tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN December 30, 2014 3:00am-5:01am EST
triumph. i remember watching all this and thinking maybe i should have gone to harvard. it was not possible, of course because i was being raised at a time and place when we thought bramin was a bull in a rodeo. although i'm the brokaw family tree there was an -- there was no crowning shield. so it's the end of his life and the end of the days we spent together. for me it was just enough to know him, and to love him. and to his family i want to say we share your sorrow, we also share your pride. and we are the common stewards of all that ben was and his love his heart for journalism, his style, his character, and as i came to know when i wrote about his war experiences with him, his deep love of his
country. >> ben matter my mother tony. by 1960 there was a huge pileup of seven kids in the georgetown house and ben was at the center of this vortex with his ruthless teasing and his amazing told ends for helping out with homework. at 6:00 p.m. sharp he'd whistle through the front door and the whole household would rush to meet him like filings to a magnet. the poem i'm going to read is ben's favorite. we think he may have first heard
this laying flat on his back at age 14, paralyzed by polio. the people is by william earnest henley and his last line was on spoken to us in the family. either as an exhortation or as an, about sun he admired like the plumber fixing the sink. ben was stopped in his tracks by anyone who had authentic dignity, who was the captain of his soul. out night that covers me, black is the pit from pole to pole. i thank whatever god may be, for my unconquerable soul. in the fell clutch of circumstance, i have not winced nor cried aloud. under the bludgeonings of chance
my head is bloody but unbowed. beyond this place of wrath and tears looms by the horror of the shade, and yet the menace of the years finds and shall find me unafraid. it matters not how straight the gait, how charged with punishment the scroll, i am the master of my fate, i am the captain of my soul.
my first memory of my father is a bit on the traumatic side. it was in june of 1951 when i was not quite 3 years old and he threw me in a swimming pool out of the blue, thinking he'd give me a leg up on learning how to swim. there were no floaties in those days. and of course i was thrashing around gulping for air. after watching me for a while dad hopped in the pool and casually scooped me up amused, as i recall, by the entire scene. it was an act of tough love, i think. ( laughter ) this happened aboard the ocean liner s.s. america as we sailed from new york to paris where dad was embarking on a new career as press attache at the american embassy him four years later my
parse were divorced and my mother and i returned to the u.s. and settled in boston. dad came back to washington as bureau chief from news week and joined the post in 1965. he remarried, and i began a routine of coming down to d.c. for visits, mostly in the summer, where i would often stay for several weeks at a time, hanging out with his new wife's four children, from her first marriage. these were my new step brother and three step sisters, the pittmans. i didn't see all that much of dad during this period, because like many men of his generation he was consumed by making his bones professionally. he worked long hours, well into the night. i was never the story then. but in the ensuing years after i graduated from college, dad made up for the long absences when i was young, and we reconnected, making up for lost time.
in 1971, when i was in the peace corps in afghanistan, he flew to the other side of the world to visit me. and when my first child was born on a cold january day a decade later in 1981, he came up to boston and delighted in holding young greta bradlee in his articles and he pointed out what he claimed were various bradlee features on the face of his first grandchild. not long after that i took greta to washington for a visit with my wife at the time, martha rad at who is here with me today. dad wanted me to go on a personal tour of the monuments and ben wanted to push the stroller. at one point people looked over and smiled and dad turned to martha and said ha, you know what they're thinking, that i'm the father of the baby and a dirty old man. ( laughter ) but he stared right back at them
with a big smile of his own quite content to leave tim possession that he was still perfectly capable of fathering that child, thank you very much. a lot of the way dad and i related centered around the newspaper business, because we had that in common. he never urged me to become a reporter and i certainly had no conscious desire to follow up. but when i was in the peace corps my supervisor wasry a tired editor in riverside california, he said journal imwas a lot of fun and offered to put in a good word for me. i thought living in california would be new and different so out i went. it was december of 1972, just six months after watergate. but the most was making its mark by then and i was perceived by some in this california newsroom to be a political appointee of sorts. one female reporter who became a good friend told me later when
she saw me that first day, she whispered to her neighbor, he's cute, but can he type. ( laughter ) yes, i could type, and i made sure i worked harder than most. so soon people forgot my last name was bradlee. eventually i landed back in my home town of boston at the boston globe where i worked for 25 years as a reporter and editor. boston was of course dad's home town too and although the city is vastly different from what it was when he grew up there, he thought it was still too parochial and continued to view it through the prism of the ancient tribal wars between the bramins and the irish. so my father, the bramin would laugh and say hey, ben, how are the harps treating you much we would tease each other with affection. once when i had to have minor surgery to get rid of a painful
kidney stone that wouldn't pass and i was worried about it, he thought i was too worried. so by way of trying to calm me down, he asked, there's not going to be any press in the operating room covering it, are there? as his prominence and legend grew, dad would profess to be worried about becoming the first celebrity editor because of the journalistic credo that reporters should always just cover the news, never be part of it. but the truth is he loved being a celebrity. he owned three big houses that were featured in architectural digest or house and garden magazines. sally quinn may have arrange forward those spreads, but dad secretly liked them too. he was not introspective in the least. he felt guilt about certain aspects of his life, but he didn't dwell long, if at all on personal failure or search for wise and wherefores. as as defend remnick once wrote
