How to Buy an Election (1960)


>>This episode is
brought to you by NordVPN.>>Head on over to Nordvpn.com/rogue that’s R-O-G-U-E and use promocode “rogue” at check out you’ll get 66% off for two years. That’s a lot of years,
that’s more than one year.>>Less than three, but more than one.>>Well, okay.>>It’s a substantial amount of years.>>Hello Dr. Science.>>Sorry, math is kind of my thing. [laughs]>>I mean but even then
it’s really only like they just take over the government. I mean that’s the thing there is no elections,
there’s no such thing as a functioning democracy
in science fiction because everything is
either so future automated that like it’s Star Trek, we have a computer that
decides whose the best thing and where everything is going to go. Or it’s awful dystopian and
there’s a God King ruler.>>The lottery.>>I would hate to say it but my prequels example might be–>>The prequels have a
functioning democracy. No matter what anybody tells you. George Lucas put a functioning democracy in science fiction.>>[Electronic Voice] Buying
an election historically.>>But you’ve read the
Gentlemen Bastard series right?>>I’ve read one of them, yeah. I read the first book.>>The second one’s even better, third one’s even better. But there’s one book where
a bunch of powerful wizards don’t want to fight each
other because they’re all armed with nuclear hands basically and that’ll escalate too quickly so instead they pick a very
small city council meeting and they say our team has these guys. Your team has these guys. Here’s an unlimited budget, the two of you fight and
whoever wins the most city council seats that’s the faction that’s going to win. And what I loved about it is I didn’t know anything about the politics of either side it was a hung up on any of this stuff because when you talk
about political graft and underhanded techniques
it’s very tempting to think about my tribe, their tribe but I want you to imagine a space wizard shows up, teleports us
to a far distant time and we have one job and
that’s to win an election which is why we’re
going to buy an election with Justin Robert Young of the Politics, Politics,
Politics podcast.>>Tell me more about
wizards with nuclear hands because that’s amazing.
>>Yeah>>It might as well be
dude, they’re so powerful.>>When you think about buying an election you have to understand where
you’re going to buy it.>>This is America. Can I do this at like a CVS, or a?>>[laughs] Sure, at this
point it would be much better if there were an app for
which we could just pay with–>>I’m going to assume that we’re talking about like in past times.>>We are, we are, we are so, so for this example
we’re going to talk about is the party machine system that very much dominated American politics for pretty much all of American politics up until the late ’60s. In fact, you can make the argument and many have that the first candidate to make it out of the
Republican or Democratic party that wasn’t either blessed by the party or blessed by the special interest that dominates the party be it
donors or organized labor or something like that was Jimmy Carter.>>So wait you’re saying–>>That’s dude’s still alive right now.>>So you’re saying this
is how long back this goes.>>This is all of it.>>Everybody before Jimmy Carter was somebody who was
elected by a bunch of cigar smoking dudes in a back room,
>>Yes.>>Who all agreed this
is going to be the guy and he is going to win.>>Tammany Halled right, I mean even after that was disassembled–>>Okay, okay, I don’t
even know what that means, what is Tammany Hall? Start there, start there.>>So Tammany Hall is
probably the most famous of the political machines. It came up through New York and effectively understood that as Irish immigrants came into New York they had a block, votes
that they could own totally and so once they understood
that they could swing elections by just making sure that
everybody in their community voted a certain way they started putting a price tag on what it would cost to make sure that everyone of
the Irish people in New York voted a certain way.>>This is when in history are we talking?>>Tammany Hall lasts from the late 1800s and Boss Tweed is a name
that kind of goes around>>He was the kingpin.
>>But he is the most famous leader.
>>Yeah, always after them Duke boys.>>Exactly, that lasts
well into the 1950s. So this is the epicenter
of political graft is Tammany Hall in New York City.>>So what does that look like on a boots on the ground basis? Like you spend, you have money and you have voting blocks that you know you can engage in identity politics is what we call it nowadays.
>>Yeah.>>Where it’s like you are Irish, you are in this district therefore you are going to vote for whoever and we’re going to spend the money to make sure that you get there.>>Well they were doing things like, people would come in fresh off the boat and they said you know
what, we’re going to register you to vote right now. We are this party and so
hey we’re all friends right? So you’re with us, you’re with us now, right off the boat.>>So the way that we think
of identity politics now or any kind of demographic politics is you go to a bunch
of like minded people, you bring issues for
which will motivate them and they go out to the polls.>>So does this mean like
private previous to 1960s like it didn’t really matter
what your personal ideas or ethics were it was more just a tribal like you’re on the blue
team or the red team or the green team or the purple team?>>This is probably the biggest thing that I hope everybody kind of understands is that the idea of our two major parties here in America having hard
core ideological values is very much a modern construct.>>Like within the last 40 years.>>Within the last 40 years, prior to that, it was so diffuse. You had conservative democrats,
you had liberal democrats. You had conservative republicans, you had liberal republicans. Barry Goldwater who basically
made the Republican party an ideologically conservative
organization effectively and Nelson Rockefeller
somebody that was so popular as a New York City fixture
he was like carried off by people in Spanish Harlem because he spoke the
language, they existed at the exact same time. They were both figures. It’s not until mass media really congeals everything into one glaring message that we start to have the
democrats mean a certain thing and the republicans
mean a certain thing.>>This is remarkable
because the very idea of being in one tribe or the other and yet having ideas contrary
to the official doctrine of you are in our clubhouse
and you will believe these things, I guess
in my entire lifetime I’ve grown up with that.>>It’s more like sports
teams it sounds like.>>So, it is.
>>Yeah, right?>>I understand Tammany
Hall only marginally more than I do the politics
of sports teams so–>>Sure, so here, this is why
you have national politics is because you had Tammany Halls and certain other political machines, maybe not as powerful or as
corrupt as Tammany Hall was, but they’re all over the country. So if you’re going to
elect a national candidate, who do you go to? All these local machines
that are already plugged in and to get back to your point. This isn’t just identity politics because once you have a group, you got to make sure you keep the group. So-
>>Oh because they’re going to be seduced by the
other side at all times. It’s like hey man.
>>Or they get bored. Or there’s other things that are going on so you got to make sure– and when you’re selling something you have to deliver it so you do things like register people right off the boat. You do things like make sure you’re maybe paying people in certain
areas to come out there. You pay precinct captains to make sure that the ballot box is
billed a certain way.>>What does that look like? Like do you even hide that behind– It’s like hey man, I know it’s a workday and you’re going to
have to take the day off I want to compensate you for your day off so you can do your civic
duty and make sure to– Here’s $50, hope you vote for our team.>>Sometimes, other times
a little bit more blatant.>>BRIAN: Oh okay.
>>You know there is, there is the phrase in Chicago. The Chicago Machine used to say that if a vote is stolen in Chicago, it stays stolen because
they were going to– and really, also this
is just for one side. Often times, you have two parties, you have two competing machines.>>BRIAN: Right.
>>Just like your example earlier, they’re going to do everything they possibly can and so they would say like all right, well we’re pretty short down state, they’re stealing three votes per person so we’re just going to make sure we>>BRIAN: Preemptively
>>just keep it fair and steal four votes in our area.>>And this is where we get
stuff like dead people voting?>>Absolutely
>>And impersonation, I was reading about they would contact like the district leaders in the city and say okay you handle all of your guys and make sure they vote this way. You handle everybody in your district and make sure that they vote this way.>>District captains, county captains, these are the people, these are the actual boots on the ground. If you’re looking for the hatchet men that are getting the money and are really doing the dirty work, these are the people that
have blood on their hands.>>And at this point,
we’re looking at like maybe one leader and a gang
of seven or eight people, a literal street team, a literal gang
>>JUSTIN: Yes, yes.>>that go around knocking door to door like hey lady it’s time, you’re like, uhhh I think it’s time.>>JUSTIN: Yeah.
>>You’re going to go vote.>>You would even have
like a guy showing up at the polls scraggly tough looking, really threatening guy. What’s your name?
Jones Full name?
John Jones Reverend John Jones of the
First Reformed Dutch Church? Who the [beep] else am I going to be? [laughs]
Go ahead sir.>>Yes sir, go head sir.>>True story actually.>>I got two friends with me, old testament and new testament. [laughs]
Let me go vote!>>I lead with fire and brimstone and then I bring salvation.>>You just turned it
into a wrestling match. [laugh] I like it.>>So I want to bring you guys
to a very specific example. All right, it’s 1960, this
is the Democratic primary because we already had Richard Nixon on the Republican side
that was the vice president and he was going to be their nominee.>>And by the way, was
not at a big convention, was not really up for much debate, the dudes with the cigars all said, “Well our boy Nixon here”>>Effectively, yeah, yeah
>>Okay.>>That’s something that
kind of have traveled on where it’s like if there’s
a two term president and there’s a vice president that isn’t a total problematic issue then he’s going to be the
person and that’s that. John F. Kennedy is at this point a young senator that is
looked at as a lightweight, too Catholic, i.e. Catholic at all.>>JASON: Yeah gasp.>>And very well capitalized. He is coming from a very rich family. He is running against Hubert Humphrey who is looked at as an ideologically pure liberal democrat who has
just lost in Wisconsin. So now, JFK’s got momentum and he’s, Hubert Humphrey is out of money and they are going to
have one final battle in West Virginia.>>BRIAN: How far into the
primary are we at this point?>>JUSTIN: This is the
second primary vote.>>BRIAN: Oh wow!
>>Now also, another thing that happens in 1960, there were nine states
that voted for primaries and six of them were beauty contests. They had no binding delegates at all that came with them,
in fact, at that point, this is how much of a smokey
back room politics were. The most effective way
to run for president was to not run for president, to actively say I’m not
running for president. I know there’s a lot of
people who are asking me but I’m not, please people, I’m not.>>And then you do the John Cena thing. Everybody’s sitting their bickering and all of a sudden you kick in the door. [imitating John Cena] Rabado
[laughs] Effectively yeah, you would
wait til the convention and then you would have,
everybody would kill each other. The primaries were a death trap, because you would just
walk in, spend money that you didn’t need to
spend, snipe at each other, destroy each other, the
convention would happen. Nobody would be happy about anything and then his name is John Cena. You would walk in and they’d be like, finally an adult’s here, let’s
vote for him for president.>>So that was all very
orchestrated it sounds like.>>100%
>>They knew exactly how all of these things were going to converge and then they say, okay, now
we put our superhero in there.>>And so in this 1960s
a fascinating election because you have those
wolves out in the wilderness, specifically two Adlai Stevenson and LBJ.>>Oh yeah, so in that
case, what you’re describing both JFK and Hubert Humphreys are doing the exact wrong thing. They’re actually playing the game, actually debating in public and you’re waiting for
somebody like an LBJ to kick in the door and show up.>>Exactly but those
wolves in the wilderness need both of them to fail. They need them to tear
each other apart and show that they are unelectable. If you go through the primaries, and this is what JFK realized, if you go through the primaries
and you have momentum, and you succeed, and you
defeat all of your enemies then you have momentum
going into the convention and it’ll be harder for people
to knock you down there.>>So was he the first to
really figure that out.>>Effectively, the
campaign that we know today, running in the primaries,
JFK was the first candidate to have a private plane. JFK was the first candidate
to have a media strategy, the tape machine had
literally just been invented. He owned one, he was the
first major candidate to own one, recorded
everyone of his speeches, reviewed it for his own purposes to see what he was doing wrong and then edited big speeches–
>>Put it up on Soundcloud.>>Effectively, no, no, no [laugh]
he did, he did he would edit them down
into various broadcast effective lengths and then
send them to news stations in states where he wanted
those messages to resonate. This was not done at all.>>I think a lot of this must
be attributed to the fact that he was just handsome and they were like,
we’ve got this rockstar. Let’s change the rules because he’s–>>Yeah speaking of which,
is there any that do– and I know we’re jumping forward here but this story is always that Nixon and JFK in their first
debate everybody who listened to the radio version said that Nixon won. Everybody that watched
the television version said that JFK won, because
of course he presented and Nixon looked sweaty but his ideas sounded good on the radio. Is there anything to that
or is that apocryphal?>>Yes and no, I think it’s overblown. The fun fact is everybody always says it’s because JFK used
makeup and Nixon didn’t. It’s actually the opposite–
>>That Nixon’s face was made of silly putty.
[laughs]>>Yes, JFK had just
come off of a vacation. He was suntanned, he
looked good on television. Nixon was coming out of the hospital because he had an injury that he was in the hospital for weeks.>>His butt was hanging
out, he’s still in the– [laughs]>>Yeah, so he looks gaunt, it’s funny you said silly putty, because they have this cake make up that is like horror style
melting off his face [laughs] as he’s doing the debate so it looks like he’s sweating but that’s only because
the cameras are so bad. If the cameras were better it would look like his face was deteriorating as the–>>He was like intentionally
trying to look like Emperor Palpatine.
>>JUSTIN: Yeah>>I’m sorry, I have a question. What the [beep] is happening,
[laughs] over here?>>No but seriously, your face it just like for reals.>>Do we need a doctor?
>>As a rebuttal your face. Here’s what we need to
understand for this example. West Virginia’s a very protestant state, they don’t like Catholics. So this is a gigantic
test for Kennedy because they both have to win,
either Humphreys wins and shows that JFK is
fallible and now maybe he can continue the primaries
or go to the convention and make something or at
least horse trade his power a little bit more effectively. JFK has to win or else
all these other people that are deliberately
sitting out of the primaries will jump on him as soon as
they smell blood in the water. So now they both have to do it and here’s how you do it in West Virginia, one of the most, at the time, notoriously corrupt states in the Union. There were out and out prices per vote specifically in, what we’re
going to focus on is Charleston, the area of Charleston
which has several counties that are very, very, very
much up on the market. And so there was a
bidding war that started as is reported at around
$2 to $3 per vote.>>So this is a case where
like your neighborhood gets together, it’s like a hey neighborhood of Sunset Valley over here. There are 300 of us, the
current price is $2 to $3 a vote, that’s a thousand
dollars that we can have. Do we want to go with these
guys or the other guys?>>Sure, except–>>JASON: It was that organized?>>Except imagine everything you just said except none of the
money goes anywhere else it just only goes to the machine.>>It only just goes, okay.>>Yeah, so yes, it was that organized. Again, this is what politics was local machines that got people out to vote and made sure for, I’m sure altruistically for the benefit of everybody.
>>Sure.>>But this is what it looked like. This was not weird. This is just what politics was, so–>>And that’s why they
were able to operate like that out in the open because no one really called them out and said hey, this is
corrupt and this is a mockery of what actual democracy should be. No one knew any different.>>Yeah, it sounds like
that concept wasn’t even a thought that anyone would have.>>There was but what are
you going to do about it? There’s a million things that
we look at in our modern world and we’re like hey that’s screwed up. It’s a gigantic system
that we can’t touch.>>So what did JFK do in
Charleston, West Virginia?>>Paid a lot of money [laughs]. In fact, Humphreys thought he had one of the counties bought. He was again, super-cash strapped. There’s actually I’m
trying to get the footage or the audio, he was so cash
strapped Hubert Humphreys, he wound up writing a $750 check out of his personal bank
account to get TV time and his wife was next to him and was reportedly furious because it came out of their
daughter’s wedding fund that was happening the next month.>>Oh wow!
