tv After Words with Jonathan Chait CSPAN January 16, 2017 12:00am-1:01am EST
cnn senior white house correspondent jim acosta interviews jonathan, author of audacity that examines president obama's legacy. >> host: joining us now is jonathan, the author of audacity. thank you for joining us. what's the buck. really fascinating look back at the obama presidency. i was struck by the way that it begins with a chapter on what you call america's primal sense. >> guest: when people look back at obama 100 or 200 years from now, when his presidency is summarized for schoolchildren for the first thing they will learn is that he was america's first african-american to male
president, or america's first nonwhite male president. and that was not just a historical footnote and this is not just a breakthrough, but it was something that defined in the public mind something that he had to grapple with. and i try to make an argument in the book that it wasn't just something that happened to him, but this is something he helped shape the something he helped to create a narrative of race in america that helped bring america forward. it was hardly incidental. it drove opposition for him in a huge way. race was absolutely central to the perceptions and everything he did from healthcare and onward was driven into you can show it and i do try to show it in an empirical way it was driven by racial perceptions but also something he struggled with at first and i think eventually
>> >> by bringing both parties could together in the beer segment summit was a clean-up operation but he learned how to control the issue and control the narrative and the chapter ends with the speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the march on selma with this dramatic speech in which she wove the civil-rights movement into the story that made it not just of what happened the way i learned american history was more progressive
than what my parents were taught but it's sidelined raise you read the chapter of what happened then here was a box is this happening to african-americans at the time or some other trivial thing that put them off to the side but obamacare tells the story of race to make it central the african-american experience was the of the american journey to a more perfect union and then bursting onto the scene, but through his version of history who said he was acting as a public intellectual -- intellectual
to tell the american story. >> host: he still had to deal with the animosity uc this with the two-party rallies in the way you see the dealings with congress and congressmen joe wilson said you lied during that speech he had to deal with ugliness other presidents did not have to deal with. >> guest: and make the case in my book that i think conservatives are rightly indignant their ideas were causally investigated and interrogated you could not toys be sure it was there joe wilson is a great example you could say he never would have done that too well white president but
also look at the with the republicans treated bill clinton and it was just as bad with jesse helms directing violence to bill clinton when he lived in his home state to say he would be shot you have these insane conspiracy theories from the "wall street journal" editorial page and that clinton was a murderer or a drug dealer so conservatives have a point when liberals say you only did this because as he was black zero lot of people could dismiss all conservative objections and theories as racism. however was true that politics became much more rationalized so that to grey one negative degree to which
animosity drove the politics and those people who were much more suspicious of african-americans they word tigard to those politics so to deal with the world and to pull away from other conservatives. but over time i would argue to america's advantage as well. >> is this look at data as the time of racial healing? >> i think white america
and also empathize, such have that ability to see all sides of the issue. and mrs. one example it could be a breakthrough of the african-american president in the way to the majority of the americans. with the significant minority almost entirely white. speaking for black america this is the powerful minority of the of america.
but with donald trump having that nomination but nonetheless obama i think can speak to a conciliatory vision of racial understanding. i waistline this a fascinating subject because his the aspect that they don't get enough credit for. you make the observation in the of book that the president would not get credit for this. you don't get credit for preventing something bad from happening.
in those things that did not have been. but the depression had already gone through years to reach that bottom before he took office. because you cannot say it would be so much worse but part of the problem is you don't know how bad. of what happened to the economy so it contracted much more 2008 than anybody knew at the time. we didn't have measures quite large enough.
to say here is what would happen. >> and people don't remember i remember when he was inaugurated hundreds of thousands of jobs on a monthly basis. and coming into office now as a firefighter and you talk about as the treasury secretary the economic adviser was basically saying that this is really bad in this is probably how he will be remembered. in the obama someone to be remembered to be a tram's formative president but he had to be the fire and at first. >> p. haddad ambitious
social agenda the main to is climate change and health care but also education. but geiger says forget all that the houses on fire and that is said and that is all you will do and the obama says someone to do both. and make the case that he does. you could argue there were ways to do more. mitt any more in vance economy that has a financial system so obama is response was first-inning class well everybody else in the industry shin to supersede the reforms through an with
those bailouts at the end of the administration and what he laid out very well you start to see the beginning of the obama lighthouse white house that loggerhead in both houses of congress to support these other measures that that time. >> only to have of 58 democratic senator. and then he was number 59 vote. of we need the republicans to pass the stimulus.