dad gave the lie to socrates' idea that the unexamined life is not worth living. ( laughter ) as is well-known he was profane and colorfully so. he would sprinkle off color language into his every day speech and into his writing as well. this wasn't gratuitous wearing just the natural way he expressed himself, a style which even those with more delicate sensibilities grew to accept and even enjoy. this is where i planned to tell my favorite story but david ignatius scooped me, so i'll move on. dad thought journalism should be fun. the real spiel i have for you is to have a good time while you're in your jobs, he told graduates of the columbia journalism school in 2007, have a good time. the newspaper will be great if you're having a good time. and style, like the post section
he named, was important to dad. he liked thoughs who had it, and of course brought it by sally to pick up his game in the fashion department, he had it himself with those turnbull and asher shirt. i'm wearing one of his shirts in his honor today, and a tie too. but i know full well they don't look nearly as good on me as they did on him. he lived a full life, and he was a man in full. he founded what he wanted professionally early on, but not personally until he found sally quinn. sally, you really may him happy. thank you. i spent a week with dad before he died, and i'm glad i got to have that time with him at the end. when he could still talk, i asked him if he was ready to check out. he thought for a minute and said not yet but he was thinking about it. then he reached out to take my hand and told me he loved me.
i loved him too. >> i am the son of ben bradlee and sally quinn, and my full name is joe see aquinn crowningshield bradlee. a lot of people have been talking about my father as a legend and a lion and a giant. and i have to agree. he was a huge, huge man, but for me dad was majestic because he was the simplest man i ever met, and because he was such a good father he thought me that if do you the little things well and treat everyone with respect, it can take you so much further than you ever anticipated. my father was the happiest man i ever met.
i grew up with him telling me that my happiness made him happy. he never complained about anything. clap your hands if you feel like a room without a roof. clap your hands if you think happiness is a truth. when i hear these lines from the hit song happy, i smile and think of dad. a room without a roof. that was my father. everyone who ever met him wanted more of him, they wanted to be his best friend. they wanted to please him. they all reacted the same way. even though he had -- my father was the most courageous man i ever met. just be there for your kid might not seem hugely courageous but being with me, especially at the beginning of my life, was a courageous act.
he could have said no, i can't do this, but my dad always loved an underdog. maybe this started with the redskins. and he always was rooting for me in part because he saw that i struggled more than most people to get by every day. he taught me that hardship actually makes a life more interesting, and makes the happy times happier. he was supporting me and teaching me and reassuring me until his last breath. my father was the wisest man i ever met. much of what i've learned about life i learned from working in the woods with dad. we didn't speak that much in the woods, we talked through body language. and he had the most piercing eyes, x ray eyes, i could see his eyes across an open field watching what i was doing. never made me feel that he was
disappointed with me, but he always showed me how to do things better. he taught me that to keep -- before cutting down a tree you must study it, see which way it is leaning, where you want it to fall. he taught me how to trust another person in the field. once the work is done, it's a small accomplishment, but there's a big payoff. you are taking care of a place you love. for me taking care of a place you love alongside a person you love is about as good as it gets. as time passes, i am realizing that there are areas in life that you need to tend in the same way dad and i used to tend our fields. my father was the most --
he would never brag. he didn't need to build himself up. i remember someone asking about the crowningshield name, specifically benjamin williams crowningshield who was the secretary of the navy. he had been the worst secretary of the navy in history. my father had the deepest voice the broadest chest and the loudest heart of any man i ever met. i used to put my head on his chest as a kid his heart would beat so loud. i would have to put my head over
to the right side of his chest. your heart is still beating, boy tell him, and he would love. he the biggest mart of anyone i ever met. people talk a lot about his colorful language. but in my opinion, he also had the most colorful heart. because he was warm, people of all races, all walks of life, he could identify with anyone he treated all people equally. finally, my father was the strongest man i ever met. the last day he was able to speak he could barely keep his eyes open. later that day he was lying on his left side, and i laid down
behind him. he lifted his head just barely and looked over his shoulder and said i got a good feeling about you. i love you. those were his last words to me. losing him has been hard. but has already made me stronger. and as something inside me -- i used to be someone others had to take care of, but now i feel ready to take care of others. i will take care of my mom. those piercing eyes of his again, he did not need to say anything. i can't see him any more.
i can't hear him, but i get the message, hey buddy, it's your turn get it right, kid. i would like to wend a poem that came to me as dad was dying i'm no poet, but sometimes i get the urge to play with words. the lights are down, but not off. the world goes silent. the passage is gentle, not violent. where he is now, no longer part of life stages, inside our hearts may ache and burn outside the world continues to turn. he lives, he loved, he laughed. we should all strive to take hit past. to take his path.
second letter of timothy was his favorite biblical passage. as for me, i am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. i have fought the good fight. i have finished the race. i have kept the faith. from now on, there is reserve for me the crown of righteousness, which the lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day. and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. keep the faith my friends the word of the lord. >> praise be to god.
