Robert Draper

  • Aired:  04/26/12
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Robert Draper discusses his book "Do Not Ask What Good We Do," which covers a year inside the House of Representatives, following the 2010 midterms. (6:42)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT A BESTSELLING AUTHOR WHOSE NEW BOOK IS CALLED

"DO NOT ASK WHAT GOOD WE DO." PLEASE WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM, ROBERT DRAPER.

( APPLAUSE ) NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME IS THERE YOU HAVE DONE AN EXCELLENT JOB.

THIS IS ONE OF THOSE "DO ALMOST ONE OF THOSE BOOKS WHERE THE AUTHOR ENDURES A GREAT

CHALLENGE, PERSONAL CHALLENGE,

LIKE TREKKING UP A MOUNTAIN, OR RETRACING SHACKELFORD'S JOURNEY.

YOU WERE A FLY ON THE WALL IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FOR A YEAR.

>> YEAH.

IT WAS FULL IMMERSION.

BASICALLY AFTER THE MIDTERM ELECTION I DECIDE I REALLY WANT TO FOLLOW THESE GUYS,

PARTICULARLY THE 87 REPUBLICAN FRESHMEN.

I KNEW THERE WOULD BE SOME KIND OF CHANGE IN ETHOS.

A THIRD OF THESE GUYS NEVER SERVED IN ANY ELECTED OFFICE BEFORE.

>> Jon: 87 NEW REPRESENTATIVES.

>> THERE HASN'T BEEN A WAVE ELECTION BRINGING THAT MANY FRESHMEN IN SINCE 40 YEARS OR

SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

AND THE FACT SO MANY OF THEM HAD NO POLITICAL EXPERIENCE AND THAT NOW THE REPUBLICANS WERE GOING

TO TAKE CHARGE WOULD MEAN THEY WOULD BE THE-- THE OPEN QUESTION WAS WHETHER THE REPUBLICAN

LEADERSHIP WAS GOING TO BE ABLE TO CONTROL THESE GUYS.

>> Jon: AND THEY'RE VERY OPEN, AND I DON'T KNOW IF IT WAS

BECAUSE THEY WERE FRESHMEN, BUT THEY'RE VERY OPEN WITH YOU ABOUT

WHEN THEY BECOME CONFLICTED AND WHAT THEIR ASPIRATIONS ARE AND THAT SORT OF THING.

>> ONE OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS OF THE BOOK, JEFF DUNCAN --

>> JEFF DUNCAN.

>> A GUY FROM SOUTH CAROLINA.

ONE OF THE FOUR HORSEMEN, VERY CONSERVATIVE FELLOW, BUT HIS ONGOING STRUGGLE WAS JUST SIMPLY

TO BE HEARD, TO BE MORE THAN ONE OF 435.

IT'S A VERY BIG BODY.

HE CAME FROM THE STATE SENATE IN SOUTH CAROLINA WHERE HE HAD BEEN A VOICE.

>> Jon: EVEN AMONG THE DELEGATION IN SOUTH CAROLINA,

THERE'S-- SOMETHING HAPPENS AND HE IS NOT MENTIONED.

THE OTHER THREE ARE MENTIONED AND QUOTED.

IT'S AN ARTICLE ABOUT THE FOUR HORSEMEN.

>> BY THE "NEW YORK TIMES."

>> Jon: BY THE "NEW YORK TIMES," AND HE IS NOT QUOTED AND

YOU GET THAT SENSE HE'S BATTLING FOR HIS PRINCIPLES BUT ALSO WONDERING WHEN THE SPOTLIGHT

MIGHT COME TO HIM.

>> YEAH, NO, AS IF HE'S LIKE A BLACK HOLE OR SOMETHING AND

EVERY TIME HE SAYS SOMETHING IT IMPLODES UPON ITSELF AND NO ONE HEARS IT.

>> Jon: YOU DID A REALLY NICE JOB OF PRESENTING THEM AS HUMANS.

( LAUGHTER ) AND I WAS VERY UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THAT.

I PREFER TO THINK OF THEM AS TWO-DIMENSIONAL CARICATURES THAT ARE REPTILIAN IN THEIR-- IN

THEIR POLITICAL REFLEXIVENESS.

MUCH EASIER TO DEMONIZE THEM.

BUT YOU INSIST THAT THEY'RE THREE-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERS.

>> SORRY TO INCONVENIENCE YOU.

NO, ALAN WEST IS A GOOD CASE IN POINT.

>> Jon: SURE.

>> HE SAYS THINGS LIKE 41 DEMOCRATS ARE COMMUNISTS AND ALL THAT.

>> Jon: 78, I THINK 78.

>> REALLY?

>> Jon: YEAH.

>> BUT AT THE SAME TIME, HE'S AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY OFFENDER.

HE'S OPINION A THORN IN THE SIDE TO THE REPUBLICANS BECAUSE HE

HAS-- HE'S CALLED THEM OUT WHEN THEY HAVE NOT SUPPORTED DEFENSE CUTS ON CERTAIN ITEMS.

HE'S CALLED THEM OUT FOR HAVING THIS CALENDAR THAT HAS THE REPRESENTATIVES IN THE DISTRICT

MORE OFTEN THAN IN WASHINGTON WHEN HE FEELS THERE OUGHT TO BE MORE THINGS GETTING DONE.