[laughs]>>That money went to, and
this is the amazing thing, a telethon without a tele– it was effectively a twitch livestream of people being able to call in but he was so cash
strapped he couldn’t afford a call screener so there
was just a live to air 30 minute block where
West Virginian voters were able to call Hubert Humphreys and just say whatever they wanted.>>Oh my God!>>Including reportedly an
old woman from the mountains who just kept yelling “get, get, get!” [laughs]>>Don’t ever change West Virginia.>>Apparently, Humphreys even
as cash strapped as he was knew that this was a pay to play state, tried to buy one of the counties, got out bid and had his
money returned to him in a satchel in a men’s room.>>Wow.
>>Like this is, when we talk about buying something that’s what we’re talking about.>>BRIAN: Sure, sure, well–
>>Did they set in like the pee next to the urinal, like the halo of urine
>>Like from one stall–>>and Hubert was just like oh th, oooh!>>No, they actually took a [beep] in it to show him that he was number
two in more than one way. [laughs]>>So I guess is the lesson just to have the money and buy the votes?>>The lesson is to have
the money and buy the votes. In fact, in Charleston, West Virginia there was one county that
was rumored to get up to $10 per vote.>>BRIAN: Wow
>>JASON: Back in the ’60s!>>Back in the ’60s, that is $2 to $3 per vote in West Virginia, right? And then what that actually buys you is you are on that captain
slate of preferred voting people which is effectively marching orders and also the people that
are running the polls are affiliated with the party with the machine so
they just remind people, like, oh, I think you got this wrong you accidentally didn’t
check what was on our slate so why don’t you go back
and just do it again. And they make sure that
the votes are there.>>And I assume there’s
some kind of ecosystem where it’s like if somebody
could not effectively deliver the votes that they’re
promised that they very quickly weren’t captain anymore.>>It’s done, like this is not, there’s not any ghosts in the machine. This is a machine for a reason.>>Everyone has their part to play.>>The vote gets delivered, that’s that. $2 to $3 in 1960, today
is $25.50 per vote. According to the census, in
Charleston, West Virginia, 86,000 residents that are there.>>Holy Cow.>>If it got as high as
ten, that is $85 a vote in that one county for
which the bidding war got so high
>>Adjusted for inflation.>>That it landed, adjusted for inflation in 2018 dollars, $85 per vote. So let’s be conservative
and say that 21,500 people, that is a quarter of
Charleston, West Virginia is up for sale, right? That means that even then
it was $85,000 to buy those votes in 1960. In today’s dollars, that is just over a half million dollars.>>West Virginia, not a big place.>>West Virginia.
>>Yeah, but I guess, at that moment that matters a lot because one of the
parties is buying momentum the other one is trying
to stay in the game.>>Yes, and
>>JASON: Uh oh.>>Remember when I told you
that there were only nine states that had primaries and that
only three of them had delegates and six of them were
popularity contestants? This was–
>>JASON: Was West Virginia a popularity contest?
>>A popularity contest.>>Wait, for nothing but,
but for how good it looks?>>Yes
>>That’s crazy.>>It’s just publicity essentially.>>Literally just to demonstrate to the smokey back room people, again this is 1960,
this is not after 1968, you are still dealing with
the smokey back room people. This was just a public workout to show that JFK was
fit enough to be elected President of the United States.>>I mean I’d hate to say
it in such crass terms but it sounds to me
like you’re just saying straight up JFK just bought an election.>>And then there’s
also lots of accusations with from what I understand
some substantive evidence behind it that some of that money probably came from the mob.>>Oh, is that a thing?>>Uh, there’s a whole nother thing. We can do a whole nother episode on this. It’s actually the other way around. In the general election,
Kennedy versus Nixon there are two states that if
they were to go the other way and they were very, very close, that would have changed the election and by any available metrics there were some level of
voting tampering happening. One was in Illinois and the other,>>Texas!
>>great state of Texas.>>Right on! I mean wait, why am I cheering?>>Yeah, what?>>We’re remembered, oh
geez, what am I doing? It really puts it in perspective, just how much, I assume,
better things have gotten compared to those days.>>There’s no doubt that right now writ large, we are having
the most free elections that we have ever had
in American democracy. When we talk about, oh
they’re buying the election. Generally, we’re talking
about super packs, we’re talking about buying>>BRIAN: Advertisements.
>>Advertisements, and stuff like that, so it’s like.>>Well, isn’t that really
just the smokey back room dressed up under a different
name and different rules?>>I mean I’m sure, there’s
some amount of that still happening but at least
not on the open market with a rate sheet. Hello, welcome to Travis County well what will you be having?>>Yeah, I think that’s a– no matter what we can always do better and it’s good, it’s a sign
of a healthy democracy that we ID these things
that we feel are unfair but no a super pack buying a bunch of ads and making sure that they have
a well-funded headquarters>>A different thing.>>Is not the same as
saying, I’m going to spend $3 per vote to make sure
that a corrupt machine puts people into the ballot box.>>It’s influencing
but it’s not as direct.>>Yes.
>>Okay, so where could people hear more stories exactly like this one?>>You can find my podcast at
politicspoliticspolitics.com and you can find me on
Twitter at JustinRYoung and also you can get my
free political newsletter five days a week at
freepoliticalnewsletter.com It’s a little bit of history but mostly more modern politics.>>It’s mostly what they
don’t want you to know now these are well established facts the vatican was trying to
suppress this information–>>Well you know, there’s
a big Kabal going on as you we know in Chicoms, Hanna Barbara–>>Bring me pictures of Spiderman.>>I swear to God, I want
this to be nothing but that this is what the
political newsletter is.>>Here’s what do ahead, we just redo the whole episode, welcome to the Modern Rogue, I’m in due platform
literally everywhere else I’ve used navi-technology
to beam into the–>>Navi technology
>>Navi technology!>>I’ve now used an Oakland
hipster as my avatar. I’m taking over. We’re taking over the Modern Rung.>>You ever make one of
those alternate accounts so you can be pretend to be someone else?>>What, no, never [stammers] no, what are you talking about? What did you find?>>Well, I, somebody named Mason Jurphy was throwing shade at crocheters at /r/crocheting and he seemed really upset.>>They got to know,
I’m in there shaking– Mason Jurphy’s in there shaking things up [laughs]
in the crochet world.>>So it seems to me like if you laugh–>>You all are on notice. [laughs]>>I almost thought it was
you, but you know what? I checked all the IP addresses
and it turns out because–>>What did it say?>>He’s from Iceland.>>He is not from Austin.>>Can’t be you.
>>It’s not me at all.>>Also I’m betting that
all of his weather reports are not related to Austin, Texas. I’m betting that there are movies he’s probably watching
because Mason Jurphy who most certainly is
not you lives in Iceland.>>Nobody knows who or where he is, he’s an enigma, a mystery. You’ll never find him, you
or the crochet assassins they’re sending after him.>>The crochet assassins?>>Yeah, he’s in the wind, he’s a ghost. You know why? NordVPN
>>Wow, that sounds unrelated.>>I’m guessing, I’m just guessing.>>Sounds to me like you want
to have a separate conversation about the fact that NordVPN makes it possible for you to be anywhere on the planet, for you to
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way that I can slip about like a ninja across the internet, or the way Mason Jurphy
does, I mean not me. I don’t have any sort of secrecy
or alter-egos or anything.>>Hold on, hold on I’m
beginning to suspect a thing how do you even know abut Mason Jurphy?>>Is that good, we good,
we good with the thing?>>You did it, you made
me acknowledge something that truly was unique
about that whole franchise.>>Hats off to a real one.>>Elections, there’s a neat trick. [laughs]>>BRIAN: Flipping. [laughs]>>Now that’s representative democracy.

Next phase of impeachment begins as process goes public


>>Thompson: FOR MORE ON THE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY, NEWSHOUR WEEKEND SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT JEFF GREENFIELD JOINS ME NOW FROM SANTA BARBARA. SO, JEFF, WE’VE HAD THIS VOTE TO FORMALIZE THE PROCEDURES. SO WHAT ARE WE GOING TO SEE NOW?>>SOMETIME IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS, WE’RE GOING TO SEE PUBLIC TELEVISED HEARINGS. WE’RE GOING TO ACTUALLY GET TO SEE THE DEPOSITIONS THAT SOME OF THE WITNESSES GAVE IN CLOSED TESTIMONY. AND THEN THE QUESTION IS, WHO ARE GOING TO SEE IN PUBLIC? WILL WE BE HEARING FROM LIEUTENANT COLONEL VINMAN, THE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR ON UKRAINE WHO WAS QUITE ALARMED BY WHAT HE HEARD ON THE CALL? ARE WE GOING TO HAVE JOHN BOLTON, THE FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER WHO WAS ALSO QUITE ALARMED BY WHAT HE HEARD? HE SAID HE WILL ONLY TESTIFY IF COMPELLED TO BY A COURT. AND THEN THE QUESTION WILL BE WHO WILL REPUBLICANS TRY TO BRING ON TO ATTEMPT TO UNDERCUT THE CENTRAL STORY OF THE PRESIDENT ASKING FOR A QUID PRO QUO IN RETURN FOR MILITARY AID? SO, BUT IT IS GOING TO BE PUBLIC.>>Thompson: I MEAN, WHAT IMPACT COULD THAT HAVE? DOES THIS REPRESENT A RISK IN SOME SENSE OR AN OPPORTUNITY FOR DEMOCRATS?>>WE GET A CLUE FROM THE FACT THAT UNDER THE RULES, EACH SIDE IS GONNA HAVE 45 MINUTES OF BLOCK TIME TO PRESENT THEIR CASE AND TALK TO THEIR WITNESSES. AND THE QUESTION IS GONNA BE DONE BY STAFF ATTORNEYS, NOT BY CONGRESSMEN. AND THAT MEANS THAT THE DEMOCRATS HAVE REALIZED THAT THIS BACK AND FORTH FIVE MINUTES EACH MUDDLES THE STORY. THEY WANT A CLEAR, COHERENT STORY TO PRESENT IF IMPEACHMENT EVER COMES, AS IT PROBABLY WILL, TO A FULL VOTE. THE RISK WOULD BE IF THE REPUBLICANS CAN GET PEOPLE TO TESTIFY WHO BASICALLY SAY THIS WHOLE NARRATIVE IS EXAGGERATED OR FALSE.>>Thompson: JUST THIS MORNING, WE SAW A NEW FOX NEWS POLL COME OUT THAT SAID 49% OF VOTERS SUPPORT IMPEACHMENT. DO WE HAVE REASON TO THINK THAT SOME OF THIS PARTISANSHIP IN CONGRESS MIGHT START TO ERODE?>>I REALLY THINK THAT EVEN WITH THE SLIGHT EROSION IN SUPPORT FOR TRUMP AMONG REPUBLICANS, IT’S DOWN, BUT IT’S THE 78%. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE RISK THAT REPUBLICAN SENATORS UP FOR RE-ELECTION MAY BE TAKING, THEY MIGHT WANT TO APPEAL TO MORE MODERATE VOTERS WHO WERE LESS HAPPY ABOUT TRUMP. BUT DO THEY RISK ALIENATING THAT FIRM BASE? SO THAT PART OF THE PARTISANSHIP, I JUST THINK, IS NOT GONNA FADE, BARRING SOME MIRACLE. ONE OTHER POINT. IF THIS GETS TO A TRIAL IN THE SENATE IN JANUARY, YOU HAVE SIX DEMOCRATIC SENATORS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT WHO ARE GONNA BE, IN EFFECT, CHAINED TO THEIR DESKS JUST AS THE CLIMAX TO THE IOWA CAUCUSES IN THE NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY APPROACH. AND I DOUBT THAT REPUBLICAN LEADER McCONNELL IS GONNA WANT TO DO THEM ANY FAVORS. SO THAT’S ANOTHER WAY THAT PARTISANSHIP MAY PLAY A ROLE IN WHAT WE SEE.>>Thompson: NONE OF THIS IS HAPPENING IN A VACUUM, OF COURSE. I WANTED TO ASK YOU HISTORICALLY, WHEN WE LOOK AT OTHER IMPEACHMENT INQUIRIES IN THE LAST CENTURY, HOW HAVE THINGS LIKE THE ECONOMY AND APPROVAL RATINGS PLAYED A ROLE?>>ONE OF THE THINGS THAT DOOMED NIXON WAS THAT IN 1974, AS THE IMPEACHMENT WATERS WERE RISING, THE ECONOMY WAS HEADED INTO RECESSION AND THE STOCK MARKET WAS IN FREEFALL. BY CONTRAST, THE ECONOMY UNDER BILL CLINTON IN THE LATE ’90s WAS AS GOOD AS IT HAS BEEN IN THE ENTIRE 20th CENTURY. AND SO, HIS APPROVAL RATINGS, EVEN DURING IMPEACHMENT, NEVER DROPPED BELOW 60%. IN TRUMP’S CASE, HIS APPROVAL RATINGS GENERALLY ARE LOWER THAN THEY SHOULD BE GIVEN THE STATE OF THE ECONOMY. SO YOU COULD SAY THAT IF SOMETHING WERE TO TURN IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF MONTHS, IF THE ECONOMY WERE REALLY TO SOUR, THAT COULD BE A REAL PROBLEM FOR TRUMP MAINTAINING THE BASE THAT HE DOES HAVE.>>Thompson: ALL RIGHT, JEFF GREENFIELD, THANK YOU SO MUCH, AS ALWAYS, FOR BEING HERE.>>NICE TO BE HERE.

Charles Ferguson on Nixon: “He didn’t have to do any of this stuff”


Well, the scandal began with the discovery
and arrest of five men in business suits carrying a great deal of cash and a lot of electronics
in the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee on June 17, 1972. But the investigation, initially, of that
burglary and bugging operation turned into an investigation both by law enforcement and,
very importantly, by two journalists, two young crime reporters at The Washington Post
— turned into an investigation of what became, what was unveiled to be, a far wider effort
on the part of the Nixon administration to undermine the Democratic Party and Nixon’s
Democratic opponents in the 1972 election. Now, let’s talk about this, because that
1972 election, he won by a landslide. This was by no means a squeaker. That’s absolutely true. And most people agree that, in fact, he didn’t
have to do any of this stuff in order to win. But he did it anyway. Paranoid. Yes. He was — Richard Nixon was an angry, troubled
man. And he saw enemies everywhere, including where
they didn’t really exist. So, explain what the Watergate break-in was. Well, the break-in had been ordered and authorized
by the former attorney general of the United States, John Mitchell, who had resigned as
attorney general in order to manage Nixon’s re-election campaign. Called? Yes, a very ironic name: the Committee to
Re-elect the President, abbreviated as CREEP. Yes, one couldn’t make that up. So, he’s CREEP’s chief. Yes. And he and several other high-level people
at the Committee to Re-elect the President, acting under constant pressure from Nixon
and his chief aides, started a wide-ranging campaign to investigate and undermine the
Democrats. And, in fact, there were multiple operations,
some managed through the White House, some managed by personal friends of Nixon, some
managed by the re-election campaign, to do many different things. There were infiltrators who were secretly
reporting on what Democratic candidates were doing. Nixon’s strongest potential rival in the
election was Maine Senator Edmund Muskie. Muskie’s driver was secretly on the payroll
of the Nixon campaign and copied and reported documents, records, plans, etc. And there were dozens of such operations,
dozens of them, many of which were eventually revealed after the burglars were caught in
June of 1972. And how does this relate to the Bay of Pigs? Well, the burglars were primarily Cuban Americans who had been recruited by a couple of former CIA agents who had worked with them in regard to the Bay of Pigs and other operations against Castro’s Cuba. And the burglars, in fact, were extremely
honorable, patriotic men who thought that they were doing something for their country
and for their president, and didn’t understand exactly why they had been ordered to do these
things.

