tv History Bookshelf Craig Shirley Reagan Rising CSPAN January 13, 2021 5:37pm-6:27pm EST
reagan supported him. >> freedom of the press, i should just mentioned madison called it freedom of the use of the press and it is indeed freedom to print things and publish things. it is not a freedom for what we refer to institutionally as the press. >> lectures in history on american history tv on c-span3 every saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern. lectures in history is also available as a podcast. find it where you listen to podcasts. next on american history tv, conservative historian craig shirley chronicles ronald reagan's early political career and his influence on american conservatism. this is from the the gaithersburg book festival in gaithersburg, maryland.
>> good afternoon and welcome to the gaithersburg book festival. my name is julian representing district 17 which encompasses rockville and the beautiful city of gaithersburg, so welcome. gaithersburg is a city that proudly supports the arts and humanities. we are pleased to bring you this fabulous event thanks in part to the generous support if i sponsors and volunteers. when you see them around, please take time to say thanks. we appreciate that. we would like to get right to this event here, but first a few announcements. please silence all your devices. i'll wait. i'll wait. go ahead. silence all devices. thank you. and if you're on social media today, and we hope you are, please use the #gbf, gaithersburg book festival, gbf. your feedback is really valuable to us, so there will be surveys here at our tent and on our
website. by submitting a survey, you'll be entered into a drawing to win a $100 visa gift card. so, i encourage each of you to enter that survey. at the end of this presentation, mr. shirley will be signing books, and copies are on sale in this tent and around the grounds here. so, make sure you have this renowned author. take advantage. a quick word about buying books. this is a free event, but it does -- and i emphasize does -- help the book festival if you buy a book. the more books we sell at our event, the more publishers will want to send authors here. help support one of the world's great independent bookstores. it benefits the local economy and supports local jobs. if you enjoy this program and you're in a position to do so, please buy some books. all right. so, let me introduce this esteemed panel that we have
here. tackling the familiar or that which we believe to be familiar is a challenge for even the most seasoned author. the task is even more daunting when the familiar is an icon and a hero to many. done well, the best books often illuminate a subject which we are rarely familiar with -- let me try that again. done well, the best books often illuminate a subject with which we are already familiar. they provide texture, context, nuance. the good ones transfer genre and speak to the soul. craig shirley is that author. "reagan rising" is that book. mr. shirley comes by his love of reagan and conservatism honestly. reagan rising offers a compelling glimpse into the life of one of our country's most celebrated personalities. "reagan rising" chronicles the life of a man having just had a
devastated defeat, achieved a victory four years later. trump's presidency offers a perfect backdrop. with republican parties struggling to define itself, "reagan rising" offers meaningful incite into a development of a philosophy. it still inspires to this day. as a special aside and researching what i would say in this introduction, i learned that mr. shirley played an instrumental role in having the sport of lacrosse designated as the state sport of maryland. and for that, i'm sure he will always have a special place in the heart of all marylanders. so, gaithersburg, join me in welcoming mr. craig shirley. interviewing mr. shirley today
is mr. juan williams, fox news contributor since 1987. he's a celebrated author. he's a prolific chronicler of the civil rights era in general. "eyes on the prize" and "thurgood marshall, american revolutionary." there are several more but for the sake of time i truncated to those two. as the treasurer of the montgomery democratic party, i'm pleased to announce three to one majority over republicans in our county. so, juan, welcome to friendly territory. if you ever need a respite from fox news, we welcome you here with open arms. gaithersburg, please join me in welcoming juan williams. >> thank you. great pleasure to be here with
craig shirley, who i have known since the reagan white house. >> early '80s. >> early '80s. i did not know about lacrosse. that is fabulous. but i wanted to start with a very basic question for the people who have been so kind to come into our tent here at the gaithersburg book festival and ask, why did you write this book because you've written extensively about reagan before? >> well, first, thank you -- first of all, i guess if you're in friendly territory, i'm behind enemy lines. >> not quite. >> well, i'm retired from all that anyway. but i did think that for making us wait, we ought to rename his tv show "the four." i wrote this because it's an important part of american history, an important part of reagan history because it's never been explored before. like winston churchill, martin gilbert was --
