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tv   Carl Hoffman Liars Circus  CSPAN  October 4, 2020 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT

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welcome. i directed. before moving on to the discussion of carl hoffman, a little bit of history. founded in 1927 by benjamin on fourth avenue's book row from union square until after over 93 years a sol soul survivor now ry third-generation. ...
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>> translated into nine languages. and a finalist for the competition and the edgar award. the lunatic express was one of the ten best books of the year by the wall street journal the ninth marks why are circus.
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nurser on the rachel maddow show and author of maddow law and those that appears in "the new york times" in washington monthly, the american prospect, salon.com and other publications. for his rachel maddow he has received two emmy awards nominated anymore. and his new put the imposters how they stopped governing please join me to welcome them to the stage. >> thank you. it is great to be here. i had a chance to read it last weekend it coincided with the rnc it was an interesting experience to watch and see the book at the same time that
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dovetailed with the book is a republicans are acting much employers basically the country and i picked up on the same kind of theme reading what people were saying to you at the rallies do you think those threats tie together? and if so what does that say about trump? >> clearly has thing is to meld and confuse the state with the man and if you don't support trump are either winner or loser in the world. and at the rallies that's really apparent it can go from the very first rally in
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minneapolis in october and i was struck by something that i think we saw at the convention this last week the idea even trump prepared a big to me he's a big man physically but he's up there on the stage and incredibly self-confident and he looks strong with this third world strongman and this while mob screaming for him and he grows and gets bigger and bigger and i was shocked that when i first saw it.
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and i'm not on his team but i thought that power and in the last three months or so now and four or five months has been on the ropes and on the background he doesn't have that screaming mob he's like a balloon with a big and it that screaming people that makes him big so we saw at the convention the re- inflation especially the last night. and to his followers, he is the state, for sure. the classics of authoritarian right wing populism. if you oppose him you are a traitor. all of those things come into play in a powerful way and are visible in the rallies and
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they speak to things you talk about in your book as well. >> during the covid crisis went on basically had to give up the rallies and then substitute them with the press briefings go there is a point almost every week day on weekends. >> yes and the line that the trust on - - the press briefing was the new rally but the crowd was a skeptical journalist so what inflates trump is thousands of people screaming for him management probably. there are so many things and a grown man that they will call
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out in the middle of the moment, i love you. but it speaks to the power that trump has. in the parking lot i spent about 52 hours in the parking lot tailgating for the to pull mississippi valley. and at one point there was a guy setting up the fencing this one in a pickup truck in a carhart suit and talking to the super and sue were out there. and we start talking to him and i would not have leave this if i hear it with my own ears, i love him so much i
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would walk behind him and pick up his poop. we left that but it serious there are tens of millions of people feel that way about trump and he speaks to them to articulate their distress. >> my was reading the book and in these points of view there were certain threads tying these people together. so the president just this week with the dark forces he took in the embrace of conspiracy theories is well-documented. but there is a mirror image at these rallies. is that the tie that binds the
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maintains the connection between a follower and a leader? >> i think i should say like at to blow the basis of my book like the super fans in a 170 hours into the parking lot i was the sixth in line at tupelo and then from then i was at ease with these people. rex noted his plan more trump rallies than anyone in pennsylvania was a 68 rally he was second in line with rick fraser. once i joined them they texted me and save my place in line and they would save mine.
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that's how all this came out. the thing is that people don't read the news. it's hard to pinpoint the chicken and the egg the title of the book is upside down world when they live in this upside down world everything is a conspiracy theory they say where do you get your news they say they do their own investigation and their own research which is the worst in the world because they get all the social media from facebook and better and a lot of people don't even watch fox news or american news now and they
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live in this world in which everything is a conspiracy that they are all in the same upside down world. literally and culturally at the probably this quiet music playing and the biggest song that gets people to go the wildest is the village people ymca but there are thousands of evangelicals in right before plants comes out literally ymca and they are singing in the next person who comes out is vice president
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pence who says being gay is a sin. this is the world and it is always reinforcing itself and it speaks to me talk about in your book in the post policy world where policy itself, there is no policy and i would say to you, you, is trump a natural outgrowth - - and outgrowth of this world? host: so how do they respond to the failures governance i coronavirus you would emphasize we prioritize but
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it's almost as if they are not even aware of their failures. >> it's not almost as if. which says about the ukraine call it was the perfect call. f you talk about it now but in those days during the impeachment that is an easy example to the call people think it is a perfect call okay back up. there is a jumbotron a giant screen set up in the parking lot of the rally. it goes on around seven or 730 in the morning on the day of the rally. it is on an hour long loop and goes and goes and goes. all the things are said there
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but just want a big clear word that stood out the campaign manager saying the biggest threat to american democracy is fake news. that is hammered home over and over and over again. we see that him saying it but those in the tens of millions "washington post" and "the new york times" make up the news. it is fake news and is not true and that his response to the coronavirus was great and competent and everything trump does it is amazing. that they think.
