Ron Suskind

  • Aired:  09/20/11
  •  | Views: 25,480

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind discusses Barack Obama's evolution as a leader during the course of his presidency. (7:11)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

THE PULITZER PRIZE WINNING

AUTHOR, HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED

"CONFIDENCE MEN: WALL STREET,

WASHINGTON, AND THE EDUCATION OF

A PRESIDENT."

PLEASE WELCOME BACK TO THE SHOW

RON SUSKIND.

(APPLAUSE)

NICE TO SEE YOU.

"CONFIDENCE MEN: WALL STREET,

WASHINGTON" AND, OF COURSE, THE

EDUCATION OF A PRESIDENT.

I'VE ALWAYS FOUND THE EDUCATION

OF A PRESIDENT TO BE SOMETHING

THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAPPEN

PREVIOUS TO THEIR PRESIDENTING.

THIS REPRESENTS A VERY CREDIBLE

CASE THAT HE WAS A FRESHMAN AND

RECEIVED WHAT MAY BE PERCEIVED

AS AN ECONOMIC TEAM WEDGIE.

(LAUGHTER)

YOUR THOUGHTS.

>> WHATEVER YOU SAID, I THINK

THAT SOUNDS RIGHT.

HE ARRIVES HERE AS AN UNTESTED

LEADER IN A LOT OF WAYS.

I CALL HIM AN AMATEUR PRESIDENT.

HE IS BRILLIANT, HE IS SOMEONE

PEOPLE PAINT YEARNINGS ON, HE

RISES AT A MOMENT OF CRISIS AND

HE SURROUNDS HIMSELF WHEN HE HAS

A KIND OF COLD SWEAT MOMENT WITH

OLD SEASONED HANDS-- MANY OF

THEM FROM BILL CLINTON-- AND

WHAT YOU'VE GOT IS, WELL, WHAT

WE'VE GOT RIGHT NOW.

IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT FOR HIM.

PEOPLE WILL FEEL SOME SYMPATHY

FOR HIM, ACTUALLY MAYBE A LOT OF

SYMPATHY FOR WHAT BARACK OBAMA

FACED AT THIS MOMENT BASED ON

WHAT HE BROUGHT TO THE TABLE,

UNDERSTANDABLY.

AND IT'S QUITE A BATTLE THROUGH

THE TWO YEARS.

NOW OBAMA SAYS IN THE FINAL

INTERVIEW "I'VE GROWN.

YES, WHAT'S IN THE BOOK IS TRUE

BUT I'VE LEARNED HARD LESSONS

FROM THIS AND I'VE BECOME THE

PRESIDENT PEOPLE WANT AND

DESERVE."

BUT THAT WILL BE SOMETHING

PEOPLE JUDGE.

>> Jon: WHY DO PEOPLE TALK TO

YOU?

(LAUGHTER)

BECAUSE A LOT OF PEOPLE TALK TO

YOU IN THIS BOOK.

>> EVERYBODY.

>> Jon: EVERYBODY GOES ON

RECORD.

DO THEY THINK IN THIS... ARE YOU

THEIR CHANCE?

ARE YOU A LIFE PRESERVER TO

THEIR REPUTATION?

DOES THE PRESIDENT... IS THE

THOUGHT THAT WE WANT TO

CHRONICLE THIS FOR HISTORICAL

PURPOSES OVERWHELM MAYBE A

PRUDENT STEP BACK?

WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS?

>> PEOPLE COME TO SOMEONE LIKE

ME AND HAVE FOR NOW... THIS IS

THE FIFTH BOOK.

FOR ALL KINDS OF REASONS, BUT I

THINK IT'S CLEAR THAT A LOT OF

THEM FEEL THAT THEY WERE FRONT

SEATS IN BIG MOMENTS OF HISTORY

AND THEY SAY "I NEED TO TELL YOU

WHAT I SAW."

NOW THE ADVISORS ARE INTERESTING

AND THE BOOK IS FULL OF THEM BUT

THE REASON YOU'RE INTERESTED IN

THEM IS BECAUSE THEY GIVE YOU A

GLIMPSE OF THE MAN, THE

PRESIDENT, THE DECIDER, SO TO

SPEAK, INTO THE MAN OF THIS

MOMENT AND THIS PERIOD.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> NOW INTERESTINGLY WHAT YOU

FIND HERE IS OBAMA'S WRESTLING

WITH HIS ADVISORS.

>> Jon: WELL, THERE'S A...

PROBABLY THE MOST DIFFICULT

THING IN THE BOOK FOR OBAMA IS

THE SENSE THAT HE SITS BACK AND

ALLOWS WHAT WOULD BE HIS NATURAL

INSTINCTS... YOU KNOW, YOU SAY

HE PROMOTED THE SWEDISH MODEL

AND THEY WENT "NO" AND HE WENT

"ALL RIGHT."

>> IT DOES NOT PAINT A STRONG

LEADERSHIP POSITION FOR IT.

IT'S INTERESTING, THE FIRST FEW

MONTHS OF THIS PRESIDENCY IS

CLEARLY THE CRUCIAL TIME.

HE'S GOT A 75% APPROVAL RATING,

TWO MILLION PEOPLE WERE WEEPING

ON THE MALL IN JANUARY AND YOU

CAN FEEL AND THINK I CAN DO THIS

I CAN BE THIS LARGER-THAN-LIFE

PRESIDENT AND YOU SEE HIM KIND

OF GETTING THE WIND KNOCKED OUT

OF HIM BY MARCH AND IT'S HARD TO

READ BECAUSE YOU CAN SEE HIM

REACHING FOR BIG IDEAS,

ESPECIALLY RESTRUCTURING, TAKING

DOWN SOME OF THE BIG BANGS, THAT

DOESN'T HAPPEN.