>> i cannot hope to add to the moving chorus of remembrance and praise that we have heard this morning in memory of ben bradlee. the range and depth of the remarks offered show the extent to which the nation and the world and his family and his friends loved, admired and valued this remarkable man. in the role of preacher there is not a lot that i can add to these tributes. but because i am a preacher it falls to me to say a brief word about what christian faith proclaims in regard to such a long and blessed and accomplished life. we heard three read prosecution scripture today. we her the words of eccelieases
telling us that there is a season and a time for everything. we heard from the 23rd psalm, the assurance of god's presence with us as we make our way through life, which that psalm calls the valley of the shadow of death. we heard paul's famous discourse to the core inthink ans on the nature and purpose of love. each one of these passages remind us of the final assurance of biblical religion. judeaism and christianity to be sure but islam also. that final assurance is that human beings matter. that our lives and our experiences, our joys and struggles all are written on the heart of the one at the center of creation. as i listen to these readings, though, a single phrase in them caught me, near the end of paul's words on love, we heard
him say this. for now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face. now i know in part, then i will know fully, even as i have been known. most of us gathered in this room today are knowing worldly types. and we live our lives thinking that we know what's really going on. but paul suggests a deeper mystery about human experience. in our earthly state we see only through a glass darkly. we know the part, but not the whole. our day-to-day lives are spent focused on the claims that tell us that they are urgent. we do not normally attend to the things that really matter. so, we do see through a glass
darkly. but every once in a while a person appears among us who allows us to see things more clearly. in the dim light of day-to-day life we don't see very well at all, but then people come along not very often, but just enough, to point us toward what really counts. these people are not usually conventionally pious but they help us see things from god's point of view. they point us towards justice they point us towards compassion they point us towards truth. they point us towards the sheer exuberance of being alive. of the breadth and depth of human existence in all of its possibilities. now, without trying to sound sentimental in a way that he would have found painful, i want to suggest that ben bradlee was one of these people.
in his professional life in his family life, in his friendships in his role as a public figure and citizen. ben bradlee's work and values and commitments helped us see through the dim darkness of our present moment, into a glimpse of what life is finally all about. for people of faith, the final truth about life and god and the universe and every one of us is embodied in the word love. love is agented out in relationships as affection, and in our social relationships as justice. when we see through that dark glass, we see a universe whose power and violence and selfishness will always give way to love and justice and hope. in his poem, blizzard of one the great american poet and former poet laureate mark strand
says this. he says, from the shadow of domes in the city of domes, a snow flake, a blizzard of one weightless, entered your room and made its way to the arm of the chair where you looking up from your book saw it the moment it landed. that's all there was to it. when i heard of ben bradlee's passing i thought immediately of this poem. not only because it enacts an experience of plain spoken grace in an every day moment, but i thought of it because frankly ben bradlee was a blizzard of one. a single human being, like a snow flake precious in his uniqueness, who went through life generating the energy of a snowstorm. a human blizzard of of life and love and work, and energy, and charm.
i thank god for making and redeeming and sustaining a universe in which love and justice and compassion are finally the things that matter. and i thank god for sending us messengers who help us see through the dark glass of life into the aluminum i us in otherwise -- owe the to the truth of the universe. i thank god that our public and spiritual lives are knit together in a single con tin you us fabric of love and justice and hope. in other words, i thank god for ben bradlee. amen.
lazarus, your friend. comfort us in our sorrow. you raised the dead to life give to our brother eternal life. you promised paradise to the thief who repented. bring our brother to the joys of heaven. comfort us in our sorrows at the death of our brother, let our faith be our consolation, and eternal life, our hope. praying together the prayer our lord taught us we say our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory forever and ever amen. >> ben was my friend and my patient from 1975 until his death. that's nearly 40 years. i treasure our friendship, ben's hearty welcome mike! and his autobiography is titled "a good life" and is inscribed for sally and quinn, who light up my life. it was a good life rich with love engagement and fun, right to the end. the ending of our lives is
uncertain. with respect to cause, time, place, circumstances. but we hope for a good ending, a soft landing. ben had a good life and a good ending. , for which sally deserves to total credit. sally had made this journey with her parents and knew how to travel this road. beginning with her total commitment to ben's welfare she was extraordinary doing whatever was necessary to ensure that ben was comfortable and well able to enjoy life with family and friends. quinn was always present. given his remarkable insights and their special bond, quinn knew where ben was and what would be comforting.
carmen and jorge were exceptional caregivers providing practical and tender care throughout this journey. ben enjoyed a good life with a good ending, caring loving support were ever present. now we mourn. but let us celebrate the life and legacy of our friend, ben bradlee, who did light up our lives. i'm now going to say coddish. cod issues perhaps the most recited prayer in judaism. it dates back to the destruction of the second temple and the exiled jews to band loan yeah. it was -- babylonia. it was originally written in aramaic.
it's associated with mourning, but it is not about mourning. kaddish celebrates the magnificence and the glory of god and the world created when ever our talents are being tested. (speaking hebrew) axalted and hallowed be god's great name in the world which god created. may god's majesty be revealed in the days of our lifetime and the life of all israel, speedily, imminently, to which we say amen. (speaking hebrew) blessed be god's great name to all eternity
. (speaking hebrew). blessed praised honored exalted, extoled glorified adored and lauded be the name of the holy blessed one beyond all earthly words and songs of blessings, praise and comfort. to which we say amen. (speaking hebrew) may there be abundant peace from heaven and life for us and all israel, to which we say amen.
