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I spoke with the husband wife team of Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, and Susan Glasser, staff writer for The New Yorker. They have written the definitive biography of The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III. Baker, of course, served as White House chief of staff twice, treasury secretary, secretary of state, and campaign manager.
Welcome everyone. I am Chris Riback host of cursory backs conversations and Chris Riback’s newsletter. Chris Riback: And proud host of these political book conversations in partnership with Cornell’s Institute of politics and global affairs tonight we have Chris Riback: Two of America’s most revered political journalists who have written the definitive biography Chris Riback: And history and just a wonderful book of the legendary White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of State and Treasury Secretary and a whole lot more as we will hear James a baker, the third, the man who ran Washington when Washington ran the world. Chris Riback: As I mentioned, we’ll get to Peter and Susan in a second. Some quick background, as I mentioned, these conversations are co hosted with Chris Riback: Cornell’s Institute of politics and global affairs which is run by representative Steve Israel and whose mission is to deepen discourse. You might know Chris Riback: There’s an election coming up and the IO PGA has and this is unbiased. Chris Riback: The best and only programming and events. You will need to prepare for the election and then subsequently to try to figure out and understand what the heck happened. Chris Riback: We will be posting a few of these events in the chat alongside so if at any point, Peter or Susan happened to go on to a topic that you’re just not so interested in Chris Riback: Don’t go anywhere just jot down one of the events and I promise within like a second they will be on something you care about. And frankly, they’re not going to be on anything you don’t care about because the stories they have to tell Chris Riback: A really outstanding. Let me tell you a little bit very briefly about Peter and Susan Peter Baker is the chief White House correspondent for The New York Times and regular panelist and Washington Week on PBS. Chris Riback: He is the author and and he shows up every once in a while. I think on NBC Stations and MSNBC. In fact, I know, between the two of you. Chris Riback: Your work there. Susan your work everywhere and on CNN. I think I can prove empirically that neither one of you actually needs to sleep. So it’s terrific to see you there. Chris Riback: And what we we’ve all come to know is your, what must be your bedroom, because I don’t think either one of you ever leaves there Peter is also the author of The New York Times bestseller the breach about Bill Clinton’s impeachment and with Susan, who is also Chris Riback: espouses wife. This is a husband and wife team. Chris Riback: The author of Kremlin rising about Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Susan. Chris Riback: Does everything Peter does, and more. She’s a staff writer of the New Yorker and author of its weekly letter from Trump’s Washington as well as a CNN global affairs analyst. Chris Riback: There will be a short Q AMP. A at the end of this, so please start thinking about your questions, but for right now Peter and Susan, thank you both so much for joining me. I really appreciate it. Peter and Susan: Hey, thanks for having me. Thank you so much. Chris Riback: So I’ve really been looking forward to the conversation, as I mentioned very briefly to Susan Peter I didn’t feel it was necessary to let you know that I loved the book. Chris Riback: Don’t you feel like he cheated, though. I mean, this is what happens when two great writers get together and do them. It’s not fair. Do you agree. Peter and Susan: Well, you know, it’s not going to have a baker right about a baker, but there is no no actual relationship so Chris Riback: I understand it and you just you’re approved my takeaway was that Chris Riback: Marriage is not stressful enough so you got to throw in a book to make it kind of get some energy going Peter and Susan: I think it’s a stress reliever. You know, we’re still talking to each other. Peter and Susan: That’s good. Chris Riback: Okay, even when I’m not here, even when when I’m not doing this. Peter and Susan: Yeah, okay. Chris Riback: Well into close in before we get into the actual substance. Chris Riback: I gotta confess, I am a little disappointed. I thought you might break news tonight and reveal that you both were anonymous, but I guess that’s not true. Peter and Susan: We’re not telling Chris Riback: You’re not telling you. Okay. Well, the news is out. It’s not you. Chris Riback: Let’s get into the book which the reviews have been exceptional. It’s just such a mean yeah it’s a biography, but it’s also a history and it also Chris Riback: Tells such a story of the you know of America of where we were. But it previews. And there are so many events and people, and we’ll talk about some of them will talk about you know Ted Cruz and in 2000 and so many others who make these appearances and your book is just just crazy. Chris Riback: Because it’s also, it’s also a history. Tell me, though the backstory and Susan, maybe we’ll start with you. Why did you guys decide on a book on James Baker. Peter and Susan: Well, thank you so much for having us. First of all thanks to everyone for tuning in, you know, we know you have a lot of things you could be doing with your time, so we’re Peter and Susan: We’re grateful that you’re spending a little of your zoom time Peter and Susan: With us, um, look I part of the reason I think Peter and I was so excited to start on this book is because it hadn’t been done before. It’s almost as simple as that, in the sense that, you know, Baker has this sort of unparalleled Peter and Susan: Experience in Washington. And we were just sort of kicking around ideas for what a book could be and realized, no one had ever done a full scale. Peter and Susan: Book on him, although he really, you know, as a character who essentially Peter and Susan: Was in the middle of all of Washington’s biggest stories from the end of Watergate to the end of the Cold War, and he has this almost, you know, Peter and Susan: Unique transcending of both politics and policy in a way that is really just almost without any comparable analogy to anyone else. I mean, if you sort of took Henry Kissinger and and Peter and Susan: Karl rove’s resume, you might have an approximation of the role that Jim Bakker played at this particular moment in time. So I think that Peter and Susan: Peter and I, and again, this was back in the Obama era where we did not at this point anticipate the rise of Donald Trump, we didn’t Peter and Susan: But already. I think we did see it as a chance to write it also a big book about Washington and to enter it through write about a system that was definitively Peter and Susan: No longer working the way that it once had not as nostalgia. But, you know, trying to understand a moment in time, you know, this sort of unipolar a superpower moment. That was pretty definitively over so Peter and Susan: You know, when text here Baker agreed to cooperate with the book you know that meeting and pretty, pretty easy call from our community. Chris Riback: And man, did he cooperate. Right. Peter and Susan: Well, he did it wasn’t an authorized book, just to be clear, he didn’t get to have anything to say what was in it or not in it. Peter and Susan: But he did decide to open up to us. He gave us access to the archives at Princeton, and at Rice University. Peter and Susan: He sat with us right they probably 70 hours of interviews or something like that. We visited in Wyoming rants and Houston home visit within the Washington and his office and Peter and Susan: Houston and various places he we also got to talk with his wife all eight of his children, his cousin was like a brother to him. Peter and Susan: Even is nanny, who was 107 years old still around, still getting some degree to talk to the so I think