How does impeachment work? – Alex Gendler


For most jobs, it’s understood
that you can be fired, whether for crime, incompetence, or just poor performance. But what if your job happens to be
the most powerful position in the country, or the world? That’s where impeachment comes in. Impeachment isn’t the same
as actually removing someone from office. Like an indictment in criminal court, it’s only the formal accusation
that launches a trial, which could end in conviction
or acquittal. Originating in the United Kingdom, impeachment allowed Parliament to vote for
removing a government official from office even without the king’s consent. Although this was an important check
on royal power, the king couldn’t be impeached because the monarch was considered
the source of all government power. But for the founders
of the American Republic, there was no higher authority
beyond the people themselves. And so impeachment was adopted in
the United States as a power of Congress applying to any civil officers,
up to and including the president. Although demands for impeachment
can come from any members of the public, only the House of Representatives has the
power to actually initiate the process. It begins by referring the matter
to a committee, usually the House Committee on Rules and the House Committee on the Judiciary. These committees review the accusations, examine the evidence, and issue a recommendation. If they find sufficient
grounds to proceed, the House holds a separate vote
on each of the specific charges, known as Articles of Impeachment. If one or more passes
by a simple majority, the official is impeached
and the stage is set for trial. The actual trial that follows impeachment
is held in the Senate. Selected members of the House,
known as managers, act as the prosecution, while the impeached official
and their lawyers present their defense. The Senate acts as both judge and jury, conducting the trial and deliberating
after hearing all the arguments. If it’s the president or vice president
being impeached, the chief justice
of the Supreme Court presides. A conviction requires a supermajority
of two-thirds and results in automatic removal
from power. Depending on the original charges, it can also disqualify them
from holding office in the future and open them to standard
criminal prosecution. So what exactly can get someone impeached? That’s a bit more complicated. Unlike in the United Kingdom, impeachment in the U.S.
pits an elected legislature against other democratically
elected members of government. Therefore, to prevent the process
from being used as a political weapon, the Constitution specifies that
an official can only be impeached for treason, bribery, or other high crimes
and misdemeanors. That still leaves a lot of room
for interpretation, not to mention politics, and many impeachment trials
have split along partisan lines. But the process is generally understood to
be reserved for serious abuses of power. The first official to be impeached was
Tennesse Senator William Blount in 1797 for conspiring with Britain to cease
the Spanish colony of Louisiana. Since then, the House has launched
impeachment investigations about 60 times, but only 19 have led to actual
impeachment proceedings. The eight cases that ended
in a conviction and removal from office were all federal judges. And impeachment of a sitting president
is even more rare. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 for attempting to replace Secretary of War
Edwin Stanton without consulting the Senate. Over a century later, Bill Clinton
was impeached for making false statements under oath
during a sexual harassment trial. Both were ultimately acquitted
when the Senate’s votes to convict fell short of the required
two-thirds majority. And contrary to popular belief, Richard Nixon was never actually impeached
for the Watergate scandal. He resigned before it could happen knowing he would almost certainly
be convicted. Theoretically, the U.S. government is
already designed to prevent abuses of power, limiting different branches
through a system of checks and balances, term limits, and free elections. But impeachment can be seen
as an emergency brake for when these safeguards fail.

The Parallels Between President Donald Trump’s Phone Call And Watergate | All In | MSNBC


FORMALIZED IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY.>>ALL RIGHT, CONGRESSWOMAN>>ALL RIGHT, CONGRESSWOMAN MAXINE WATERS, THANK YOU SO MAXINE WATERS, THANK YOU SO MUFF. MUFF.>>YOU’RE SO WELCOME, THANK YOU.>>YOU’RE SO WELCOME, THANK YOU.>>I’M JOINED BY AUTHOR OF>>I’M JOINED BY AUTHOR OF “IMPEACHMENT A CITIZENS GUIDE” “IMPEACHMENT A CITIZENS GUIDE” AND JILL WINE-BANKS. AND JILL WINE-BANKS. LET ME START WITH YOU AS SOMEONE LET ME START WITH YOU AS SOMEONE WHO WAS ON THAT WATERGATE TEAM. WHO WAS ON THAT WATERGATE TEAM. A LOT OF PARALLELS, RIGHT, TO A LOT OF PARALLELS, RIGHT, TO THE PRODUCTION OF THE INFAMOUS THE PRODUCTION OF THE INFAMOUS NIXON TAPES, THE FACT THAT THEY NIXON TAPES, THE FACT THAT THEY FIRST — THEY WANTED TO RELEASE FIRST — THEY WANTED TO RELEASE A TRANSCRIPT TO SOMEONE ELSE, A TRANSCRIPT TO SOMEONE ELSE, EVENTUALLY GOT SHAKEN OUT OF EVENTUALLY GOT SHAKEN OUT OF THEM. THEM. HOW ARE YOU VIEWING THE SOMEWHAT HOW ARE YOU VIEWING THE SOMEWHAT REMARKABLE DISCLOSURES THAT REMARKABLE DISCLOSURES THAT WE’VE SEEN SHAKEN LOOSE FROM WE’VE SEEN SHAKEN LOOSE FROM THIS WHITE HOUSE IN THE LAST 24 THIS WHITE HOUSE IN THE LAST 24 HOURS? HOURS?>>WELL, I’M WORKING ON A BOOK>>WELL, I’M WORKING ON A BOOK NOW, AND I’VE RECENTLY BEEN NOW, AND I’VE RECENTLY BEEN PAYING A LOT OF ATTENTION TO PAYING A LOT OF ATTENTION TO EXACT COMMENTS BY RICHARD NIXON. EXACT COMMENTS BY RICHARD NIXON. AND WHEN HE RELEASED WHAT BECAME AND WHEN HE RELEASED WHAT BECAME THE SMOKING GUN TAPE, HE SAID THE SMOKING GUN TAPE, HE SAID IT’S REALLY NOT SO BAD WHICH IT’S REALLY NOT SO BAD WHICH SOUNDS EXACTLY LIKE WHAT TRUMP SOUNDS EXACTLY LIKE WHAT TRUMP IS SAYING, THAT THIS IS IS SAYING, THAT THIS IS BEAUTIFUL CONVERSATION, A BEAUTIFUL CONVERSATION, A PERFECT CONVERSATION. PERFECT CONVERSATION. IT ISN’T. IT ISN’T. THIS CONVERSATION IS A SMOKING THIS CONVERSATION IS A SMOKING GUN. GUN. IT CLEARLY LINKS HIM TO ASKING IT CLEARLY LINKS HIM TO ASKING FOR SOMETHING THAT IS ILLEGAL TO FOR SOMETHING THAT IS ILLEGAL TO ASK FOR, THAT IS THE HELP OF A ASK FOR, THAT IS THE HELP OF A FOREIGN GOVERNMENT FOR HIS FOREIGN GOVERNMENT FOR HIS CAMPAIGN. CAMPAIGN. SO THAT’S ONE OF THE THINGS THAT SO THAT’S ONE OF THE THINGS THAT IS VERY SIGNIFICANT TODAY. IS VERY SIGNIFICANT TODAY. ANYBODY WHO READS THAT CANNOT ANYBODY WHO READS THAT CANNOT HELP BUT CONCLUDE THAT HE’S DONE HELP BUT CONCLUDE THAT HE’S DONE SOMETHING THAT ENDANGERS OUR SOMETHING THAT ENDANGERS OUR NATIONAL SECURITY, ENDANGERS THE NATIONAL SECURITY, ENDANGERS THE SECURITY OF AN ALLY OF OURS SECURITY OF AN ALLY OF OURS AGAINST HIS FAVORITE PERSON, AGAINST HIS FAVORITE PERSON, AGAINST RUSSIA. AGAINST RUSSIA.>>YOU MENTIONED THE POSSIBLE>>YOU MENTIONED THE POSSIBLE ILLEGALITY OF WHAT’S MENTIONED ILLEGALITY OF WHAT’S MENTIONED HERE AND THERE’S REPORTING BY HERE AND THERE’S REPORTING BY WASHINGTON POST OF THERE BEING WASHINGTON POST OF THERE BEING CRIMINAL REFERRAL ABOUT THERE CRIMINAL REFERRAL ABOUT THERE BEING SOME KIND OF CRIMINAL BEING SOME KIND OF CRIMINAL CONDUCT HERE, BUT I’VE BEEN CONDUCT HERE, BUT I’VE BEEN THINK ABOUT A CONVERSATION WE THINK ABOUT A CONVERSATION WE HAD A MONTH AGO ABOUT HAD A MONTH AGO ABOUT IMPEACHMENT WHEN YOU MADE THE IMPEACHMENT WHEN YOU MADE THE CASE SOME CRIMES AREN’T CASE SOME CRIMES AREN’T IMPEACHABLE AND SOME CRIMES IMPEACHABLE AND SOME CRIMES IMPEACHED AREN’T CRIMES. IMPEACHED AREN’T CRIMES. HOW ARE YOU LEARNING MORE HOW ARE YOU LEARNING MORE BROADLY ABOUT THIS FRAMEWORK? BROADLY ABOUT THIS FRAMEWORK?>>IT’S CLEAR THAT THE>>IT’S CLEAR THAT THE IMPEACHABLE OFFENSES AREN’T IMPEACHABLE OFFENSES AREN’T LIMITED TO CRIMINAL ACTIVITY. LIMITED TO CRIMINAL ACTIVITY. IT’S ABUSES OF THE PUBLIC TRUST IT’S ABUSES OF THE PUBLIC TRUST AS HAMILTON PUT IT. AS HAMILTON PUT IT. SO AN AOR MISUSE WOULD BE AN SO AN AOR MISUSE WOULD BE AN IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE EVEN IF IT’S IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE EVEN IF IT’S NOT CRIMINAL OR ENLISTED FOREIGN NOT CRIMINAL OR ENLISTED FOREIGN HELP IN ENSURING HIS HELP IN ENSURING HIS RE-ELECTION, ALL OF THOSE WOULD RE-ELECTION, ALL OF THOSE WOULD BE EGREGIOUS BETRAYALS OF PUBLIC BE EGREGIOUS BETRAYALS OF PUBLIC TRUST. TRUST. AND WHETHER OR NOT THEY’RE AND WHETHER OR NOT THEY’RE CRIMES THEY WOULD BE IMPEACHABLE CRIMES THEY WOULD BE IMPEACHABLE OFFENSES. OFFENSES.>>ALSO HERE, JILL, AND THIS IS>>ALSO HERE, JILL, AND THIS IS ALSO SOMETHING I THINK ECHOED ALSO SOMETHING I THINK ECHOED WATERGATE IS SO MUCH OF THE WATERGATE IS SO MUCH OF THE PRESIDENT’S MISCONDUCT HAS BEEN PRESIDENT’S MISCONDUCT HAS BEEN OUT IN THE OPEN. OUT IN THE OPEN. RUSSIA, IF YOU’RE LISTENING, ET RUSSIA, IF YOU’RE LISTENING, ET CETERA. CETERA. HERE HE GOT CAUGHT DOING HERE HE GOT CAUGHT DOING SOMETHING SECRET AND IT SEEMED SOMETHING SECRET AND IT SEEMED TO ME PART OF WHAT IS MAKING TO ME PART OF WHAT IS MAKING THIS DIFFERENT PERHAPS THAN THIS DIFFERENT PERHAPS THAN PREVIOUS THINGS WE’VE SEEN WITH PREVIOUS THINGS WE’VE SEEN WITH THIS PRESIDENT. THIS PRESIDENT. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT? WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT?>>WELL, I HAVE PAGES OF>>WELL, I HAVE PAGES OF QUESTIONS AND WITNESSES I WOULD QUESTIONS AND WITNESSES I WOULD LIKE TO FIND OUT ABOUT THAT LIKE TO FIND OUT ABOUT THAT COULD REALLY FILL IN THE CONTEXT COULD REALLY FILL IN THE CONTEXT OF THIS PARTICULAR VIOLATION OF THIS PARTICULAR VIOLATION WHICH IS EGREGIOUS. WHICH IS EGREGIOUS. BUT THERE IS ALSO EVERYTHING BUT THERE IS ALSO EVERYTHING ELSE THAT HE’S DONE, AND WHILE I ELSE THAT HE’S DONE, AND WHILE I URGE THAT WE FOCUS NOW ON URGE THAT WE FOCUS NOW ON SOMETHING — BECAUSE NOTHING HAS SOMETHING — BECAUSE NOTHING HAS STUCK TO HIM BECAUSE THERE’S SO STUCK TO HIM BECAUSE THERE’S SO MANY DIFFERENCES. MANY DIFFERENCES. EVERY DAY HE DOES SOMETHING EVERY DAY HE DOES SOMETHING DIFFERENT THAT’S BAD, AND SO DIFFERENT THAT’S BAD, AND SO NOTHING STICKS. NOTHING STICKS. SO YOU DO NEED TO FOCUS. SO YOU DO NEED TO FOCUS. BUT ON THE OTHER HAND IN BUT ON THE OTHER HAND IN WATERGATE THERE WAS A CONTEXT TO WATERGATE THERE WAS A CONTEXT TO ALL OF THIS, AND WE HAVE A ALL OF THIS, AND WE HAVE A PATTERN OF MISBEHAVIOR HERE BY PATTERN OF MISBEHAVIOR HERE BY PRESIDENT TRUMP AS WE DID WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP AS WE DID WITH RICHARD NIXON. RICHARD NIXON. IT WASN’T JUST THE BREAK IN AND IT WASN’T JUST THE BREAK IN AND THE COVER UP, IT WAS MANY OTHER THE COVER UP, IT WAS MANY OTHER THINGS AS WELL. THINGS AS WELL. IT WAS CAMPAIGN VIOLATIONS. IT WAS CAMPAIGN VIOLATIONS. IT WAS CONTEMPT OF CONGRESS. IT WAS CONTEMPT OF CONGRESS. IT WAS ABUSE OF POWER. IT WAS ABUSE OF POWER. WE HAVE ALL OF THOSE THINGS WE HAVE ALL OF THOSE THINGS HERE, AND SO THERE MAY NEED TO HERE, AND SO THERE MAY NEED TO BE AT LEAST THREE POTS OF BE AT LEAST THREE POTS OF EVIDENCE THAT GET LOOKED AT AND EVIDENCE THAT GET LOOKED AT AND REVIEWED, BUT THIS ONE IS BIG REVIEWED, BUT THIS ONE IS BIG AND SEEMS TO HAVE CAUGHT THE AND SEEMS TO HAVE CAUGHT THE PUBLIC ATTENTION BECAUSE THEY PUBLIC ATTENTION BECAUSE THEY CAN UNDERSTAND AND BECAUSE IT CAN UNDERSTAND AND BECAUSE IT AFFECTS THE UPCOMING ELECTION. AFFECTS THE UPCOMING ELECTION. WE’RE NOT LOOKING BACK ANYMORE. WE’RE NOT LOOKING BACK ANYMORE. WE’RE LOOKING TOWARD IS THIS WE’RE LOOKING TOWARD IS THIS ELECTION SAFE OR IS THE ELECTION SAFE OR IS THE PRESIDENT GOING TO USE FOREIGN PRESIDENT GOING TO USE FOREIGN POWERS TO HELP HIM WIN? POWERS TO HELP HIM WIN?