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tv   Book Discussion on Why Presidents Fail And How They Can Succeed Again  CSPAN  September 5, 2016 7:00pm-7:46pm EDT

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award. nicholas baker discusses his time as a substitute teacher in maine in, "substitute". in "hidden figures" we remember in "hidden figures" we remember the lives of four african women whose aeronautical cat collations were integral in helping the united states with the space race. connie martin looks at the life of a state employment employee turn soviet spy in "true believer". alberto gonzales discusses his life and time in the bush administration. data scientist kathy o'neill's weapons of mass destruction warns against the use of big data and computer models that can be used to discriminate against people. "words on the move" by. [inaudible] looks at the continuing evolution of the english language.
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then connect the economic policies of president kenneth c and reagan in jfk at the reagan revolution. look for the titles in bookstores this coming week and watch for many of the authors in the future of book tv, on c-span2.ible c [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible]thank y >> thank you for coming out tonight. another humidity is inching up.t thank you for coming in. i'm glad we have the air conditioner going. welcome. make yourself comfortable.before
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before i get started just a few housekeeping notes. if you could could take the time now to silence yourself on. while you have your phone out you don't have to turn it off, you can follow us on twitter and facebook, and instagram and sign-up for his f you have you have not already. you can visit our website. there you can find our events and sign-up for the newsletter so that way you keep on top of the great stuff we have going on like tonight's event. i am the events director here at grammar books. it's a pleasure to welcome you and and elena this evening in
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her book why presidents fail and how they can succeed. for thoset of you do not know, she is a senior fellow and government studies program at brookings. she is the founding director of the center for effective public management. she is also the faculty of the harvard kennedy school of government. in the new book, in the new book, she argues that presidents today spend too much time talking and not enough time governing. sounds like people we may know. i'm glad she is here to share this very timely book with us. please joinpis me in welcoming elaine to kramer books. [applause]. >> thank you very much. thank you you for coming up on this august night. i want to talk briefly about the books and read a couple of passages in the take comments or questions people may have.t's there is a lot of books written about presidents, right? how they communicate. how they camping, etc. there are very few books and this is one, few books and this is one, written about the president's relationship with the bureaucracy, or the permanent government. that, in fact he it o or she isn charge of. this book really focuses on that
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relationship. it is told through a series ofwi failures, which i call and this is a very technical political science turn, crash and burn. these are crash and burn failures that i talk about in the book. i say they're totally a bipartisan book. i have two democratic presidents, one republican president in it. it is not about party. it about party. it is about the job of the president.t the first thing i talk about is the iranian rescue failure in 1980. some of you here can remembert that.-- then i talk about, that was of course the carter administration. i talk i talk about three failures from themi bush administration.risis. the 9/11, the iraq war and the financial crisis. fi oh, and hurricane katrina, that
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is for. i talk about two failures from the obama administration, the affordable care act rollout and the failure of the veterans administration to care for our veterans. what runs through all of these is that presidents, modern presidents are so obsessed with talking and campaigning, andat going places, that they failed to take the time to think about the third step of leadership. that is implementing policy. in fact, i start at the book with a quote from thomas jefferson quote to the executiot of the laws is more important than making up then. now if you think of leadership as three tasks, getting the answer right, the, the policy right, communicating that, and then implementing it, the argument i make in this book is that presidents spend so much time on communication that it leads them little time to think about how they are going to implement the
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policies they want to implement that involves understanding something that in the businesss schools we call organizational capacity. in other words, is the federal government, is the piece of the federal government that you are taking this job too, is it capable., is it capable. is it up to the job? that you the president is asking it to do. to give give you an example of why there is this disconnect. let me read you a portion. whenever america gets a new president and vice president, a team of government workers and the general services administration is responsible for taking down the photos of the outgoing president and vice president and putting up photosn of the new one. while the rest of the countries digesting the election results and slowing down for the holidays, this team is workingng overtime.em repro
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they must get official photographs taken of the new leaders, have them reproduced in the thousands, and then they put them up in 8603 government offices in the united approximately 250 embassies and consulates, and between 501,000 u.s. military installations to the world, depending whether we are at war and how you count them. this is no small undertaking. as this which must be accomplished in the short amount of time. just before until just after noon on argue wish and the symbolism -- the day after inauguration day, approximately 2.7 million civilians and 1.5 million military personnel who worked for uncle sam come to their offices.ty