>> move this a little closer. >> okay, all right. i thought i had a big mouth. martin gilbert, who is winston churchill's most famous and important biographer, wrote dozens of books. one of his books was called "the wilderness years." and it was during that time when churchill was cast aside by the conservatives in england, great britain, and embarked on a new career of writing and doing radio commentary and lecturing. and it mirrors reagan in many ways because reagan, '76, as you pointed out, had been cast aside by his party. and by the way, churchill was warning about spending most of his radio commentary and his columns warning about the rising threat of adolf hitler and naziism, a thing that most people in england at the time were ignoring or poo pooing. reagan spent his wilderness years writing, doing radio
commentary, warning about the rising threat of the soviet union. so, there's a lot of parallels between churchill's wilderness years and reagan's wilderness years. there are many, many issues we can get into later that -- it's sarin dip us to. it's like prop 13 in california, the panama canal treaties. other issues you were covering, i was involved with that come to the fore that help produced his election in 1980. that's why i wrote it. you know, doug brinkley, terrific historian and who edited "the reagan diaries" said that the realm of reagan scholarship is just beginning to open up. and i think every tomb i start to sit down to think about ronald reagan i think about a new aspect of his life, his career and his times that has been either underreported or hasn't been covered at all. >> so, let's get to put you in
friendly territory behind these lines and talk about the elephant, pun intended, in the room, which is donald trump. so, when i -- >> no, no. >> you don't want to do it. you don't want to do it. >> no, no, no. i mean no is the answer to his question. >> oh, i see. you've seen into the crystal ball. but here's the question. people say, well, gosh, how would you compare -- >> i wouldn't. >> -- reagan to trump? and then they say, what has come of republican -- >> let me turn it around. >> -- ideology and conservatism from reagan to trump. >> you covered the reagan white house for how many years? >> four. >> and the reagan campaign maybe four. >> yeah. >> let me ask you, is there anything about donald trump that reminds you remotely of ronald reagan? >> no, and so this is a --
>> okay. >> you saw into the crystal ball. >> yes, again. >> but i must tell you so many people in the republican party really hold ronald reagan up. >> and with good reason. >> a paragon of the party and conservative. >> with good reason. >> but then they say they are now with trump. >> that's just a matter of practicality. you can be with reagan but you can also be in the modern age and say i'm for trump because he wasn't hillary. i'm for trump for whatever reasons. he's taken on the bureaucracy or whatever else. but comparing the two individuals, there is no -- my wife is looking at me. >> are you guilty? >> of course. i've been guilty for 35 years. look, is that reagan was an intellectual. reagan was thoughtful. reagan was an american
conservative. reagan was kind. he was gentle. he was thoughtful. even in his diaries, he wouldn't swear. he wouldn't write -- he would write d dash dash dash instead of writing damn. that's how genteel he was. there was a story that when he was president, you know, he had one of the first second female secret service agents. and he kept standing aside as he's walking through the door to let the secret service agents go first. and his mother -- he said, my mothers told me ladies always go first. and the head of the treasury department had to sit him down and say, mr. president, she is not a woman. she is an agent. she is a professional and you have to allow her to do her job. but reagan was very reluctant. i can't imagine anybody ever saying anything like that about donald trump. reagan was a populist. he was an american conservative.
he was committed to his principles, but he was also flexible. he was -- he was kind. he was thoughtful. not always particularly thoughtful, but more so than most men. and i think -- look, don't turn to me for evidence of reagan's importance to american history. john patrick diggens, who in many ways was the official historian of the american left in the 20th century, he wrote books about the labor movement. he wrote books about the civil rights movement. he wrote books about the environmental movement. his last book -- and actually he invented berkeley in the '60s and did battle with then-governor reagan over the free speech battle. done rhetorical battle. his last book is called "ronald reagan: fate, freedom and the making of history."