>>OF COURSE, THE NEXT PIECE OF>>OF COURSE, THE NEXT PIECE OF INFORMATION THAT WILL COME INFORMATION THAT WILL COME OUT — A FRESHMAN REP FROM NEW OUT — A FRESHMAN REP FROM NEW YORK, A REPUBLICAN WHO SAW IT YORK, A REPUBLICAN WHO SAW IT AND SAID I DO NOT SUPPORT AND SAID I DO NOT SUPPORT IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP. IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP. SHE GOES ONTO SAY I JUST READ SHE GOES ONTO SAY I JUST READ THE WHISTLE-BLOWER COMPLAINT THE WHISTLE-BLOWER COMPLAINT AVAILABLE. AVAILABLE. IT SHOULD BE IMMEDIATELY IT SHOULD BE IMMEDIATELY DECLASSIFIED AND RELEASED TO THE DECLASSIFIED AND RELEASED TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. AMERICAN PEOPLE. ONE THING THAT STRUCK ME ABOUT ONE THING THAT STRUCK ME ABOUT THIS EXCHANGE AND YOU WORKED IN THIS EXCHANGE AND YOU WORKED IN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, AND THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, AND YOUR WIFE WORKED AS A U.N. YOUR WIFE WORKED AS A U.N. AMBASSADOR, AND YOU’VE BEEN ON AMBASSADOR, AND YOU’VE BEEN ON SORT OF THE INSIDE OF HOW POLICY SORT OF THE INSIDE OF HOW POLICY GETS MADE, THERE’S NOTHING ABOUT GETS MADE, THERE’S NOTHING ABOUT THE NATIONAL INTEREST, NOTHING THE NATIONAL INTEREST, NOTHING ABOUT U.S. POLICY. ABOUT U.S. POLICY. THIS IS LIKE DONALD TRUMP REAL THIS IS LIKE DONALD TRUMP REAL ESTATE MOGUL TRYING TO MAKE SOME ESTATE MOGUL TRYING TO MAKE SOME KIND OF DEAL TO BENEFIT HIMSELF. KIND OF DEAL TO BENEFIT HIMSELF.>>WELL, I WANT TO BE A LITTLE>>WELL, I WANT TO BE A LITTLE CAREFUL — YOU’RE RIGHT BUT I CAREFUL — YOU’RE RIGHT BUT I WANT TO BE A LITTLE CAREFUL WANT TO BE A LITTLE CAREFUL HERE. HERE. SO MISBEHAVIOR ON THE PART OF SO MISBEHAVIOR ON THE PART OF THE PRESIDENT OR FUTURE THREATS THE PRESIDENT OR FUTURE THREATS ARE NOT IMPEACHABLE. ARE NOT IMPEACHABLE. FOR THE PRESIDENT TO HAVE A FOR THE PRESIDENT TO HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH A FOREIGN CONVERSATION WITH A FOREIGN LEADER THAT DOESN’T DEAL WITH LEADER THAT DOESN’T DEAL WITH FOREIGN POLICY BUT BASICALLY FOREIGN POLICY BUT BASICALLY CONGRATULATIONS, THAT’S CONGRATULATIONS, THAT’S COMPLETELY FINE. COMPLETELY FINE. IF THERE ARE THINGS UNTOWARD OR IF THERE ARE THINGS UNTOWARD OR INAPPROPRIATE THAT’S ALSO FINE INAPPROPRIATE THAT’S ALSO FINE IN THE SENSE IT DOESN’T AMOUNT IN THE SENSE IT DOESN’T AMOUNT TO A HIGH CRIME OR MISDEMEANOR. TO A HIGH CRIME OR MISDEMEANOR. SO THE GRAVITY OF WHAT WE’RE SO THE GRAVITY OF WHAT WE’RE INVOLVED IN AND THE MAJESTY INVOLVED IN AND THE MAJESTY WHICH GOES BACK TO THE AMERICAN WHICH GOES BACK TO THE AMERICAN FOUNDING EVEN THE REVOLUTION FOUNDING EVEN THE REVOLUTION ITSELF, I THINK WARRANTS A FOCUS ITSELF, I THINK WARRANTS A FOCUS ON WHAT IS SPECIFICALLY THE ON WHAT IS SPECIFICALLY THE CONCERN HERE AND TO FOCUS ON ONE CONCERN HERE AND TO FOCUS ON ONE THING ALONE IS REALLY A GOOD THING ALONE IS REALLY A GOOD IDEA THAT IS ENGAGEMENT WITH A IDEA THAT IS ENGAGEMENT WITH A FOREIGN LEADER TO GET FOREIGN LEADER TO GET INVESTIGATION OF A POLITICAL INVESTIGATION OF A POLITICAL OPPONENT. OPPONENT. THAT IS DOUBLY HARMFUL FROM A THAT IS DOUBLY HARMFUL FROM A CONSTITUTIONAL POINT OF VIEW. CONSTITUTIONAL POINT OF VIEW. FIRST AS NRTSFERENCE IN OUR FIRST AS NRTSFERENCE IN OUR CAPACITY WITH SELF-GOVERNMENT CAPACITY WITH SELF-GOVERNMENT AND SECONDLY IT’S AN AND SECONDLY IT’S AN INTERFERENCE WITH THE LIBERTY OF INTERFERENCE WITH THE LIBERTY OF AN AMERICAN CITIZEN THAT IS AN AMERICAN CITIZEN THAT IS FORMER VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN AND FORMER VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN AND HIS SON. HIS SON. AND SO THOSE ARE TWO PROBLEMS, AND SO THOSE ARE TWO PROBLEMS, AND THEY’RE EXTREMELY SPECIFIC AND THEY’RE EXTREMELY SPECIFIC PROBLEMS. PROBLEMS. IT’S NOT ABOUT PATTERNS OF IT’S NOT ABOUT PATTERNS OF MISBEHAVIOR, NOT ABOUT CLIMATE MISBEHAVIOR, NOT ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE OR DISLIKING 90% OF WHAT CHANGE OR DISLIKING 90% OF WHAT PRESIDENT TRUMP BELIEVES IN. PRESIDENT TRUMP BELIEVES IN. THOSE ARE PART OF LEGITIMATE THOSE ARE PART OF LEGITIMATE DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES. DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES. WE HAVE TWO SPECIFIC THINGS WE HAVE TWO SPECIFIC THINGS WHICH ARE WARRANTING AN WHICH ARE WARRANTING AN IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY.

“Smoking Gun”: Richard Nixon and Bob Haldeman discuss the Watergate break-in, June 23, 1972


>>NARRATOR: The Nixon Presidential Library and Museum presents A selection from the White House Tapes Conversation 741-002,
which took place on June 23, 1972>>BOB HALDEMAN: Yeah, that’s fine.
Now, on that investigation, you know, the Democratic break-in thing, we’re back to the-in the, the problem area
because the FBI is not under control, because Gray doesn’t exactly know how to control them, and they have — their investigation is now leading into some productive areas because they’ve been able to trace the money, not through the money itself, but through the bank, you know, sources — the banker himself.
And, and it goes in some directions we don’t want it to go. Uh, also there have been some things,
like an informant came in off the street to the FBI in Miami, who, uh, who was a photographer or has a friend who is a photographer who developed some films through this guy Barker, and the films had, uh, pictures of Democratic National Committee letterhead documents and things. So he’s got —
it’s things like that that are going to, that are filtering in. Mitchell came up with yesterday, and John Dean analyzed very carefully last night and concludes, concurs now with Mitchell’s recommendation that the only way to solve this —
and we’re set up beautifully to do it, ah, in that and that…the only network that paid any attention to it last night was NBC, who did did a massive story on the Cuban>>PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: That’s right.
>>HALDEMAN: thing.
>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Right.>>HALDEMAN: That the way to handle this now is
for us to have Walters call Pat Gray and just say, “Stay the hell out of this. This is, ah — there’s some business here we don’t want you to go any further on it.” That’s not an unusual development>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Mm-hmm.
>>HALDEMAN: and, uh, that would take care of it.>>PRESIDENT NIXON: What about Pat Gray, ah… You mean, he doesn’t want to?
>>HALDEMAN: Pat does want to. He doesn’t know how to, and he doesn’t have, he doesn’t have any basis for doing it. Given this, he will then have the basis. He’ll call Mark Felt in, and the two of them —
and Mark Felt wants to cooperate because>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Yeah.
>>HALDEMAN: he’s ambitious.
>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Yeah.>>HALDEMAN: Ah, he’ll call him in and say, “We’ve, we’ve got the signal from across the river to, to put the hold on this.” And that will fit rather well because the FBI agents who are working the case, at this point, feel that’s what it is: This is CIA.
[Telephone ringing in background]>>PRESIDENT NIXON: But they’ve traced the money to whom?
>>HALDEMAN: Well, they have, they’ve traced to a name, but they haven’t gotten to the guy yet.
>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Who is it? Is it somebody here?>>HALDEMAN: Ken Dahlberg.
>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Who the hell is Ken Dahlberg?>>HALDEMAN: He’s a — he gave $25,000 in Minnesota and, ah, the check went directly in to this, to this guy Barker.>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Well, maybe he’s a… He didn’t, he didn’t get this from the Committee, though; this is from Stans.
>>HALDEMAN: Yeah. It is. It is. It’s directly traceable and there’s some more through
some Texas people in — that went to the Mexican bank, which they can also trace to the Mexican bank.
They’ll get their names today. And–
[pause]>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Well, I mean, ah, there’s no way — I’m just thinking, if they don’t cooperate, what do they say? They, they, they were approached by the Cubans. That’s what Dahlberg has to say; the Texans, too. Is that the idea?
>>HALDEMAN: Well, if they will. But then we’re relying on more and more people all the time. That’s the problem. And, ah, it does stop, if we could, if we take this other step.
>>PRESIDENT NIXON: All right. All right, fine.>>HALDEMAN: And, and they seem to feel the thing to do is get them to stop.
>>PRESIDENT NIXON: All right, fine.>>HALDEMAN: They say the only way to do that is a White House instruction. And it’s got to be to Helms and — ah, what’s his name? Walters.
>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Walters.>>HALDEMAN: And the proposal would be that Ehrlich– [coughs] Ehrlichman and I call them in
>>PRESIDENT NIXON: All right, fine.>>HALDEMAN: and say, ah —
>>PRESIDENT NIXON: How do you call them in? Well, we protected Helms from one hell of a lot of things. >>HALDEMAN: That’s what Ehrlichman says.
>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Of course, this is, uh, this is, uh — Hunt will, that will uncover a lot of [unintelligible]
When you open that scab, there’s a hell of a lot of things that “we just feel that this would be very detrimental to
have this thing go any futher.” This involves these Cubans, and Hunt, and a lot of hanky-panky that we have nothing to do with, ourselves. Well, what the hell, did Mitchell know about this thing to much of a degree?
>>HALDEMAN: I think so. I don’t think he knew the details, but I think he knew.
>>PRESIDENT NIXON: He didn’t know how it was going to be handled, though, with Dahlberg and the Texans and so forth?
Well, who was the asshole who did that? Is it Liddy? Is that the fellow? He must be a little nuts.
>>HALDEMAN: Yeah.>>PRESIDENT NIXON: I mean, he just isn’t well screwed on, is he?
Isn’t that the problem?>>HALDEMAN: No, but he was under pressure,
apparently, to get more information, and as he got more pressure, he pushed the people harder to move harder
>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Pressure from Mitchell?>>HALDEMAN: Apparently.
>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Oh, Mitchell, Mitchell. Is that the point that you made? [unintelligible]
>>HALDEMAN: [unintelligible], yeah.>>PRESIDENT NIXON: All right, fine. I understand it all. We won’t second-guess Mitchell and the rest. Thank God it wasn’t Colson.>>HALDEMAN: The FBI interviewed Colson yesterday. They determined that would be a good thing to do.>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Mm-hmm.
>>HALDEMAN: Uh, to have him take an>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Mm-hmm.
>>HALDEMAN: interrogation, which he did. And that — the FBI guys working the case had concluded that there were one or two possibilities. 1) That this was a White House– They don’t think there’s anything about the Election Committee. They think it was either a White House operation that had some obscure reasons for it — non-political. Or it was, uh, the Cubans and the CIA. And after their interrogation of, of Colson
>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Colson>>HALDEMAN: yep, they concluded it was not the White House so they are now convinced it is a CIA thing. So the CIA turnoff would–>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Well, I’m not sure of Helms [unintelligible]. I’m not going to get that closely involved.
>>HALDEMAN: No, sir. We don’t want you to.>>PRESIDENT NIXON: You call him. You got that?