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the claims adjuster at the social security officer in rochester, new york, york, the deputy chief of admissions in albania, the forest ranger in the national park, the biologist at the centers for disease control in atlanta, and the soldiers stationed in germany. they all see see the same thing when they arrived. their new boss. they may have not a voted for the new boss. in fact they may hate him or her. his new team, his party, but they all know who the boss is. they have volunteered entered government service that they work for the president. now on the morning after the inaugural festivities, a tired and may be slightly hung over president and vice president to get to work. there are plenty of new people around them who work for them. most of them, however, are in
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military uniforms. they they open the doors, fly the helicopter, man the guns that sit on top of the white house. but these new employees do not actually do is talk. they do not talk to the president. in fact, on that first morning after the inauguration, the people most likely to talk to the new president are the same ones who have been talking to him for the past two years. his close campaign advisors. there will be some new faces. every morning morning the cia sends over somebody with aed to briefcase handcuffed to his wrist to present the president's daily brief. the compilation of the most sensitive goings-on collected overtly and covertlyer around the world by american spies. some of the spies are are undercover and are probably the only federal employees who do not walk into an office on the morning after election day and see photos of the new president
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and vice president. but most of the people the samel presidencies everyday will be the same people he saw when he was so right there you see the disconnect that begins very early on, really from the first day of the presidency. but the president will have a hard time understanding, whichr frankly any human being would, is just how large and how complicated the government that they run is. no wonder that being human, presidents like to revert to what they always did before. they campaigned. they talked. they gave speeches and went on television, they appeared in beautiful settings, custom-made for the camera. what they did did not do is figure out, what is going on in that organization down the street. what is actually happening across the river.
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what have people set about them for the past five, 15, 40 years. what i need to know? not surprisingly, presidents do not do they don't do that. they keep on doing what they have been doing. in that, they they miss a couple of important things. let me mention right now. one is that with the government this big, somebody always knows the answer. somebody knows the answer.tion the question is, will the president to be able to get the answer. will he or she be able to figure out what the competing explanations are, quote vastly complicated questions. the second think that the president does not really understand is that in the government this big, at anyha
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point in time something is going very right and something is going very wrong. let me me read you another short excerpt from a chapter a call spacewalk and crashing websites. on december 21, 2013 tohael americans, michael hopkins and richard. [inaudible] were attaching electoral connecting from a malfunctioning cooling in cooling pump. this may sound very ordinary until you realize that the two americans were astronauts and the cooling pump they were fixing was part of the international space station, 24. during their five and a half hour spacewalk they wore suits designed to protect them from a lack of oxygen, the freezing temperatures, and the cosmicth dust that makes space and inhospitable place for humans. two months earlier, on october r
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2013, millions of americans in search of subsidize health insurance logged on to the new federal website,, hoping to buy insurance as easily as they could buy a plane ticket on or a bookl or so they thought. instead, to the dismay of the many americans shopping for health insurance and to the surprise of president obama and his top staff, the website crashed. not once, not twice, but again, again, and again, but again, again, and again, over a period of two long months. the press erupted in a frenzy over the inability of the federal government to build the website at the heart of the health care reform.governme they were joined by a polarized citizenry, half of whom wanted to buy health insurance and were
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endlessly frustrated, and half of whom saw the whole episode as more evidence that the government cannot organize a two-car funeral. the pundits pounced. saying that the federal government could not do technology. government was hopelessly broken. broken. yet, no one seemed to notice the technological marvel of men walking in space to repair us base station for and accomplish the same manner in which the website wasfederl built. federal bureaucrats at nasaco contracted with a variety of companies from a little-known company in massachusetts thatui made the spacesuit, to the aerospace giant who designed and built some of the most sophisticated components of the space in another part of the government, the one dealing with healthcare, federal employees at the centers for medicare andithi medicaid services had contracted with its mission technology companies in the private sector to build the infamous website. the success of the spacewalk