we got a real when they can be enjoyed. You will always be enjoying this book was because we had such an open door into his life and everybody wanted to talk Chris Riback: And the papers. I mean, you write that he gave you access unfettered access to sounds like to all these papers, including you reference. And I think this was Chris Riback: What was this with. Now, this wasn’t with mulrooney I forget what it was, but it was something in in when I was reading, whether it was about 1992 or about the 2000 Chris Riback: Florida events where, what are you cite some documents. Some letter that were the note on it to Baker is and and maybe we should just destroy this was, it was if somebody. And I’m like, well, I guess, Baker didn’t pay attention to that that Peter and Susan: Okay. Chris Riback: He gave it to Susan beater. Peter and Susan: That’s right, wow, he really knew that was really valuable especially you know we’re journalists working in our more toxic environment Washington today. Believe me, nobody’s handing us unfettered access Peter and Susan: To their papers that you know this is the world and Peter and I live in is the world of the off the record text. I mean, you know, Peter and Susan: So it was really something I think to be able to have Peter and Susan: The ability to go through and I should say the Baker is, you know, a bit of a pack rat and also a lawyer by inclination and training very careful. So he was, you know, saving a lot of members to the files. Peter and Susan: You call them as covering or what, but they were very useful. You know, there’s real time doodles that he has, you know, or notes. Peter and Susan: To whoever sitting next to me in Reagan cabinet meetings, there’s, you know, notes from his father that I found particularly revealing because Baker’s not Peter and Susan: You know, super introspective guy right you know he he does not like to hand it over a diary to us. So I found it fascinating to watch you know the stack of papers. Peter and Susan: You know, sort of his micromanaging father sending him you know checks for 25 bucks at a time to pay for, you know, his waist Christmas present. Back in the 1950s. So it really was. Peter and Susan: Extraordinary, I think, to have this level of cooperation from living subject. Not all biographers are so enthusiastic about you. There’s some downside is Peter and Susan: That one could easily imagine to having you know your subject actually breathing down your neck as well. So we didn’t experience that part of it. Luckily, Chris Riback: So give us the history portion, because one of the things, so, so, so much of it. I take is the history, the people who appear as we discussed Chris Riback: But, but take us back to 1800 Houston. The first James Addison Baker moving to Huntsville Texas. I guess from outside of Huntsville, Alabama. It’s like he you know he knew that he had to go someplace for the narrative 180 years 200 years later. So that was really nice. Peter and Susan: To have them. Chris Riback: Tell us about him about Captain Baker about word and Baker and about how James a baker. The third is actually the fourth Peter and Susan: Yeah, no, he’s not crazy. So he is a jack James, as in Baker, our subject is the fourth man named James as a baker, for whatever reason they call him the third be working this book for seven years. That’s the one mystery, we never saw and Chris Riback: What’s the line. What’s their family line that Peter and Susan: They’re bad at math, but Peter and Susan: I mean, basically. Chris Riback: They can’t count. Peter and Susan: Now they can’t count. I think one of them gave up the junior, and then later need his King, Jr. And so by the time dodge and bigger comes along, they just named the third Peter and Susan: But it is a story family and Houston. I mean basically his family, all these James as and bakers Peter and Susan: Are responsible for building a lot of institutions of modern day Houston and whether it be you know country clubs are racing diversity or museums or Peter and Susan: Law Firm Baker box but at that time, the largest offering west of the Mississippi. And then, as well as like banks and oil businesses. I mean, they were had their hands and so many things. Peter and Susan: That still reverberates today in modern day Houston back. There’s a statue of Baker, our, our subject Baker in Houston, but it’s surrounded by other members of his family because the Baker family, not just one Baker is Nina such an integral part of Houston. Chris Riback: And tell me, just a little bit about the personality of Captain Baker his grandfather warden Baker, his father, and then I’ve got a quick question about young James Baker himself. Peter and Susan: Well, you know, I’m glad you asked that because I do think as the sort of son grandson and great grandson of these very distinguished even imperious Peter and Susan: Texas lawyers at Baker, you know, grew up really with with the burden of Great Expectations, along with his great privilege right now. This is a wealthy family. They weren’t like oil tycoons Peter and Susan: I think that’s a sort of Washington myth about banker, you know, there really was much more Peter and Susan: You know, sort of the, the professional class of Texas WHOSE GRANDFATHER WAS ACTUALLY known as Judge Baker, the one who first came to Texas, and he was a great Peter and Susan: Great Grandfather, and he was friends with Sam Houston and the namesake. Peter and Susan: Of Houston and moves to Texas after misty Houston after the Civil War. He was known as Judge Baker, because he served, I believe, just a year as an elected judge during the Civil War. Peter and Susan: Fought on the wrong side in confederacy surgery Reconstruction was booted out of it out of that. Peter and Susan: Very negative experience comes to the family motto to stay out of politics, but you’re right class about Captain. Baker That was his grandfather. He was really institution builder, I think, you know, he was the one who really ruled over Peter and Susan: Turn of the century, Houston in a very big way. He was a larger than life figure in the high desert of grand estate called the oaks. Peter and Susan: Is our young Baker and all of the grandchildren were expected there every Sunday. He was very almost dictatorial with his own son Jim Baker’s father Peter and Susan: In terms of telling him laying down the law of what he expected of him and his career Baker’s dad had actually been a real life or her own world war one he had gone to Princeton and gone to war. He served in the trenches, some of the worst fighting, you know, for like Chris Riback: Lucky to be alive. Right. Peter and Susan: Absolutely, absolutely. So he was a real war here even though his father, who had never actually served in the war was called Captain Baker. Peter and Susan: You know, so you get this sort of sense of this very kind of almost imperious Southern family but Baker’s dad was clearly not Peter and Susan: Fulfilled. You know, completely in his professional life. Right. He did what his father told him to do. He wanted to be trial or his dad said no, essentially, you’ll manage the family affairs. Peter and Susan: You’ll be much more of a businessman in many ways than a practicing lawyer and then you became the managing partner of this firm as well. And so Baker, our subject is born into this family. Peter and Susan: Right as the Great Depression starts. It’s a life of great privilege as I said he’s completely insulated from the depression. Peter and Susan: In fact, one of the stories he you know he didn’t have a lot of stories from when he was a kid. One of the stories he told us, and you can see it really stung, you know, all these decades later, Peter and Susan: Was of his mother, sending the family chauffeur to the elementary school. Peter and Susan: Every day at with a Hot lunch for him and he felt humiliated and you know all of his other kids are eating a sandwich and he had to go to the gate and pick up the Hot lunch every day. And, you know, so you have this sort of like Peter and Susan: You know, sense of him as being forced into a life, you might not have chosen. And yet, frankly, for