you created five thirty eight New York Times took took it on. And the piece was called his Obama toasts front page piece in the magazine. And so I took that as a personal challenge to make sure that he wasn't toast. But I don't begrudge that. Because at the time the data suggested that he was Volna Rable. We didn't have an opponent at the time. However, and one of the things that happens in elections as their dynamic process when you have an opponent, it's not just a referendum on who you are. It's also a by, you know, sometimes a binary sometimes more choice these questions like would you vote to to reelect president acts. I don't think. I was thinking very useful questions. You know, it's also not particularly useful to ask about a candidate. Who in the first phase is not very well known necessarily the second phase, which by the way, right now, Joe you wrote about the day, you have a model to an early model to try and understand the democratic primary process. Joe Biden is sitting now in if you aggregate them probably about thirty percents yet in the democratic race. And look he he has obviously he has qualities and strengths. Maybe people think that he can he's the guy who can be Trump there. There are a lot of factors here. But it's also true that he is better known as Bernie Sanders is better known in there. It's no coincidence that they're number one and number two in this race rate. No. And sometimes sometimes it holds up. I mean, you know, something like half the time the early polling leader wins. But you don't usually have these big complex fields where you're gonna have, you know. By my count, something like probably eleven or twelve. Credible. Democratic candidates. I'm not going to get angry emails who I think is credible candidate. And who isn't? But eleven or twelve people that I think really have a chance without something really weird happening. And you know, let's kind of chaotic it's like literally like a game of billiards where you kind of break in like fifteen or twelve balls, balancing everywhere, like unintended things will will happen in Corinne off win. Another you think about the, you know about the GOP where what if Chris Christie who kind of chummy with Trump and kind of for whatever reason had like if indebted against Marco Rubio. Boy, I think he was a man from jersey and that cat bait up him, but that hadn't happened. What if the narrative had been okay now, Trump lost Iowa? And then maybe. Maybe Rubio gets surgeon New Hampshire said of casick and then Rubio wins. I don't know. I tend to think that the Trump thing as someone who was very skeptical about Trump's chances to win the nomination. So it we'll take blame for that that first half of it. Right. But like, but you know, but you can imagine a scenario where things turn out a little differently in. And you know, it was also fairly late into the campaign. It looked like he might have a contested convention for the GOP. And I think voters said, you know, what the alternative is a convention where we probably wouldn't with Trump anyway, Ted Cruz. We'll just go with Trump. This is this is this is my point. Which is there are limits to what their elements what you can do because all you can do is work with data in front of you. And there's so many elements that are beyond the scope of what's on that page that in a very dynamic process involving human beings, and the reaction that other human beings have to them and so on, but you did create this model. And you acknowledge Biden's Biden standing, but I suggested that the the level of attention that people are paying among his supporters suggests that there's more casual commitment, and you you, and you suggest and I I know you have a sort of this then diagram of five different categories of segmenting, the democratic electric, but your conclusion was that an additional by Beddoe Rourke and comma Harris looked you at the starting point as the candidates who may have the best chance to navigate the process. So this is this is not a four math matico model. It's more of a a mental model that we turn into something that we call the five the five corners democratic primary. So it's what we think of as the five major constituencies, which are party loyalists. Our party stylish voters more moderate, but they're often often women off an older kind of core. Hillary demographic there is the left which is sizable. There is millennials who are. There could be overlap here. So searing all five groups, right? There are black voters are Hispanic voters. If you wanna put Asian voters with Hispanics or consider them, a a six little mini group, or whatever then put them where were you want increasing democrat, increasingly important constituency, but he is who is a candidate who can AP L to like at least three or these five major constituencies. And so who checks boxes? Well, you know, Kamala Harris is someone who I think will do well with African Americans. I think in California has very multiethnic coalition. So also popular with Hispanics, Asians. I think we'll do well with. With party stablishment voters, think of her as strong and able to take on Trump, and she's raised a lot of money and has the most Renault small fame in the with no small thing. But in a press California's playing earlier, and maybe millennials think that like, okay? Well, you know, she's kind of cool