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passed with little notice while the failure of the website ruin president obama's christmas, pushed his approval ratings to new lows and convinced americans ready to be convinced that obama and the government he was in charge of were hopelessly ineptr so, why do we care about this? we care about this because when presidents experience these large scale governmental failures, two things happen, happen, one is their political capital goes down, nobody expected president obama to write the code to the website. nobody expected jimmy carter to fly the helicopters into baghdad and rescue the hostages. but americans do expect the president to be on top of the apparatus of the government. of course, a lot of the stories in here have presidents who are
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just as surprised as everybody else, which shows a dangerous distance from the governmentf they run. another reason we should care is that every time we have a massive government failure, citizens who are skeptical about government in the first place become more and more convinced that the government just cannot do anything right. one of president clinton's favorite sayings, and he still says that actually if you hear him on the tv these days, hehe will will still save from time to time was, most people think the government cannot organize a two car funeral.y tim and, it is so true. every time there is one of these big failures, that is what happens. >> i'm not arguing in the book that we can prevent all failures. we can't. many of these things happen. but what i am arguing is that if presidents spent a little more time on governing and a little
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less time on talking, they might reduce the probability of failure. so as we go through the case studies in the book in each instance the following thing happens.t there were multiple warning signs that the piece of the government that the president gave the job to, whatever the job was, multiple warning signs that organization was in trouble. it was just simply in trouble and not up to the job.onfro president carter was confronted with the military where for four decades before the attempted rescue mission, high-level military missions had in fact argued that a government with the u.s. military is constituted could not to joint exercises. they cannot put forth a joint
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plan in battle.cial also the special forces were dismantled in the decade before jimmy carter became president. so he then proceeds to order a rescue mission which isy coop dependent on the three branches of the military cooperating with each other, and and with no really special forces command. now we have a false gale special forces command. -- a full-scale. because it happened in carter's first term, it happened in april he lost, some of us remember big time in november. the fact is, there were so many warning signs along the way. in each of the stories that ii tell in the book there are plenty of warning side signs
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that failure is likely to happen.ey ca so let me just pause by going to the second part of the book and how they can succeed again. i want to talk about two things. one is the organization of the white house itself. the white house is not organized to understand the governments they run. it gives attention to communication, lots of communication to politics, lots of lots of communication to the formulation of policy that is a presidential priority. but very little attention to the executive branch of the government, which is a massive and to which i argued in this book, presidents need to understand.n so the first recommendation is an organizational one which is they have to beef up with the
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department of affairs, stop thinking of cabinet secretary that they can make speeches of the day and understand that the cabinet secretaries are there ambassadors to this man met organization. secondly, like the technical lines as i advocate an early warning system set up in the white house so that presidents can understand what might be going wrong out there, it doesn't matter. when one of these things it blows up it doesn't matter if it started under the other guy. the current president takes the hit. the current president is the one that gets the complaints and loses political capital and cannot pass the rest of their agenda and will lose midterm elections are sometimes lose the general election. it really doesn't matter when id started.event th what matters is when it blows up. an early warning system
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would prevent that. and finally, i propose what wei are living through today, we have a primary system,ect nomination system that has many good aspects to it. but it differs from the old-fashioned nomination system in one critical way. we used to nominate presidents within political parties by conventions composed only ofe-- those super delegates. for most of american history that is how, primaries if there held at alternet matter, roosevelt was nominated by superdelegates, kennedy was, eisenhower was, etc. when we moved cetera. when we moved to a system of primaries, many advantage to that, it was much more open system. we lost or something. what something. what we lost was what i call your review.. and the scientists call peer-reviewed. in other words,
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the electorate was not in thee same business of government and governing, where as in the old system of the people pick the president was in the same business. so i like to tell the following imaginary story. in 1960, jack kennedy had to win the support of governor lawrence ofer pennsylvania in order to win the nomination.igars and governor lawrence controlled the delegates from pennsylvania. you can imagine that between jack kennedy and bobby kennedy and his co-campaign, there was, there was many smoke-filled rooms with cigars and brown liquid. you can imagine that they talked about real things. they talkeded about about could he win, could he governor, etc. i want you to imagine donald trump being in a room a room with the equivalent of governor lawrence.i'm lighting has a garden drinking