this first for decades. Peter and Susan: There wasn’t anything all that remarkable about this Jim Baker and that’s what makes the story of this book, I think so. Interesting. He was Washington’s indispensable man, but he was an accidental indispensable, man. Chris Riback: Yeah, it’s, it’s a kind where it’s interesting for me to hear you say that there was nothing, you know, exceptional about him as a reader, my take was even slightly harsh. I didn’t love him. Chris Riback: I didn’t want a baker. The third as a kid. I mean, I know Peter Baker likes to have his coffees taken to him in a chauffeur, but you know for James A. Bake in his, his behavior at the hills. Right. That was the Peter and Susan: Primal smell. Yeah. Chris Riback: In Pennsylvania and and you know is you know present to the 21 club at Princeton, and he I mean he the word that kept coming to mind was of that age was a near do well. Chris Riback: Is that fair or when I Peter and Susan: Mean, he was a privilege to sort of privilege. And so the doors are open for him that might not have been open for him. Peter and Susan: And then the other way. And he came through them without making any great mark right his his his grades and Princeton were Peter and Susan: unexceptional for the most part, he as he had by his own admission, he was kind of a wild man when he got to Princeton out from under the father, who was nicknamed the warden. Peter and Susan: He finally, you know, kind of went loose in Princeton who and Peter and Susan: He was a member of the 21 club, but also a club called the right wing club, not a political organization. It was called a right away because that’s what you did bring your beard, your mouth. Peter and Susan: And in fact, there was one story. And he told us a story. Oh, this is a horrifying story. I mean, this will underscore your didn’t like him. So what another kid. And it was like Peter and Susan: Afraid of a test, you were going to take the next day. Didn’t want to take any says somebody break my fingers. Peter and Susan: Literally very drunk, we’re probably under the influence and and none of the other kids, of course, bit of do it bigger says, Yeah, I’ll do it and he Peter and Susan: Makes a switch and wax him on the, on the, on the hand and breaks his fingers as the kid asked him to do so. Yeah, he was near the wall is one way of looking at, I think it was clearly not as his highest moments. Yeah. Chris Riback: That that part was hard to read, although it was very, very interesting to read about him. The summer jobs he did have, you know, a couple of hard working summer jobs, but one really wonderful just beautiful thing that did happen, is he met Mary Stuart McHenry. Yeah. Peter and Susan: That’s right. So you went on spring break his sophomore year to Bermuda and he met this young woman from Ohio who went to a finishing school in New York City. Peter and Susan: You know, so she also was sort of an upper crusty type of but, you know, by all accounts, she was Peter and Susan: Not playing with the fast crowd and the way that Baker was at this time, I do think that he was, you know, as Peter said like Peter and Susan: Experiencing life outside of the day to day oversight of this very demanding and patriarchal family right so he’s you know going crazy and Princeton and you know socializing in New York City and Peter and Susan: I falls in love really on the beach with this, this young woman who, you know, again, very pedigreed as well but Peter and Susan: You know, a much simpler kind of a person, and I think that you begin to see the glimmerings of the Jim Bakker, who would emerge later that the Jim Bakker Peter and Susan: Who got discipline from his family as well as just an urge to rebel against it. You know the thing about Baker’s young man was that he was fanatic about sports and, in particular, tennis, Peter and Susan: A passion that he shared with his father, and that’s where I think some of his lifelong discipline came from. Peter and Susan: When he would play a match. As a young man, his father would insist after the match that he go back on the court and continue practicing and I think it’s that part of Baker, who comes out after Peter and Susan: Graduating from Princeton, he goes into the Marines is during the Korean War. He doesn’t end up in the Korean War. Although many others that he went to training with do Peter and Susan: He serves on a ship in the Mediterranean, but it instills again a new level of adulterous he gets married to marry steward. Peter and Susan: They have a son and he goes to law school to follow in the family footsteps. But even there again. Peter and Susan: You know, he might change, it, it, but Peter and Susan: This I found amazing actually during the bug. His father insisted he go to the University of Texas at Austin law school because he’s going to practice law in Texas Baker was, you know, what about Harvard. What about somewhere in the East Coast know Peter and Susan: And a baker says okay then his father says, and you will pledge the fraternity that I pledged Peter and Susan: And he says, Dad, you know I’m in law school. I’m in my 20s, I’m married, I have a child, you know, and you Peter and Susan: Know, and so these freshman and this is the 1950s, by the way, you know, they’re like, doing whatever crazy out of control things Peter and Susan: Freshman at the University of Texas are doing in terms of hazing him and he submits to it out of, you know, love and respect for his father. And you know, that’s really the story of his life, all the way up until his late 30s. Chris Riback: Should we all have a friend like George Bush had in Baker and Baker heaven George HW Bush. Peter and Susan: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. They were the one. This is one of the three lines in the book is that is the relationship between these two men. Peter and Susan: And it’s really unique. I think in American politics, at least in modern American politics, you know, the meat on the country club tennis courts in the Houston Country Club. Peter and Susan: They become doubles partners. They’re both fiercely competitive, they went to double championships to about which they still brag, you know, Baker still brag to this day and Peter and Susan: What hasn’t been they didn’t do too much else together and relax. Myself on the data. Peter and Susan: Like Thomas Jefferson. Right. He didn’t put president on his gravestone but but Baker and bush with both but doubles Tournament Champions. Peter and Susan: I think on theirs, and we interview President Bush before he passed away, he mentioned that as well. It was something that well Baker would also point out that he was also a single gene which Bush was not Peter and Susan: But in any case, it was, it was a real friendship for you know that their families played Peter and Susan: Football together on Thanksgiving. So to all of the Kennedys they shared New Year’s and Christmas and all these things are boys were more or less the same age, their wives were very good friends and Peter and Susan: And really, there is a friendship for a decade before they even get to the point of politics and the real thing that before, is this Peter and Susan: Personal lifelong bond, I think, is when Mary Stuart is diagnosed with cancer and we had this letter in the book. We’re Baker rights to Bush and he says, Peter and Susan: I’m telling you this. She has its terminal and I haven’t told her that is terminal. I haven’t told the kids. I haven’t told my mother bush is the only one he tells now. Peter and Susan: Aside from the fact that husbands and wives. Peter and Susan: Probably have a different relationship today about things like that. It tells you something about his relationship with Bush. That’s the person he wanted on the last people to see Mary Stuart outside of the family before she dies or Georgia, Barbara. Chris Riback: That was hard to read. Mary Stewart’s letter to James. There were a couple moments in the book. I mean, the Chris Riback: Got a question on it later that I hope that we’ll, we’ll get to. Because there are a couple of moments in the book that really kind of choke you up. Chris