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>> one of those that convey that in the abstract and they believe that because they said it and to read the book and to get into the weeds of those perspectives it seems like it's impossible to permeate if they convey to those attendees what is true makes out literally impossible. >> yes. you cannot argue with a conspiracy theory. i thought going into this that i will be having these long substantive conversations hanging out with them with long periods of time we could have several interesting conversations about the merits of the government and small government and that is true to
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be him possible you can have a conversation with somebody who believes michelle obama or hillary clinton i like her she seems very normal and traveled to india and seems like a sophisticated person and i said to her what really gets me is that conspiracy theories. i don't know what to do with that. she said i don't have 99 friends at committed suicide. do you? but then i realize she's talking about the clintons and hillary and the clintons murdered all these people. she said to me i believe we would kill to win.
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absolutely that is not fringe. that is a constant and it goes deep everyone in the base i hate to say it and it is true with a little fantasy world. >> this came with her to me like the issue of race. with this fascinating anecdote and he said some pretty disgusting things and it got me thinking a lot if they consider themselves racist is it trumps racism that fuels
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that affinity or do they just call that such ugliness. >> racism and religion are a huge part in those ideas of masculinity are the most colorful dreads and that is probably the first thing the person will say to you is, i know a lot of nice people and i hung out with people that were kind to me the first thing they say everybody accuses us of being a racist. i'm not a racist. no we are not racist. what they mean by that is kkk racist running the night ride or something. but the idea of systemic racism and the rally is 22000
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people with 200 part people there and the campaign will gather them together in perfect t-shirts on them and set them behind the president so the cameras can see them. everything is race. everything is driving a wedge of the phobia and racism they don't admit it and they don't want to confront it they don't believe they are racist why should be held liable for something 200 years ago? it is a crazy world. but let's talk about the imposters because that's the
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point there is a wine in your book there is no truth and how do we discuss and make decisions? there are so many places where they come together, talk about that a little bit. >> it's true what i document in the book or a series of conversations barack obama has at the white house with congressional public and can leaders on any issue so to try to appeal to their intellect and rollout testimonials and the experts in the thinking was if we could just get through to republicans from their you are convinced a consensus for he can make a compromise and govern in the back to a first policy fights
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but he was making the arguments to them as if they are members of the governing party when they are not. to be alone and unnecessary they are pendants caring about ideology and elections they are not interested in governing and in all likelihood it is like the rallies you attended because that is part and parcel of the same they are not necessarily concerned the best way with the partisan political agenda but that's all they are interested in that the convention the gop panned the substantive policy and then the convention was launched with no platform.
