tv Q A CSPAN May 21, 2012 6:00am-7:00am EDT
>> this week on "q & a" part two with our discussion on robert caro as he discusses the "passage of power." "passage of power," your fourth book. why was he so concerned about the health of his family? >> a key element was his belief that he was going to die young. there was a saying that johnson's family all died young. his father died of heart failure. his favorite uncle died at the age of 57 of a massive heart attack.
the third uncle lived until 70. i forget. he also had heart trouble. johnson knows he resembles his father amazingly. putting their arms around you. he said i will be dead at 60. throughout his life he had a terrible rush to accomplish what he wanted. >> when was his first heart attack? >> 47, 1955. >> what impact did it have on him? >> it was a massive heart attack. the only gave him a 50% chance of living. i think that must have reinforced this feeling that he was going to die young, that he did not have much time.
>> how often were you in the same room with him? >> like once. the only time was in 1964. i was a substitute reporter and days. i went to new england. i never was close with him. i just followed him around. >> can you remember the first moment that the flash came to you that you wanted to study the power of lyndon b. johnson? >> not the moment, but i will take a second to say that i do not believe my books are biographies. write the life of a great man. what i am interested in is
exploring how political power worked an american in the second half of the 20th century. with robert moses, i tried to do urban political power, how political power works in all cities. half than anyone else. >> the moses book was 1974. >> correct. >> did you name the titles of>> sure. sometimes the titles of my books
come right out of the books. they come as i am writing them. my first publisher did not want "the power broker." i said that was the title. it did not come to a showdown. each title, it the whole thing is called "the years of lyndon johnson." the first volume is "the path to power" then "the means to ascent." >> what do you mean by the passage of power? >> i am glad you asked of that. the title of this book came at the end when i decided not to go on.
the passage from one president to another. time of great crisis, we learned a lot about the use of great power. >> i have read that you already written the last sentence of the last book. >> i'm going to redo the last sentence of each of the four books. "before the pain had faded on the billboards proclaiming his loyalty to franklin d, lyndon b had turned against him." >> i thought that has some of the lyndon johnson of that period of his life. he had to get ahead. he was roosevelt's protegee. as soon as roosevelt died and he realized it wants to move onto the senate, [unintelligible].
to be the most powerful majority been happy and now they were over. now he had left it." >> to me that is a very poignant sentence. happiest of their lives. born to be, roaming around the aisles, buttonholing people, getting things done, standing at the majority leader's desk, towering over the senate. man came running across the aisle. power.
jack kennedy understood things about history that i do not. you understand them. you have to stay with me. he changes in that way. he walks with dignity. if you watch him walk of the movements. it long enough. >> talk about marie and how valuable she was. i think i had three interviews with her. she came to work with lyndon
that. she said i was sorry to be doing it but it had to be done. she was a great admirer of lyndon johnson. she said she always tortured him. you can do it. of a woman's head. oath of the word to make sure he was doing it correctly. she was a great help to me. a lot of these people were amazing help.
his first call is to george. this is the night he gets back. more importantly comment a guy lyndon johnson could really count. he was a pragmatic center. he called the very same night to ask what the situation was. all you hear from lyndon johnson for quite some time is "uh-huh." then he starts to bring representatives. you say this is a genius at bending people to his will. >> here is an audio tape. >> it is difficult.
they're not going to do it. i have no dealings with the fbi any more. >> didn't he give you that report? >> yes, he sends them over about the department of justice. >> >> i just understand that he is planning and plotting things. >> he had not sent me a report. i just told him the other day i would like to have that report. and to be sure to send me a copy. i said sent the next one for me here. i asked if he said it to the attorney general and he said yes.
>> in any case, that is the problems. maybe the fbi could talk to the governor's office with him they have a liaison. maybe they had a car that would >> if you want to, i will do it. >> i hate to ask you to be dealing with someone who is working over there. why don't i call them and see? >> he has never indicated that to me.
conversation about civil-rights. it is our lead very simple. kennedy did not believe what lyndon johnson told him. robert kennedy, yet the two of them are working together. they are two men who want civil rights advancements. where power goes." when people are saying to him "don't take the vice presidency, right now you are a powerful majority leader. boasting.