>>HALDEMAN: Good deal.>>PRESIDENT NIXON: Play it tough. That’s the way they play it,
and that’s the way we’re going to play it.>>HALDEMAN: Okay.>>NARRATOR: For more information, please visit www.NixonLibrary.gov

Rick Perlstein – Jimmy Carter and the Origins of the Democratic Party Cult of Austerity


[MUSIC PLAYING] Well hello, and
welcome everybody to another of our Rhodes events. Trying to pack in as many as
possible before they dismantle this building and shuttle it
across the road into new digs. And when you’re putting
together a list at short notice, because I was only appointed
in July, you have to say, OK, how do you have some impact
events that people might actually want to — You’re trying to
signal to the community not just the usual
suspects, et cetera. And this is one of the people
who immediately sprung to mind. Rick Perlstein is probably
my favorite historian. I have to say that. And one book in
particular, which is called The Invisible
Bridge, which has this amazing,
incredible book which takes Reagan as this
figure who was incredible, as I say, long and wrong
for his time in the 60s. And then he walks you through
the 1970s, and the politics and turmoil of that decade,
and then every now and again you go back to Reagan
as a kind of figure. And then he’s slightly
less out of time. And then by the time you get
to the end of the decade, it’s almost as if the whole
world has swung to him. He hasn’t changed at all. Thus the invisible bridge. So I wanted to know
what happened next, so I wrote to Rick
and said, you want to come up and give a talk? And he said, yeah,
because I’m actually working on the kind
of prequel and then what happens afterwards. Because at the same time
that Reagan was ascendant, there was this guy Jimmy Carter. And what we forget at
the time was that Carter was fantastically popular,
united the Democratic Party, wasn’t tainted by Watergate. There was a whole politics
there for the Democratic Party to really be reborn
and become powerful. And they completely blew it. And you know anybody
who’s spent time– and I’ve been here
nearly 30 years– I mean the refrain is
the Democrats never miss an opportunity to
miss an opportunity. So I’m interested in the
original story as to how they missed an opportunity. And I think that’s what we’re
going to get some of now. As is normal, what we’ll do
is rick will talk for a while. Then we will chat for a while. And then we’ll bring
everybody else in and we’ll go from there. Thank you. Well Mark, maybe
we’ll discover that what your noble countrymen
Winston Churchill said about the United States will
be true about the Democratic Party, which is that they always
do the right thing once they exhaust every other opportunity. Once every single opportunity,
other opportunities being exhausted, they
will do the right thing. So we’ll see. After you. I’m going to give
a presentation. I’m going to read, and a lot
of this is based on, yes, the book I’m working on
now, which is going to cover the years from 1976 to 1980. And it’s going to be
called Reaganland, and of course, that
ends with Ronald Reagan being elected president. And not incidentally,
Jimmy Carter being un-elected president. So in May of 1979, the
chairman of Jimmy Carter’s brand-new presidential
reelection committee gave a speech in
which he said, we haven’t done one thing in
this administration that has gotten us votes. He was bragging. From the beginning, Jimmy
Carter’s political calling card had always been his
promise, as he put it in a famous speech he would
deliver six weeks later on what he called America “the American
people’s crisis of confidence,” that he would deliver honest
answers, not easy answers. The soul of Carter’s
dour truth telling was that after decades
of American abundance, the American people now
had to make do with less from their government. He was hardly the first
Democrat to say so. There was Senator William
Proxmire of Wisconsin, chairman of the Congressional
Joint Economic Committee and a former investment
banker, who a 1972 New Republic profile marveled “seemed
to invite a taxpayer revolt against government itself.” There were the Watergate babies
swept into office in 1974, many of them representing
traditionally Republican suburbs, whose
leader, Gary Hart, flayed, quote, “Eleanor
Roosevelt Democrats who cling to the Roosevelt
model long after it ceased to relate to reality.” There was Michael
Dukakis, who was elevated to the Massachusetts
State House in 1979. The UPI analyzed his
successful campaign, “The Democrats were
the conservatives. Michael S. Dukakis of the New
Deal and Great Society Party said he was going to run
the state like a bank.” There was Governor Jerry
Brown of California, the only candidate to beat Jimmy
Carter in a Democratic primary in 1976. In December, CBS
News ran an expose on a series of accidental
deaths in California’s decrepit mental hospitals. Doctors blamed not just
Ronald Reagan’s budget cuts– he had been the previous
governor– but Jerry Brown’s. Here was how Brown
answered his critics. And I queued up a
little video that I took at the Vanderbilt news archive. So Luke, you can run
that first video. No, no. No, not that one. The one where
that’s from Google. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] – [INAUDIBLE] just
three months ago. Society does have limits. Whether it be schools or
highways or mental hospitals, there is a limit. Can you put the volume up? – Are we going to invest
massive sums of money in– OK, go back to the start
and have the volume. That’s great. Go back. – –my job to [INAUDIBLE]
those hard choices. And I tell you. 417. 478. – [INAUDIBLE] common sense. And every group
wants a little more. And it’s my job– –three months ago. Society does have limits. Remember, people dying
in mental hospitals. – –highways and
mental hospitals. There is a limit. And I have elected to
invest massive sums of money when ordinary citizens
are finding it very hard to meet their own goals. And it’s my job to try to
make those hard choices. And I try to be
compassionate, but also to have a certain
amount of common sense. And every group
wants a little more. And it’s my job to give
them a little less. [END VIDEO PLAYBACK] Thanks. When Bill Clinton declared in
his 1996 State of the Union address that “the era of
big government is over,” it was treated as
some fresh new thing. It was actually a
stale old thing. People have forgotten the
presidency of Jimmy Carter, for instance, who had declared
in his 1978 State of the Union, “Government cannot
solve our problems. It can’t set our goals. It cannot define our vision. Government cannot
eliminate poverty, or provide a bountiful
economy, or reduce inflation, or save our cities, or cure
illiteracy, or provide energy.” In 1976, he had campaigned on
turning welfare into workfare, slashing government bureaucracy,
and almost obsessively on balancing the budget. He said to a
historian, “I wish you could have seen the stricken
expressions on the faces of those Democratic
leaders when I talked about balancing the budget. That wasn’t the kind of
thing a Democratic president was supposed to do.” “When it came to economics,”
he said, “all they knew about was stimulus and Great
Society programs.” His first announced appointment
was a conservative Georgia banker as director of Office
of Management and Budget. Because he inherited a
slowing GDP growth and a 7.8% unemployment rate his
economists begged him to propose a stimulus package. Reluctantly, he put
forward one $31.2 billion, anchored by a $50 one-time
rebate for all taxpayers. By comparison, in
inflation-adjusted dollars, Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus
was about 10 times that. Then, at the slightest
sign of an economic uptick, Carter withdrew the plan. His next fiscal
move was announcing a hit list of 80
public works projects he wished to see canceled. One of them was the massive
central Arizona Project. Congressman Morris
Udall of Arizona said that without it,
Tucson and Phoenix are going to dry up and blow away. In between, Carter delivered
his first famous fireside chat, in which he donned
a mustard-colored cardigan sweater, preempted
Charlie’s Angels, and addressed a problem that
the American people did not even know was a problem. He began by observing
that a home heating oil shortage in the Northeast
during a record cold winter wasn’t an anomaly but a symptom
of a dangerous new structural problem. Then he said– and if you
could show the Jimmy Carter video at 4:14 [VIDEO PLAYBACK] – Let us face the fact that the
energy shortage is [INAUDIBLE].. There is no way we
can solve it quickly, but if we all cooperate
and make more sacrifices, if we learn to live
thriftily remember the importance of
helping our neighbors, then we can find ways
to adjust and to make our society more efficient
and our own lives more enjoyable and productive. Utility companies must
promote conservation and not consumption. All the natural gas companies
must be honest with all of us about their reserves
and profits. We will find out the difference
between real shortages and artificial ones. We ask private
companies to sacrifice, just as private
citizens must do. All of us must look– [END PLAYBACK] He says– you can stop. I’ll say what he says. He says everyone has to
turn their thermostats down to 65 degrees, 55
degrees at night, which he later made
a federal order. So this part of Carter’s
austerity instincts, as we know, was prophetic. Until 1973, except
during World War II, there really was no
conception of energy as something susceptible
to shortages. In the 1960s,
government officials predicted domestic fuel
reserves were quote, “adequate to satisfy
expected requirements for the remainder of the century
at costs near present levels.” Then of course, in
the fall of 1973, when the Arab members of the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries began
embargoing oil to the US to punish America’s support
of Israel, for months, gas lines stretched for
hours and for blocks. Then, almost before it
began, the crisis was over. In fact, between then and
Carter’s fireside chat, the price of petroleum fell. Americans, including
many senators, decided the shortage had been
a temporary inconvenience staged by greedy oil companies. They had to wait until 1979
and the Iranian revolution to learn how vulnerable
America’s energy supply truly was. But the on thing, the 1977
response, that conspiracy theory, attested to
was the difficulty a society built
upon the expectation of eternal abundance had
with wrapping its mind around the concept of scarcity. It is not too much to say
that Jimmy Carter considered his most important
project as president to teach the American people
the imperative of doing so. When it came to energy,
this inclination was noble, but Carter, also with an
equally urgent passion, preached governmental
scarcity, and this was tragic. As this guy demonstrated
in Austerity: The History of a
Dangerous Idea, the notion that government can make
nations more prosperous by spending less on public
goods has never worked. And in Jimmy
Carter’s case, I will argue it profoundly contributed
to the long-term diminishment of the political prospects
of his own Democratic Party. One of the promises in the party
platform Jimmy Carter ran on was the passage of the
Full Employment Bill, introduced in 1974 by Senator
Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, and Representaive Augustus
Hawkins of South Central Los Angeles. Carter accepted this
with greatest reluctance as the price he
had to pay to win the loyalty of party liberals. If passed in its original
form Humphrey-Hawkins would have installed a form
of Democratic socialism within the bosom of
the American state. It would have required
the Federal Reserve to use monetary policy to
produce an unemployment rate of 3% or less within 18
months at prevailing wages. Should the Fed fail, the law
required the federal government to directly provide
citizens jobs and give citizens the power
to sue the federal government for failing to do so. Prospects for
congressional passage looked good in 1975, when
the unemployment rate was 9% and the Democrats welcomed the
prospect of making President Ford look like a grinch
going into an election year if he vetoed it. Then, in the spring of 1976,
with unemployment steadily trending downward, what
business we called a who’s who of liberal economists
weighed in to call the plan a recipe for inflation. Legislative progress stalled. The version the house
reconsidered in 1978 was severely watered down. It’s requirement of
public jobs became a mere goal of working towards
4% unemployment, not 3%. But in five years, you said 18
months, by relying in quote, “primarily on
private enterprise”. Some predicted Carter
might veto even that. Inflation was now the
administration’s obsession. By spring of 1978, it was 6.8%. It was accompanied by
a stubbornly high 6.4 unemployment rate. The dreaded
combination previously believed impossible among
Keynesian economists known as stagflation. What had caused this? How could policymakers solve it? Even now economists
debating the question are no closer to a consensus
than they were then. I’ll list some explanations,
saving one for later. One, most agree it had something
to do with Lyndon Johnson’s refusal to raise taxes to
pay for the Vietnam War while simultaneously increasing
spending for his Great Society. Two Richard Nixon played
a role in August of 1971, facing a stubborn recession and
an upcoming re-election fight. He ordered a radical
package of economic reforms that included a 90 day freeze
on wages and prices, which he extended for three years. When wage and price
controls finally ceased, prices gushed forth like water
held back by a failed dam. OPEC was crucial. The price of a barrel of crude
actually declined in real dollars between 1950 and
1973 when it was $3.60. Now it was $25.10. America’s first trade imbalance
since the 19th century might have contributed, but
in complicated ways not well understood. So did the increased
international currency speculation that followed
Nixon taking America off the gold standard. So did declining
productivity, but whether this was a cause or
effect of inflation was not understood
and remains a mystery. The coming of age of the
children of the post-war baby boom might have thrown some
sort of previous equilibrium out of whack. And it also seems
intuitive to me that the explosion of
consumer debt contributed. Between 1944 1976 while
the US population grew 44%, credit card debt
increased 1,300%. One in five consumers never
paid off their balance in full. It surely became
easier for producers to raise prices when people
could charge things now and not pay for them later. And finally, wages were being
bid up by a tight labor market. In conclusion, the great
inflation of the 1970s was bafflingly complicated. What’s more, it would have
defied easy policy solution, even if economists had
been able to figure it out because none of
these developments were bells that
could be un-rung. You couldn’t un-baby
boom the baby boom. There was, however,
another explanation for what caused the
great inflation. It was the conservative, or
if you prefer, neoliberal one. When conservatives
cited it, they didn’t call it a
contributing factor. They said it was the only
cost inflation everywhere and at all times. It was simple, inflation
was caused by governments spending too much. And this was easy to
un-ring, just take away government’s credit card. Consider the words of the
most eloquent spokesmen for this theory,
the former governor of California then
preparing to run for the presidency in 1980– as Ronald Reagan put it
in a 1976 radio commentary praising Milton Friedman
for his new Nobel Prize, inflation occurs when the growth
of the nation’s money supply outstrips the growth and
the nation’s productivity. The federal government controls
the nation’s money supply and is therefore the
primary source of inflation. In truth, inflation
is simply another tax imposed by Washington in
the name of easy money. Washington taxed the
citizenry with easy money in order to buy short
term votes via goodies paid for from an artificially
inflated federal treasury. What Reagan called, quote,
“the direct responsibility of a spendthrift
democratic controlled Congress that has been
unwilling to discipline itself to live within our means. There hasn’t been a day
in the last two decades when they couldn’t have curbed
the spending and the inflation. And in so doing,
reduce unemployment if they wanted to.” Now here is the important
turn for our argument. Jimmy Carter agreed. Whenever he made a public
statement about inflation he attributed its causes to
excessive government spending. What’s more, you will
search Carter’s statements high and low for reflection
about the painful long term political consequences
of this conviction. Prior to the age of
stagflation, the glory of Keynesianism
for the Democrats was that public
spending that it called for to guard against downturns
in the economic cycle had the political virtue of
making the Democratic Party be the bestower of gifts
voted from the public purse to a grateful citizenry. Gifts like dams. As anguished conservatives
complained every time they lost an election,
nobody shoots Santa Claus. But Jimmy Carter relished
shooting Santa Claus. And by the 1978 campaign
season, as the inflation rate approached 9%, the consequences
for the Democratic coalition were becoming
everywhere apparent. As again and again,
Carter stepped on the toes of candidates
who weren’t reading from the austerity script. At one stop, he campaigned
for North Carolina’s populist insurance
Commissioner, John Ingram, whom Democrats had chosen to
run against senator Jesse Helms. Ingram had won the nomination
in a extraordinary upset against a conservative banker
who had been J.F.K’s Commerce Secretary. Ingram campaigned for the
nomination as Santa Claus, almost literally. He handed out gold
colored campaign tokens and promised if you
elect me as your senator, this will be money
in your pocket. The banker he ran against,
his name was Luther Hodges, countered that his
business expertise would help fight inflation
by persuading the government to spend less. In choosing Ingram,
in other words, the democratic voters
of North Carolina had issued the most
stinging possible rebuke to the new fashionable
politics of austerity. In the general election,
campaign against Helms, Ingram naturally uttered not a word
against excessive government spending. Jimmy Carter then
landed in North Carolina late in September and told the
attendees at a Ingram campaign event that they had
to vote Democrat to quote, “get the government’s
nose out of the people’s business.” He immediately
returned to Washington and vetoed a $2.4 billion public
works bill, observing, quote, “there are no
problems more serious in our country than inflation.” The 300 word veto statement used
