(5 of 17)
ROSE: And he still used her for his legs, in fact, to go around the country to
KEARNS-GOODWIN: She became his voice, she became his eyes and his ears when he had his polio.
KRISTOL: President's wives seem to be very unlucky but I don't think that's the subject for this afternoon.
ROSE: You have a political leader as a candidate? We may get to that, Irving. Do you have a candidate for political leadership other than Franklin Roosevelt you want to debate?
KRISTOL: I have a couple.
ROSE: Okay, let's hear them.
KRISTOL: I'll give Ronald Reagan a star for that.
ROSE: Well, Ronald Reagan would've voted for Franklin Roosevelt.
KRISTOL: Yes, he did, as a matter of fact.
KRISTOL: But, so, I have no problem with Franklin Roosevelt, I must say. On the other hand, Ronald Reagan because of his big idea which was you resist the Soviet Union, you keep challenging them, you keep building up your defenses so that they found it more and more difficult to compete with us. He forced the Soviet leadership to reconsider the whole state of their economy and if you speak to Russians today who had been through this experience they'll say, yes. Reagan's attitude of complete and open hostility to the Soviet idea and the Soviet imperium, helped undermine our conference, no question, confidence. I will also say a word for a Democratic President and whom no one is going to mention. That's Woodrow Wilson, whom I don't like.
KRISTOL: He was a very prissy and cold-hearted man. On the other hand, he had a vision of the world community and of international relations that
ROSE: It's called the League of Nations.
KRISTOL: Well, League of Nations, the, the United Nations exists because of Woodrow Wilson. Our State Department's foreign policy is based on premises inherited from Woodrow Wilson.
ISAACSON: Is not Reagan's foreign policy based on premises from Wilson?
KRISTOL: Oh, yes. The whole State Department still functions on that basis as to what is right and what is proper and what the goals are of international affairs. And this conception of building a world community, that's Woodrow Wilson and that, I think, will continue to be the basis of our foreign policy. I'm not sure it's workable but it is our foreign policy. We inherited it from him.
RICE: It's interesting I would, I would not put Woodrow Wilson on my list but there is someone who I don't think would make the cut but let me put him on the list, Harry Truman. I think that you could argue that the most important foreign policy president of the 20th century for the United States was not Teddy Roosevelt, not Franklin Roosevelt but Harry Truman because without Truman in '47 the United States withdraws again from Europe. You don't get NATO and the commitment to the Asia. You don't get coming out of the entire government an national security apparatus that's capable of keeping the United States a permanent presence in the international system. And if I have to point to one event that changes the shape of international history it's the engagement of the United States in a permanent way in international history. So, while I'll give Doris and Governor Cuomo Franklin Roosevelt on the domestic side, I want to make an argument for Harry Truman on the foreign policy side.
CUOMO: And how about the atom bomb? How do you, how do you, how does that affect your judgment on Truman?
RICE: I do not see nuclear weapons as the great evil of this century. I believe that in many ways nuclear weapons may have kept us from our worst impulses because they are so horrible we have really not outlawed war, but made war not possible. And, so, I see nuclear weapons not as a great evil but maybe as a blessing.
CUOMO: Does mean that we shouldn't get rid of them?
RICE: That means we shouldn't get rid of them.
CUOMO: We should not get rid of them?
RICE: We should not get rid of them.
ROSE: Dan?RATHER: Charlie, I'm struck by the names that have been left off. I, frankly I think a case can be made for all of the names so far. But we've yet to discuss Winston Churchill, a very strong case could be made
ROSE: Let me just let you know we're going to discuss those in the second segment, a little bit later when we talk about foreign leaders, both good and bad. But go ahead.
RATHER: If we're sticking to domestic leaders, I'm not so sure that 500 years from now, who can see 500 years, that the only name, the only American name, perhaps the only name worldwide that will be in the history books won't be that of Neil Armstrong. If the past is prologue. what do we know about the 1400s? Most school children when they read their textbook, there's one name mentioned out of the 1400s that is Christopher Columbus. So, I wouldn't underestimate, you say, well, a leader, Neil Armstrong was a leader. He wasn't a political leader, he wasn't a religious leader, very brave leader and if you want to argue revolutionary, I might have a more difficult case. But 4 or 500 years from now I, I believe that there will be, have been humans on every planet in our solar system, exploration of the outer galaxy will be under way and perhaps we will get into other galaxies. And what the history books are going to say is it began when Neil Armstrong put his foot on the moon. Now, other names we haven't mentioned among Americans, Philo Farnesworth , generally regarded to be the father of television. What makes the 20th century different was Philo Farnesworth figured out a way to make television for better or for worse and it will have reach, it will echo into the centuries ahead. Not a name particularly well-known but one. I do think a case could be made among American leaders for Dr. Martin Luther King. When we discuss foreign leaders, I think a strong case could be made for the person of the century being Mahatma Gandhi, who was the forerunner of Dr. King, but if it were an American it would be a mistake to underestimate the effect on his time and on future times of Dr. King.
ROSE: Let me stay with Presidents for a second. Do you, you've written about Teddy Roosevelt.
RATHER: Theodore Roosevelt, a case could be made for
ROSE: You think Theodore Roosevelt is for you because he was there at the beginning of the century. I think [unintelligible] could help me, Doris, in 1908?
KEARNS-GOODWIN: Well, McKinley dies in 1901 so he becomes President in 1901.