looking and she's tough in like and her social media metrics are are pretty good. Maybe the left actually she's not left enough for the left. But she's also she's not a moderate in either. And so they can probably learned with with Barack Obama partly? He was against the war in Iraq. So that gave him some. But there's something about being an African American or in her case Jamaican indian-american. Yeah. Candidate that gives a certain presumptions to you, hammers Gelo, more latitude in a certain authenticity there that I think, and I think a lot of millennials are also very very concerned about like, you know, do we really want? Like, just like white men was the Democratic Party when when forty percents or you know, what percent of the Democrats are actually white, man. It's like probably like like twenty five percent or something. Right. And so shouldn't like the candidates like reflect the composition of the party itself. And so and so yeah. And so so she does. Well, by that metric, I think I think beta if he were to run is also someone who would have different arguments different group, so millennials. I think would obviously he's did very well among young in Texas. Got a lot vote for the first time and excited them around the country. Yeah. You know, he is not Hispanic. However, he represents an extremely Hispanic district represented in Texas. And so you have to give some credit for that. And I think like again with the party loyalists thing people would see him as electable we can debate with that means and sometimes it's probably easier. For a good looking white guy to be seen as electable. What is painting? More optimistic message. You know instincts are sometimes they're weird. I think he's actually had if it's a roll offer campaign. I think it's like not what been a particular rollout. Had I have mixed feelings about that. I on the one hand as a guy who's been around this long time. I have the same view on the other hand. It was exactly that sort of kind of you know, open and sharing of his thoughts and his encounters and so that made him popular and it's a little bit. Like when you read all of these travelogues of his in a row, there is a kind of narrative art that sort of leads to and so, and I think that's what we're what we're going to see we should point out though, that there are different their overlying elements of this that, you know, are could be mitigating factors. There's a process, and it starts an Iowan starts in New Hampshire. And if you bomb out in those two places. Whatever your potential down the line. They tend to filter out a lot of candidates. And so thinking about like, you know, there are some candidates who have more obvious passed others in the early states. So come Harris, I think would say well, first of all, California, potentially. We'll begin early voting on same day as Iowa. So she'll say, you know, what I would New Hampshire. That's fine. They're small stays don't have very many delegates to white. It's a relic of an old process. And so I'm going to do very well in California can do very well, Nevada, whether a lot of California transplants, Wendy, very well. As one of the couple of black candidates in South Carolina. Right. And so she has added her theory of the case, they call it the Pac twelve yeah. SEC theory and Amy Amy club char could say, right. Like, I'm from Minnesota. I could do well in Iowa that will catapult I do think that whoever wins. I think the notion that comma will dominate California unless she does well in those early states, whoever does do, well if someone else if bell Rourke where to win the Iowa caucuses, and maybe if he's going to get votes in California, Biden could get votes. So, you know, I think these are formidable candidates, I have no idea what's going to happen. I'm just trying to underscore. The fact that. Predictive models at this point are subject to a lot of and look and one thing I think we're pretty good at five thirty eight is, you know, we have things we call all models, but our formal official forecast model where we say this has an extra chance to win Weiss state. We're pretty awful about when we put that out, right? Because at this early stage, then as much as like a data driven guy at this early stage me, and you having a conversation about this or me and my team thirty eight going out and looking at data and talknet campaign field. Right. Right. And watching the reaction that other people have and reading other things that's probably more robust, right? I think when you're a week away from Iowa, we would say, we have our polling average, maybe accounts for whatever other regional ingredient there is empirically tested and an ignore the discourse, we wouldn't say that now, right? If and so many things are going to look foolish. The one thing though, it occurs to me is like all these. Very interesting the one perception that seems to have completed there was that like the Democrats have like a bunch of lightweights, and they're not gonna be able to find any nominee against Trump. And now, you know, you see a vacuum trust people in. And so you see people saying, hey, look, you know, number one you had the Democratic Party dominated by by the Clintons and by Obama, even call a Bama a dynasty, quite right. But like, you know, so there's a power Beckham there because Obama can't run again in the Clintons are