the word inflation six times. By then the
Humphrey-Hawkins bill had been loaded up in the Senate
with so many weaking amendments written by an aggressive young
first term Republican senator that it became nicknamed the
Humphrey-Hawkins Hatch bill. Know that guy, Orrin Hatch? Still, Carter wanted to
veto it as inflationary. His chief policy advisor
Stuart Eisenstadt persuaded him to
sign it by insisting it was quote, “one
of the few bills we have in which we
are clearly aligned with our major
constituencies labor and the minority community.” Ted Kennedy still intended to
support Carter for re-election. Some of you may know that he
eventually ran against Carter. But he wrote in his memoir,
“my commitments buckled a bit in the fall of 1978 when
some friends of mine inside the administration leaked
to me some portion of Carter’s proposed budget requests. It was clear than the name
of harnessing inflation, the President intended to
starve some important domestic programs that mattered
a great deal to me.” That was around the
time the White House brought in a group
of black legislators to discuss turning out black
voters for the election. Representatives John
Conyers and Ron Dellums got into a shouting
match with Walter Mondale over the administration’s
prioritizing of inflation over the crisis of black
unemployment, which was running at 20%. The following weekend the
Congressional Black Caucus held a banquet
that was so big it had to be spread over
the ballrooms of two separate hotels joined
by closed circuit TV. Carter covered his
back by pointing to the button on his
jacket reading justice through jobs pass
Humphrey-Hawkins. He brought down the house with
a rollicking call and response speech. Then however, came
a presentation by the esteemed political
economists Steveland Morris. You probably know him better by
his stage name, Stevie Wonder. He gave the post
a banquet concert. He started noodling
on his electric piano and talking about what the
Humphrey-Hawkins bill started out as, what it looked like
now, and Carter’s claim that it remained a strong jobs bill. He concluded his little
speech, “I call bullshit.” He brought down the house. A few weeks later,
the 95th Congress adjourned with about a
two-to-one democratic majority. This is how the Washington Post
described its accomplishments. An overwhelmingly
democratic Congress had increased social
security taxes. It had willingly voted large
increases in defense spending but shied away from expensive
debt domestic initiatives and concentrated on cutting
the federal budget deficit. It passed the tax reform
that included $3.5 billion in corporate tax
cuts, a $2.1 billion in cut and tax
capital gains taxes, socked it to lower income
taxpayers by eliminating the deductibility of
state and local taxes, and blended in a series of
narrow interest amendments that would benefit specific
countries and industries, including a provision
of granting a tax break to the heirs of
the Gallo wine estate. It gave oil companies a natural
gas price for their regulation bill they fought
unsuccessfully for for 25 years and rejected virtually
every proposal put forward by organized labor. All in all, the post concluded
the American business class clearly displaced the agenda
of social and economic issues that has dominated congressional
politics since the inauguration of the New Deal 45 years ago. Carter then signed
their tax bill, which let a millionaire
who lived off investments to pay a lower tax rate than
a salaried worker earning a medium income and gave
the upper half of taxpayers 79% of its benefits. He returned to the
road to campaign for democratic candidates. One of his stops
was Minnesota where it enraged him to learn
that some Democrats were reluctant to campaign
for the winner of the primary for the late
Hubert Humphrey’s seat. He was a businessman
named Donald short. His main campaign
promises to work for an immediate 50% across
the board income tax cut, in contrast to the
Republicans Kemp-Roth tax cut, which would only cut
taxes 30% over three years. Carter then wrote in his diary,
“this is one group of Democrats with whom I feel uncomfortable. They have a commitment to
political suicide in order to prove some far left
philosophical point. It is really disgusting.” He returned home and
delivered on television what he called a frank
talk with you tonight about our most serious
domestic problem. That was inflation, which
was now running at 8.9%. Here’s how he promised
he would fight it. He would, quote, “redouble our
efforts to put competition back into the free enterprise
system by cutting away the regulatory thicket
that has grown up around us and is giving our free
enterprise system a chance to grow up in its first place.” I must have gotten that wrong. He would slash federal hiring. He said, “I don’t have all
the answers, nobody does.” But part of the
answer he said was that Americans would have
to make do with less. He said he would, quote,
“oppose any further reductions in federal income taxes.” He implored all
employers in the country to limit total wage increases
to a maximum of 7% per year. He promised to redouble our
efforts to put competition back into the American– the regulatory thicket. He concluded by insisting
whether our efforts are successful will finally
depend on you as much as me. Reducing the
deficit will require difficult and
unpleasant decisions. We must face a time
of national austerity. Hard choices are necessary if
we want to avoid consequences that are even worse. The 1978 off year elections
that followed two weeks later– Carter, he’s vetoing
public works. He’s saying, I’m not going
to give you a tax cut. He’s saying, the Democrat
party can’t give you anything, vote for us. We’re the best yet for
movement conservatives. In his first newspaper
column after the voting, Ronald Reagan gave a
shrewd analysis as to why. Quote, “for democratic
politicians long used to harvesting
votes by dispensing nearly unlimited amounts
of middle class tax dollars the new reality is going
to be hard to get used to. No one has yet
explained satisfactorily how a politician can be a
fiscal conservative and liberal about paternalistic social
programs at the same time. No wonder there were some
sweaty democratic [INAUDIBLE] the other night.” A Democrat– oh, Watergate
baby, by the way– Tom Foley of Washington
said much the same thing a few months later. Tight budgets strain
all the natural fault lines of the Democratic Party. The pressure will
intensify as we approach the presidential election
year and each group starts pressing its claims. Note something about
that formulation, it takes for granted
that Democrats who endorse traditional
Keynesian spending were not serving the
public interest in broader national prosperity. They were following an outmoded
political habit frustrated by the fact that the pie that
they were used to dividing was shrinking. Now as you may know,
this was the period when conservatives devised
the fiscally dubious, but politically
brilliant strategy that liberated the Republican Party
from the albatross of austerity politics, the scam known
as supply side economics. In brief, the claim
was that slashing individual and corporate
taxes across the board would spur such
dynamism in the economy that like a miracle of
the loaves and fishes, revenues to the federal treasury
would actually increase, so voters would never
have to miss out on any of the goodies
originally bestowed upon them by Democrats. In 1976, the Wall Street
Journal writer Jude Winninski had labeled this his two
Santa clauses theory. The first Santa Claus was the
Democrats, the one that nobody shot, a role that they
had abandoned when they started acting like Scrooge. This opened the field,
Winninski argued, for the Republicans to become
the new Santa Claus, the gift being tax cuts. Ronald Reagan became the
theory’s biggest booster. Would it work as economics? Another leading supply side
advocate, Irving Kristol, later admitted in a Wall
Street Journal article that he had no idea. This debate can get very– this debate can get
very confusing at times, as any debate on economics
is likely to be, he said. But it is politics that is the
real issue here, not economics. He said that both the
massive increase in defense spending that Reagan
was calling for and the Camp Rock
tax cut might indeed create massive budget deficits. But he said, quote,
“the neoconservative is willing to leave
these problems to be coped with by the
liberal interregnums. He wants to shape the future and
will leave it to it’s opponents to tidy up afterwards.” Here’s the story of how one
democratic candidate in 1978, Colorado senator Floyd
Haskell who was a tax lawyer, responded to his opponent’s
advocacy of supply side economics. Haskell, who advocated a
balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, compared
to his opponent representative William Armstrong to
Pappy “Pass the Biscuits” O’Daniel, the Texas populist
when the 1941 Senate special election against Lyndon
Johnson promised voters $40 every Monday. He would order the hillbilly
band he traveled with to launch into a tune
every time someone asks how he would pay for it. He was kind of the basis
of that great movie A Face in the Crowd. A reporter pointed
out that O’Daniel had beaten Lyndon Johnson. Is that so, Haskell responded? I didn’t know that. Haskell lost in
November by 20 points. Then, as is well-known in
the summer of 1979 thanks to a series of unlikely
accidents and events that were almost
comical, Jimmy Carter ended up nominating as
his Federal Reserve Chair one of the nation’s most
aggressive inflation hawks, Paul Volcker. That fall the Federal
Reserve Board, swallowing doubts and acting
as William Greider narrates in his classic volume,
Secrets of the Temple– How the Federal Reserve
runs the Country largely out of fear of threats from Germany
that they would withdraw support from the dollar,
instituted a Milton Friedman style monetary shock. The American economy was
soon veritably drenched in Democrat directed
fiscal prudence. Here was the result,
inflation accelerated. By 1980, April of
1980, it was 14.7%. And then, after two years
of holding steady at 6%, unemployment by July
of 1980 was 7.8%. In the crucial swing state of
Michigan, it was well over 12%. Then, naturally,
austerity having failed, the cry was heard
across the land that the only thing
that could possibly help was more austerity. In February, the
Washington Post thundered that if President Carter wants
to move fast in inflation, he only has one lever that
will make much difference. He will have to start
cutting his, budget rapidly and severely, not
only next year’s budget, but the current one. The New York Times, that
ever judicious grey lady, observed that nobody any longer
knows for sure how to slow inflation, but that radical
budget cuts were necessary anyway. And that even if the economy
unexpectedly roared back to health and produced a
surplus, it should be retained. In March, Newsweek
exalted, however it’s achieved a balanced
budget would have almost magical significance. Citibank’s chief economist
said the budget has raised inflationary expectations
more than anything, so cutting federal
spending is exactly what we need to restore
confidence and cut those high expectations. That’s interesting. That language cut
high expectations. Democrats joined the chorus. Representative
Richard Gephardt said when you have bank
account executives come in and say we’re getting
close to bank lines, people get frightened. If ever there was a
time in recent history to balance the
budget, this is it. What a moral hazard,
you’re a banker you just go to a
politician and say we’re going to have bank lines. Senate majority
leader Robert Byrd called the leaders
of both houses together for 46
hours of negotiations to put forward a slate
of radical budget cuts so we can all walk
the plank together. The next week, Carter
proposed billions in roughly equal spending
cuts and revenue increases and there was tax increases,
which joined the Federal Reserve credit limits
in a coordinated attack to intentionally spur
a mild recession. To make a long story
short, a very ably told by Aaron Wildavsky
and Joseph White in their 1989 book, The Deficit
in the Public Interest– the Search for
Responsible Budgeting in the 1980s,
consumer borrowing, not only stopped growing,
but turned negative. The economy, which had
already begun to falter fell off the cliff. Just in time, one did need
to add, for election season. The most famous line in Ronald
Reagan’s acceptance speech took on the Democrats– Luke, can you get
that last clip ready– ethic of austerity head on. Can you the– did I see– do
you see any motion in there? Yep. OK. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] – They tell us they’ve done
the most that could humanly be done. They say that the United States
has had its day in the sun. That our nation has
passed its zenith. They expect you to
tell your children that the American people
no longer have the will to cope with their
problems, that the future will be one of sacrificing
few opportunities. My fellow citizens, I
utterly reject that view. [APPLAUSE] The American people–
the American people, the most generous on earth, who
created the highest standard of living, are not going
to accept the notion that we can only make a
better world for others by moving backward ourselves. And those who believe
we can have no business leading this nation. [END PLAYBACK] Cut it off. By the way, in Jimmy
Carter’s acceptance speech he got Hubert
Humphrey’s name wrong. His middle name
was Hubert Horatio Humphrey and Carter gaffed it. He said Hubert
Hornblower Humphrey– the guilty conscience
for selling him out. So he says– yeah, he
says the American people, the most generous
on earth, are not going to accept
the notion that we can make a better
world for others by moving backwards ourselves. They could not
accept that, plainly. Reagan won in a landslide. There are lots of reasons
Jimmy Carter lost, of course. Posterity reminds us, however,
that a big part of the story was the loss of the so-called
Reagan Democrats in states like Michigan. The quarter before the
presidential election, all of the car companies
lost hundreds and millions of dollars. As we know, a lot of the reason
for that was racial attitudes. Perhaps another
contributing factor was that they were not stupid. Maybe they saw
that the Democrats were shooting Santa Claus. What were the political
consequences of that austerity? According to the CBS New
York Times exit poll, the three most important
issues for voters named by 33%, 24%,
and 21% respectively were inflation in the economy,
jobs and unemployment, and balancing the
federal budget. Those who named balancing the
budget as the most important in making their decision
favored Reagan by 65% to 27%. They believe what Ronald Reagan
also said at that convention that Carter was the head of a
government which has utterly refused to live
within its means. None of a democratic
president’s austerity obsession, nor his demonstrated success
in reducing budget deficits, had rubbed off on voters at all. It never does. Four years later,
Ronald Reagan won in an even bigger
landslide, this time saying in his acceptance speech that
he had cured an inflation that was quote, “a deliberate
part of the Democrats’ official economic policy
needed, they said, to maintain prosperity.” He scourged Carter for burdening
Americans with 20% interest rates, even though
that was not his doing, but that of the independent
Federal Reserve chairman, Paul Volcker, in a policy that Ronald
Reagan by reappointing Volcker implicitly endorsed. He won against the
Democrat, Walter Mondale, who he labeled Vice
President Malaise, and whom in his own
acceptance speech that summer promised a
policy of austerity too. Four years later, the
man who became governor of Massachusetts by promising
to run the state like a bank became the Democrat’s nominee,
Michael Dukakis, and lost. Four years after
that, the nominee won by promising to be
a new kind of Democrat and ending welfare as
we know it, but only hung on for his reelection
largely because of his promise to save Medicare from the
depredations of a Republican Congress. This was Bill Clinton’s version
of the North Carolina insurance commissioner who gave
away the gold tokens that he promised to be
money in your pockets. Barack Obama chose to
stock his economic cabinet full of investment
bankers, princelings of austerity, everyone. Nancy Pelosi, even
now, has promised that if the American people
elect a Democratic Congress next month, they
will be rewarded by instituting a
PAYGO rule to ban deficit spending by Congress. It won’t make a difference. Republicans will bequeath
democratic president’s massive deficits, just like
Irving Kristol recommended. Because as Dick Cheney
told George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan proved that
deficits don’t matter. Republicans will continue to
bray, as Ronald Reagan did in 1976, that for Democrats
to warn against inflation is like getting a lecture
on fire prevention from Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. And pundits will continue to
write what Joe Norsara did in the New York Times in 2013
when Republicans shut down the government. The fault was with quote,
“those banana Republicans”. But only because,
quote, “a party controlled by its
most extreme faction will ultimately be forced
back to the center.” The Democrats learned that
when Walter Mondale was losing to Ronald Reagan
and Michael Dukakis lost to George Bush. And unless this baleful
pattern of 40 years breaks, each new democratic presidential
nominee or president will try to roll that same mossy
old austerity rock up the hill and will get bonked by a gang
of pundits hurling it back. But the tragic figure
won’t be the columnist who’s just doing
his job as assigned by America’s ideological
fates, but that Democrat who tries, confident
in his or her belief, that this time as politics
and as policy, austerity will finally work. Thank you. [CLAPPING] Well, that was
hopeful and happy. So I’m just going to do a
couple of set up questions just to get us going and
then just walk around and hand them my coat,
like I usually do. So the first one is this, and we
spoke about this a little bit. [INAUDIBLE] want to
bring it out here. So the simplest explanation
for that whole period is– I’ll put my Marxist hat on and
say it was a crisis of profits. So you have inflation. Once you have inflation
run in a let’s say 7%, you need to have an 8% real,
real return on investment to make 1%. So if you used to a
world in which you’ve got 3% or 4% growth
and 2% or 3% inflation, you used to basically
contract for 5%. Over a very short period
of time that disappears and you’re basically
burning money. So investment falls,
that’s why you also get a fall in employment
because productivity falls at the same time
as you have inflation. So I can blame the whole
