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Welcome back to the -- -- Washington DC I'm James Rosen broadcasting to you live from the Washington bureau of Fox News so many view wish for different time and place you think that maybe America has seen its greatest days.
You think things are the way they used to be and well certainly the last sentence is -- things are not the way they used to be.
Maybe they're getting better.
Maybe you wish for president like Abraham Lincoln.
Maybe you think our times require a president like Abraham Lincoln certainly Barack Obama made no secret of his own infatuation.
Or intellectual curiosity about Abraham Lincoln at the time of his first inaugural.
Someone who can shed light on all these things joins us here in the foxhole today Rich Lowry editor in chief of national review a national review online.
And author of Lincoln unbound.
How an ambitious young rail splitter save the American dream.
And how we can do it again Rich Lowry welcome to the -- James thanks so why did you write this book.
Well I analysts had a thing for Lincoln Louis -- and and and drawn particularly to the story of his rise and that's really.
-- -- key to this book and the more I delved into it the more I realize that opportunity and making it possible for others to do the same.
He he as he had Bush's rise -- from nothing really undergirding all his policy is.
And all of us politics of the book is about Lincoln as a -- -- -- possible opportunity.
And American history.
How long did you work on it.
How did you approach it -- because obviously there is a fast scholarly literature about Abraham Lincoln this.
Well I have a very particular slice of things that I was interest it and so that's a limiting factor.
No civil war really no civil war battles know presidency really except for at the highest.
Level of abstraction so I really focused in on the words about his early life and then teased out the few key -- from there.
But the the title talks about how he -- the American dream how did he do that.
Well there really two grand ambitions he had in his life and if you allow -- to back up a little bit and he -- raised in the middle -- -- -- literally nothing in Indiana.
And he really wanted to make it make an America where no one had to live that way.
Ever again to status subsistence farmer.
And Lincoln he worked very hard is a young man any wielded a lot of -- They hated it he never wanted to do it again which is why they ironies that he's known throughout history as the rail splitter part of my subtitled they never want to split another rail.
In his life one seed left now so he wanted to blow up that war rural isolation which he had grown up which meant connecting the country.
And creating markets mostly through transportation improvements as they -- called the time steamboats canals.
And then -- so that that would create a more diverse economy.
Where people have all sorts of different ways to rise if they didn't want to be a farmer the rest of their lives they didn't have to be and the other ambition.
Listed and slavery and he worked on those ambitions both in his legislative career and as president would you say.
Yeah absolutely it will from the very beginning as a legislature and -- ran for office basically as soon as he left the house.
-- this first round was age 23 for an Illinois legislature.
He loses because he's still not very well known in the New Salem area where -- -- news.
But two years later he wins and his first I believe is the first -- -- -- had to do is allowing someone to build a bridge.
So this gets to how he wanted to connect.
Markets through these transportation improvements and he became a way.
Even though everyone around him when he was growing up as a Democrat tell worshipped Andrew Jackson -- -- discrete -- wouldn't -- in an American.
General and Jackson and Jefferson and before -- really romanticize.
The agrarian way of life and Lincoln had no use for that city becomes a -- And here owe the Democrats and Jackson here the wigs is Henry Clay and has this American program that -- Has really three parts one if you know Arianna have a barter economy need cash cash cash you need banks.
If you're not just going to be overwhelmingly agricultural country forever more you need industry.
-- can encourage industry.
But terrorists and finally very talked about it if -- connect markets together.
And and isolation in the country needs now -- -- need railroads at a time when they're no financial markets really -- to.
It's -- the bigger projects -- had to be an element of governments.
-- do you as one of the leaders of the modern conservative movement see.
On the part of conservatives today and opposition -- kind of almost -- green reflexive opposition.
It federal expenditure on behalf of infrastructure.
Well there is a good -- against federal expenditures in general.
But I think most Republicans don't oppose bridges -- -- and if all the government did.
At this time is what it did at Lincoln's time.
Which is basically fund a military and bridges and railroads we have no federal government to speak of I think what Republicans.
Ten to post.
The reason Nintendo because infrastructure products and the reason why should be skeptical.
Is when their advance as a former short term stimulus and the solos on 2009.
Stimulus bill where there was enough time you billions and billion dollars for infrastructure there and there's nothing to show for it because -- -- -- -- shoving.
Money out the door and -- get some guard rails and some strikes down.
Highways -- don't get any project that is really gonna increase the economic efficiency of the country over the long term and I.
-- -- shovel ready or actually completely blew it seems.
-- Sew so make the link for us connect the dots -- with Rich Lowry here in the fox -- the editor in chief of national review national review online and all -- of Lincoln unbound.
I would ask him to connect the dots of his sub title which is how an ambitious young rail -- -- the American dream and how we can do it again.
So how does Lincoln.
And what he stood for.