Riback: Baker rubbing george HW Bush’s feet as bush lay dying. I couldn’t quite tell. I mean, if he was actually rubbing his feet all the way almost up to death. It, it seemed Peter and Susan: That’s exactly right. Chris Riback: And and Mary, Stuart. So Mary Stuart, the James Baker’s first wife. Chris Riback: wrote a note to James Baker while she was dying. It was brought to him. It gets complicated by Susan becomes Susan Baker, but is brought to him after she passed away. Chris Riback: You wrote in there that he had could never at that time. And even when I guess he read the note to you couldn’t read it without crying. I assume you couldn’t read it without crying, either. Peter and Susan: Yeah, oh yeah, it reminded me of that scene and you know Terms of Endearment where the you know the mom is saying goodbye to the kids in the hospital. I mean, it’s a real. It’s a very moving and touching letter of a young wife. Peter and Susan: You know, saying goodbye to her husband and you’re right that the story of even how Baker comes to get it is is very you know we remind you that life is, you know, sad and complicated and amazing and the person who brings it is one of his wife’s closest friends. Susan Winston. Peter and Susan: And she goes to his house after Mary Stuart dies and she, you know, find it in the dresser, where it’s been left and gives it to him and Susan Peter and Susan: Becomes Baker second wife, and they have this and I, we know none of this really when we start work on this book, but they actually Peter and Susan: merge these two very troubled grieving family Susan had an alcoholic husband, very tough time of it. Peter and Susan: Three children she gets divorced. So they bring these two families together. There’s four boys and her three children. Peter and Susan: And it’s like the Brady Bunch, which is on TV. At that time, except I have to say it’s like the Brady Bunch from hell. It is not like sound like you know like, Cindy. Like seriously, like, you know, like tossing her pigtails back Chris Riback: Name that was. It was the pilot that Holly. Chris Riback: would reject it. They kept the crop read Chris Riback: You know, Peter and Susan: Us Alice and you know tiger. But, you know, seriously, it’s very complicated. The house isn’t big enough. They’re literally they told us children sleeping on the landing Peter and Susan: She had four children, I believe, at one time in middle school, which, you know, as a parent, I can say one kid in middle school is is stressful enough. Can you imagine for and different schools. Peter and Susan: And then tell them you’re getting married, which it didn’t help and Baker, you know, this was not a moment Baker and his wife are now. Peter and Susan: They were remarkably frank and open with us and discussing some of this, but I’m pretty sure that in the early 1970s when this was happening. They were not open and frank with things like this. And, of course, that that made it probably even harder for the kids and Peter and Susan: This is also the moment when Baker is finally Peter and Susan: Moving away from Texas and putting his eye on Washington and beginning his political career. So Susan now Baker is left more or less on her own to deal with this and you know that’s that’s a pretty tall order, even for someone as as hyper capable as she is Chris Riback: So transitioning just a bit into politics, one question on the bush Baker friendship. Chris Riback: When was it under the most stress, was it 1980 when Reagan made Baker. Chris Riback: You know, Chief of Staff and brought them on to run his campaign after Chris Riback: Bush, you know, didn’t you know, leaving after Baker had been running Bush’s campaign, or was it 1992 and I’ve got more questions about 1992 because man. Some of the parallels around what happened then, and Chris Riback: What what’s going on. Now we’re crazy and things that I’d forgotten, but would put more stress on their friendship 1980 or 9092 when Bush last Peter and Susan: I think I think 1980 was in the spring was the most acute moment with Baker is basically telling bush. Peter and Susan: WAS RUNNING FOR THE NOMINATION AGAINST Reagan to pack it up. You’re not going to win. Peter and Susan: And if you have any hope of getting on the ticket. As the number two. You can’t go any longer because you’re gonna alienate Reagan. Peter and Susan: That I think is the most acute moment where a single moment is either having this meeting in Texas at the at the house and Barbara’s unhappy and George Bush. Peter and Susan: scribbling on his notepad. I will not drop out. I will not drop out and baker has to force his hand as a good friend would because he’s the honest broker. Peter and Susan: The more sustained period less of a single moment, but more sustained various stress is that 92 race bigger comes in kind of belatedly to try to fix a flailing campaign. And over the course of two months. Peter and Susan: Basically can salvage it and there’s this great sourness there Baker didn’t do enough and Barbara Bush calls him the Invisible Man. So I think that’s over a longer period of time, and probably more significant in the long run. Yeah. Chris Riback: And in your telling of it you you lay out in 92 he was Secretary of State. He was very proud of it. That’s what he clipped based on your telling Chris Riback: Clearly wanted his legacy to be. And he didn’t want to come in and and be a campaign fixer again he was he was above all of that. We’ll get to that. I think in a second to get to 92, you have to go. Of course through 88 and I had forgotten about Lee Atwater his deathbed confession Chris Riback: Though I kind of also had forgot. I didn’t Chris Riback: I don’t know why I shouldn’t have forgotten this but that Atwater actually kind of reported to Baker, which would make sense Baker was campaign manager. Chris Riback: So Atwater who brought us willie horton who had the line that you right when was it that he wanted to skin to caucus or right that barks. Great. Yes, stripping the bark off Dukakis and making willie horton his running mate. Chris Riback: And then again, I actually hadn’t put that together. That’s the second person in Baker’s life who died very young right of cancer at 39 I think at water. Chris Riback: Is there a straight line. Do you see a straight line between the activities that Baker oversaw that he kind of HE DOES SAY HE KNOWS ABOUT YOU SAY HE WASN’T apologetic about Horton straight line from there to where we are now. Peter and Susan: You know, it’s interesting. A lot of people have, you know, wanted to revisit that 1988 campaign. When you see where we’re at in our national discourse right now with the President. You know the difference, of course, is that Peter and Susan: Well, there’s an enormous numbers of differences. I would say Baker was a very sharp edge parts and there’s just no question about that in his political campaigns and Peter and Susan: He was also ruthlessly on cement unsentimental and analyzing problem whether it was a human problem or a policy problem or a political problem. And that, of course, was one of his great skills. Peter and Susan: In Washington, a lot of people believe their own BS not Jim Baker. Peter and Susan: And that of course is a very useful skill and valuable skill to have people need to look at the facts as they are. And the bottom line was that he was a treasury secretary for Ronald Reagan at this time. Peter and Susan: And everyone understood and expected he would come and run the campaign for his best friend George Peter and Susan: But he delayed doing so and so by the time he gets into the campaign. It’s already the Convention, since the summer of 1988 and of course campaigns also didn’t last as long, then Peter and Susan: As they do now and Bush had a terrible problem which is it Michael Dukakis was killing him and he was up by 17 points coming out of the Democratic Convention. Peter and Susan: And so in order for Bush to win. They would have to undertake what at that time would have been one of the greatest modern political comebacks and Baker understood that after eight long years of Reagan and Republican Peter and Susan: Sort of ownership