(speaking hebrew). may the one who creates peace on high bring peace to us and to all israel, to which we say amen. >> god of compassion, be near to all who call upon your name, in the course of their daily life, work and service. you call and gift us for work that brings us joy, and embodies concern for our neighbors. make us glad and grateful for the strength to serve you and our neighbor. weave together the work of every hand and the commitment of every heart, for we recognize our interdependence, our responsibility to one another and the mutuality of our destiny. let us pray to the lord.
praying together, lord, make us instruments of your peace where there is hatred let us sew love. where there is injury, pardon. where there is discord, union. where there is darkness, light. where there is darkness, light where there is sadness, joy. grant that we may not seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand. to be loved as to love. for it is in giving that we receive. it is in pardoning that we are pardoned. and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. amen. open our hearts, god of all, to pray for those who will this day face any great decisions. for all who will engage in setting the affairs of people
and of nations, for all who mold public opinion in our time. for all who write what others will read. send us forth to work another day surrounded by your loving kindness, pledged to faithful service. standing in your strength, and not our own. as former things pass away, oh god, make awe things new. let us pray to the lord. thanks be to god. ♪ "america the beautiful."
thou only are immortal, the creator and maker of humankind and we are mortal born to the earth and unto earth shall we return, for so did you or taken when you created me, saying dust thou art and into dust thou you shall return him all we go down to duts, yet even at the grave we make our song hallelujah, hallelujah hallelujah. into thy hands, oh merciful savior we commend thy servant benjamin, acknowledge him as a sheep of thine own fold, a lamb of thine own flock a sinner of thine own redeeming.
the first serious challenge i had as the new majority leader of the united states the first republican leader since bill of california that the first challenge i had was when we had to vote on a debt limit increase. and i assumed that would all go ok but then as i began to count ahead -- i believe howard green came to me and said i don't believe you're going to win this. and i got a bunch of freshman senators together and it was clear, i hadn't convinced anybody. we were going to lose. and the bells rang for vote and we all left my office. as i went out i saw jesse and said, i've got that a big problem. i don't think i'm going to get these new freshmen senators to vote for a debt limit increase. and after i voted he said, can i talk to them?
so he came back in, jesse did. and they were all gathered there. and he said gentlemen i understand you're not going to vote for this debt limit increase. and he said, well, i understand that. i understand many of you ran against it. and i want you to know that i never voted for a debt limit increase. but i never before had ronald reagan as my president and i'm going to do it and so are you. and i got all of them but one. >> howard baker was 88 years old when he died in june of this year. you can see the rest of that interview tonight at 8:00 eastern. >> new year's day on the c-span networks here are some of our featured programs.
we begin the service to celebrate his life. >> may the road rise up to me to, may the wind be ever at your back. may the sunshine warm up on your face, and the rains fall soft on your fields. it until we meet again, may god hold you in the palm of his hand. >> may you always have walls for the wind and a roof for the rain. laughter to cheer you, those you love near you, and all your heart might desire. may saint patrick guard you wherever you go and guide you in whatever you do. may his loving protection be a blessing to always.
>> good morning. i am joe lockhart. i am proud to be in a very small fraternity of former white house press secretary's. to walk up after a prayer, though that was subtly different than what i used to say to myself. please god, let me get to the next hour. on behalf of the brady family, we want to thank you for coming. your presence means so much to them and to the family. we have some former press secretary's here. thank you for coming. we're here for a simple reason. we loved jim brady.
let me amend that a little bit we love jim and sarah brady. to me, they are jim and sarah brady. we are here to honor his legacy, but to honor sarah and the family and all they have done. they were one of the most formidable couples in town. they were also one of the most lovable couples. we are here to celebrate his life today through many of his colleagues and the operative word is celebrate. and one who stands behind white house podium knows you spend most good time answering hard and tough questions. on occasion, i got some easy ones i want to share two of them with you today. one of them was who is your personal hero? mine was jim brady. one was a personal connection. anyone with any objective research would find that we
were the last of the press secretaries who shared the hollywood good looks and fashion sense that very often you see in the movies. he is a hero not because of what happened to him. people faced tragedy in the lives. he is a hero because of what he did with it. we live in a very partisan and difficult town right now. it is hard to believe that we can find common ground on issues that aren't that hard. jim and sarah got things done. we should not forget that. what was your favorite data white house? another easy one. when we renamed the press briefing room after jim brady. it was my favorite day. it honor jim and i think it brought great joy to jim
sarah, and the family. probably just as important for me, it honor his legacy forever. whoever the president is or the press secretary is, where ever they stand on issues, when they say something it will be recorded as being said in the james s brady white house briefing room. that is an important acknowledgment. we are going to hear from a lot of people. we will start professionally and washington with a couple of people who jim worked with in the reagan white house. sheila tate will speak next. she was nancy reagan's press secretary. she has a special message that she wants to share. mark weinberg will share some of his experiences. sheila?