>> Jon: DURING THE STATE OF THE UNION HE IS SITTING AND HE IS MARKING UP HIS THING AND

CERTAIN THINGS THE PRESIDENT SAYS, THAT'S A GOOD POINT-- AND IT REALLY-- IF YOU WERE TO JUST

LOOK AT THOSE NOTES AND NOT REMEMBER THE FOOTAGE OF HIM GOING, "STRAP YOUR BAYONETS AND

CHARGE!" YOU'D GO, OH, THAT'S A VERY REASONABLE--

>> SURE, BUT THEN HE VOTED FOR THE DEBT CEILING BILL AND WENT BACK HOME AND SOME OF HIS TEA

PARTY CONSTITUENTS SAID YOU DROPPED YOUR BAYONET.

HE'S BEEN TO SOME DEGREE A DISAPPOINTMENT EVEN TO THEM.

>> Jon: AND THAT WAS THE INTERESTING PART.

YOU'VE GOT ANTHONY WEANER, AND OBVIOUSLY YOU CATALOGED WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM, AND ALAN WEST.

THERE'S ALMOST A STRANGE ADMIRATION WITHIN THE HOUSE FOR THE GUYS THAT HAVE GLOAD

BRIGHTLY BECAUSE THEY SAY CRAZY THINGS ON TV OR PAUSE THEY ARE LOUDER AND BRASSIER THAN THEIR COLLEAGUES.

>> AND WEANER IS A CASE IN POINT YOU SAID.

THIS IS A GUY WHO IS UNDERSTOOD THE CAPITOL STAGE AS PERFORMANCE ART, BASICALLY.

THE PROBLEM WITH WEINER-- WELL,

MANY PROBLEMS WITH WEINER, BUT BEFORE HE UNDID HIMSELF-- YEAH,

OKAY.

>> Jon: IT'S LIKE WE'RE ON A DIFFERENT SHOW RIGHT NOW.

( LAUGHTER ) LET ME TELL YOU THE PROBLEM WITH WEINER.

( LAUGHTER ).

>> YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT.

HE-- HE-- YOU KNOW, BEING THE ULTIMATE ENTREPRENEUR IN A BODY OF 435, HE ALIENATED ALL OF HIS COLLEAGUES.

HE WAS ABUSIVE TOWARDS HIS STAFF.

SO FINALLY, WHEN HIS WORLD DID EXPLODE, THERE WAS NO ONE STANDING BESIDE HIM.

>> Jon: IS IT-- ONE THING THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO AVOID IN SOME WAYS IS THE JUDGMENT, THIS

SENSE OF "ASK HERE'S WHY THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING A PLACE" TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

WHEN YOU READ IT, YOU HAVE A GREAT EMPATHY FOR-- I CAN SEE WHY THEY'RE IN THE WEEDS.

THEIR WORLD IS MICROMANAGING THE BYZANTINE INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE GOVERNMENT.

>> YEAH, AND IT'S-- I MEAN,

IT'S-- IT'S A COURSE OF AMERICA SLICED UP 435 DIFFERENT WAYS,

AND YOU CAN KIND OF EMPATHIZE WITH A GUY LYCRAULE LAB DOR, A TEA PARTY FRESHMAN FROM IDAHO

WHO SAID I DEPARTMENT COME HERE TO BE PART OF A TEAM.

IN A WAY THAT DOES SOUND RIGHT.

THE WHOLE SHIRTS AND SKINS ZERO-SUM APPROACH TO GOVERNMENT I THINK HAS CREATED A PARALYSIS.

AT THE SAME TIME, YOU HAVE TO HAVE SOME ORGANIZING PRINCE PAN THAN 435 GUYS SCRAMBLING AROUND

TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHATEVER IS BEST.

>> Jon: IT'S INTERESTING TO SEE THE MOMENTS WHEN EITHER THE

BOEHNER FOR THE REPUBLICANS OR NANCY PELOSI FOR THE DEMOCRATS IS CONFRONTED BY A LITTLE BIT OF

NONCOM PLIANCE AND HOW THEY RESPOND TO THAT.

IT'S VERY-- I WON'T SAY CHILLING BUT COLD.

>> IN SPEAKER BOEHNER'S CASE I THINK IT'S MORE SORT OF SAD.

( LAUGHTER ) I MEAN, THE GUY-- HE HAS VERY

LIMITED POWERS NOW AS A SPEAKER.

I MEAN, WHEN THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE SAID TO HIM, "WHY ARE YOU LETTING THESE GUYS VOTE

AGAINST REPUBLICAN BILLS?

YOU SHOULD PUNISH THEM.

YOU SHOULD STRIP THEM AGAINST COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS." HE SAID WE CAN'T DO THAT.

IT WILL ONLY MAKE MARTYRS OUT OF THEM.

THE KNUCKLE-BREAKING DAYS OF DELAY ARE OVER.

>> Jon: THAT'S WHY BOEHNER IS ALWAYS WEEPING.

I'M TELLING YOU, MAN, WHAT WONDERFUL REPORTING AND ACCESS AND IT'S A GREAT INSIGHT INTO

WHY THEY ARE AT 9% IN THE POLLS.

( LAUGHTER ) "DO NOT ASK WHAT GOOD WE DO" IS

ON THE BOOKSHELVES NOW.

ROBERT DRAPER.

( APPLAUSE )

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