of the White House. It was going to be a tough sell for the much less charismatic, certainly not visionary. Peter and Susan: You know George Bush already saddled with that Newsweek cover the wind factor. And so there was really only one way to do that in his analysis and that was to eviscerate Peter and Susan: Michael Dukakis to run a very, very negative campaign. It wasn’t just Willie Horton, I should point out, they turned a mild mannered Massachusetts technocrat Peter and Susan: Into a flag burning pledge of allegiance hating you know basically enemy of America, and it was a brutally effective campaign Baker did not micromanage it. He did not oversee Peter and Susan: You know, every little compete sort of aspect of the campaign Lee Atwater was the sort of Peter and Susan: Brilliant strategist behind the campaign but Baker approved all of it. And as he would point out, so did George Herbert Walker Bush both bush and Baker had a certain patrician disdain for the grubby business of politics. I do think Peter and Susan: That might have actually blinded them to some of his excesses in the sense that I think they saw a lot of it as sort of Peter and Susan: The unpleasant thing that you had to do in order to get elected. So the major difference between now is not their willingness to throw a punch. Peter and Susan: Because they were both in the end, willing to do what it took to win. Peter and Susan: In what they chose to do with the power. Once they acquired it and that’s where the departure from today’s Washington is so sharp and it was just Peter and Susan: Literally weeks after that election that the first thing Baker did as a newly named Secretary of State before he’s even confirmed was to sit down with the Peter and Susan: Former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, his friend Bob Strauss and Jim Baker, the Democratic Speaker of the House and to cut a deal. Peter and Susan: That would essentially end us patronage of the wars, the console wars in Latin America, which had been probably the single most divisive foreign policy issue. Peter and Susan: Of the 1980s, and that’s where you see the difference. You know, the toxicity. I mean, look, you know, racism in American politics. Unfortunately, I have to say, did not start with 1988 and you know you can look Peter and Susan: Back, unfortunately, too many, many different antecedents to see where it is today the difference also is that it just never came directly from the mouth of the President of the United States, at least not in recent memory. Chris Riback: Yeah. No. Certainly not. There’s no short history and one of the guests. We recently had was Rick perlstein and his book Reagan land and you know all of the telling of the Nixon Reagan years it’s Chris Riback: being facetious slightly hard to avoid the racism of of that period as well that point that you just made about the power you quote very early in the book. Chris Riback: That something that Baker told you that the point of holding power is to get things done and accomplish things and it’s Chris Riback: That really was and that was that was for me a bit of a through line from LBJ as opposed to one might argue Chris Riback: There’s a sense that today we think of the importance of having power, simply for power sake, as opposed to what we do. Chris Riback: This, I can’t believe that I had forgotten. So bush in 92 it yeah what I was doing that for some reason this whole period. You know why because it must be because I was only Three or four years old. Peter and Susan: Well, that must have been it Chris Riback: Yeah, it’s got my amazing so I’m Peter and Susan: Waiting. Yeah. Chris Riback: No, not as far as, you know, I wasn’t Chris Riback: I so it’s 92 yet Ross Perot you have Bill Clinton george bush HW Bush is way behind. But as the campaign is coming towards the end, he is starting to Chris Riback: Starting to make up ground and he’s starting to make up ground. Chris Riback: And then four days before the election. I didn’t remember this was only four days. This is what Lawrence Walsh did I’m reading from page 506 Chris Riback: If Bush was in the building toward a lake come back. However, it came to an abrupt halt the Friday before the election. Chris Riback: When Lawrence Walsh. The independent counsel released a new indictment of Caspar Weinberger Reagan’s Defense Secretary in the Iran Contra affair. Chris Riback: The indictment reference notes taken my Weinberger that undercut Bush’s long standing insistence that he had not known about the internal opposition to trading arms for hostages. Chris Riback: Jim Baker and his colleagues nurse grudges against those they blame for helping to bring bush down at the top of their list was Lawrence Walsh. Chris Riback: Whose indictment of leinberger seemed like a dastardly final blow, and indeed was thrown out by a judge weeks after the election. So who affected an election more James Comey in 2016 or Lawrence Walsh in 1992 Peter and Susan: Well, it’s a good reminder that anything can happen right don’t assume anything is done until it’s done. That happened four days for the election, call me happened. Peter and Susan: In 2016 11 days before the election in 2000 George W. Bush drunk driving arrest was it Peter and Susan: You know, I think, three or four days before the election in some ways, arguably, maybe cost him the Peter and Susan: Victory floor that would have been clearer than ultimately turned out to be. So you’re right. Anything can happen. These last few days, they were so bitter about that. Now look. Peter and Susan: There are lots of reasons, George Bush last 1992 that nothing to do with Lawrence Ross, arguably, there are reasons why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 and nothing to do Peter and Susan: With him call me you made was a lot closer. But it was calling me thing is much more clear cut. Call me, call me is probably clear cut. But there’s, you know, I mean, it speaks to the bitterness of Peter and Susan: The Bush Baker crowd because they still remember that to this day. And I talked to him around contract prosecution now and I wasn’t aware but it’s hard to look at four days before and not feel that. And that tells you how personal politics can be, of course. Chris Riback: And, you know, this just keeping up the theme of crazy characters showing up in your book who are front of mine now. Chris Riback: I forget. Who’s the person who then had an assigned an independent counsel to look after James Baker, just in December of 92 i i the names on the tip of my tongue. Do we know the guy now. Peter and Susan: Your name. Yeah. Well, it is you do forget that William bar was actually the last Attorney General under George Herbert Walker Bush. Peter and Susan: And in fact it was that sort of perceived establishment credibility that helps him to win confirmation as Trump’s attorney general and in some ways and Peter and Susan: You know plenty of people realizing now. Well, maybe that wasn’t the case. Interestingly, had they asked Jim Baker. Peter and Susan: His opinion he would have shared it with them. To this day, Baker is not a fan of Bill Maher and what bar dude was Peter and Susan: Literally on the very last day he possibly could. He referred, an incident that largely forgotten from the later days. Peter and Susan: Of the 1992 campaign. But at this time. Bill Clinton was seen as this sort of like young radical and there had been a trip to Moscow, he had taken Peter and Susan: Back when he was just a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and there was all sorts of rumors swirling around about that and had he in protesting the Vietnam War had he, you know, tried to renounce your citizenship. Peter and Susan: There were searches done of the State Department files when Baker was Secretary of State, and there were calls to investigate this and for Baker and actually it was one of the darkest moments of, you know, his long time in Washington. He as the sun and prideful, son of these Peter and Susan: Texas lawyers for whom reputation and name met men almost everything he was particularly Peter and Susan: cautious and careful about his own