and this liberal historian rates reagan as one of our four greatest presidents. he said that is the best definition of greatness is that did an american president save or free many, many people? >> craig, when we think about reagan and the republican party, conservatism, i think i go back to barry goldwater -- >> sure. >> -- to '64. >> right. >> to reagan's famous speech. >> right. >> for the sake of this audience, before we take him into the wilderness, which is where you take him here, explain to us how he comes to be because one of the great distinctions between reagan political history before he challenges the party establishment. >> that's right. he already had a lot of experience. he was the head of the screen
actors guild. a couple of years ago, regain negotiated residual switch became important to a lot of old retired actresses, and actors, still out of work, still getting stipends and residual's from work that they have done in tvs and movies years ago. the studios would pay the actors and actresses one-time to appear on a tv show or movie, or something like that. then they could re-broadcast it and then pocket all of the royalties with impunity. reagan as president of the screen actors guild negotiated residual, so there are images and voice were not sold without compensation. reagan was the one that did it. i was friends with fred burns a couple of years, ago he was one in one of the washington movies, and he was telling me about the movie, it had been re-broadcast,
in hungary or something like that. and he got a residual check for 12 dollars and 98 cents. and i said, do you know why i got that check? he said no. he says and it's because of ronald reagan negotiated with the studios. my point is that he had very good executive skills and it very good negotiating skills long before he even ran for governor. but of course, you know, his movie career had faded. he liked hollywood. he loved hollywood. but by 1962 -- 63. it was pretty much all over. he made one movie called killers, which was a adaptation of hemingway's novel. he hated the movie so much that he never saw. it he did 57 movies i think, it's the only time that 57 movies where he is depicted as a bad guy, and he slapped angie dickson in the movie. he hated that. he hated that. he would never see the movie. he himself was in the
wilderness several times, including after 63. and he is kind of like a professional host in southern california. introducing political candidates. various things. and he started to develop a speech which became known as the speech. for local candidates, mostly for cold water in 63, the cold water movement began in 63, my parents were members of it. they went to the goldwater convention. walter brennan kissed my mother. does anybody remember walter brennan? good. excellent. >> it's not to think of the walter brennan in my mind kissing your mom butts -- >> so anyway, he's developing
this speech. finally a group of wealthy southern california businessmen go to neil and his brother because he's an executive in southern california, and they say to reagan we want to put the speech on television. they put up the money and it was broadcast on nbc. it was a enormous hit. it raised millions of dollars for the goldwater campaign ááq(l committee. gold water loses in
california. he says. a group of businessmen come to him and say we will watch at the senate. he says no i don't want to run for the senate. i don't want to run for the congress. they said what about governor? that piqued his interest. they went around the state, going to local business groups and civil groups and going to other organized groups and giving feedback. feedback from the people was good. so that is when he decided to run for governor of california. so now he's completely broken from hollywood. now he is full-time. now he called himself not just a politician but a serviceman. >> let's go forward from the time to choose which was the title of the speech which remains a amazing speech. you go on youtube and watch. it very clear. there is a landslide for johnson over goldwater. we come forward in time then
through the time he spends as governor in sacramento. and now we are in the nixon era. and here comes ronald reagan, to challenge the party in a moment when the party is shaking, and things aren't clear. but they want gerald ford. he's the establishment candidate. in this book you take us through some of these very difficult shows for a man who is popular, who says that he is in keeping with the real conservative ideology of the time, but finds that his party is somewhere else. >> the party is still, it somewhere in the wilderness. the republican party kind of from 1932 until the late seventies doesn't have a coherent philosophy. the democrats have a coherent philosophy. they're also the party of optimism, the party of hope, the party of the future. franklin roosevelt runs for