it was a moving remembrance of all the memories she had. she shared this with sarah and then ultimately time magazine. i am honored to share this with you today. she said, ronnie and i could tell there was something special about jim brady from the moment we met him. he had a certain twinkle in his eye. he had a way of letting you know that he knew what he was doing and everything would be all right. he had a zest for life that was infectious. he love to hear and tell a good story. he laughed easily and could see the silver lining in even the darkest cloud. he made the best chili in town. when was time to be serious, jim was serious and often in a three-piece suit with a notebook or pencil is hand -- in hand. jim was at ronnie's side. he was taking detailed
notes. he could brief the press on whatever had transpired. when jim gave advice, ronnie and i listened because we knew he had the best instincts in town. it broke ronnie's heart and my heart the jim and sarah were forced to face such a diversity after he was so seriously wounded during the 1981 assassination attempt. they never complained. jim was a patriot. he loved his country and was proud to serve. ronnie insisted that jim remain his press secretary for eight years. the white house did not seem complete without him. he and sarah became dear friends. i miss jim and pray for sarah. as do we all.
if i may indulge myself with a few personal comments as i do the warm up for mark weinberg, it seems strange the back here in my hometown. i now live in charlottesville, virginia. i don't get here as much as i used to. i knew it was time to retire when i went to a big press event at the willard hotel and art buckwalter hit on me. it's true. his ardor cooled after i asked his quested in the negative, which was do you have a car and driver? he had an alter your motive. since jim brady died, the
reagan communications team has been in frequent touch as you can imagine. for all of us who worked with jim during the campaign and in the white house, he was always this huge looming presence. i suspect he will always be a powerful influence on us. one of the early reaganites was planning on being here today. she had a minor medical emergency. she told me a story and gave me permission to tell it. during the 1980 campaign, they were in tampa florida. it was at a hotel. she struck up a conversation with the waiter about the wine list. he offered to show her the wine cellar. off she went. he opened this closet and shoved her in and when and after her and went for the kiss.
jim saw what was happening and he rushed down the hall and rip the door opened and through the waiter side of and saved the damsel in distress. but this is the wonderful part. every time he saw her after that, whenever he saw her, he said to her, have you been in any good wine cellars lately? it was one demonstration of what we knew. he always had our backs and always helped us. if there was a fight we needed to win, he was there for you. his death brought back the personal anger that i felt from the assassination attempt. when sarah asked me to speak, i wondered what to say about that anger and it is something many of us carried with us. that got me thinking about this
fellow with the gun. that pathetic guy that got the perfect way to impress jodie foster was to try to shoot the president. then i realized, i couldn't remember his first name. i can't explain the sense of release. he didn't matter to me. he is inconsequential. ronald reagan found it in his heart to forgive him. nancy not so much. i am sort of with nancy on that. i think a lot of reagan people feel that way as well. we prefer to give thanks to god for the survival of our president and we are especially
thankful for the neurosurgical excellence at gw hospital. i don't know if everyone has heard the story about when the mistaken announcement that jim had not survived, his classic response, no one told me or the patient. it's hard to think of a world that still turns without jim brady. in the belief that he is up there listening and probably critiquing our remarks, for me a big special high-five with jody powell.
members of the brady family, it is an honor to be at this podium today to speak about my boss, mentor, and friend. thank you sarah for the privilege of representing the brady bunch. when people speak of those who of passed on it, history is re-created. sharp edges are softened. reality is replaced by fuzzy images. kind of like a reagan campaign commercial. no truth need be stretched no scrubbing need be done. no revisionism is required to present an absolutely honest picture of extraordinary man whose goodness, intelligence since of humor, courage, love of life touched us all. let me tell you about my journey with him. i was 22 years old with my own typewriter, a banquet table for a desk in a rented metal folding chair writing press releases when i first crossed paths with jim.
he was hired as the press secretary. after the routine introduction the first word he said to me in the conley campaign was, houdini. confused? so was i. i just written what i thought was a routine press release about some campaign event in lord knows where and put it on jim's desk. i expected he would come out and say it was ok and then i would issue it. but no. he came to my table/desk and headed me the release and said houdini. i said i don't understand. he smiled and said it again. your draft says he will appear the campaign event. no, magicians appear. he is not houdini.