picture. You know, and number two there is an opportunity to be Trump and people probably think that Trump is a forty percent approval rating in the shutdown went really badly. Like, and hey, if I don't run now there might not be not particularly in twenty twenty four. There might be a democrat president already. And then I can't rental twenty thirty everyone running including people, I think, frankly, like might have been better my been better biding their time, but everyone's running and Democrats I think feel enthusiastic about their field. But to kind of get back to the point like, you just care about general election polling when you have a candidate who running in the context of the primary, and then all of a sudden, they kinda shifted in general election mode. I mean, I'm sure you remember. No that in two thousand eight when you know, look this. You may disagree. I think two thousand eight wasn't election, whereas economy got worse and worse over the course of the year. I think it was a general election. Democrats had a lot of advantages. Oh, there's no doubt. I don't disagree with you at all. I would argue the two thousand twelve was strategically a much more complex for sure that's not one of those things that was obvious right run hell scenario where the economy was still very sluggish and like a Bama had tried these things that some which works in which there was a big tea party backlash and Romney was a competent opponent. It's not the hard to tell a story of of you know, twenty twelve where Romney wins. It is hard to tell two thousand eight story McCain win, but there was a period in in April may the kind of nastiest most dragged out fights in the primary where a bomb pulling its became was was pretty awful because the information flow about among was very negative because. Critiquing him because he was probably going to be the nominee at that point. And he'll still find forty nine percents Democrats because one forty I was very evenly split. We're also, you know, anti-obama, and and again, I would say Obama overall it was treated pretty well by the press. But you know, the press also wanted to see the contest play out. It's a lot more fun seeing every state matter, and may and June and having to write your kind of general election prebaked style to have this feeling that people I think Democrats wanted to see a longer may maybe not even consciously, but you had a guy who was four years out of the state Senate. And I think everybody wanna see him run the gauntlet, you know, just show what he had an, and I think it was a proving ground for him that ultimately cemented. His and there is there is something great about seeing. Sink all fifty states matter. Yeah. In the primaries really are that way, especially democratic primary where everything is so proportional that delegate in Idaho is as worthwhile as delegate in Ohio. In fact, IDO turned out to be a critical one of the critical states for Obama around the time of the Super Tuesday. Right. So you can use because we, you know, Obama campaign netted more I think our margin in Iowa in terms of delegates was greater than Hillary Clinton's in New Jersey the same day, just because we so dominated that stay listen, I could talk to you forever because we share these weird passions. But I have to ask you this last question, and let me just say anybody who enjoys and is interested in passionate about politics or sports or science or the other subjects that you cover five. Three eight is a great read. It's always a great read, no matter when you look look at it. And so I I uh. I highly recommend it. But I gotta ask you this. Last question. Do you ever say to yourself? It be kind of fun to be inside a one of these things and play with these huge databanks that they have and sue what I could do with them strategically. I I think my thinking is two different. And also like whatever went to work for a sports team. And I think it's different because like I like to have my work be public. I like when I have no idea to be able to to write about it and have lots of people read the article or going podcast and talk about it or tweet about it. You know, that's where I kind of derive like gratification from. You know, I do think about like because I have these different interests that we've very generously middle to talk about today. I do think at times like, you know, do I really want to be spending the rest of my life doing election models and election stuff? When I you know, I like poker. I like sports. But like I also would like to write another book, and he's only went takes about Satistics or whatever else. So I definitely do think about like about like these campaigns and kind of like they're kind of like, I mean is there like it's kind of like very Olympian like cycles where they build up, and it's a big climax every four years. Listen man, that was my life for three decades if you like in, but you can you can cook yourself right because like right now superior where I spend a lot of time in December and January like like, traveling, right? And like kind of one of the slower periods. Although not as those that used to be because Trump is making news every day. Boy, this democratic primary started really early, you know, a year for now be frozen in some shitty hotel in New Hampshire trying to cover the primary, right? And watching the