president and jon kennedy says that we need to get this country moving again. the democratic party from 32 until 76 and beyond is the party of hope, optimism, and the future. the republican party is the green shade balance the budget party. and their message is basically, in fact those with a lot of conservatives accuse me too is we can govern better than democrats, that was their pitch and it wasn't very and separation all. that is why they are in the minority from 32 up until 68. and even beyond actually. reagan comes forward, the early leaders of the conservative movement like bill buckley and others have a coherent message that was based on the framers,
based on the founders, based on the constitution, which had been cast aside, or at least put on the sidelines from 32 on. we are reaching an era, we have to go backwards, from 32 to the sixties, most americans believe government as the working, and government is working for them. it didn't solve the great depression, but it did a good effort, and people appreciate that. but it did defeat the empire of japan. nazi germany. the interstate highway system. it did build roads, bridges, and public education. at one point we had the finest public education system in the world in the 19 forties, fifties, and sixties. by the sixties, government is starting to fail. it doesn't save jon kennedy, government doesn't save martin luther king junior, government doesn't save robert kennedy,
senator robert kennedy. in the seventies a government can't win the vietnam war, can't stop hyperinflation, can't stop high interest rates, government can't stop gas lines. it seems carter runs in 76, it was an outsider and was not wedded to the idea of big government. he's a reformer. he will clean up washington, go after the corruption, cut taxes, he is more of a populist almost conservative who sees that people are frustrated in the seventies, and don't believe the government is working for them anymore. but reagan also sees that carter attacks from somewhat in the left but not really. reagan is on the right, which is why the emerge is the most interesting candidates in 1976. reagan comes to the convention, and loses the nomination to gerald ford by 69 delegate votes, out of 2269 cast kansas
city. for a lot of reasons, the mississippi delegation, the ohio delegation, the new york delegation, reagan is convinced that forward has not stole the nomination but not what entirely legitimately, and now we are down to the weeds. but this wets reagan's appetite to run again. even though he is 65 years old, and a lot of people said you have been around the track twice, lost twice, give your best shot but now it is time to step aside, and let some new young fresh blood run for the nomination. and reagan says we are running. you didn't mention forward in much detail. but tell me -- what is his view of gerald ford? >> first of all, ford and reagan don't much like each
other. and mrs. reagan and mrs. ford can't even be in the steam state as each other. that is how little they liked each other. gerald ford of course a sense to the presidency by the way of the 22nd amendment when nixon picks him after spirit agony resigns, taking kickbacks in maryland, even when he was the president of united states. he somebody is going to placate all elements, but yet not someone who's going to threaten him, not going to cause some to look over his shoulders. gerald ford, his dream was to the speaker of the house, and that's never going to happen. then the smoking gun tape is revealed in 1974. it's in all of the news now.
>> i said that there is an elephant in the tenth. when i say smoking gun, six months ago, -- they now. anyway, nixon is revealed ordering the cia, trying to halt the fbi investigation into watergate, that spells the end of return nixon. gerald ford assent to the presidency. but gerald ford has no republicans make a psychic investment in gerald ford. nobody outside of the congressional district has voted for gerald ford. his hold on the republican party is very tenuous. he wants to run for 76. but he confuses nixon's appeal with nixon's policies. he was by, enlarge he was fairly conservative, although not as conservative as reagan. except for trump.
>> i don't know. >> [noise] he pursues all of dickson's policies, he continues his fiscal policies, he continues to the bench. this creates an opening for a conservative challenger and 76, and some looked at it but reagan was the only one who is serious about it. >> but then it is the reality that quarter beat ford via a narrow margin. >> that's right. ford gets 240 electoral votes. he carries ohio. ohio, carter carries ohio in 1976 by 6000 votes out of 3 million cast. the headquarters in ohio, a lot of suspicion that the two masters wouldn't do that.