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is whiskey a thing, oh yeah i'm going to build a wall and make mexico pay for it. eisenhower would say, being the person that has run a government would say what? what are you smoking in that cigar? okay. it just would not pass the smel test. so so we have lost something with peer-reviewed. the only peer-reviewed that we have, this is not really very close is in the press these days. at the press has fallen victim to the click bait society where they just want clicks and clicks and clicks. they're not very interested in drilling down on what a candidate knows knows or how realistic his or her plans are. i do not have as clear and answer to that problem as i do to the first one, to organizing the white house. but it is clear that we have to do a better job of evaluating not just what
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presidents say, but can they do it. when they cannot do it, when they failed to implement, those failures are so big that all the spinmeisters in the world and all the click add people and all the great television producers, cannot get them out of trouble. that is what these failures tell us about recent american history. thank you you very much. i will take comments andnt questions. [applause]. yes. right here. >> i am writing a book about th 1960 democratic -- >> oh my gosh. nice to have you here. >> through the eyes of the stevens organization and theiro effort to draft stevenson. and during that i interviewed a fellow by the name of hardeman
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who was chief of staff. he gave me a great quote, he said he reminded me that the currency of politics is your word. and -- to try. here's a guy whoc changes his words about everyno week or month, but every hour. he also doesn't show any interest in government. and you pointed that out. if david lawrence was in thehisw room and he could not keep his word, professional politician where they rely on your words to make agreements. the quickness of events and you know from your days at the whits house.onon >> that's right. that's that's a great observation and i cannot wait to see this book. i will read it.
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>> can you summarize his comments? >> so this gentleman is writing a book about the 1960 presidential campaign through the eyes of the stevenson organization and he makes two very critical points which is that politicians have to keep their word, and politicians have to know something about governing. at a certain politician named donald trump, doesn't seem to know about either one of them. i think that is an astute observation. you know, this, this is a really big american problem. people believe in the people i running for president. they have consistently not delivered. it is a bipartisan problem. therequesti is no no question at it. what you get is this real disenchantment of our electoral system and a real lack of trust, and i think it is corrosive. it is terribly corrosive.
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i'm hoping that maybe we have reached the end of it and we can start to come back after this election. >> the new yorker ran an article recently on obama's failure to close guantánamo before he got out of office. did you read a a? >> no. >> well a little bit of the history and all of the different facets of bureaucracy and i wondered if you had an opinion on if obama had seen thosey warning signs before hand. in eight years maybe that's not going to happen. >> that is a great example to be bipartisan, right. that is a great the great example of the presidents or presidents to be not having any sense of what the actual problems were in doingle that. you could have known that. it was knowable. knowable. part of the argument i make in the book is that a lot of the things that go wrong are not
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acts of god. they are knowable ahead of time if somebody knows something about the government t that they have paid attention to what has been written about the government. guantánamo is maybe one of the clearest examples. here we are we are seven and half years into this administration and we have not closed guantánamo. a lot of this, no offense no offense to speechwriters, who i love. a lot of this is that some of these lines that the speechwriters come up with are so wonderful sometimes. they're so compelling and i mean nothing differentiated barack obama from george bush more than i going to close guantánamo. everybody at the time was saying no you're not.ty pri who is going to take these people, you really going to put them in maxon security prisons. are the communities went to going to go crazy. on and on. it was all kind of knowable. that is one of the things that i
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emphasize in thecal
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>> well, i mean, i think you have to balance that, i think that hillary clinton was late in coming to her college free college position because she knew, what -- she knew all the problems with it, including the fact that it could end up being a giveaway to rich kids. to harvard and yale. so that's a real problem with it. she was late in getting there. she made a political judgment and, when she gets into office she's going to have to figure out how do i do this? how do i make good on most of this promise and make sure that everybody in america, can go tor college, without spending, so
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much money on kids going to harvard and yale. and, that's going to be her challenge. they all do this. they all do this, that's a, you know, that's kind of a middling one, there's much more on real promises that they have made. but part of it is, they don'tt understand, most of them don't understand the government they i think hillary clinton d andnm the citizens have been divorce fred this. they have been divorced from it, being given a realistic sense of this, because, it's all marketing. they have been, we're selling presidents and we're selling lines, and stuff, without anybody saying, can you really do that? how could you really do that? do you want to do that? who is going to do it in is the
