Robert Caro

  • Aired:  05/06/13
  •  | Views: 6,176

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author lists Lyndon Johnson's undertakings, from civil rights and voting rights bills to Medicare and education. (6:10)

WELCOME BACK, EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS THE

PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING AUTHOR OF

THE PASSAGE OF POWER ABOUT

L.B.J.'S PRIZE TO THE

PRESIDENCY.

I HAVEN'T FINISHED IT YET SO

NOBODY TELL ME HOW THE VIETNAM

WAR ENDS.

PLEASE WELCOME ROBERT CARO.

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ).

THANK YOU FOR COMING ON.

NICE TO MEET YOU.

WHAT AN HONOR.

NOW YOU ARE THE TWO-TIME

PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING HISTORIAN

WHO IS ABOUT TO RECEIVE THE J.

ANTHONY LUCAS PRIZE FOR

NONFICTION AT COLUMBIA

UNIVERSITY.

CONGRATULATIONS FOR THAT.

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ).

>> THANKS.

Stephen: I'VE GOT TO GET ME

ONE OF THOSE.

NOW YOU HAVE SPENT THE LAST 40

YEARS WORKING ON YOUR... WOULD

YOU CALL IT A BIOGRAPHY OR A

HISTORY OF L.B.J.?

>> IT'S NEITHER ITS ABOUT A MAN

BUT MOSTLY ABOUT POLITICAL

POWER.

HOW THIS POLITICAL GENIUS USES

DIFFERENT KINDS OF POLITICAL

POWER LIKE THE LAST BOOK OF HOW

A PRESIDENT TAKES OVER IN A TIME

OF ASSASSINATION AND BECOMES

PRESIDENT AND USES POLITICAL

POWER IN AN INSTANT.

>> Stephen: THE ENTIRE SERIES OF

BOOKS IS CALLED THE YEARS OF

LIPPED ONJOHNSON.

THE FOURTH VOLUME OUT IN

PAPERBACK RIGHT NOW IS THE

PASSAGE OF POWER.

THIS IS HIM AS THE V.P.?

>> AS THE V.P. AND THEN ALL OF A

SUDDEN THERE'S A GUNSHOT IN

DALLAS AND HE'S P.

>> Stephen: OKAY.

WHY LYNDON JOHNSON?

WHAT FASCINATES YOU ABOUT

JOHNSON?

WHAT DOES HE HAVE TO SAY TO OUR

AGE NOW?

>> WELL, WHAT HE HAS TO SAY IS

WHAT HE SAYS TO HIS ADVISORS.

AS SOON AS HE BECOMES PRESIDENT

HE HAS TO MAKE A SPEECH TO

CONGRESS.

THEY SAY, "DON'T FIGHT FOR CIVIL

RIGHTS.

IT'S A LOST CAUSE.

YOU'LL NEVER GET IT THROUGH.

IT'S A NOBLE CAUSE BUT A LOST

CAUSE.

DON'T FIGHT FOR IT."

YOU KNOW WHAT HE SAYS?

HE SAID, "WHAT THE HELL IS THE

PRESIDENCY FOR THEN?"

AND HE SETS OUT TO PASS...

( APPLAUSE )

AND HE SETS OUT TO PASS CIVIL

RIGHTS BILLS, THE VOTING RIGHT

BILLS, MEDICATION BILL,

EDUCATION BILL.

HE CHANGES THE COUNTRY.

>> Stephen: ALL THOSE THINGS,

MEDICARE, VOTING RIGHTS, CIVIL

RIGHTS BILL, HEAD START, RIGHT?

ALL THOSE THINGS -- DID THIS

BOOK START OFF AS A SERIES OF

SPOOKY STORIES TO SCARE

REPUBLICANS AROUND A CAMP FIRE

AT NIGHT?

BECAUSE ALL OF THOSE THINGS ARE

THINGS THEY'D LIKE TO GET RID OF

AT THIS POINT.

>> YES, THEY CERTAINLY WOULD.

THE THING WAS THE OTHER SIDE,

YOU KNOW, ALL THESE THINGS LIKE

HEAD START, WE THINK MAYBE THEY

FAILED.

BUT THE REASON WE THINK THEY

FAILED, STEPHEN, IS THAT THEY

NEVER GOT ADEQUATELY FUNDED

BECAUSE THE OTHER SIDE OF LYNDON

JOHNSON WAS VIETNAM.

HE ESCALATED THAT WAR UNTIL

THERE WAS NOT ENOUGH MONEY FOR

ANYTHING ELSE.