exposure to, you know, the dirty business and politics. And I think any efforts to money. His name, especially on the way out the door after having served for 12 years in all of these positions. Peter and Susan: He was just infuriated with bar the investigation by the way, ultimately did not only not find any wrongdoing. But it’s the only known instance, I believe, where the independent counsel Joe agenda. Another character who is Peter and Susan: Perhaps familiar to any of our Fox watching audience. I’m Joe to kind of actually apologized to Baker for even having done the investigation which is a very unusual coda to any kind of Washington investigation. Yeah, that that Chris Riback: Whole story was was remarkable. And I want to ask about 2000 about Florida about the Supreme Court. Chris Riback: While we’re having this this conversation folks who are listening, please get your questions ready, we’re going to open this up in just a moment and get some questions. I’m Chris Riback: Sure, there are a ton. I still have a ton more so on Florida and the Supreme Court and to begin Chris Riback: The two things stand out that connect to today as we are all you know, thinking, you know, who knows what’s going to happen and courts certainly could get involved. Chris Riback: Where the immediate notes that Baker took and wrote on his pad that you note, I don’t know if it was when he first got to Florida. I think it’s almost like upon arriving in Florida one Chris Riback: America wouldn’t take petty politics. So this had to stay and to this was going to go to the Supreme Court. How did he know that Peter and Susan: He knew that from the very start, and I it’s it’s a really easy thing because Republicans, of course, the Orthodoxy is you don’t bring state. Peter and Susan: Disputes to federal courts and he’s like well forget that. Look at the floor. Of course, he knew the former governor of Peter and Susan: Florida was a hunting. Peter and Susan: Buddy at his who had been a democrat and real. I knew the heat appointed. Exactly. And we had appointed all of the Supreme Court justices, and so they knew that in Florida. They were not going to find a sympathetic court. Peter and Susan: And then they’d had to go to the Supreme Court, and he had to overcome republican Peter and Susan: allies who said, No, no, we can’t do that will lose. So that was Baker’s big insight at that moment. Yeah, definitely. Chris Riback: Oh, so that’s interesting. So he thought he knew immediately was going to go to the Supreme Court, because he was going to have to go federal he wasn’t going to win and in effect. The ended up being right. Wasn’t it for three, the Chris Riback: Florida supreme court yet. Okay. So, so then it goes to the Supreme Court and then on and there’s a great run claim quote which folks will just have to read Chris Riback: It. I think it’s around page 545, something like that. But then on on 548. This was the Supreme Court decision comes down and it’s kind of convoluted and I think I couldn’t tell. Was it faxed to them or something. Yep. And and Peter and Susan: Do those things back Chris Riback: Yes, I remember those things that, that I do remember Fun. Chris Riback: And the campaign aid and quoting you. Now the campaign aid Ted Cruz, who had previously served as the Supreme Court Clerk rushed into Baker’s office with the opinions which were complicated and and unclear it first. Chris Riback: What does it say Baker asked cruise read for maybe five minutes trying to make sense of it. Then he called out, quote, it says it’s over. We want Chris Riback: So first question is, so Ted Cruz delivered the news that ultimately went from Baker and then to Bush in George W in Austin, Texas. Ted Cruz delivered the news that the Republicans had one Peter and Susan: Well, that’s right. You know, it’s interesting. The team that Baker had assembled on the fly there in in Florida was essentially like an all star. Peter and Susan: Republican you know impromptu law firm. Right. And it was you know young bright former Supreme court clerks and it is also included justice stuff to be john roberts included justice to be Amy coney Barrett, by the way, she didn’t make it into our book but is now Susan mentioned Peter and Susan: And and Ted Cruz and Brett cabinet as well. So it was a pretty high powered Peter and Susan: Conservative legal team that they had there on the ground and you know Baker, though he wasn’t a micromanager of lawyers, you know, it wasn’t about Peter and Susan: You know, the, the most beautiful sentence and a brief for him. You know, he really did exist at the level of high strategy. And that was true. I think in many of the campaigns as well, right, that he had he tended to be very Peter and Susan: disciplined and clear eyed in the strategic insight. Like, what were they Peter and Susan: Driving down the field for and I think that was what he brought to the Florida fight, as well as by the way he just had a sort of authority. Peter and Susan: stature and, you know, kind of reputation that was so formidable you know even democrats told us that when they heard that Jim Baker was going to be the run. Peter and Susan: Overseeing their efforts and going up against Warren Christopher, the former Secretary of State who been unlisted by Al Gore, you know that even they knew that, you know, well, Baker was going to win. Chris Riback: For one Christopher Chris Riback: My last question, then we’ll before we and then we’ll open up the floor, Natalie. Chris Riback: Given your reporting on Florida on the Supreme Court on 2000 and given where who knows things might go, we don’t know what’s going to happen. Chris Riback: What can the Trump or Biden campaign, learn from how Baker manage that period. What, what would Jim Baker say to them was the key lesson from those five weeks. Peter and Susan: Well for Baker. The key was not letting the lead to get away from it, right, that he understood that as long as bush always had the lead. They had the high ground on the argument that there’s no point in that three six days ago or ever have even a single day. Peter and Susan: When his vote count was higher than Bush’s that would have destroyed their public argument he understood that. Peter and Susan: The big or too big differences between then and now, though. Peter and Susan: One of course is that maybe not as one Florida and maybe multiple floors and maybe Florida on steroids and Peter and Susan: We’ve already actually gotten into the course that people have been in the courts now for months on these same issues like 150 some lawsuits have already been playing themselves out that may Peter and Susan: That may work in different ways and some way to me actually set some of the little before the election as opposed to waiting till after election in Florida when they are trying to Peter and Susan: Reinvent things on the fly, but the other big difference between then and now is you hadn’t gore and you hadn’t bush and you had in Baker people who actually did have a fundamental respect to the system. Peter and Susan: And they fought it out tooth and nail knife fighting all the way up the Supreme Court. And so one side one and the other one didn’t and the one that loss was bitter and unhappy and disappointed. Peter and Susan: But gore gave a very gracious concession speech and said, it’s now time to come together and Bush gave a very gracious victory speech and said I’m president for everybody, not just republicans and Baker as well. Peter and Susan: Where we’re seeing today is a president who isn’t waiting for the election to tell the country that is rig that is dishonest that is corrupt the any result, other than a victory for him should not be believed, and there’s a big, big fundamental difference there. Chris Riback: How concerned are you for today for us. Peter and Susan: Yeah. Yes, yes, yes. I mean, look, that is a scenario, the multiple Florida’s on steroids scenario that that is not yet been ruled out. Luckily, at the moment is so one of only Peter and Susan: A scenario as opposed to the scenario but Peter and Susan: You know it’s it’s really something I’ve been listening to all of the President’s