thing on an investor strike, and then I want to say
Jimmy Carter basically is the tool of
capitalists interest. But none of what
you have told me and none of what
you’ve written actually tells me that that’s true. What’s actually
going on is a person who’s seriously disconnected
from democratic policy elites their conversations, who
really comes at it with a very moralistic attitude, but an
actual real Baptist attitude. And really does believe
that it’s the same thing, a family can’t spend
more than it means. The government is the same. Why doesn’t everybody
understand this? So it’s the morals
rather than the Marxism that’s driving this story. Is that right? I think that’s a really
interesting perspective. And it does– I do feel like I– in this book I’m working
on kind of have to go back to the drawing board about why. There was the statistic I stuck
in there, why in the exit polls 33% of Americans
said that inflation was their most important
reason for choosing who they did for president? I mean, sure it sucks they have
to pay more for something one year to the next. You know, coffee, for
example, was like 50– inflation for
coffee was like 50%. Right, I mean, but
I mean, 10% really, it’s like our car costs $10,000
one year and $11,000 next year. I mean, that’s not really
the end of the world. There were some really
ugly things that happened. For example, home prices
skyrocketed in California, as they are now. The property tax system was
unfair for technical reasons. And people were paying
50% 60%, 70%, 100% more in property taxes
one year to the next. But as Mark points
out to me, that wasn’t counted in
inflation indexes. So why did people, as a
matter of kind of populism, consider inflation
such a terrible thing? After all, most Americans
didn’t own bonds. The most of their income
wasn’t investment income. And one of the things
Mark pointed out to me was actually inflation
is good for homeowners. Because it eats away
the value of the debt. Yeah, that’s right. If you– The debt is cheaper. That’s why the baby boomers have
big houses, because in 1970 you signed a thirty year contract
at 4% and inflation goes to 12. By 1980, 40% of the
value of your house has been eaten by the bank. Right. So there was a huge payoff
dependent on the assets that you held to actually
sitting through an inflation. The notion that everyone lost is
a really great political story, but it simply wasn’t true. So it’s one of these many,
many instances in which people quote unquote, vote against
their economic interests, right? In fact, relatively
speaking, it makes them better off
relationally to rich people. So what’s going on? I think it’s really
interesting to think about it in cultural terms. You know, people
did talk about what happens when you
can’t make plans, you can’t sort of
expand your business. But I think much as
kind of the deficit becomes sort of a signifier
for bad economics now, I think inflation becomes a
signifier for bad economics then. If only 10%– even an
unemployment rate of 10% means 90% of people
are employed. And I think in the
case of Jimmy Carter, it’s kind of a puzzle to me. Yes, it’s true,
this is a guy who grew up on kind of a farm
stand in which they rendered their own soap and
tanned their own hides and did their own
black-smithing. And he said in his
memoir, that it was much like a farm 2000 years ago. And he would talk
about consumption as something that was very
unsatisfying to the soul. He would talk about
the ennui of affluence. So yes, he had a kind of
austerian temperament. But it doesn’t explain
to me why someone like Stuart Eisenstadt,
who I quoted, who had been one of Hubert
Humphrey’s economists was so scared of
inflation as he was. He reveals in his memoir
that came out this year, he wanted to do more austerity. He thinks they should
have done more austerity. That was the answer. It doesn’t explain to me why
all these liberal economists in the spring of 1976 become
so convinced that a government jobs program would
be inflationary. And I don’t have good
answers for that. I mean, that’s one of
the reasons I’m here. I want to learn from
Mark about why people who didn’t necessarily have a
stake, as the Marxists put it, in the state as
kind of the ruling committee of the bourgeoisie. It’s really easy. And I write in my book– I write in my book about how the
business class became radically activists and spent millions
and millions and millions and millions and
millions of dollars on very aggressive
and very deceptive public relations campaigns
against regulation, against liberal fiscal
policy for tax cuts, right? But it wouldn’t have– like any propaganda
campaign, it wouldn’t take unless it touched
some kind of nerve. And I don’t have a
good answer about why it touched that kind of nerve. So I look forward to
further conversations with Mark about that. Just one more from me before
I pass around the mic. So Carter puts
this on the table. The Democrats, in a
sense, get locked into it. But it fails spectacularly. That’s what you just told us. It completely fails. And then Reagan comes in
and basically says, well, we’ll do a defense
build up on tax cuts. And then I don’t really
care about anything because it will just
take care of itself. And you end up with
a huge deficit. At the same time, you’ve
got 20% interest rates. You have a massive recession. And you do get this
massive disinflation. You then have the opening
up of the financial sector. You’ve got a pent up
demand for credit. That’s the morning
in America story. That has nothing to do
with increasing revenues. It’s basically financialization. Also de-regulated banking. Yeah, no, absolute–
yes, exactly. That was ’78 when that started. So the point is deficits
are the name of the game, but it gets into the mid-1980s,
the democratic strategy is the twin deficits,
right, beat up on deficits. And then Clinton comes
in and the first thing is he wants to do a stimulus. Then it’s suddenly no,
I have to do deficits. So as you say, they’ve been
doing this for forty years. Why don’t they learn? It’s not a complex thing. It’s really not. I mean, I think– It’s a losing hand. It’s like if we were
playing poker, right, and you just kept coming up with
two pair, I’d just kill you. That’s how this works. Luckily they are learning. I mean, it’s– we’re facing a
different Democratic Party than we were one year ago, two years
ago, certainly five years ago. I mean, Democratic
Socialists are getting elected to Congress. Nancy Pelosi is on her way out. And– but why haven’t
they learned, right? I mean, I think a lot of it does
suggest that it’s ideological. I mean, they’re talking
to investment bankers who are the ones who are telling
them how the world works, even as they themselves, as
someone like Alan Greenspan or– who’s our guy? Bernanke? Yeah, all those guys. Well, no, the Democrats. You know, like the
Citibank guy, Rubin. They’re saying, oh wait,
oh wait, we were wrong. This isn’t working after all. I mean, Greenspan made
a remarkable mea culpa. He thought markets
were efficient. It turns out they’re
not efficient. Oops, sorry, right? So those are the guys
they’re talking to, and why are they
talking with those guys? That’s because those are the
guys who signed the checks. Goldman Sachs. So it does come down to
the instrumentalist view of politics at the
end of the day? Well yeah, yeah. And I think there’s some really
good propaganda about oh, well, I balance my family’s
finances, why can’t the government do that? Because you don’t get
to issue your own debt. Well, and also then
you get into of course a Brit is going to ask that
question because they don’t understand America’s
ordeal of slavery and race, in which basically
the American people do see liberal fiscal policy as
a way to distribute income to people who are seen as
undesirable and not as American as they. So that’s the real kind
of puzzle of Americanism and that sort of ideology
of entrepreneurialism, and individualism, and the
idea that every American who is not a millionaire
thinks that they’re going to be a millionaire. And all those strange things
that make America America. And you can give a
brief for individuals. You know, Sweden didn’t
invent bluegrass or jazz. But it’s one of
those crazy things that is both inexplicable,
but also deeply rooted. Who wants to go first? Check this is
working, yes it is. This keeps dropping
out, these things keep dropping out all the time. Hi Rick, Robert Self. Hey. Should I just not
even speak into it? Just try. Yeah no, that’s OK. You might know that Carter’s
teleprompter went out during his 1980 speech, too. And also that Ted Kennedy gave
the best anti-Carter campaign speech ever given at the
Democratic Convention. So this is great stuff, and I’m
super excited about the book. And I would never
dispute that there’s a difference between the Great
Society and era of limits, if nothing else as a metaphor
for government to be sure. And I think you’ve
outlined not just Carter’s, but the late ’70s democratic
party’s austerity pretty nicely and the way in which
we’ve had 40 years since. But I wonder if it’s
worth, in your thinking, going actually back
40 years earlier to see how constrained
democratic Keynesianism always was. And again, I don’t mean
to say that there’s not a break in the ’70s,
but arguably the biggest Keynesian moments in
the post-war period come under first a
Republican President Eisenhower and the highway
bill, which is a Democratic Congress but a Republican
president, and then military Keynesianism. There’s never really a
true Keynesian consensus despite what Nixon says, right? In the ’70s. And I just wonder if that’s
not worth putting on the table to contextualize
Carter a little bit. Because it’s not
as if the Democrats are just throwing money around
for decades before the ’70s. Right. Yeah, I would love to know
and learn more about that. I mean, one thing
that really struck me in reading Judith Stein’s
Pivotal Decade, which talks about democratic
political economy and really is very forcefully
critical of the Democrats always being in the
pocket of finance capital just about forever. She points out that basically
Democrats in the Kennedy administration basically gave
away America’s manufacturing advantage. Like basically wrote
trade deals and rules and passed laws
and treaties that allowed American factories
to open up in tax advantage ways in Europe. And basically a technology
transfer to Japan. All these things for various
kind of Cold War geostrategic reasons, but with
really no sense of political consequences. So that’s a slightly
different way in which the Democrats were not
always what we think they are. Kennedy and Johnson
both were on tax cuts. Right, and Kennedy and Johnson. Although you know they were– to be fair, they were
progressive tax cuts. They weren’t across the
board 30% for everybody. And I’d love to know more about
what like an Adlai Stevenson thought about the
idea of spending. And Lyndon Johnson, when
he took over in 1964, said to his budget
advisers, unless you get this budget
under $100 billion you’re not going to pee a drop. He said like when
he was designing the war on poverty, no doles. And even the
Federal Housing Bill was written by Robert
Taft, Mr. Republican, the big conservative. And yet, yes, this idea that
Democrats are always the people spending like drunken sailors. Now on the other
hand, I mentioned Jimmy Carter’s going after
the 80 water projects, right? There’s a great book about
water politics in America called Cadillac
Desert, a classic book. And he was so Jimmy Carter. He was Mr. Detail
oriented and when he wanted to reform
the tax code, he literally read like all
10,000 pages of the tax code. In between his election
and his inauguration, he also read the entire Army
Corps of Engineers planning documents. And a lot of the projects
were absolutely crazy. I mean, there was just
like a zillion dollar dam that would serve
like one farm in Nevada. So a lot of this stuff
was very boondoggly. But that’s not really
Keynesianism, either. The Democratic Party,
the more you look at it, the more complicated it is. I just got back
from my last trip before this was to
Vanderbilt where I lectured about
the part of my book which is about the
Christian right. And I went to this wonderful
place, the Vanderbilt News Archive, where you can watch
all the network news broadcasts. That’s why I bootleged–
don’t tell anyone that you saw that Jerry Brown
thing because the networks are very proprietary about
this kind of stuff. But I bootlegged
all these videos and took notes on videos. And one of the
things I learned was there was an expose
of Russell Long– senator Russell Long– who was
the head of the Senate Finance Committee, the guys who
wrote the tax bills. And I hadn’t realized– I knew he was Huey
Long’s son, but I hadn’t realized that
he owned hundreds of millions of dollars
worth of oil leases offshore and onshore. And that they had basically kind
of been stolen from the state by his dad. And he was writing
tax bills and he was in charge of the energy bill. So here’s this
Democratic Party in which one of the most
powerful members of it is Trumpian in his levels of
just intrinsic corruption. But then you also have– I was getting all pedantic
with one of the staffers about Claiborne Pell, the
great Democratic Rhode Island senator who said,
we’ll just give money to anyone who wants
to go to college. Which clearly, I mean, we can
talk about higher education Keynesianism, which was a
big part of what happened in California, what
turned California into this middle class utopia
under Jerry Brown’s dad, Pat Brown, and which Reagan
ended by instituting tuition for the first time
in California. So yeah, also a wonderful
thing to look at, too. Sort of two partially
related questions going back to the moralism issue. I mean, I’m wondering,
the Jerry Brown thing, there’s a kind of
anti-consumerism, hippie– This is the guy– I mean, for those
who don’t know, Jerry Brown slept on a
mattress in an apartment, he drove a Plymouth. Right. So I’m wondering,
is there a link in this first round of
austerity between sort of anti-consumerism
and hippieism that gets this Baptist version
that’s worth thinking about? Absolutely. I mean, I think a big
part of it– yeah. And the second part
of it is related to that, which is
you might think that if you were
anti-consumerist, you’d be attracted to the one
tax the federal government doesn’t have in America,
which is a value added tax. And I’m wondering
whether there was any discussion about
the value added tax as a possibility of
fixing the fiscal wagon. Because that might have had
another set of consequences. That’s an interesting question. I haven’t seen it, but I’m sure
there were– there’s probably a book to be written about
all the planning that went into Jimmy Carter’s
original tax package, which basically was
completely transformed into a Republican supply
side tax package because of this freight
train about tax cuts. I would look at Stuart
Eizenstat’s memoir, which is about 800 pages
long, which would have something about that. I can’t think of
any talk about that. I think that– well, Jimmy
Carter never had a problem with doing these kind of kludgey sort
of Rube Goldberg things where– I would say, well,
he would understand that sales taxes are
regressive, but he would have had no problem
instituting a regressive tax and then having credits
on the back end. That’s what they did for energy. So I don’t have a
good answer for that. But as far as the
hippie part, yeah, I think it’s really interesting
that basically this stuff was associated with liberalism. It was associated with
a liberalism that was– I call it hairshirt
patriotism, invisible bridge. That people just love the idea
of sacrifice and doing more with less, and
that was definitely an ethic in California. Jerry Brown was very popular. And William Proxmire, you
know, not exactly a hippie, but he was famous for
having these shabby suits, and jogging down the
streets of Washington. And the Watergate
babies, there’s a book the David Broder
out with in the middle of the ’70s profiling a bunch
of the new voices in Washington. And it’s very clear that
this generation of Democrats was a Kennedy generation. And quite idealistic. And they weren’t sellouts. William Steiger
wasn’t a sellout. He was the Republican who
basically wrote the bill to lower the capital gains tax. These people saw themselves
as doing the greatest good for the greatest number. They were very convinced by
basically corporate lobbyists who told them this was
a route to prosperity. But at the same
time, culturally I think the kind of glittering
plastic ticky tacky kind of Levittown society
was very unpopular. And a lot of that came
through the Nader strain in the Democratic Party, which
was incredibly, incredibly successful. One of the things
I enjoyed writing about the most in
this manuscript was hopefully reviving
the reputation of why Nader was great. And all the lives you saved. Things like ERISA
protecting pensions. Or the guy who
Orrin Hatch beat was this guy named Frank Moss
who no one remembers. He was the guy who banned
cigarette smoking advertising, he was the guy who made
warranties federally protected. The Federal Trade
Commission– there’s this guy named
Michael Pertschuk, who was kind of a household
name for a brief period because he was
Carter’s FTC chair. He was a Nader guy. He did amazing stuff. And the business
coalition crushed him. But this idea that you
were protecting the public from rapacious capitalists
was part of this liberalism, but Keynesianism was not. And part of the problem was
cultural because Keynesianism, the idea of basically
shoving money into the hands of middle
class people, that was George Meanu, that
was Hubert Humphrey. That was the guys who had taken
over the Democratic Party. That was Mayor Daley. Mayor Daley was
the great builder. He just was– the
state bird in Illinois was the construction crane. So that was kind of seen as– almost has the cultural
savor of building giant airports in Vietnam. [INAUDIBLE] And why should we make– that was, you know,
at its worst, sure. And the idea that the white
working class was racist, and pro-war, and all the rest. So there’s definitely
a lot of that going on. And the bad guys were
very shrewd and canny in taking advantage of that. I’m going to walk us over
here, but with a thought which is we haven’t mentioned
organized labor. Well, I just mentioned
that they were basically seen as the dinosaurs. Right, but also the
incredibly corrupt dinosaurs. I mean, as someone who came
over here in the late– well, I didn’t come over
in the late ’70s, came of age in the
late ’70s politically. And then come over here
in the ’90s, the way that Americans talk about
unions and completely contrast to what you experience even
in Britain, which is hardly Germany or Sweden. So there was this notion that
labor was inherently corrupt, and that was the other side