Super Bowl from some TV in Manchester and whatever else right and like and like hoping there's like a WalMart or something you can buy beer and snacks and stuff. And like, so so it does get to be very much of a of a grind, and increasingly you kind of get swept up in it. And you don't really have these moments where you get to step back. And and pause. What's the sweeping up starts? Then you're kind of you're in it. And it goes very fast, and you're reacting to things in real time when covering on the inside and the outside, and so so, you know after period of time that got becomes a little bit exhausting. So I think about things that don't involve what I'm doing now. But I I. I think one of the things that would rank pretty low, and let's go we'd actually working for can tell you what whether you're writing and analyzing about a presidential race or whether you're on the inside of one it is exhilarating to be in New Hampshire and a shitty hotel room in in February. So I'm looking forward to it myself. There is there is an energy to it. I think even though like the primaries are much harder from like a modeling standpoint. I mean, the arched inherently unpredictable. I mean, the primaries are held a lot more fun than general election. We go one St. at a time where you know, you really do. Listen Isla because Iowa is more spread out because the caucus has much lower piss patient than a primary, but in New Hampshire really does feel like bowl week or something. And it's you know, January is actually very cold could be quite beautiful in New Hampshire's always a lot of snow and so forth. And like, you know, you are going to town to town. And like, it's very energizing, you know, probably. My favorite part of the campaign is that term between Iowa. And. Yeah. And you Hampshire. And then the election is like more of it is weird. Right. Where you have like the primaries like way longer than the election to. And so all these people, you know, all these, you know, Lisbeth Warren and Kamala and Bago and clo- char and Biden they're all gonna be in our lives for like for like a long time like next year and a half. So hopefully, they'll be entertained, well, at least this drama has a lot of characters. So you know, that'll be interesting. Yeah. Nate silver. Great to have you back here at the university of Chicago and really fun to thank. Thank you. Thank you for listening to the X files part of the CNN podcast network for more episodes of the X files. Visit X-Files podcast dot com. And subscribe on apple podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcast app from our programming from the university of Chicago institute of politics. Visit politics dot EU, Chicago dot EDU.

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Ep. 352  Admiral Michael Mullen

The Axe Files with David Axelrod

28:23 min | 1 year ago

Ep. 352 Admiral Michael Mullen

"The Institute of Politics The axe with your host David Axelrod Admiral Mike Mullen who was chairman of the and now from Luminary Media and the University of Chicago third of the country of Syria in this war and then the issue of longer term stability and commitment to allies Admiral Mullen it's great to see you again here at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago right now that is so much not just in your area of expertise but in the area about which you care so passionately that I would be institutional coherence on the question of policy What has your reaction been the last few weeks watching the situation in northern how among which were pulling out among colleagues leaving colleagues battlefield being the Kurds who had fought pull US troops out of Syria the state of our alliances today his historic testimony in support of repealing the don't ask don't tell policy remiss if I didn't start there because people are going to want to hear what you have to say the first is about policy and the second is just about right here I think my reaction has been similar to too many in terms of the sort of remember based on a decision the president had made at the time to pull troops out of Syria I thought Mattis articulated the reasons for that very well and side by side the Kurds and the the the the totality of the the force if you will that was has been kluge together and addicted given where you started where you ended up in life a whole different world but we'll we'll get to that but so much is going on person-years which has had a pretty extraordinarily positive impact in defeating Isis and and essentially calming a roughly so you know usually you have you have an incredible life as people here in a minute because no one would those on active duty right now one of the golden rules as you never leave a buddy on the battlefield and that's the essence of many of the idiocy of the withdrawal I one of the things I think of in this is is that Jim Mattis resigned as secretary of defense lasted and Syria unfold from the time the president had his call with with air do on in Turkey and withdrew the American troops from northern Syria and his unlikely upbringing as the son of a Hollywood publicists Admiral Mullen and I touched on many more subjects in our full conversation which is available only on the friends and all of that and and in a very short period of time it seems as though we've undone that and for those of us served in the Military Mary