>> Stephen: IN THE FOG OF WAR,

BOB McNAMARA, SECRETARY OF

DEFENSE ROBERT McNAMARA SAYS

THAT KENNEDY LIKELY WOULD HAVE

DEESCALATED THAT INVOLVEMENT IN

VIETNAM.

BUT WHEN JOHNSON CAME IN, THE

RECORDINGS OF HIM SAYING I KNOW

THAT YOU AND THE PRESIDENT WERE

SAYING THAT YOU WERE GOING TO

DEESCALATE THAT WAR, I THINK

THAT WAS THE WRONG THING TO DO.

JOHNSON DOES THIS TO HIMSELF,

RIGHT?

HE LOSES HIS FUNDING FOR HIS

PROGRAMS BY ESCALATING THE

VIETNAM WAR HIMSELF.

>> NOT TOTALLY DELIBERATELY BUT

THAT'S THE WAY IT HAPPENED

>> Stephen: HE DIDN'T MEAN TO DO

IT TO HIMSELF.

THAT WAS JUST SORT OF A 50,000

DEAD PEOPLE OOPSY DAISY.

>> WELL, THAT'S A GOOD WAY OF

PUTTING IT.

>> Stephen: VERY FEW PEOPLE

WOULD SAY THAT.

THANK YOU.

I APPRECIATE IT.

YOU'RE VERY KIND.

( APPLAUSE )

YOU'RE VERY KIND.

>> YOU KNOW WHAT HE SAID?

HE SAID THIS BITCH OF A WAR IS

KILLING THE WOMAN I LOVE, THE

GREAT SOCIETY.

>> Stephen: DO YOU THINK THAT

THE GREAT SOCIETY, THOSE

PROGRAMS, WILL LAST LONG ENOUGH

FOR YOU TO WRITE THE NEXT BOOK

ABOUT THEM?

BECAUSE THEY ARE UNDER FIRE BY

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

THEY'RE FAILED.

THE GREAT SOCIETY HAS FAILED

THIS COUNTRY.

>> WELL, PEOPLE THINK THEY'VE

FAILED

>> Stephen: I KNOW THEY'VE

FAILED.

>> WELL, LET ME ASK YOU A

QUESTION.

DO YOU REALLY THINK A POOR KID

GROWING UP IN A HOUSING PROJECT

WITHOUT PARENTS OR WITHOUT A

FATHER AND A MOTHER WHO IS

WORKING ALL DAY HAS THE SAME

CHANCE TO START IN KINDERGARTEN

AS A WHITE KID, A WHITE KID

WHOSE PARENTS READ TO HIM ALL

HIS YOUTH?

DOESN'T HE NEED HELP?

DOESN'T HE NEED A HEAD START?

( APPLAUSE )

>> Stephen: FIRST OF ALL, YOU

SAID AS A WHITE KID.

OKAY.

THAT'S THE PROBLEM WITH THE

WHOLE '60s ETHOS OF LET'S HELP

PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT COLORS

BECAUSE I DON'T SEE COLOR, OKAY.

I'VE EVOLVED BEYOND RACISM.

I'M NOT A RACIST.

ALL RIGHT.

I DON'T KNOW WHETHER YOU'RE

WHITE OR BLACK.

I ASSUME YOU'RE WHITE BECAUSE

YOU'VE WRITTEN FOUR VOLUMES ON

LYNDON JOHNSON.

OKAY.

>> (LAUGHING)

Stephen: TEDDY ROOSEVELT SAID

WALK SOFTLY BUT CARRY A BIG

STICK.

JOHNSON WAS KNOWN FOR HIS BIG

STICK.

OKAY.

WHAT DID HE... HE HAD A NICKNAME

FOR HIS PENIS, DIDN'T HE?

>> I WAS HOPING YOU WOULDN'T ASK

THAT.

>> Stephen: YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE

TOLD ME.

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )

MR. CARO, TWO-TIME

PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING AUTHOR

MR. CARO WHAT WAS THE NICKNAME

L.B.J. HAD FOR HIS PENIS IS.

>> JUMBO.

HE HAD A GREAT RESPECT FOR IT.

WHEN HE WAS PRESIDENT HE LIKED

TO URINATE OFF THE BACK PORCH OF

HIS RANCH.

ONE NIGHT A SECRET SERVICEMAN

SAID, MR. PRESIDENT, YOU WANT TO

LOOK OUT FOR RATTLE SNAKES.

HE SAID RATTLE SNAKES, IT IS

PART RATTLE SNAKE.

>> Stephen: MR. CARO, ON THAT

HIGH NOTE...

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )

ROBERT CARO, THE BOOK IS THE

PASSAGE OF POWER.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.