we assume this because he did. but the tiny inkling of the crisis overwhelmingly popular even paul ryan was for a stimulus. to prime the pump. because there is a republican and office. if he did not pass the stimulus so fast forward almost one year later now the crisis is dramatically worse so now they thought it was a tiny little grease fire is now with 10 story blazed the republican party says now we are against the
stimulus. now we need you to do the exact opposite. so they just turned on a dime with their political success depends on maintaining partisan opposition. if you look at the sequence of defense you can say they need a political decision and that drove up policy stance that they believe when their guy was in office >> this wasn't tackled a whole lot but nancy pelosi says we won.
and as the chief of staff, judge of that was productive for counterproductive to get republicans on board early in the of ministration? if you talk to them up on capitol hill to some extent they poisoned the atmosphere to be at the tip of the sphere. >> i think nancy pelosi made the comment we won in response, in the context to get republican votes to say we don't believe in this keynesian stuff at all. so they had to reconcile these two ideas and wine was based on keynesian economics
that used to be the theory that both parties were saying they didn't believe it anymore so least we should have the at -- the upper hand so as the starting point that is usually how would those. >> en we got right into the affordable care act and to say to the president at that time going after health care reform right now might not be the best political decision but barack obama said reordering this how did that shape the first term? for the most part they would
see that as more successful was the second term although pursuing help reform did plant the seed of republicans taking control of the house in 2010. then they put the president on the path to deal with divided government. >> i would except they would have held the house in the atmosphere with total control of government with an economic crisis reconditions would get worse the matter what they did. blamed the party in power. even without pursuing health care reform. absolutely. i think they would have lost
congress matter what so what will they do that they have the majority? >> this was their chance for call lot of people urging him not to do this that he was making a huge mistake in going forward. >> if kinky was right -- i think he was right to going forward democrat spending month after month trying to get republicans to agree snaky you write the bill. eventually won by one they
ask the remaining republicans what could they do? they said nothing. >> they were holding onto olympia snowe hoping that the republicans would go along and her terms were chuck grassley but they said you have to get other people . because mitch mcconnell said we need to have unified opposition pdf headed people of both parties were signing on to the bills that would solve the problems but then vote for the party. but conversely then they would see a lot of conflict in washington and then punish the government party. >> key with thrall the
imaginations of getting to the signing of the affordable care act and initially there was a thing called public option which was attached to the mitt romney version of health care reform that in the heart of that was the insurance mandate to force you to buy insurance. and that insurance mandate is something not all meet with mitt romney supported but it was a conservative health care reform concept so you talk about that in the book although there was a conservative health care concept he was still struggling to line up support with those pieces of business to tackle this is the most fascinating from
the legislative standpoint. >> obama favored the republican option said he had to explain the rest of the bill we like that but they thought that would always be a part of the bill . he said we will cut that out and i think he needed to with a handful of democrats that would oppose that. then republicans to oppose the bill it is notable even now paul ryan was supporting this the same thing that happened with clinton health
care reform and ended up repudiating a.d. is. to only serve the of purpose and just not on your bill. >> you describe the signing of the affordable care act as one of successful social reforms in the united states now be here on the cusp and as they have made this job number one to repeal obamacare we have not even seen the replacement bill presented to the people but they want to get rid of obamacare. could remember the saying it is the signature legislation
so what have been snout to that piece of the legacy? >> what you describe indicates if republicans really believe it is hurting more than it was helping and they couldn't do that but they want because they know it is not failing. so their position now is the same as 2009. we believe that status quo is unacceptable with a better plan and we are working on this plan.
they have them promising it will come out seven years and it hasn't because there is no bill to do everything obamacare does to take care of the everybody which did something terrific. it isn't possible right now with another two or three or four years. >> they will vote to repeal and then have more time to pretend. >> then to stay in place and not willing to get rid of it that will make people upset. so that tells us before obamacare was put into place tens of millions of americans that are outside the system to be ignored by
those in washington they were not organized existing benefits. it was not on the agenda. it is easy to prevent someone from getting something. to with ignore them day after day. that is why they're not willing to take it away. it is possible republicans will extend and extent they will get democrats to agree that they repealed and replaced that is 90 percent similar.