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military capable of doing that? medicare and medicaid services, which were given the affordable care act. can they do what you're asking them to do? i think that that's something that's missing in our politics. it's more difficult. i don't want to be simplistic, and i'll come up here so you can hear. we have an example in city government, of the elected officials, being elected, to sell their ideas and shape their their ideas and we hire city managers and i'm just wondering, if, why don't we have academy ray of federal government, who
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vote the politics would have too be played with. but a president could have a chief of staff as well, as a city manager. >> that's a good idea. >> and take what he wants. they know where all the bodies are buried and what works and what doesn't work. we have lawyered a lot of people. including a lot of smart young people, who get these jobs. they never last very long. theycome to the school or law school because they're boarded to death and they don't know a what they are doing. we're lawyered them in between the cabinet secretary and the
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senior civil servants who should be getting heard. so, i would thin that out. and i think we have, there aret people in most, people in the government have been there for decades. so, they know what's going to work. they know you're not going to close they know this. and there's a downside to that. there's a resistance to change which every president has to cope with. these civil servants know if they wait this guy out, there's problem with that. but it's the lawyering that has magnified a problem that the presidents have, the problem of spending all their time in a marketing campaign, and not
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enough time actually making what they promised happen. >> a healthy balance, between communicating governing, and as political media evolves, andicur the. [inaudible] do you account for this? change the dynamics and politicians, and, how they communicate at all? >> no i don't. because i am less interested in communication in this book, and more interested in effectively implementing policy. interestingly enough, you know, liberals, or progressives, this is important. because liberals, want thess government to work. they want the government to help people and they want to get rid
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of inequality and provide opportunity. it's equally important for conservatives. only they have such reflective hostility to government that they don't get it. conservatives want to cut the government.rv we started in 1994 with the ginrich revolution, and, we've had conservatives, and many years of a conservative house of representatives and it is no smaller than it was in their primary missions they have failed. one of the reasons they have failed, is that they, they're allergic to government so, they don't figure out the time, to figure out what we need them to do and give to the states or stop doing or whatever? they don't make the hard decisions. they just lop everything off the top. and, then what happens? we don't have enough air traffic controllers, and everybody's
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airplanes are late and mad, and? congress says, what are you doing? they give them back the money. okay? so, we're used to liberals caring about governments and conservatives need to care too because they have been real failures at their stated objectives of making it smaller. part is inattention that people have to the actual functioning of what i call, what many people call the bureaucracy, and i call it permanent government. [applause] thank you very much. >> thank you all for coming. please help us by folding up your chairs.
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do come up and say hello and gate book and get signed. [applause] >> if you look up the word liberal, you will find it means many different things. the word broad minderred comes up. open-minded comes up. a liberal is supposed to be somebody, that is tolerant of different points of view. the idea being that while you may disagree with me, but you have every right of your
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opinion. no one has the right to deny us our freedom of expressing. in a marketplace of ideas, competition must be kept open. there's no settled science, the history is open-ended. we're not sure where we're going. checks and balances must be maintained to ensure no one party or one point of view ever prevails forever. the rule of law, is sack row sank and the same rules should apply to everybody. that's the general idea of what a liberal minded person should be. by those standards, they have a problem. speech codes and safe spaces are used on campuses to shutdown debate. progressive attorneys general are issues subpoenas against climate change deniers.
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and some activists want to try them as war criminals. the irs has targeted the political opponents and the president has abused his executive authority. religious people are called bigoted and worse. some are even threatened with boycotts and fines. universities where progressive i. are places of stief link conform mittty and all across america, in our neighborhoods, schools or local governments there's a "zero tolerance" of anything that mayo fend or disturbing whatever the or orthodoxy happens to be. now, it's plain to see that, progressive liberals have become the opposite of the liberal minded person. they are intolerants. and closed minded, and, not
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liberal. close minded and trying to control debate. too often they use public shaming rituals and co wergs, increasingly through the law to shutdown debate. so i wrote this book because i wanted to tell the story of how this happened. it's a long story. it's an historical story. it's not what happened, in the last eight years. so, also, there are lot of misunderstanding, that i wanted to tackle. i must say, it will not do if you are a conservative and argue that, well you know progressives have always been this way. this is as response i have got own twitter, and a lot of people will come back. what's new? they've always been intolerants. >> i don't think that they have, they have held


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