he is a candidate for the presidency of the united states. they campaign or speak. my first of many lessons from jim brady. he was a great boss. does anybody rim that jeep he used to run around in in arlington? he came to get me one saturday afternoon in crystal city. i did not want to get in. he was my boss and i did. fast-forward, jim is on the reagan campaign and got me hired. reagan wins and jim is the chief spokesman. i am there working for jim again, writing press releases about cabinet appointments. no one appeared in those.
the most vivid image was when we would get information about who is being considered for press secretary. those were not easy days for him. as the days tipped down to a precious few with the decision from you know who, jim reluctantly and briefly considered an invitation from al haig to be the state department spokesman. jim, sarah, and i were having dinner one night. he asked me if i wanted to work for him at state. state with haig it jim said. i'm not sure i am a foreign policy guy. sarah could see where my head was and bless your heart. you said to jim, leave him
alone. mark wants to go to the white house. a day or two later, they offered jim the job and the rest is history. to tell the truth, none of us thought he would be a great press secretary. jim knew himself well enough and from an organizational standpoint, he might come up a little bit short. one look at that desk would prove it. it was always covered in multiple layers of paper. you could never see would. if he had a system, it was among the most great kept secrets. no one knew where anything was except jim. much of the time, it was all in his head. that is why he hired larry speaks to run the office. jim knew that his role was to
be an advisor to the president and his spokesman. no one was better at either. speaking of larry, we lost him earlier this year. i would not be surprised if he and jim are up there right now drinking heineken and listing to elvis. who can forget his briefings. they are usually scheduled for noon. we would gather in his office and 11:30 a.m. every day. we would have our answers all prepared. as always, wind up waiting for jim. we were afraid to leave. we never knew when he was going
to come. inevitably, he was with the president. he raced into the office and we all turned into whirling dervish is. we were talking over each other in he paid us no attention at all. he sat at his desk and hunched over a notebook. he would stand up and swoop up some of those papers and head for the briefing room. we scrambled to follow him almost falling over each other. he nailed every briefing. it was almost as if he could read reporters mines in terms of what they would ask and he always had the perfect answer. it was uncanny. jim was more than a boss to me. he had a paternal side to him that made my parents very happy and grateful. he always seemed worried about my social life, which was not
robust back then. jim taught me many things. no lesson was more important than to love life. he did that by example. he loved his family. he loved his friends and reporters and politics and cooking and eating. he loved the class reunion and nathan's on saturday. they all lit up when jim brady was there. he knew who he was and he was happy. he was not afraid to laugh at himself. there was nothing vain about jim brady. when people asked about his figure, his answer was the same. when i get an urge to exercise i lay down until it passes. jim was real. when he was asked whether he was angry about the events of
march 30, he did not make up a politically correct fake stuff about moving on. he told the truth. he said yes. the important thing is that jim was not bitter. there is a profound difference tween anger and bitterness. bitterness can be an obsessive and ultimately self-destructive emotion while anger can lead to action. that is what happened with sarah and jim. their anger motivated them to do something really important and great with their lives for which this country is better. let me remind you the jim brady was able to fully perform the duties of white house press secretary for 70 days. he served in the role for eight years of the reagan administration because ronald
and nancy reagan were unwavering in their loyalty to him. we were blessed with jim's leadership for only 70 days. that's not a long time. short as it was, jim brady's tenure was as impactful and important and inspiring as any in history. ronald reagan said it best in 1982. "jim brady was a major, now everybody knows about the depth of his courage. jim's close friends always knew of this strength of character." that was 32 years ago. thank you.
[applause] >> i'm mike mccurry. i am on the successors to jim brady. we like to refer to ourselves as the human piñata's for the white house press corps. jim brady was a great role model. he knew when to growl like a bear at the press when he had to. he understood the value of the human and kinder touch. the relationship between the white house and the press corps which covers it must always be an and the serial one.
jim brady proved that this adversarial relationship could be an amicable one. i'm going to collect up for distinguished people who can speak to that. first the me read a letter we have received for this occasion. " i wish i could be there to celebrate jim's courageous life of service. jim was blessed with a unique combination of wit intelligence, tenacity that made him an effective and often entertaining white house press secretary. perhaps there is no greater testament to his abilities or to the mutual respect he shared with journalists than his successful effort to convince the white house press corps to abandon tradition and begin raising their hands one of they wanted to ask a question. when an assassin's bullet changed everything at the pinnacle of his career, he
could've lived up the rest of his life in private regret. instead, he chose to publicly embrace what he could still accomplish with his mind and heart. he transformed his personal tragedy into an opportunity to save lives. he taught us the true meaning of perseverance and showed that although much can be taken from us, we can always keep giving. he did it with a level of grace and honor that most of us with far fewer obstacles in our way never achieved. it is really great honors of my life that i had the opportunity sign the brady bill into law in 1993. jim and sarah five so hard for more than six years to help pass it. the background checks mandated by the law who stopped or than 2 million gun purchases by felons, fugitives, domestic abusers, and stockers. our families are safer because
of jim's efforts. hillary, chelsea, and i pay to be to a remarkable man and inspiring leader and a true friend. may god bless you all, president bill clinton." now let me introduce for a standing journalists who knew and jousted with jim brady and lived to tell about it. they are andrea mitchell, bill plante, al hunt, judy woodruff. >> thank you.