it is possible they could come up with nothing but then they'll have a lot of ink repeople so would never happens obama has changed politics that the administration cannot come in without a cost to themselves. it did not hurt them but. >> moving forward with the thames of climate change talk about how he tried to bring about cap-and-trade we
all remember this so well when he took the bill up to us treat to shoot dead dead. he had to do this administratively. not very sexy but you still consider this to be a big part of his legacy? >> i do. john mccain as cap-and-trade newt gingrich favored cap-and-trade. >> explain what that is. >> it was the conservative plan to deal with clementine to and this is how we've reduce emissions but how to allocate those in the most efficient ways and then to
come up with the cheapest way and that is how the market would work. successfully for the '80s. for those other pollutants because they said the market worked so they said we have a plan of cap and trade this is how we will solve climate change and then once they were for it and they were against it. but then there was a long period with the recourse of the environment. and then to talk about him as if a complete failure
with the most important issue. >> but like you say he found another way around it. to use the series of regulations the u.s. government was already regulating efficiency for years such as tight and those regulations in using less and less energy building standards and then the biggest piece is the clean power plant with every state has to reduce its emissions and it was helped by the fact that coal was uh
dirtiest energy source by far. it was already taking how cold everywhere -- coal everywhere but it happened in ways people did not pay attention to. just like be air-conditioning standards. piece by piece by piece. the stimulus had $90 billion of green energy investment because the economy was falling off a cliff. and then they cared about if we were going to die right now. so with huge environmental reform bill place solar
energy became much cheaper over the course of his term. >> and this was thrown into the election of 2012 because mitt romney said on the trip they took into sullen draw to say here is money for a company that failed and then you talk about how negroni went after the president -- a mitt romney said that you point out the president wants to do that i want to make your life better. so republicans were making hay going after the legacy making it more difficult to
achieve his goals. >> looking after the long term interest of your country politicians want people to be happy right now. there is the trade-off and what will happen to hundred years down the line and will will help the and get elected right now for cody said forget about the oceans you can get a job right now. returning to the topic but he said he would get rid of these regulations and taxes it would get unemployment down and 6% that is how
successful my plan will be. >> but you mentioned irani -- mitt romney with the administrator of the epa. >> battle, barrault the best ideas from the republican party. but to be the official under mitt romney in they believed they could import the of modeled nationwide but with of modern liberal position with the extreme right wing
but the case you can make is it drove the progress to mitigate disaster that had not happened. >> q don't get a lot of credit. and then to be abandoned obama would have gotten no credit. they were just delaying the day to get less credit but to take on the thankless task they have been willing to take on but obamacare actions were in trouble. >> host: talking about foreign policy and as i saw
covering on the campaign trail to say you want to bother the you know, what out of vice is spent a big part of the foreign policy legacy is getting american forces out of afghanistan with this data is forces agreement and the red lining in syria. this is a huge subject to tackle with the foreign policy legacy how will be all see that years from now? it is hard to square to go on this ambitious mission i draw a red line but then i do not enforce it.
>> want people to wonder stand i tried to account for his mistakes and failures. it is a positive account to be a tremendously successful president foreign policy you could find more mistakes i argue he was transformative domestic president i would not argue for a policy i think she managed that much better than his predecessor that left dead in shambles. and managed to reverse a lot of the damage but obama of less responsible for about
of redline spirit use a chemical weapon but then does not do anything. with those chemical munitions out of syria but it sends a message to the world. >> it did. it was never a effective response the best argument they can make is we didn't have any better options. the rest of the world doesn't have the intelligence because it isn't easy to intervene sometimes it works but usually it doesn't.
the lot of bad things have been in the world. did put some points on the board i fake i ran was a tremendous success i'll think those changes would be reversed when we have the images in the world. >> talk about pretty soon i think another fascinating part is to deal with russia and vladimir putin moving from one president to the next. so he can say to slap these sanctions but now all the
but those that harmed russia and they were stealing zero his money to enrich themselves but like you say he has his own response to get a better one. so we don't know exactly how intertwined he is with donald trump but clearly has a much more capable president and whose prospective secretary of state to lobby against those very sanctions. >> so that will be a sad one he got the government that
he wanted. >> host: talk about donald trump and because you do delve into his candidacy now turning from that presidency to the trump the administration he pluses keying of the above birther movement that was the interval part of your first chapter looking at the obama through the racial lands to be the first african-american president. here you have a situation on inauguration day with president obama and president trump's on of same stage shaking hands and the man who will be taking the reins of the oval office questioning the legitimacy of barack obama. accused of not being born in this country.