of the government trough. So if that was what Keynesianism
was, then it was game over. And that was never
what Keynesianism was. That’s right. And you know there’s this
fascinating character who is endlessly fascinating
in the Carter White House, Pat Caddell who actually
wasn’t a staffer in the White House. He started his own company
with clients like Saudi Arabia and Exxon, and kind of
advised for the politics– for the president on the side. Wrote half the malaise speech. And basically there’s
this fascinating moment in which basically business and
labor get together and agree on a labor law
reform bill that will punish companies who violate
labor law more strictly. And then basically
[INAUDIBLE] changes his mind and has the biggest PAC money
driven lobbying campaign in history to that point. While this was going
on, Pat Caddell does a poll in which
he’s all over the media talking about it,
like 70% of Americans think labor unions
are all corrupt. And Jimmy Carter did
not lobby for this bill, he didn’t care about this bill. So labor was really– it was very uncool. It was Hubert Humphrey. When Gary Hart– Gary Hart. So I can answer your
question about the hippies. Gary Hart had been George
McGovern’s campaign manager. By 1974 when he’s
running for the Senate, he is literally running
against the New Deal. Also as an environmentalist,
also as a limits guy, and he’s the guy who says we’re
not a bunch of little Hubert Humphreys. Hubert Humphrey is like that
cigar chomping fat labor boss guy. Hi, thanks for a
fascinating talk, and with every comment
it’s harder for me to formulate a question
because everybody’s talking about elements of– I guess my basic question
is, it takes a lot of people to make this kind of shift. I mean, Jimmy Carter
didn’t do it alone. I think you were reading
from a New York Times article about what a Democratic
Congress in 1978 had passed. A bill– the Washington Post. So there were a lot
of Democrats on board with what Cartier
was doing, and you’ve described cultural shifts,
and you’ve described some– Well, they hated Carter,
and were all sort of for austerity
for other reasons. OK. Well, it just seemed
like basically why– I know that maybe this is the
basic question we keep asking, but why this big shift? You can understand why Reagan
and people on the right wanted to do the
shift, I get that. And Jimmy Carter
had this background, and he had these
values, OK, that’s fine. And some other
Democrats went along with that for their own
reasons and everything. But you were talking
about labor unions, and you brought up
the labor union issue. Maybe Hubert Humphrey is uncool,
and maybe a lot of Americans think unions are
bad, and they vote against their own economic
interests, and all that. But if you’re a white working
class person in the Rust Belt, unions have some– or
in that era especially, they had some value for you. Like going to negotiate a
better contract for you. Even if you don’t like black
people, don’t you want yours? If you’re against the idea of a
big government giving money to, quote, “undeserving people,”
however you define that, still why are you going to all
of a sudden go over to Reagan? I mean, in 1980? Well, read the book. I can’t wait. Like there’s a great
movie, Paul Schrader wrote it, the guy who
wrote Taxi Driver. It’s called– what’s it called? Blue Collar. Blue Collar, right. And it’s one of the first movies
that Richard Pryor was in. It’s about three guys
who rob their union because they’re just being
robbed by their union anyway. And it just gets to the idea
that the unions are just one more asshole boss who’s
telling you what to do. Reagan is really important
at this because first of all, Reagan was very
canny rhetorically. He would say, I was
a union president. I’m a union member now. And he also had been
the ideological trainee of the guy at General Electric
in the ’50s where he worked as spokesman whose job it
was to sell the workers of GE on the idea that the union
was ripping them off. So this is a guy who
pioneered focus groups. There was lots of rhetoric. There was basically state
of the art propaganda. So that’s one reason. The racial thing you can look
at the famous Stanley Greenberg polls from 1984 in Macomb
County in which he just finds basically the
most feral racism in the suburbs of Detroit. And these are guys who are very
close to the bone economically. It’s the Archie Bunker stuff. You should read
Jefferson Cowie’s book, Stayin Alive, the Last Days
of the American Working Class. He talks about a guy who– there was a an autoworker
who the New York Times would visit every four years– ’72, ’76 and ’80–
who eventually voted for Ronald Reagan. Just lots of wonderful
work about this. But just the idea that
unions weren’t any help. They weren’t keeping
the factories open. They weren’t closing
the factories. Although the propaganda
was that they were closing the factories. It’s these ridiculous wage
demands that they were making. So yeah, in a lot of ways
that’s the big mystery. And it’s kind of groping
towards an explanation. Can I give you this one? Why is it also a fact that
union density is going down? And also at any
point in our history, most of US working people were
not unionized anyway, right? So you had that in addition to– So yes, it’s easy to
divide the working class. These union guys are
not your friends, they’re the people
who are basically– instead of saying I
want that too, they’re saying, don’t want them to
have it if I don’t have it. And there’s a book on Mark’s
shelf, classic amazing book, it came out in 1983, called
The New Politics of Inequality by the Washington Post, then
Baltimore Sun’s Thomas Edsall. And he was the first guy to
actually go into the NLRB statistics and saying, wow,
corporations every year in the ’70s are challenging
like 50% more union elections. And yes, they see their
profits going down. And they are fighting
for their profits. And stuff that’s
going on culturally. It’s interesting. People do talk
about this culture that corporations used to
be happy with, whatever, a 5% profit rate. Well, you’re pointing out that
their profits are being eaten up by inflation,
so of course they want double digit profits,
which means tighter labor margins and all the rest. But yes, the labor law
reform fight in 1970 was really fascinating. Because it was basically
like, to quote another movie, I talk about a lot of
movies in my books– Norma Ray was about a
real factory, JP Stephens, that was basically just
firing union organizers left and right. And they were the first
people to say, well, we’ll get fined $50,000
by the NLRB, great. That costs us less
than a union would. And this labor law bill was
written to kind of punish people in ways that had
teeth for doing things that were already against the law. And you would say, why
would a corporation that has good relations with
their union want this? Well again, everything is
becoming more zero sum. I say in the book that
basically business was becoming a class for itself
instead of a class in itself. It was becoming class
conscious in a way that it hadn’t been before. All this literature
like the Edsalls, and corporate lobbying– oh, this actually gets to why
was there this backlash that made austerity attractive? One of the things was during
the ’60s, the expectations and the kind of assumptions of
abundance were so over-the-top. And this is– in a
way, it’s kind of– Flying cars. Yeah. Well in a way, it’s kind of like
this cross ideological thing. I mean, whether you are a hippie
who believes that you can have a commune where everyone is just
having drugs and having sex all the time and not working
or you’re saying, let’s go over to
the moon by 1969, or you’re Lyndon Johnson
lighting the White House Christmas tree in
1964 and saying this is the most hopeful
time since Christ was born in Bethlehem,
or saying we’re going to cure heart disease. It’s just like this
idea that America is this great cornucopia
that’s going to last forever. That’s setting
people up for trauma. Once people realized they were
kind of sold a bill of goods. That’s kind of what I’m
getting at under the guts of the story is people were
just being like, wow, America– I’ve been told America is one
thing, it turns out it’s not. So for a guy whose
factory is shutting down– Let’s make it great again. Let’s make it great again. That was Reagan’s
original slogan in 1980 until he fired his ad man. That’s actually a very
good segue for the question that I want to ask,
which I hope won’t be too unwelcome
because it does require talking about the president. [INAUDIBLE] to that. And I hope also– if you addressed this in
your opening comments, I apologize for missing them. But I am wondering about how
this history reads differently in light of the last two years,
and about whether or not some of the let’s call
them revelations for some significant portion
of the American pundit class that economic
anxiety is actually about something else, or about
the corruption and venality of certain segments of the
American political class, et cetera. If re-reading the late
1970s and early 1980s in the age of Trump,
what kind of new things come to light that you
think you’re seeing by doing this history at this moment? I wrote a magazine article
about that in the New York Times Magazine about how Trump
changes the way people are thinking about and writing about
the history of conservatism. One way I think it’s changed
for me in this project is stuff I would have been like,
oh, those guys are extremist kooks, they’re not really an
important part of the story. I’m much more willing
to include them. Because they’re obviously
part of the genealogy. And one of the things
I’ve specifically realized and I haven’t quite pulled
it all together yet, and I will in a part that
I haven’t yet written is the Ku Klux
Klan is everywhere. There’s Klansman that wins
a democratic nomination for a congressional
seat in Michigan gets like 35% of the vote,
which was more than– a Republican, I mean. One wins as a Republican
in Detroit suburbs and gets like 10%
more of the vote than a Republican got last time. There’s a Democrat who wins
as a klansman in a primary in like a California suburb. There’s the Greensboro
massacre in 1979 in which klansmen get into
a fight with Communists and shoot five Communists. I mean, just these
little things. There’s like the guy
who shot Larry Flynt, it turns out that he also
was shooting a black men and interracial couples. This is just kind
of float to the top that I wouldn’t really have
thought about or noticed before. You know how the
Klan most famously became an issue in
that Ronald Reagan got the endorsement of the Klan
and said their platform is just like ours, and then he is kind
of getting whacked about this. And he claims that Jimmy
Carter started his campaign in the birthplace of
the Ku Klux Klan, which turns out to not be true. So suddenly there’s
this little kerfuffle going on for like a week
about the Ku Klux Klan in the campaign. So I would have probably
just not fully considered that particularly important. But it looks more important now. I had a question about
a comment that Reagan makes during his acceptance
speech at the RNC in 1980. He says at some
point in the clip that you played that contrary
to what Carter would have us believe, we don’t have
to tighten our belts so that people in
other countries can get ahead or
something to that effect? I think you might have misheard. Heard I’m not sure he said that. I don’t think– and
that’s interesting, too, in a lot of ways. Another thing I write about
that’s a little different is, I mean, I really
emphasize how nasty, and evil, and hateful the Christian
right was, and kind of almost genocidal in their
thinking about gays. But one thing about
Reagan that I emphasize is that he was extremely
generous in his rhetoric and talk about immigrants. He loved immigrants. He loved the idea
that people would want to come to the United States. And this is a very kind of like
Austrian kind of James Buchanan kind of thing, but he also
wants a North American union between Mexico,
and Canada, and America. He literally says open borders. So part of this
is just free flow of bodies and goods for a
completely libertarian reason. But he wraps it up in
very high minded rhetoric. So I don’t think he
would have said– he talked about the
rest of the world. I found it. OK good, thanks. My fellow citizens, I
utterly reject that view. The American people,
the most generous on Earth, who created the
highest standard of living, are not going to accept
the notion that we can only make a better world for others
by moving backwards ourselves. OK, yes, that was– that would have been a
reference to something like the Panama Canal Treaty,
which he saw as giving away– his rhetoric more
aggressive in 1976. But that was in 1978, and
he was against it, too. The idea that we
were basically– it was the equivalent of
giving away Alaska. And he did say that
Jimmy Carter was going around the world
apologizing for America. So that was
definitely a reference to a certain kind
of breast beating kind of jingoistic
nationalism, definitely. That basically part of the thing
that Jimmy Carter was doing was not only was he saying
we have to make do with less, but we have to be nicer
to the rest of the world. And one of the things that’s
interesting about– we haven’t talked about this huge
issue in the 1980 campaign which was Iran and the hostages. And one of the things was
there’s this really incorrect taken for granted the notion
that Carter was really hurt by the hostages. He was really hurt by
the rescue failing. But if you actually
look at the exit polls, people who considered Iran
the most important issue were actually more for
Carter than for Reagan. And the reason was
because Reagan– it was basically kind
of assumed since he said Vietnam was a noble cause
that he would just bomb Iran. And people were scared shitless
about that who were really scared about Reagan. And that’s one of
the reasons why this one debate they had
five days before the election in which all of
Carter’s aides thought, oh my God, this doddering
old man is going to like sound Barry Goldwater
and terrify everyone was so important. Because Reagan sounded
sensible and calm even as he basically dissembled
in very obvious ways. And the Carter people
thought about it kind of like a
high school debate contest where people had points
and were right and wrong. So when Jimmy Carter
said, no, he really did say that he wanted– that
Medicare would turn America into a socialist hellhole,
and Reagan said, there you go again. Because he claimed, oh, he just
wanted a better Medicare bill. The Carter people were
like, we won, he’s lying. The media’s going
to fact check him. That sounds familiar. But oh, it was so
frustrating reading it like the major media
discourse about Carter was that he had
suddenly turned mean. And what they meant
by mean was he was saying Reagan is lying, why
aren’t you talking about this? Fascinating. It seems like just a
comment and a question. So the comment is
like it seems like you have a great book about the
KKK as economic actors trying to fight for the
wages of whiteness. Oh, that was just a comment,
but I actually have a question. If you want to answer
that, that’s great, but I do have a question. So the Klan tripled in the ’70s. Someone should write a
book about the ’70s Klan. Yeah, because we think
about their earlier period. But anyway, the question
is, is this really presentist or futurist which
is like, what advice would you give Elizabeth Warren
based on everything that you’ve researched? Just keep on doing what
you’re doing, yeah. I mean, she’s so
smart and so sure– I mean given everything, right? I mean, all the challenges, the
cultural challenges, et cetera, what sort of talking
points should she use? One of the interesting
things about Elizabeth Warren is she reminds me of– you
know, we think about the ’60s, and we think of Tom Hayden, we
think of Martin Luther King, we think of Malcolm
X, and we think of all this dramatic stuff. But you know, the Claiborne
Pells and the Frank Mosses, and she really reminds me of a
1960s senator in that she says here’s a pressing
policy problem, here’s a major omnibus landmark
bill that would fix it. Like no one talks
about it because we’re too busy talking about
what we’re talking about. But she just dropped
this massive bill meant to solve America’s
housing crisis. Both segregated
housing, undersupply of housing with all
these kind of tax credits incentives
to open up housing in places like California. So yes, that’s great. [INAUDIBLE] I think that the way Beto
O’Rourke is so good at doing this simultaneously
maintaining– and Michelle Goldberg just had a
really good column about this– maintaining this
very high toned, uniting, Obama-like
rhetoric, but also has these very– like he is very
much there is no red America, no blue America. That’s not his line, but
that’s the kind of speech he gives while offering
these very progressive policy solutions and doing gutsy things
like saying black lives matter, their right to take
a knee, and I’m not going to criticize that. So I think that Obama has
shown, and Beto O’Rourke has shown with his very
strong performance so far that yeah,
a very high minded, kind of optimistic
rhetoric works pretty well from the Democrats. And can squeak out enough
people in tough times if you back it with what
seems like a credible economic agenda, which Obama seemed to
do on the campaign trail in 2008 before he turned
over his cabinet to the investment bankers. But let me rain on the
parade just because I can. So in the last generals,
Senator Clinton lost all men of all
classes and all races by 12 percentage points. That’s never happened before. And Elizabeth Warren is a
pointy headed Harvard professor. How do you sell that? So is Ted Cruz. He’s a pointy headed whatever
law school he went to, you know? I think that she talks about
her Great Plains upbringing, and she talks the way she does. And when she is very good at
communicating to and about very ordinary people. And things change. It’s like white races
voted for Obama in 2008. They didn’t vote for
Hillary Clinton in 2016. Hillary Clinton does
culturally present as kind of an aloof, arrogant,
east coast pointy headed intellectual in a way that
I don’t think Elizabeth Warren does quite as much. Do you think she’ll say
the words balanced budget? I don’t see it. I mean, are there signs that
she kind of buys that nonsense? You know, it’s like
every Democrat has their own sort of skill, right? And she’s an economics– she’s a
professor of political economy. One that is very good
at communicating, as Charles Walker was,
big economic issues in ideologically potent ways. So maybe she’ll be the
one to break the spell. Probably a good place to end it. Elizabeth saves us from 40
years of democratic creptitude on budgets. Yes, nice. Thank you very much,
Rick Perlstein. [APPLAUSE]