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tv   Q A  CSPAN  May 21, 2012 6:00am-7:00am EDT

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>> 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.
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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.
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>> 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
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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
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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.
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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].
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it sums up the book. >> last sentence "by 1955, lyndon johnson was the most powerful majority leader in history." that is summing up what is to come. the last chapter he is trying for power, trying to get to the
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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.
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president. he is going to leave the left it. >> this volume right now, the held in check these forces within him, had conquered himself for a while, he was noti say in this book you have a lyndon johnson who before these 47 days after the assassination was a certain type of man.
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bullying, ruthless, conniving. make the country know they have who gave me a brilliant insight. she said his very physical movements change on the plane. it is like he always shambled, suddenly he is walking themselves.
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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
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johnson in 1962 when i believe she was a secretary who was very close to johnson. because she was a good observer. to me, i do not care -- all ishe was in dallas after the assassination. she is on the plane. sometimes she said things enough really to make you cry.
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she describes, if i misquote, i do not have the book, she has to get the oath. was when he first learned about his brother being shot. the swimming pool at hickory hill, his estate. attorney. they see a workman, this is a big house been repainted, they
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transistor radio. lawn where they are sitting. at that very moment before theit is j. edgar hoover saying that his brother has been shot, perhaps fatally. emotion at all. after he was shot?
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in taxes or wait until i get willhe's not really asking. taxes and for robert kennedy to agree it is the best course. when will will after he learned his brother's death, the man he hates is now lure the oath. i said, how was his voice? she said, like steel, controlled.
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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.
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to the left is jack brooks. he is headed the judiciary committee. >> yes. i know he was helpful. go ahead way ahead of the plan? it was supposed to be 50 years after his death. >> how helpful are they? >> to me they are amazing.
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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.
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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.
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you or the department. every three or four days, he gets eight or 10 of them a day. people are talking. as far as i know, they have not involved you. that is narrow. he never said that. he never gave any indication of that.
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>> 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.
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>> it is a very difficult situation for everybody here now. we will all get through. >> how could that happen? how good the attorney general not be able to tell the fbi director what to do? character personality plays in
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he could call them at any time. johnson. i found my reaction to johnson, i've never seen a reports on you. lies all the time. he lies even when he does not have to. hoover was very close to johnson. here we have two man on a
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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.
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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
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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
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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.
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he gives this memo to kennedy. kennedy handled it by utterly ignoring it. he was very cool about it. johnson loses sales. power is where power goes. >> let me ask about something something before this book? this book? i think four months at least. >> how do you do the note? when do you do them?
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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.
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we recently had this but about did you look into that? >> what aspect does power play in this relationship that is married men with families, they behind the scenes we are reading going on? with regard to lyndon johnson. people. however, it was not necessary because it is just meaningless
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in his life than sex. about alice glass and helen, but alice glass i had to write at length about. i do not think the johnson people have ever really forgiven me. he always was driving down to virginia. he brought her.
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they toured england. she saw a mansion there. she liked it. virginia country. hostess in a liberal circle. when johnson comes toalice glass taught him to wear french cuffs so his wrists would not stick out. there are times where he takes her advice above all other advice.
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are only allowed one phone call. franklin roosevelt has said if you need any advice, you can call the white house, me. johnson has one call to make to decide whether to run for the and her advice.
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supporter, herman brown, a breaking feud which would have financed lyndon's rise. they had really clashed overshe was very beautiful. they say she was the most lyndon johnson without giving>> are you still going to vietnam? >> do you have a planned time? >> let me get through this book tour.
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years. including a document during at never conceived of writing books political power. i was covering politics. i found that does not really whenever you pay the toll on any bridge within the boundaries of moses.
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he wanted. leader, he ran the senate as noduring the last two years, he appropriated this office. you were not even supposed to speak the first year. the assistant leader of his party. majority leader. then he set out to pass the first civil rights bill since this. this is what i saw.
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life, well not the only moment, when i felt like quitting. i was overwhelmed. the papers of the lyndon baines johnson, the 36th president of the united states. when you want to do research in the boxes, you sit in this room the boxes that you want. an archivist goes down and
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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.
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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.
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case of lyndon johnson. power does not always corrupt. they can cleanse. moving the senate. they had the representatives. you see it within my first book. >> talking about four books,
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were you the maddest? number of times. >> and why? follow some of johnson's methods things he did to get campus blackmailing a student. it is disgusting. in the second volume, you see,
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the second book is about a stolen election. america. election and you see the negative campaigning, you get angry. johnson becomes senator. he has been put there by the does. when johnson comes over into the another person that you're
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of? process. >> he has a lot of temper.
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some of the johnson people would not talk to me. they came around and werehe was always attacking me. i thought his attacks were really unfair. at the end. different circumstances that he found himself in as vicehow was he treated by john kennedy?
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johnson? the bay of pigs. that whole weekend, he is sent by kennedy to introduce the german chancellor a round texas to the legislature. about it, probably he never knew there was a planned invasion. comment. finally ted sorensen calls to get advice.
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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.
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he is telling about something johnson said. he said "a chill went through the room." we see both the kennedy brothers in the most moving way fighting into war. but they have agreed that if the would attack.
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hands the cia director that a everyone says we said we attack. jack kennedy says let's take a break and go for dinner and we can talk about it later. it is one of the great dramatic moments.
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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.
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>> 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
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will see that heavy hand in more places. on so many things. everyone. >> he is a better in the white house? person. he had such a crush on jack. he would dare to call him jack. he would blush. he knew he was not quite that
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way. he went into resentment. he was very mixed up. i never saw him at in the white house. [end audio clip] >> i guess you can conclude that she did not like him. conclude from this. because one of the things that to understand that he did not write profiles. sh correct.
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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.
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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.
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it is tough. johnson. any were not. they made the kennedy people call lyndon johnson "rufus" and "uncle cornpone" on the rare occasion that lyndon ethel would put him at the losers table.
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it is hard to believe two of the coming up. they ignore him. and walked away. united states." the other one basically says, i cannot say it. you'd have to bleep it out. stock. any aspect?
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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?
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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."
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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
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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

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