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>> and also segues into the idea that trump escaped. >> the republican party from the 1850 every four years since then they have a policy agenda and a superficial way about governing nursing the government and to evaluate their marriage in 2020 for the first time now we care about is clarifying trump whatever he says as a platform i that they would rehash the 2016 platform but they didn't even bother they are doing my point you don't really need a policy because whatever trump is or
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says, he is the policy. >> that's the policy if he doesn't care about governing than the party doesn't so in some respects if you like this was an embarrassment this is the party has a rich tradition caring about ideas and conservative solutions to problems they link their credibility on fire to say we might even pretend to be a governing party anymore. >> however stories like your examples (-left-parenthesis cain to say he would not allow anything longer than three pages and if elected president would not allow law or policy
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paper longer than three pages. that is such and example of such disdain of the complexity and expertise and was inherent in government. >> saying he couldn't be bothered with complexity and like a nasa scientist for working on landing from the lunar module three pages that's it. these things take time for people of goodwill to care about those substantive details and to say none of that matters we want something on a bumper sticker and that
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seats on - - that's it because the alternative is hard work , the web that resonated with you. >> were to recognize that there is a novel virus out there that could kill you and herman cai cain, he went to the valley and did not wear a mask and is no longer with us. it is crazy also june 2017 face time ceremony about privatizing traffic control. >> that's just a part of government in a normal administration there would write their signature and hand out the pendants something they enjoy doing but over the last several years because
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republicans are so indifferent so he has to make up his own signing ceremony. it will be a big deal and a lot of fun with the new transportation policy they lined up behind them because he was and sure enough to smile for the cameras than the policies to say were not privatizing the faa it was all for show. >> it is all a statics one of the most amazing things talking about three quarters into his speech talking about healthcare and we will never
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take away your healthcare and get rid of the existing conditions when the gop is trying to get care of the desk to rid of the affordable care act central policy is making sure pre-existing conditions are covered. >> on the one hand it is blazingly dishonest and not people realize the administration whether he knows that are not that's what's happening and how this capacity is ally it is extraordinary but tying directly with the thesis of my book the global characters
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being legislated participating in any meaningful way was it became law with every possible opportunity then they put together this ridiculous bill that ultimately failed because it was so wildly unpopular and ultimately did not work that they are so deeply concerned about healthcare and they see the scourge on society they have an opportunity to do something about it they did not know how they atrophied to such a point they could not pursue their own goals in which they could have. >> so let's say that trump loses, knock on wood what happens to the gop? how can the gop be anything
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but's policy? without addressing issues that strike at the very heart of the gop has a post for so long? where can he go? it seems he is painted into a corner. >> you are absolutely right. avenue policy agenda were governing parities they don't know how these ideas are in practice but in general science tell us parties change voters tell them they have to do they figure if the goal is to win elections then everything is fine. but when they start losing then it changes have to say we are defeated at the ballot box
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so that expectation is a part of this in the 2020 elections i think they will it will be a reckoning moment and they will have to decide what kind of party will it be? what kind of agenda what kind of solutions? with that with as opposed policy party isn't working in a meaningful way and every policy issue what do we do about it? the problem. >> i love your optimism. [laughter] but it's like you are being obama talking policy the root
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of so much of this government is the problem and government needs to be cut and that's the problem and the thing that makes government work, is what they are subverting. i don't know what happens. >> republican opposition to a large federal government is not new. and the joke and i am here to help. so when we look back at the reagan era to be a governing body and when they tackle tax reform in 1986 and they took the process seriously with intense scrutiny lasting weeks and months for nearly a year
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and took the process seriously because of the details. despite the fact a conservative party against governing or government and could take the process seriously enough to pursue something worthwhile. it's a different party but to be skeptical is not in and of itself it doesn't have to be opposed policy party of where it is skeptical of big government itself they used to be able to but now they are not. >> when i was in the rallies i had a feeling that the trump rally and everything trump and having read your book that
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illuminates all the more this style or. 's policy governing the difference between a boxing match and a professional wrestling match two guys could go out on - - could go at it no knockout solar somebody wins on point like a wrestling match jumping off the ropes and hitting each other with the chairs and the best in the gop right now because it is so much more.
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>> the boring long site where there is no knockout and no blood. >> i do like this metaphor it is theatrical and scripted and intended to be entertaining there is a sense governing is fine and nothing to be gained from it doesn't make for sexy headlines on fox news. >> what really surprised me in your book is you say a lot of policy staff has been reduced with a great increase in pr. >> i'm glad you mentioned that because with 20 years of this in 2009 was a young congressman from indiana named mike pence he may have of his now the vice president. let's not worry about hiring
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staffers and get us on television and talk radio. car to check but in 2006 my hope is and then to be focused on the media that helps to set the stage over the course of the obama era to become less engaged on policymaking and hiring fewer policymaking staff and then to take advantage of the dynamic. >> what is chicken and what is egg? with donald trump for a national outgrowth is he just
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sort of taking advantage of this and he is just trump? >> from my perspective he is the natural outgrowth of the party that stops caring in 2009 and is able to land on fertile soil so to give up so completely on the substance of policy basically saying that he was to be the personification that it doesn't matter what matters is the rally and fan and exciting and theatrical so he could take advantage of this opportunity but by then it was too late they were slowly
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taking over the party before party knew what was going on. >> among so many that would be over at the rallies was the way in which trump, wherever he was ted cruz, rick perry , secretary of state and though full gop texas delegation doesn't matter if it's kentucky or mississippi or whatever the first of all i was surprised they would be there and so many of them and then to take those people in the middle of the speech and then pause and then introduce them by telling a story come
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always a story of how he beat them like ted cruz how he was a debate champion of princeton and harvard and donald was just a working-class guy from queens never on a debate. and yet they debated ted cruz and question him and humiliated him and cruises literally below time on - - donald trump at the time 42000 people laughing and screaming. and so i have a sense when you talk about the party as a whole the rallies are all
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about power and a mechanism by which he gained rules people in front of the crowd and says i can give those to you. i give you 22000 people that i can take it away also. and then to reach a crescendo in new hampshire without the last rally there were so many people. with this memory with the description of the court and then just trying to think back on the gop as a whole is now pushing them back even into the place serve fantasy and make-believe.