mr. vice president, sarah, scott, reverend clergy and friends and colleagues, jim brady was a national treasure. at the peak of his life in the pinnacle of his career, he was shut down by an assassin's bullet. nothing could shatter his spirit and his trademark sense of humor. the man we knew as the bear was a reverent to a fault. we remember killer trees. just one example of how he
could get himself in trouble on the campaign trail. he was truly one of life's originals. he was funny, honest, and true. i know i won't any arguments from the press secretaries who successors when i described him as the most honest and straight talking and fearless and best like press secretary ever. he was the most effective. it was an accolade that he had earned despite being struck down by only a few months on the job full-time. it was a trustee had earned in every job you held before that. that was on the beginning. jim was a fighter. never more so than he was
fighting for the cause of his answer is life. as sarah wrote in her book, the bear named brady was the brightest, funniest man should ever met. clearly, he was also the most determined. their fight for handgun control was initially inspired not by his injury, by an incident that occurred four years later. they were visiting his hometown in illinois. scott picked up what he thought was a toy gun. so did sarah. they were visiting friends. the gun that he had started playing with was not a toy. it was a saturday night special. it was similar to the one that had been used against jim. sarah's fear and her shock at how close are precious child had come to a terrible injury turned into anger and into resolve. out of that, came the campaign.
a movement and a cause. by then, i was covering congress. i am ever so well seeing them together. what a love story. lobbying members of congress. jim did not sugarcoat his argument when he was testifying against the gun lobby's objections. the nra said the five-day waiting period would inconvenience law-abiding citizens. jim told congress i need help getting out of bed and help taking a shower and help getting dressed. i need help going to the bathroom. i guess i am paying for their inconvenience. i'm over the day when ronald reagan endorsed the brady law. jim said they are not going to accuse him of being liberal.
i will never forget witnessing the oval office ceremony in 1993 when president clinton signed the bill into law. jim said, how sweet it is. how long it took. jim and sarah did not rest with that achievement. after virginia tech, late fought to close loopholes or did they called for new restrictions after new town. on his last visit to the white house, jim was wearing a bracelet honoring gabby giffords. jim brady will be remembered for the press room that bears his name. he was a true hero. as nancy reagan wrote, he was a patriot. he served his nation with honor. thank you, jim brady.
one delegate. jim brady was known as the bear after winnie the pooh, came to reagan's campaign. he brought with him his wonderfully extroverted personality. there was nobody in politics quite like him. he brought with him and enormous store of information and a gift of irish gab and a fearlessly sharp wit. these are dangerous traits for a press secretary, even more for his principal. they were catnip to us. brady referred to his bosses and the candidate. that was when humor was
safer. there was no social media to speed along to everybody. brady had been around for twitter, god only knows what might've happened. he was always ready with a quip and i quote. it seemed to be right of the top of his head, but it always fit perfectly. somehow, he managed to serve his candidate well, but also satisfied those of us on the other side. not that his irrepressibly didn't occasionally land him in hot water. we all caps track of governor reagan's sometimes fanciful rhetoric. one fine autumn day, the campaign plane was descending
somewhere in the midsouth. the speechwriter looked out the window and saw smoke rising from the forest below. killer trees, he said quietly. brady loved it. he bounced back to let all of us know look, killer trees. mrs. reagan was not amused. nor was bill casey who did not have much of a sense of humor. jim was thrown off the plane for about three days. he returned on repentant with the same assessed for both his job and life in general. jim loved good food and good wine.
we ate and drank our way through the primary, the convention, and the fall campaign. i have the expense account records to show for it. i went back and looked at them. it was wonderful. he loved to eat any love to cook. after ronald reagan won the election, jim really wanted to be press secretary. as you have heard, the transition team took their time. he was an outsider. he was perceived as more moderate, brady joked that one point so much time had elapsed and lunches with him during the transition were no longer tax-deductible.
then the was the narrative that suggest that nancy reagan thought that he was not good looking enough to be your husband's spokesman. at one point, he came out to begin his daily briefing saying i come before you today as not just another pretty face but out of sheer talent. when he did get the job, his knowledge of the way washington works, the president love brady style. he gained access, the kind of access that press secretaries need. those with a good times. he was of the top of his game and he loved every minute.