podcast network this conversation is one of many incredible guests we featured recently on the X. Files as a reminder new full length episodes of the x files that are now available at free luminary hope you'll join us on luminary for the rest of this great conversation and more download the APP or go to luminary dot link slash the X. Files where we are today well it's good to be with you as well David and I do appreciate your dedication to the institution of politics and what you've done here so it's good to be back group we've lived with for the last several years who sacrificed thousands of Kurds thousands of their own lives for this cause events I've received from military members right now because that's essentially what we're doing this is not this isn't a group that we have distance from this is is and then to wake up one morning and find out that were going out the doors is pretty catastrophic in terms of the mission on the ground and then the relationships convoy driving through one of the major cities in Kurdish held territory which I won't try and pronounce In video posted online by a local Kurdish news outlet men hurling potatoes at an armed vehicle shouted no America in America liar in English I think betrayal is probably the word that struck in there was some reporting at of Syria today and it said residents threw rocks and potatoes at the United States military she just level I think in Washington loves to look at winners and losers I think every entity that we would like to see Louis the last week or two weeks since this started is the word that sums it up from me and we have betrayed our friends at they thought in one case were great and and in in a in a very seemingly in a moment the relationship was destroyed devastating period of the war in the last several years but those that we that oppose us are gonNA come out winners in this who's in this is going to win in that Russia and Vladimir Putin that's Assad in Syria that's Iran and Ruhani to those statements from so many individuals in from so many different points of view all agree that Isis this is his promise that he made as a candidate and he said I'll I'll tell you I want to bring our soldiers back home if people wanNA leave them there I'll take that everyday meaning his oh in Iraq hangover and he's not wrong that we spent trillions of dollars thousands of of of in my guess is he is reaching an audience when he says why should we be involved in battles between these ancient rivals seven Americans lost their lives I know you grieved every one of them as as a commander and as as chairman of the joint chiefs but there is this I have to ask you because you know you were talking earlier about the sort of the Vietnam hangover that lasted for thirty years there's also if I got elected on something and I'm thinking I was wrong second guess it but they want our soldiers back home he's very blunt about this he made a promise and it'll interests I'm concerned in Afghanistan right now because there's there's this move to bring the troops out of there as well we'll see yeah Is the the notion of an isis resurgence. Yeah I think I don't think there's any question that they're gonNA come back and that that and those that have supported us are GonNa come out losers and that's really a sad state of affairs and presumably Isis sister from the standpoint of hitting the political cord my concern is that our engagement in each of these wars that we've been in Iraq position all I know you were in Dallas he had a rally there the other night he said all I know is the place went crazy when I said we bring our soldiers back home he said five them as vital national interest and I think if you believe that Isis will research and most people do that I think is very dangerous given isis a new life and there's no question that they will resurge in time and in fact then we're going to end up as public enemy number one for Isis we're going in doc Afghanistan and now this one is really focused on what our interests are as a country and I would put I tried to describe up having to deal with them again the president spoke today about a about all of this and defended his decision talked about really learned I don't think that we have spent four to five or six trillion dollars we have overseas in these wars we have one thousand miles away it has nothing to do with us I mean politically. He's probably hitting a striking a chord there yeah I think that's true a huge needs in this country and I certainly acknowledged that I think we have to be very judicious about how we bring troops home how we that's air to one and Turkey that's the sadly and we wouldn't want to see them lose that's going to be the Syrian people who've been through this isolate right now our country has a history of isolating after wars that's very natural I just think we have to be very careful about how we isolate to bring our troops home troops when they deploy for a long time they always wanna come home but at the same time they're also willing to go and sacrifice for Those v Nationally and if we just leave then we'll have to deal with them again as well and if I just look look at Iraq and how rapidly United States of America and there are a lot of people around the world that resent who we are there are a lot of bad guys that would come after US given the chance and arms of creating