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>> i started to interrupt but i was fascinated. we have 15 minutes left and went to make sure we have time for audience q&a. so the first one from sarah. >> what will happen to people's primary goal tied to a particular person if they are no longer the leader? to the redirect to a new leader or go somewhere else? so it becomes a no space showed biden win? >> that is the million-dollar question. i know. what happens? you have all these people and if trump loses come i see the right-wing ecosphere from fox news to those people want to
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aching them on, then to say this is a conspiracy i see that going away. i don't know. >> i agree with that. of course it's hard to be optimistic when we realize we don't know what they will go. if it's any less conservative than those that they embrace enthusiastically in recent years and the consequence of that is much more difficult for the current post policy status and from that structure they have no sense of how to do that in the absence of their leader and it's cause for concern. >> you cannot talk about
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something if we both agree on that is think of a pound is 28 what can you do? i don't know. >> so then the follow-up question so what would happen if trump would win and his pace gives free reign to his authoritarian impulses. >> that's a great question with an equally good answer the problems we see over the last four years is the party is no longer governing the problems that need addressing are not being solved it will be magnified is not as like they will look at a victory as an opportunity to reform and
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then it will become worse and more intense word he agree? >> yes. as a fundamental urge to authoritarianism and is not a man who knows history or the constitution where the believe any of those when you watch him and the rally that's for my book is all about is this big forceful personality who has to kill to survive and the most loyal subject is a dead subject and that's a metaphor he's not killing them literally but he has to win
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and triumph and you see that in the post office the ballots. he doesn't want to lose it is fundamentally impossible for him to lose so for years unleashed? there are no guardrails it's a very frightening place. >> you are right to be preoccupied but it's not because it is the agenda for the next four years at the list of things he wants to accomplish that these governing goals to implement the country.
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>> a typical president running for reelection talking about the things they are eager to do with another four years we are not doing any of that because he doesn't care which is the central thesis behind my book. >> it is illuminating everyone should read it. >> as a follow-up question the next question would say outside of a pandemic would you recommend are the first step the biden administration takes to address the erosion of government the past years? >> the first thing that came out of my mind was a personnel change donald trump has been in a position where he and his team to change the nature of
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our government works and those who are not qualified to be there because of the professional background they don't know what they are doing in their action for trump but they are not in a position to be there once he is gone so one of bidens challenges is to overhaul the federal agencies and cabinet agencies that are responsible for governing to put into positions with that evidence and data it's not just a question of those issues to be addressing but the governmental structure to be in position to deal with those issues. one of the first challenges is a personnel challenge and in the way people and putting them in the position. >> i think it speaks to the
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earlier questions because he cannot control it and wish it away it exposes the smoke and mirrors and the upside down world were biden to become elected so returned to some competence and then quickly people see that and the economy gets better because :-colon it is addressed. and in a competent way.
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the changes that a little bit. i know. >> do democrats play a role to allow them to sit on - - sustained from government are they fighting the objective? >> democrats are in a difficult position because they are not just offering different answers but asking different kinds of questions. there is no real common ground to build on so when they negotiate the speak the language of governing with data and of on - - and expertise so that consequence
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they are not able to communicate necessarily because they communicate and that disconnect causes a breakdown i wish they were in the position to do something about that. here are the facts. join us in reality. they don't care because they are not a governing party right now. so at this point there is nothing they can do responsibly to bring them back to relevancy. >> from my perspective having hung out and spent a lot of time with people with white
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working-class men and women. that the democrats need to talk to them and biden needs to speak to them and their anxiety. they have genuine anxiety you are up against the white working-class people have a lot of privilege in a lot of ways and have taken that for granted and that has slipped away in a lot of ways. that is not the fault and i feel like anyone is addressing it. but that's another issue.