he was a junior congressman. he got a position with real power. he was a whip in the senate. the majority leader did not have much power. he thought he could do the same thing with the vice presidency. fascinating move is. he tried to remain as the chairman of the democratic caucus even though he is in the
what he has done for him. as soon as the election is over, the realization comes to him that "i have no power now." he tries to make some on two tries remain the power in the senate. if he had done that, one of wanted to be vice-president and succeeded he would have been. all of a sudden, think what you would have done. of kennedy. at the same time, that fails. at the same time he submits this
letter to kennedy which asks for next to the president's and hishe thinks he's going to get win on both fronts. the senate is an example of this overreaching, where he is so desperate that he is not doing the smart thing like his aides the old lyndon johnson would would never have given power to he did not realize how tough he was.
needs a source and has a source. there are a lot of notes to do. as i am writing, my publisher says make sure you do the notes. we do not want to go through agony at the end. each time i have a notebook there. i think i am writing sources as i do them. in fact, there are all these blank spaces. when i get involved in writing, one of the things i forget about are the notes. i told them i would be done with the notes in two months. i think it took four months. >> i want your perspective on this. you write about lyndon johnson's mistress.
brings them up to you on your the hole in the boxes, the box on your desk. that is what happens. the boxes are brought up when you want to read them. >> this is an honor for me. for many years, i have been watching ted kennedy and the senate appeared in my last book, i wanted to write about the senate and its history and power. in order to get a feeling for the institution itself, i would sit week after week in the room trying to absorb how it worked. meant to america.
anything, he writes "no." sometimes he writes "no out." he said that meant he was never getting anything from lyndon johnson. >> that was when he was head of the congressional campaign decide how much money to give. what does it reveal? >> all power corrupts. i do not think that is always true. i think what is always true is that power reveals.
i know what i read in the new york times." parliamentarians of america and the 20th-century. this is a man to get things through congress that no one else could get through congress and they have not even consulted him on the bill or told him what is in it. the cuban missile crisis is a sorensen would tell me how frightened they were of what might happen if there was a similar crisis when lyndon johnson was president.
things which are quite were on the verge of nuclear war. cuba. we said we would attack. robert kennedy said something like open "can't we wait one more day?" president kennedy said something like "yes, we can wait one more day." and i wrote "so peace had one more day." what did ted sorensen say about >> in a word or two? contempt.
>> we have another idea tape. you may have heard this. jacqueline onassis kennedy, this tape would have been made in march or june 1964, talking about ted sorensen. sorensen keeps wanting people tolet's listen to this. it is hard to hear. [audio clip] >> i know one thing. it is interesting about tedlarry could not stand ted sorensen. larry would have prepared an agenda for the breakfast andwe
the man you write its or the man whose name is on the book?" the man who takes responsibility for it. it. in talking to me, it was always kennedy who is the author. that is all i can say. >> reading your books, there is a lot of back room nastyif you listen to these tapes, there are a lot of nasty comments of people.
meanwhile, she was sticking up for her husband and her husband country for him. what is the average american supposed to take when we learn all this? it is not very attractive. >> well, you know, as i say for myself on lyndon johnson, most outside of it. starting with robert moses. >> this is not so much to the sex as it is to the trust. you have the whole nasty individuals.
political power. i started doing these because i they vote. they have the power. the more they understand about how the political process really works, the better therefore our democracy would have to be. my books try to explain political power. kids reading paperbacks of the win an award or something, though they make you happy?
they do of course. >> you have dedicated your book how old are your grandkids? >> 23, 22, and 20. do they read the books? >> that is a bad question. every word several times. larry is going into politics. he has read every word. i think the others have read some of them. the years of lyndon johnson."
the fourth book is "passage of power." warrantwe thank you very much. >> thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] >> for a dvd copy, call 1-877- 662-7726. for free transcripts or to give this your comments about this program, visit us at www.q-and- a.org. "q & a" programs are also available as c-span podcasts. live today are receiving it, a at a lot easter in the small business the minister should rise small-business week with
the town hall meeting focused on impact of small-business owners. at noon, u.s. navy undersecretary robert worked his at the cato industry -- institute. at 2:00, remarks from former supreme court justice, justice stevens. justice stephen step down in 2010 after 35 years on the court. they did this afternoon, president obama will hold a news conference following two days of meetings at the nato summit in chicago. >> q is the light of this morning. at 7:45 eastern, the u.s.aid a minister will join us to talk about food programs. at 8:30, chairman of the latino coalition will talk about the critical issues impacting