questions in our allies minds over the last ten years or so about whether we would be there for them think I use nine eleven obviously as an example I think giving them the freedom to be able to do that is very dangerous so in that regard eight and what we what we leave alone or what we leave others quote unquote who live closer to do because the United States of America is still the the president's final decision is but it's the same thing there are many terrorist groups live on that border between Afghanistan Pakistan who threaten US either aspirational or operates those those those friends are oftentimes members of institutions NATO would be a great example that that really they wonder whether we came out of Iraq that resulted in the the growth of Isis. If you will so those are very real empirical lessons that we've act of of this very very public and glaring event of our withdrawal from here's a few what if we have to deploy a few thousand troops to ensure that doesn't happen in the future or to reduce the risk as much as we can then I think that we don't you know with Iran on nuclear weapons having pulled away from TPP will the United States since it was established after World War Two and other institutions and alliances like that and will United States having pulled out of an agreement mm-hmm and in particular I mean I've friends in the Far East friends in the Middle East Even friends in Europe that wonder what the United States of those alliances the strength of even the investments sometimes disproportionately in an organization like NATO that we have benefited what do that what about the alliances not just the alliances with the Kurds but all the other allies in that region and and allies around the world what is the itself to alliances to other countries as we have in the passing at least for my standpoint I think now that's an open question isn't that what America first greatly from that as a country so that so that that in its own way puts America first One of the things gets lost on NATO is I was though I mean isn't that sort of this is what on inauguration day he president trump I I think I think obviously I think this is what he means I think we can put America first and do other things although I would argue the strength we'll stand up for now I think that's a an in a time of great uncertainty and and this is almost a capstone event in that regard in does can be the NATO that it has been this institution that has has helped us preserve the order if you will since alliances in Western Pacific with Korean which Japan are much the same way so that the payback for those investments have been extraordinary in terms of P I've they may feel that in Washington that this was the wrong decision but I have to do what I've got elected on math to do I think is is right party that said we were able to move NATO in the direction we wanted NATO to move you know from a coalition standpoint and alliance standpoint and in grape made there and yes all of us have argued for some time that you need if you're a NATO country to be above two percent in need increase your the amount of money you're spending on defense and secure Jason Prosperity and security all things which we value in an a way I'd really argue that puts America I well the the place when all of this stops whenever whenever that is and they say when all of this stops it sounds like a euphemism well I think I mean it's continued intelligence community are FBI our Justice Department our Justice System our State Department these are institutions that have flaws and all America is in America Act a certain way for four years or for eight years that's what America is so we're going to have to rebuild that can they be rebuilt I think the the follow the logic of your argument you also are suggesting that Americans being jeopardized by these decisions the amount of the bill that we pay which was which was significant the other thing that happened in NATO is we had a lot of say about what happened in NATO as a result of the investment we the pressure that that those in these institutions and alliances have been under and if I'm sitting in halfway around the world wondering what when when you see significant political leaders not just the president but significant political leaders bad mouth the FBI there's any question we are. I I it's hard to know how much and it's hard to know the specific outcomes but I think we're going to be in a much different place and a much worse the number of troops but a really a really major impact I think it almost puts an exclamation point on what we have been doing work I mean one of the things along same the same lines that I worry about the institutions in our own which herb you know what you're being crushed are can I I'm I guess I'm a glass half full guy and I I would not I would not say that that that they couldn't at this point I think it's going to take a lot of good people and is it the prestigious place that it has always been you as as I would expect an as I've known you over the years you I worry that eventually you know we're going to wake up one morning and we are going to be as uncompetitive as we've ever been the political paralysis the the certainly for the last almost three years and I think it's going to go for another one or another five

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