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and then to say i will make the world great again. and white again and so that you can make a good living with your hands with those smart chinese people and brazilians who are working every bit as hard as americans. they have to address that i haven't seen it happen. >> so on that note if they were to look at the base of the democrats and publicans?
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>> it is terrible the way things are right now i'm trying to be on your a lot some guy called me a marxist sock puppet the other day just the vitriolic is intense so everything unites us we love our children and women for families sitting around in the evenings with her friends we have hopes and dreams and aspirations. this is the first book i have ever done about america and americans. my last book the last nomad in the middle of borneo then i spent months in a swamp with former headhunters. the reason they do that is because we're all the same. in the end, we have all of
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these commonalities and the reason i can hang out with such people i liked them we became friends we can talk about politics. and somehow that is the nature of social media and the right wing ecosphere that has driven this and it has a plan helped by russia and all those things that have driven this pledge and trump is the great divider if you try to unite everyone he would collapse. so the reality is he has everything in common and more in common than not it's a matter of people refocusing on that and exhaling a little bit
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and being able to have conversations and to hold their trump neighbors. >> i agree with all that enthusiastically if you would ask 1000 americans he wants a broad consensus of affordable healthcare clean air and clean water, despite the political division we all want the same kinds of stuff a great deal in common that they disagree with they want the same things the same benefits they disagree on how to get there that tie back into governance and policymaking but in terms of priorities there's a lot more we agreed than disagree. >> on this total ground i think that's why biden has a chance because he is a generic figure or perceived as this
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figure in which people can rally and because so many people believe in the same things with values. >> unfortunately we only have time for one last question. where you think america will be in five years? >> i am and each kernel optimist. i think that in five years we will be in a better place and coronavirus be in the past and the economy is stronger than it is now. i want to believe there will be a window of opportunity and
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we will slowly but surely move in that direction tell me how wrong i am. >> i know. where we are in five years depends on what happens in november. the two choices represent starkly different paths. deeply, starkly different. >> thank you both so much for fascinating conversation your books are available for sale by a drop the link into the chat. >> let me say one thing. i'm a little embarrassed to say this, by the books. that's why they are here.
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that's how we make our living or that's how i make my living. i get paid to do this it is all selling books. please buy the books for your friends and relatives and thank you so much for coming thank you to the strand and steve. >> thank you. >> on that note thank you and have a good night. >> i am reading two books leadership by doris kearns goodwin getting into the leadership style of four of our presidents the two roosevelts lincoln and johnson also the order by daniel silva. >> which are you reading in the future and why? >> a move toward historical types of books on leadership empirical with a historical
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perspective. i don't have any titles in mind right now but i like to read nonfiction and that is what i will stick with. >> how do you select the books that you read? >> a couple of ways. sometimes i get suggestions from friends. used to be in a book club and i will get their selections and that. and then i read the book review sections of the newspapers to see what is good and considered page turning so i try to mix it up. >> do you share books with colleagues and friends? >> absolutely. books and ideas a good friend of mine is an avid reader and i asked the other day he mentioned the silver book and so far that has not disappointed. >> what books have meant the most you throw your lifetime
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quick. >> that's a really hard question. as a young girl those that meant a lot to me and then to kill a mockingbird made a big impression on me in school everything i know i learned in kindergarten i have a biography about my dad because they learned about him at the same time. those are meaningful books i'm sure i will have more in my future. >> when and where do you read? >> usually in my den and in my family room surrounded by my family and before i go to bed if i'm on it i will read on an airplane or at my destination. i read a lot of current events and newspaper and things of that nature but generally in the evening hours is when i read . . . . his thoughts on prt
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trump's agenda and america's future. he is interviewed by victor davis hanson, author and hoover institution senior fellow. >> "after words" is a program with relevant guest hosts interviewing top nonfiction authors about their latest work. all "after words" programs are also available as podcasts. >> host: lour

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