rallies for the last few days. I’m going to do a sort of final week of Peter and Susan: You know, Trump ever as a political candidate piece for The New Yorker and it’s just, it’s literally exhausting to listen, not only to the sort of detours of that very discursive Peter and Susan: rambling mind but you know the real theme of these rallies is not like I’m running to do X, Y AMP z for you. But basically, Peter and Susan: Everything is illegitimate don’t believe anything new here, there are no facts. There is no truth, there are no institutions. Peter and Susan: Outside of me that you should trust and that is a pretty dangerous climate in which recognizing that we’re going into it with Peter and Susan: More than 40% of the public is going to support this. No matter what, to even if there is a defeat, even if it’s a clear cut defeat. You know those 40 or 45% or 46% of American two who vote for that are not going to just disappear and fade away. So I think in our lives in a way the candidate. Chris Riback: Will look forward to that piece Natalie. Chris Riback: Questions from the audience. Natalie Ryan: What do we. Yeah, we’ve got quite a few social rebound from Elliot go to young less their hand raised. Natalie Ryan: So Ellie asks, there is always a danger associated with a public figure participating in a bio book over which they do not have editorial control. What do you attribute Baker’s willingness to cooperate and share materials. Peter and Susan: Well, that’s a great question. I, we were surprised. Actually, I have to say because he is so famously, you know, Peter and Susan: Good at preserving his own reputation and spinning and manipulating reporters as he saw fit. Peter and Susan: But I think he ate, but it’s how we got to me was 83 he written two Memoirs of his own. He had his say he had put out Peter and Susan: His stories he wanted to put out. But I also think he thought that if you’re going to be a major Peter and Susan: Figure in history, somebody else has to write a biography about you and it can’t be somebody you control it has to be independent, to have credibility. Peter and Susan: And he understood that he understood, therefore, that it was in his interest, I think, to cooperate with us, even though he wasn’t going to have control over it and I Peter and Susan: We were surprised. I mean, he lived up to his agreement from the beginning. He said, I’m not going to try to tell you what to write. I’m not gonna pull anything off limits. Peter and Susan: And seven years later, I’d have to say I not one time that ever violate that agreement. So I think we’re very grateful for to infer that there are a lot of things in the book. I’m sure he doesn’t like or doesn’t agree with but broadly speaking, I think that Peter and Susan: I think he recognized it will be fair and more accurate if he cooperated and I hope it is. Natalie Ryan: Thank you. We have young, young, if you can just unmute yourself, please go ahead and ask a question. Chris Riback: I can see that you are muted young, I see the red mute button. Natalie Ryan: No. All right. Well, we can go to the next one and come back. So next we have Bob, Bob. Wow. Could you please unmute yourself and ask your question. Bob Blau: Can you hear me. Yeah. Bob Blau: Okay. Hi, I’m a lot and admirer of all three of you. I’m a long time Democrat who is always viewed Jamie’s Baker is one of the incredible people in government. Bob Blau: And I have always viewed his greatest accomplishment was the world coalition. He put together in the Iraq. One more. Could you comment on that or oh Peter and Susan: Yeah, I’m glad you mentioned that way. It hasn’t come up tonight and you know Baker really was. Peter and Susan: he excelled in his time at the State Department, especially in the kind of alliances and, you know, sort of the International working of diplomacy and when Saddam Hussein invaded Peter and Susan: Iraq, he sorry invaded Kuwait. He did two things that I think really were. Peter and Susan: Quite notable for an American Secretary of State, and especially at that moment of time when it wasn’t clear what the post Cold War world was going to look like. The first thing you did. Peter and Susan: was remarkably convinces Sylvia counterpart Edward Shevardnadze to issue a joint statement, and he was in the region at the time flew to Moscow, whichever Nazi Peter and Susan: And you know this, the world had been a bipolar world really for the previous four decades. Right. You know, you’re either with us or with the Soviets and Peter and Susan: Certainly that idea of the two superpowers making common cause and saying this aggression is unacceptable and will not stand Peter and Susan: With something that was remarkable and was something that definitely was on Peter and Susan: Baker’s a list of accomplishments and then what he did. Once you know it was decided back in Washington Bush was very adamant. Peter and Susan: You know that a coalition need to be put together Baker went on what he called his tin cup tour of the world, the Middle East and Peter and Susan: He was so successful in signing up other countries to be part of this alliance that it actually became almost the first war in American history to turn a profit. Peter and Susan: And, you know, that is still talked about, as you know, a sort of legendary accomplishment by any foreign minister, really, and it has not been replicated again George W. Bush’s coalition of the willing. In the second Gulf War was nothing like the big one in the first Gulf War. Natalie Ryan: Thank you. So we’ll take a question from Karen and then go to bury lessons hand raised. Karen asks, Who do you think Baker thinks will win and the upcoming election and does think the results will end up in court system. Peter and Susan: Yeah, that’s issue. We haven’t said out loud, but my guess is he’s a very cold. It analyst or these things he’s looking at these polls and he recognizes that Trump has a real uphill battle. Peter and Susan: To pull it out. Now it’s a, it’s a, you know, I think he expects it probably will end up and said, at least some court battles are likely Peter and Susan: But we don’t know. I mean, the problem is if it depends on what the outcome looks like on election night and you may not know what I’m actually my some of these days aren’t going to count. Peter and Susan: All these votes for days afterwards we now had 70 million people vote already that’s more than 50% Peter and Susan: Of the total though from four years ago. Think about that. That’s basically the equivalent of being at 2pm on election day. So, those, those are already cast the many of them will be counted Peter and Susan: on election night because they come in by mail. And so I it’s going to be a messier. It could be a Messier election. I think we’re used to. Peter and Susan: And I think I think Baker against Nikolai realist and probably thinks of Trump doesn’t have a great chance but none of us can predict exactly how this county is going to work with balance will be accepted, which ones might be thrown out because of various rules. Natalie Ryan: Inc. You alright so we have a question from Barry, who had his hand raised. Barry if you could just unmute yourself. You can ask a question. Barry Cutler: Hi all, I assume, for argument’s sake that that Baker Creek not have had much influence on Trump were so many others haven’t. But what influence. Could this patrician republican have had with Senate and cabinet enablers Peter and Susan: You know, look, it’s one of the big questions of course of this era, and not just limited to Jim Baker and I imagine that people will be studying Peter and Susan: What’s happened the last four years for a long, long time to come. And what it tells us about the strength or lack thereof American democracy. Peter and Susan: You know, Baker was an interesting character for us in that, you know, we started the book before the rise of Trump and Peter and Susan: That happened over the last few years, as we were you know finishing the book and finding ourselves distracted by having to cover Peter and Susan: All of this and you know Baker, like many Republicans here in Washington, you