mayor dailey wouldn't do it either. >> no, mayor daily wouldn't do either. >> but the fact that ford came so close with seem to indicate a shift. but reagan, now definitely in his wilderness in the book. >> he immediately creates a political organization, citizens for the republican to advance his conservatism, and help candidates running for office. he embarks -- he restarts his radio career, he's doing five minute radio commentaries five days a week. he literally recorded them at the corner of hollywood and vine in los angeles at the studio. he records five minute commentaries that go out to hundreds of radio stations, either on real tape or 45 record albums. this is before the day you could send out a soundbite via the internet to 1000 radio stations.
these are five minute radio commentaries. at one point, 50 million people every week are listening to ronald reagan. twice a week comment -- column being carried out by hundreds of newspapers. in the mid to late seventies, you have to be under a rock and not know about ronald reagan. >> did it work? >> sure, sure. he becomes -- after ford loses, reagan becomes, that's a good question. he becomes the de facto leader of the republican party. one of the big issues, is the panama canal treaty. he developed a as an issue in 76. the panama canal was considered one of the seven wonders of the world. my grandmother, i remember she was so furious that carter was going to give away the canal to the republic of panama. i didn't realize until later how important it was because
she grew up with the canal. this is a great example of american exceptionalism. we succeeded, the french failed. it's really important psychically, for my grandmother and millions of americans like her, so the idea that carter will turn over control over to the panama is infuriating. this is also the time when america is waning and its influence. we lost vietnam. we are losing to the soviets, americas day is over. plus we have all these problems at home here. so it comes at a terrible time. reagan of course is campaigning against first gerald ford and then jimmy carter. reagan is out there, starting in north carolina in 76, he's pounding the pavement saying that we are going to keep it. and his audience just goes crazy over this. so he keeps it up as an issue. even as carter becomes president, he still will
continue the ford policy of transferring the panama canal zone. carter goes on national television to make the case to the american people why it is important to give over control of the pandemic now. he singles out for criticism ronald reagan. the president of candidate state singles out one person, i have 240 million people, just a private citizen. so the next day, cbs news calls private citizen ronald reagan, and says would you like a half hour of national broadcast time to respond to the president of the united states? it would never happen today. >> no. >> so reagan of course jumps at the chance, he goes on and gives a half hour speech responded to the president of the net estates attacking him over the panama canal treaty. >> that is a shift from him
attacking the president to his fight with the republican establishment embodied in george w. bush. >> the party is split. and it has been split since the fifties. 50, to eisenhower or robert taft. eisenhower from the establishment. robert taft represented the conservative outsiders, is that nixon, lodge, goldwater, and rockefeller, and then again nixon, and then rockefeller, but there is always a split in the republican party between the conservative outsiders and more moderate insiders. this of course happens again in 1980. reagan represents the conservative outsiders, and bush represents them more modern insiders. and this is the fight over the nomination, and the future of
the party boils down to these two individuals. >> tell us about it. >> it was a seesaw battle for a while, because reagan is at his worst when he is not challenged. he is at his best when someone is challenging him. he's incredible. mike beaver told him he was the most competitive person, reagan needed to be challenged, or he doesn't rise to the occasion. he doesn't think george pushes challenge seriously. and he ends up losing the iowa caucuses in january of 1980, which was a stunning, stunning upset of the political world. it's enormous. it's huge. reagan had been a radio broadcaster in iowa all through the thirties. he was from nearby illinois. he is a local hero. george bush is from texas. he has less ties to new england than he does to any prep school. >> to iowa.