what do you make of that? >> i plan is in a fair amount after a deal lection because he emblem mine's from the first chapter into the last chapter so that is the driving political force with the grass-roots opposition had he managed to tap into this backlash candidacy is quite the irony of a proponent of racist conspiracy theory it is not an accident so what was the
most important trend? the belief that was taken from white america and that was the sentiment that drove the team party to make it possible because the obama represented that is what trump could exploit but the argument i faint he will be one of the figures that comes along that exploit its populism they attracted a
mass following. but was hugely influential to tap into something important but in the of walled ryan i think he is right moving in the right direction demographically. but obama is the ideas will be the ones that are admired i think trump will be yes step backwards. >> if you talk to people who say they know donald trump there will say he is more pragmatic and practice them the campaign trail will he looked at these elements to say what i have said there is some stuff that i should hold on to?
>> clearly that is happening with health care to be deathly afraid of 20 million uninsured people. they will not figure that out into years. he does not believe the climate change the epa is the close ally to fossil fuels he will write letters than just sign his name to. but i think he is listening to people about climate change what i think will happen he will not continue to pass the progress but will slow that down to
muddle through to give favors to the fossil fuel industry but does not alienated self doubt but now they are committed to climate change. >> host: millenials get your final point of the book that is the notion of the disappointed left because they do think it is an interesting subject. you make the argument that republicans are much better to rally around a failed president or one with lots of problems verses barack obama the use say achieve quite a bit obviously what happened november 8 changes that.
>> is a reflection of that. what is going on quick. >> tapping into this discontent from the very beginning i try to trace whenever he did was not enough. you can argue he was failing and falling short but to answer with the historical argument to show in most cases was doing all they could expect like health care like liberals like bonnie frank said to throw in the towel. sunday was an ambitious president.
but i try to say but truman and roosevelt liberals spent most of the time saying he is a sellout and has not done enough and wants to compromise. >> host: he is always happy with half of the loaf. it is identical for all the cases said you are complaining it is not then it is you. jimmy carter was a failure. but the discontent shows
with the being empowered. >> so what is the answer during 2020? ave pragmatic progressive? bernie sanders is much more of a am barack obama as a describe the socialist and the southern democrat what do you think? >> as a political success in if you have the southern democrat but tim kane is very obama ask.
spirit will they have problems with trump and 2020? >> it depends on the state of the economy he will not do the things he said he will do but donald trump needed those voters in the midwest they thought he would be us change agent they see him being left to the hillary clinton. but a lot of the attacks on the big banks and special interest he is much more closely tied or even more than george w. bush a very insider republican so i
think it would be hard to square this up but he needed the obama of voters to win. you had a successful president to keep the coalition that is the roadmap. >> hillary clinton won the popular vote but just to wrap things up, heidi think the barack obama presidency be remembered near-term so how does that make the presidency look better? >> any major social reform will produce but there was the violent terrorist uprising in the south and
reduce the conditions very close to slavery so they remember this great achievement but we don't remember what happened after that. is decades and decades to restore basic civil rights to film will lincoln was trying to do at the time. to this day republicans to eliminate social security it is a measure of what obamacare readout from what they tried to dismantle. i cannot predict the future as well as make the case of what it ought to be to
. >> buckley had us spokespeople of the of movement from the '60s and '70s quite notably black power in then with two security guards behind him they are not harmed with the negotiation for the the producer but he never acknowledges they are there. he never even makes eye contact. but the appearance of black power on the show is that elsewhere it was sensationalist and sound bites and they conveyed to the networks they should not
cover black power anymore to ignore that. also not to cover vietnam as well they did not take that advice so learning about black power that was a good place to learn about it. you could hear dat is expressed un edited that was remarkable he also cover the of women's liberation movement with betty friedan and was not invited back 18 years. but a much better episode in
to be much more radical in enjoy talking to her so i will show you that clip in. >> that conversation with my book but they were equal in the estimation grammatically >> but they've referred to as early humans if not to an early man? one but their real attitude would be concealed by the censorship from the actual situation back at that point it does not change the character and it is laugh
hypocrisy. >> was the essence of the nomenclature? >> it is such a trivial aspect it is part to have the struggle for resistance. >> is san interesting moment because they'd agree about of nonsense the way they want to change language was but buckley thinks is so jarring. and says it does not change the structure so he thought she was a lunatic to take down the family.
but they agreed about the one issue of language. he said god dammit you are good laugh laugh he rarely enjoy a did. of course she did not want to come back on the show. they just debated at cambridge the week before a she resoundingly won that debate of women's liberation from the cambridge students. . .