know, really. Peter and Susan: The and Trump in so many ways, not just in his personal characteristics and, you know, sort of his, his actual deal making skills but also on a policy sense, right, like many Republicans, he still believes Peter and Susan: He’s still free trade, are you still absolutely an internationalist a believer in alliances very concerned about deficit spending. Peter and Susan: And also just offended his brand in Washington was Uber competence, you know, he was sort of the gold standard White House Chief of Staff for Democrats and Republicans so Peter and Susan: You know, of course offended by this sort of massive turnover and permanent chaos. Peter and Susan: Of the last few years. And yet, like many of the Senate Republicans unable to fully renounced Trump unable to, you know, say, he said to us in the end, after we pestered him with, you know, one more question about Trump well Peter and Susan: I’m still a Republican, even if my party has left me and I imagine you know that that is the way that a lot of Senate Republicans. If you got them in private would still characterize their, their views about Trump Peter and Susan: You know, unlike Baker, they’ve been much more active obviously in you know at voting with the President, over and over again and supporting Peter and Susan: You know his agenda and not speaking out against particular excesses baker has been very clear with us in his view, he told us that he thought Trump was crazy. Peter and Susan: That he thought he was nuts, but he’s gotten a lot of criticism, since our book came out and we revealed that he voted for Peter and Susan: Trump very reluctantly in 2016 while refusing to endorse him and it appears that he’s going to do the same. This time, or has already done so and so. Peter and Susan: You know, what does that tell you i think it’s it’s sort of a parable for for the modern Republican Party, which is that it apparently somebody else’s fault in their view, you know that this has happened, but Chris Riback: Even after what Trump did to wash his friend, his friend son W his other friend jab and everything that Baker stood for the whole global global is. I mean, even after all of that. Peter and Susan: Even after all that, yeah. Peter and Susan: Remember, it’s a study in power and it’s not a celebration of it. And I do think you know Peter and I came to the conclusion that you know Peter and Susan: Part of this decision was informed by Baker’s experience at the height and Washington and understanding that you’re if you’re on the outside, you know, looking in throwing stones. Peter and Susan: You know that, you know, there is no no power without access. There is no power without the ability Peter and Susan: To work the inner councils. That’s the kind of politician that he was. And I think that’s still shapes his view of Washington today, even though Washington itself has changed so dramatically from his time. Chris Riback: Yeah, and you make that clear that that point that Baker feels he want needs to be inside the tent or have some type of type of ability Chris Riback: Natalie. Do we have young. I know we’re getting to the top of the hour. I have one question question to close on. Did I just saw a young, was there a moment to go do we have young or somebody else. Natalie Ryan: Nope, but I have one final question that I can get from Karen Allen. Natalie Ryan: She says that Baker is generally regarded and on a bipartisan basis as the example or White House Chief of Staff or gold standard. After getting to know him. What do you view as the reason or reasons and perhaps reasons he wouldn’t say as to why that is the case. Peter and Susan: Right, well look, he would say that, Natalie Thank you. Peter and Susan: Kara. I’ve asked question. I think he would say, look, you know, he Peter and Susan: prided himself on preparation on discipline in his family of the of the saying is what they call the five P’s prior performance prevents prior prior preparation prevents poor performance. Peter and Susan: We’ve said so many times. Now that I’m trying to I tongue tied Peter and Susan: But I think that it’s more than just that. Obviously, any there, a lot of people in Washington who are, you know, good homework doors. Peter and Susan: He had an instinct for other people had an instinct for how the gears of power worked. He understood how to give somebody on the other side of the table what they needed Peter and Susan: While getting what he wanted. Right. And he could give things away that were important to him while taking away from the table, the things that were Peter and Susan: And that’s something is lost in today’s White House and loss and today’s Washington, not just in the Trump White House. I mean, the idea that you can negotiate that you can Peter and Susan: Work with people, even people you disagree with is a lost art. And I think that that made him a good chance that he was also unsentimental as Susan said, I think. Peter and Susan: About Francis Reagan’s priorities Reagan campaigned on a lot of things, but the bigger wasn’t gonna bother. Peter and Susan: Is wasting time on things like trying to abolish the education department because he knew that would go nowhere. They had a democratic house so we focus on what things they could get done like his economic program and it was very sort of cold I view of things. Peter and Susan: That helped I think Rhonda White has made rating successful in our second term. Chris Riback: Thank you and quick close Chris Riback: Right, that the guy who was in the right place at the right time versus the guy who was able to make things happen because it was it. Where did you guys ultimately come out on that. I think I know the answer. Having read the book, but but we, you know, how do you handle that question. Peter and Susan: Look I you know Jim Baker was a lucky man. You know, there’s no question that in politics LUCK AS MUCH AS skill defined somebody and you know Peter and Susan: From the accident of who is best friend was to his first big break in politics was when Jerry for a long time, political advisor from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Peter and Susan: got killed in a car accident right before the 1976 convention that literally is Jim Baker’s big break in politics. But had he not impress people Peter and Susan: With that hyper competence and that innate I for politics, then he would have gotten the job anyways. And so, you know, in the end, it was the marriage of man and moment. Peter and Susan: That made this most exceptional story. You know, he could have easily lived out his whole life in Houston, a pillar of the Community. Peter and Susan: You know, a managing partner of Baker bots. He could have, you know, spend his weekends hunting and playing tennis. Peter and Susan: And that would have been that and he would have been just another upstanding James Addison baker of the Houston Baker’s Peter and Susan: You know, and he that almost was his life, and yet you see how much talent there is there, right, and that his life. Peter and Susan: Is a story of succeeding on progressively bigger and bigger playing field until you know he’s naked in a banya with Edward Shevardnadze Peter and Susan: Negotiating Soviet nuclear arms deals. Right. Like, that’s an incredible story and i think it’s it’s a reminder, not to make assumptions about Peter and Susan: You know, people are not defined and limited by the world that they inhabit. You know, it’s really, it’s quite an interesting story. I think for for all of us. Chris Riback: A lot of terrific lessons, including picking up on one of the points that you just made about the power of good marriages making great stories. Chris Riback: Bush and Baker was not the only great marriage that seems to generate it a great story. Susan, Peter. Thank you. Really, really wonderful book and great read. And I highly recommend it. Thank you for your time. Peter and Susan: Chris, thank you very much. We had a wonderful time is a great conversation and thank everybody who joined us tonight. Thank you so much. Have a great evening. Chris Riback: Yep, thank you everyone. Good night. Bye.