>> he has less ties to iowa that any prep school in new england. so he beat reagan. that night, tom petty of nbc goes on national television and says we have just witnessed the political funeral of ronald reagan. ronald is out. that's it. five weeks later, he scores an enormous comeback in new hampshire primary. we all remember the debate. famous national debate. i am paying for this microphone, mr. green, even though that wasn't his name. that starts the beginning of his come back against bush. but he goes to detroit, the party is still divided, and so he needs to pick bush to unify the country's -- party, nixon picks add new in order to unify the party. it was a splitting that both
parties practiced perfection in the forties, fifties, sixties, into the seventies. it unifies the party. but it goes through 30 primaries in the state convention. the nomination is not just rains for the asking. he has got to fight. he's got a street fight of his life to beat george bush to get the nomination. >> that fight is the source of the term, voodoo economics. >> that's right. reagan was pushing -- he had developed this issue in 1978. then tax cuts become the centerpiece of his 80s campaign. it is really the devil in bush, because he can't match it. he came up with his own tax plan but it is more focused on business, less on the individual, whereas reagan was more focused on the individual, and less on business. so bush unwisely goes out and
starts attacking a very popular plan of reagan's. reagan is scoring well politically. he calls it voodoo economics. reagan was so furious of that he almost did it pick bush, in fact, it was a big sticking point with rigged why he didn't pick bush as his running mate. >> we want to ask questions from the audience. audience, please have your questions prepared. but i want to come back to this, because we started today by talking about trump, reagan. and you know, reagan actually gets a tax reform plan done. >> to. to. >> and he is able to do business with democrats, with people on the hill. he has success in terms of moving things forwards, and he
gets intense criticism not only for democrats but also from fellow republicans at times. >> i don't know if you are going to mention the washington post. >> i am glad to. -- so you get a situation now where people say here is another populist outsider challenger. specifically to the republican establishment. but you say, the analogy doesn't hold water, and i am thinking, is it in your book, a result of the fact that one guy could get things done in washington, and so far the other cannot? >> i think the parties have changed. there were a lot more conserved democrats in 1981 than there were tonight. there were a lot more liberal republicans in washington or the republican party. but ultimately, politics is
personal. i've been writing about it for a long time. politics is about the person. reagan was able to work with democrats like than on the 86 tax bill. he deserves most of the credit for getting that 86 tax reform act through congress, more than o'neill, because o'neill is getting ready to retire. but go back to what i said, there were a lot of conservative democrats, so that reagan could bring them over to the republican fold. but i think also, look at reagan's speeches. look at reagan's commentaries. look at reagan's q and a. he didn't come to washington to declare war on the media. he attacked the bureaucracy. that's for sure. but he realized he needed democrats to get his programs through. he realized he needed the media to at least be open to the idea
that, i keys you about the washington post, but the washington post editorial is often very supportive. they said after he got the nomination, they said reagan brought a new intellectual revolution to american politics, and that is something to be thankful for. and reagan put that into practice. i think his personal. i think it was philosophical. i think parties have changed. we are at the end of jimmy carter. jimmy carter i will defend, i will always say that he is a good man, he came to washington with the best of intentions, but jimmy carter for this president because he did ultimately understand washington. but we had the recession. so democrats knew that they needed to do something so they were willing to take a chance on reagan. >> but, get back to trump. [laughs] >> look, you know, is that the
reason -- let me answer this as diplomatically as possible. for a lot of people in the eighties, they thought reagan would be a failure. he left office with very high approval numbers, american historians weren't rating him very high but now they're looking back and looking at the reagan presidency, he's now rated the last american historians rated him 13, but he's been steadily going up over the last 30 or 40 years. i don't have the newspapers of eight years or four years from now to tell you about donald trump. but i can tell you that reagan approach the presidency different. he was a different man. reagan had a different style. there is no comparison, except that both were outsiders, and both were threats to the political system. but that is the only thing that i would say. >> but one people inside the