here is the really important thing. after his injury, after the moments of up-and-down, months of up-and-down before he left the hospital, jim brady was still someone who could laugh and had the same sharp wit and who despite his own pain still cared about his friends. the real measure of a person is in the way he or she deals with that adversity. jim brady was a champion. he showed the rest of us the kind of courage that we didn't know existed. in 1966 interview i asked him if he was still bitter. he paused. well, he said, it's not classy to be bitter. i try to be classy, as you
>> mr. vice president, sarah and friends of jim brady, i first met jim several years before the white house. he was the press secretary for bill roth. senator roth was a moderate conservative republican and an honorable man. he was the quiet senator from delaware. he singly wore a hairpiece which is one area were jim brady could provide no assistance. he was the cosponsor in 1978 of a tax cut that magically was going to raise gobs of new revenue. it was a nutty notion. voodoo economics. the other cosponsor was jack kemp. this was always the kemp-roth
bill it should've been kemproth-brady. our next encounter was when he was campaign manager for john conley. john kelly was a bigger than life texan, overpowering. he exercised top-down power. i wrote a profile which he disliked. he summoned his press secretary and said, get him fired. go to the ceo and get him fired. jim told him, governor, you know those press bastards all stick together and i got nowhere. conley replied, those sons of bitches. jim had called no one. in february, 1980 wanted, judy
nine went to dinner with sarah and jim. i was the walk on. judy was the nbc white house correspondent. i covered politics for the journal and i asked a bunch of skeptical questions. finally jim looked at me and said, conley was right, i should've gotten your ass fired. we laughed and drank another glass of wine. he was always fun. it was a great secretary appreciating the dual demands and the cities of loyalty and integrity. it is so fitting, as joe said earlier, that the press brake is named after jim. his first 40 years were
impressive, his next 33, even more so. jim was unlucky that march day at the hilton, in the wrong place at the wrong time. but even more important is how lucky he was years earlier when he fell in love with and married sarah cap. you all were partners throughout. what you accomplished against great odds was remarkable. judy and i have a son with a brain injury and we know how challenging and sometimes painfully difficult it can be. in addition to his great character and heart, he always had you, sarah. could not have done it without you. there is much to do in your quest or sensible gun policies in america and it will never be easy but there will be more progress and it will all be built on jim and sarah have caught.
the jim brady story transcends our age. he was a profile in courage and determination against the odds. we will tell it to our grandchildren who will tell it to theirs. we were also lucky to have known that there -- the bear. >> mr. vice president, friends of jim brady, it is wonderful to see all of you here. i just have to say first to sarah and your ordinary family i am so deeply honored, as al is, to have been asked to say a few words about jim.
it is great to see so many friends of his here, to celebrate his life. i love hearing the stories, i love laughing about jane, the man we knew. my memory of jim dates back to shortly before the election of 1980 when i was the nbc correspondent who had spent the previous four years covering president jimmy carter. so i have not had the opportunity to meet many people on the reagan team.
not a good position for the white house correspondent. so nbc quickly gloomy out to los angeles right after the election, i spent weeks out there, worked like mad to get to know everyone. how lucky i was to find jim brady, who are the reporters already liked and trusted, who even seemed a little sympathetic about my predicament as a newcomer. jim and i immediately hit it off. i thought i must he someone special but it turns out that is how he was with every reporter. he teased me all the time about the years that i have spent covering the georgia peanut farmer. he teased me about the lingering southern accent i could not completely get rid of. and about being with the newly married to al hunt. he wondered out loud if i really knew who this guy was a covered politics. i soon met sarah, and it was freer, they adored each other. they had a terrific sense of humor, teased each other nonstop. when we went out to dinner they came across as real people, as al mentioned. yes, we laughed a lot. we had many glasses of wine. they had many of the same thoughts and worries that we did, even though we had worked on opposite sides of the political divide. i brought a picture which you probably cannot see, it is one
that i cherish. it hangs in al's study in our home. it is in jim's office a couple of weeks after he came to the white house, there was not much on the walls yet. he was giving me a big scoop, i would like to say, but that is not the truth. i think he was explaining supply-side economics to a georgia peach. it took him a while. but i cherished this, and it reminds me of the personal connection that i felt to him and to sarah. a few weeks later, that connection was permanently sealed, but not in the way that i ever imagined. because i didn't join the press pool on the trip to the hilton hotel that day when jim and president reagan and agent tim mccarthy and officer tom delahanty were shocked. i was standing a few feet away next to the press than -- van and two months pregnant with
our first son jeffrey. i will never forget how jim fought his way back from the brink with sarah's help. in instant, everything changed but the twinkle in his eye, the teasing in his voice, that sharp mind that we know so well, and you have heard about this morning never left him. whenever we saw jim over the years, and it is on in. he and sarah were active. he wanted to know about that crazy al that i had married. lou cannon told me this week that he is confident that even if jim had never been injured, he said we would still be celebrating his life right now. he was that kind of guy, he was always going to make a difference, would always have an effect on people. two other things. i feel a closer connection to
jim and sarah because of our son jeff, who, 17 years after jim was shot, experienced a different kind of brain injury. sarah and jim were among the first people to reach out to us and every time we would see them the first thing they would ask about was jeffrey. and second to sarah, when i think about jim's life and the funny and fun loving couple you were, i see the seeds of the extraordinary bond that gave you the strength to be there with him for all those years. there are so many unheralded people who give much of themselves to take care of a lot of one. you embody the very best of who they are and what they do. jim could not have lived like he did without you. it is a privilege to know you. thank you. >> it was great to hear from the journalists about their relationship with jim. one of the advantages to having this many press secretaries