AND AFTER THAT YOU HAVE MORE

INCIDENTS LIKE THAT.

ALL THE WAY THROUGH TO 2010, THE

BEGINNING OF 2010 WHEN HE GETS A

MEMO, THERE'S LOTS OF MEMOS IN

THERE FROM PETE ROUSE, THE TOP

ADVISOR SAYING "LOOK, YOU NEED

TO TAKE CONTROL OF THIS BUILDING

YOU ARE THE PRESIDENT."

AND THIS MEMO WAS KIND OF A

BLUEPRINT FOR MOSTLY ALL THE

STAFF, THE FIRST STAFF LEAVING

AND OBAMA AFTER THE MIDTERMS HE

SAYS TO ME I FEEL LIKE NOW I'M

KIND OF GETTING MY RHYTHM, I'M

HERE NOW.

WITH A NEW STAFF THAT CAN DO

WHAT I NEED BUT THAT'S FOR FOLKS

TO JUDGE.

>> WELL, THE DIFFICULTTY HERE IS

THE FEELING OF OPPORTUNITY

SQUANDERED.

THE HARDEST THING TO READ IN IT

IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OBAMA

AS A CAMPAIGNER AND HOW HE... HE

REALLY DID REPUDIATE HIS OWN

CAMPAIGN.

HE RAN AS A GUY WHO SAID THE

DEFINITION OF INSANITY IS HAVE

THE SAME PEOPLE AND EXPECT

DIFFERENT RESULTS.

AS SOON AS THE FINANCIAL CRISIS

HIT-- AND IT DOESN'T HIT WHILE

HE'S IN OFFICE, IT'S BEFORE-- HE

HIRES LARRY SUMMERS WHO, BY THE

WAY, I THINK BY UNANIMOUS

CONSENT IS AN AS (BLEEP).

(LAUGHTER)

LIKE I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING...

(APPLAUSE)

LIKE NORMFULLY THESE BOOKS...

AND, BY THE WAY, IT DOESN'T FEEL

LIKE A PREJUDICE THING, LIKE

YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A NARRATIVE.

IT DOES FEEL FAIR-MINDED BUT,

MAN, WHEN YOU INTERVIEWED, I

THINK, HIS FAMILY AND THEY...

NO, THAT'S NOT IN THERE.

BUT...

>> WELL, HE SPEAKS SO HIGHLY OF

YOU, JON.

>> Jon: REALLY.

HE DOES?

BUT IT'S ASTONISHING TO SEE SUCH

A CLEAR PORTRAYAL OF ONE

INDIVIDUAL.

>> THERE ARE LOTS OF THEM IN

THIS MIX BUT, LARRY, LOOK, HE'S

OFTEN BEEN HIS OWN WORST ENEMY

THROUGH A LONG PERIOD ON THE

PUBLIC STAGE.

HERE HE SAYS, OF COURSE, ONE OF

THE SIGNATURE QUOTES OF THIS

PERIOD WHICH IS THE FAMOUS NOW

"HOME ALONE" QUOTE.

WE'RE HOME ALONE, THERE'S NO

ADULT IN CHARGE AND CLINTON

WOULD NEVER MAKE THESE MISTAKES.

HE SAYS THIS A LOT LEAVING

MEETINGS IN THE OVAL OFFICE WITH

THE PRESIDENT.

LOTS OF PEOPLE HEAR THIS AND

THEY'RE TROUBLED BY IT, THEY SAY

IS LARRY RIGHT ABOUT THIS OR

NOT?

AND THEY WRESTLE WITH IT THROUGH

THE PERIOD OF THIS PRESIDENCY.

>> BUT YOU SAY EVERYBODY HATES

SUMMERS BUT OBAMA.

THE ONE THING YOU KEEP COMING

BACK TO IS HIS JUDGMENT

NECESSARILY ON THE PEOPLE THAT

HE HAS AROUND HIM AS ADVISORS.

THIS ISN'T NECESSARILY THE IRAQ

WAR, HE'S GOT A SITUATION HE HAS

INHERITED BUT HE IS

RESPONSIBLE... YOU CAN'T SIT

BACK AND SAY HE'S NOT

RESPONSIBLE FOR BAD ADVISE.

>> WITH LARRY THERE'S A

SEDUCTION.

OBAMA LOVES THESE HIGH I.Q. GUYS

LARRY IS THE TOP OF THE HEAT

THERE AND HE SORT OF ENDS UP IN

WHAT I CALL THE LARRY SUMMERS

DEBATE SOCIETY.

I THINK OBAMA FELT HE'D SIT

ABOVE IT AND JUDGE WHO'S THE

WINNER.

HE'S JUST ANOTHER GUY AT THE

TABLE.

LARRY SAYING I'LL GO FIRST, YOU

GO AFTER ME.

IT TROUBLES PEOPLE WHO ARE

SITTING THERE SAYING WAIT A

SECOND, IS THAT BEING

DISRESPECTFUL TO THE PRESIDENT?

EVENTUALLY YOU SEE THE

PRESIDENT'S CONFIDENCE SORT OF

BRUISED AND, FRANKLY, THAT'S WHY

CONFIDENCE MEN IS THE TITLE.

IT'S ALL ABOUT CONFIDENCE.

THE COIN OF THE REALM.

>> Jon: I SEE WHAT YOU DID

THERE!

YOU TURNED IT AROUND YOU'RE VERY

GOOD.

(LAUGHTER)

I WANT TO ASK YOU A COUPLE MORE

THINGS, THIS WILL BE ON THE WEB.

"CONFIDENCE MEN" IS THE NAME OF

THE BOOK, RON SUSKIND.

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