republican party say, oh no, trump is the inheritor. >> no is the answer again. >> no. no. trump is not the inheritor to the extent that any republican is the inheritor of the previous republican space and support inside the country. he's the inheritor, but he's also the inheritor of the bush institute, as far as the coalition that they put together for the nominations. >> i don't think that trump would say that he was comfortable being described as a inheritor of george w.. >> you know what, there's a lot of things that trump isn't comfortable with. it's obvious. there are certain types of republican primary voter, the issues they, change they may change somewhat their philosophy, but essentially the republican primary voter voted for nixon, in 1960 is very
similar to the republican primary voters who voted for richard nixon and our government into thousand 16. >> you mean the silent majority? >> exactly, silent majority was camp up with by nixon, and introduced by donald trump. >> you think that when you look at people like paul ryan, when you look at people like i don't know, mitch mcconnell. are they the true inheritors of the reagan legacy? or is it someone else? am i missing someone? >> i don't know if there's anyone inheritor. i will tell you one thing though. i saw mike pence give his speech today at the college. he was terrific. it was a reagan-esque speech. it was a very good speech. i think someone is probably going to write a contrast between his speech in a column, a op-ed, or a piece, contrasting his speech with trump's at the coast guard
academy. it begs to be written. it begs to be written because it was terrific. if you haven't seen it i would urge you to go on to you tonight and take a look at it, because it was a very good speech for all americans. >> so i get the impression that you didn't think much of mr. trump's speech at the coast guard. [laughs] >> he uses first person pronouns like he is eating breakfast. >> let's go to the audience at nathan's bergh. we have a question right here. hang on. i think that there is a microphone coming for you. >> so speaking of inheritance, would you say that ted cruz and the freedom caucus are political like a tease of
reagan's? yuck >> reagan was motivated by certain things. freedom, individuality, and the future. he was a romantic. he quoted emerson. he quoted pain. so much of the enlightenment is about those elements. reagan by the time he is an adult he has a fully formed philosophy that is centered on maximum freedom, as he said maximum freedom consists of law and order. privacy for the individual. so anyone who articulate that were understands that is the air to the region philosophy, whether it's ted cruz, or mike pence, or mcconnell. anyone who tries to advance the rights and freedoms of privacy. >> we have a question in the back. >> for many republicans now join liberals in questioning
the war on drugs, and its aftermath, and the human toll taken. if reagan were alive and mentally well today, do you think he would have some of the same reservations? >> that's a tough one. that's a good question. that's a tough one. reagan was in many ways a libertarian. he spoke in a magazine in 1975 in which he said that libertarianism is the fundamental basis for conservatism. but he was also a trump traditionalist. i'm sure that he would have devised maybe, yes i think we should control the distribution and use of drugs, of hallucinogenic's, it should be done by the states and localities, we can't do it by the federal government. i think that's probably the closest of his blending of philosophy of libertarian new areas them but also a traditionalist.
i think it's a powerful question, at the moment what we see from attorney general jeff sessions, and he wants to go back to the warrant drugs, but you see many republicans including some republicans that might surprise, you including hard-liners that say we have to many people incarcerated in the country, it's not economically rewarding, it is cheaper to send them to college them to put them in jail. i am just wondering if when you hear this question, you think again, this is a departure from ronald reagan's attitude, his willingness to work with others. to here, to respond to a situation. >> i think there's a lot of departures. reagan, he was for a strong border, and he said the strong borders are important for national security and national identity. but i think the issue also came up about walls, and he kind of -- the republican primary in 1980. >> stay on this one. >> he said build a wall.
we'll have a big door in the middle. >> but everything that reagan does in his presidency has to be judged in the shadow of the cold war. and when he proposed the north american free trade agreement, it was to build a more solid free market system in the west to repel soviet advances, and you, know a violate the monroe doctrine. he wanted the strong western hemisphere, same with nicaragua, el salvador, he wanted free and prosperous democracies. you covered it. it was to build strong and prosperous democracies in the caribbean to fend off soviet advances to undermine those countries. >> so, we don't have time for another question i am told. for craig surely's book. reagan rising. the decisive years. 1976 to 19 eighties.
you can tell from this conversation, very lively, very topical, and has power in this moment. craig, thank you so much. thank you. [applause] weeknights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3. tonight we look at the life and legacy of john f. kennedy. the university of mary washington history professor married as william crowley discusses kennedy's presidency, and the myths that surrounded it. the top is from the university's great lives lecture series. that's at 8 pm eastern. enjoy american history tv every weekend on c-span 3.