His approaches his philosophies how does all that connects to today how can we do it again relying on Lincoln and some.
Yeah I think there's really if you look at Lincoln's program there's really trinity is there one.
How do you create the maximal.
Amount commercial dynamism in the country.
How do you enhance education.
And finally and this is another key part of what the -- are about.
How do you supporter revival -- on the books basic blower law virtues.
And this isn't viable something's not this isn't moralizing stuff you know this is anything wrong with that teased right so there's a lot of the other side is quite all right everybody right now I -- -- -- -- -- latest straight ahead in the -- that I felt the -- Clinton marriage and -- -- discipline.
And a work ethic as the means -- getting ahead in America and the Democrats and Lincoln's time tend to be quite.
-- judge now on to sort except the people -- they were the wings had a real cultural.
Program based on quarterly and -- and Lincoln.
Evangelize for this and it.
Exemplified it -- when young lawyers are aspiring lawyers would write to him when he was.
A lawyer asks how will I do it does it work work work is amazing and it's pretty much -- answered anything.
And as time -- America soaked in alcohol soaked in tobacco coarse language is quite common -- it was a little bit like being around you run on any given a given night photos and more yes yeah.
-- Lincoln didn't smoke he didn't drink he didn't -- told the occasional dirty story they didn't swear and that made him kind of in our type bowl week.
You said you had a thing for Lincoln how far back -- ago.
As a personal sort of intellectual -- And employees and I've always admired him for probably in the way and the average person -- miers and others over the last several.
510 years when it began to read -- the end of the Lincoln especially there's a wonderful book by -- -- But wonderful to store and -- get -- so -- now on I'm on the battle of Gettysburg.
But he wrote a book on Lincoln called redeemer president and it was a systematic biography but there's a section -- there in the beginning.
That contrast Lincoln's economics to a Jeffersonian Democrats.
Economics I never really thought about that and that was really the Germans this -- Are their payrolls.
To anyone wishing to enter the field of Lincoln studies as aware that you would see fit to warn -- -- Barrels well there are a lot of Lincoln books already so you have to really love them and have something distinctive to say.
About him and then -- the parallel to what I try to do and in this book is you don't want to you.
Distort him for your own purposes and and have you seen that.
Well I would say -- Oklahoma as the foremost example -- the -- a little book that basically argued this is around 2004.
That no Abe Lincoln was Jarrett John Kerry with the year more or less and since I'm trying to draw contemporary lessons.
About Lincoln and also to push back against the Barack Obama -- of the world who want to occupy him.
From progressives and I've tried to be careful.
Against making -- Overly.
Possesses claims about what he would do in the present moment or where he would be politically in the present moment.
-- with -- Rich Lowry here in the foxhole and as you may have just observed which does not choose verbs like occupy lightly.
So the other book that you wrote previous -- this was about Bill Clinton right the title of that book was.
Legacy paying the President Clinton years published one.
2002 and 20022003.
OK and so now the two presidents under whom you've trained your considerable intellectual energies that.
Or Abraham Lincoln and Bill Clinton but we're not supposed to draw any equations correct.
That the Clinton book was obviously much more contemporary.
-- and one of those things it was enjoyable -- -- this is one -- mrs.
-- read pays attention you can't spend too much time reading and thinking about Lincoln.
Almost every single speech or something funny or something particularly incisive I've found myself often times laughing out loud during my.
Resurgence is just such a stunningly good and witty.
The lone assist but -- -- part of the attraction was to going back something that wasn't involved in our.
-- Bill Clinton's.
-- I should -- perceptions of Bill Clinton have.
Morphed over time since he's been out of office have your own views of Clinton changed at all since you published a book.
Yeah I think about it a little tough on I think -- -- two things one.
And to the innate caution on foreign policy which is very tough.
On him about.
Looks better in retrospect how -- hello we -- -- big price for not doing more and Afghanistan sooner but I just.
DD reflex to worry about unintended consequences.
And too worried how much you could control military interventions once he started.
Is it is a very sound one and should be.
Part need to conservatives arsenal and Bill Clinton in his way represented.
Do you think that the that the changes in Bill Clinton standing are warranted.
It in terms of public perceptions of him.
But the words he seems to have improved.
In public standing as time has gone on do you think that -- should be.
Well I think people have tended to forget.
-- scandals which we're.
Terrible and the way he handled them we're just absolutely.
Shameful so that's.
Faded a little bit plus it doesn't seem so bad -- give it but if they're readers in this -- -- We have now and plus just in retrospect and historical perspective 1990s -- not bad decade.
At all I mean there -- a wonderful decade and great economic growth great technological innovation.
Rolls declining you had a whole bunch of others.
Social indicators heading in the right direction after that heading in the wrong direction for decades.
And most of that Bill Clinton -- -- nothing to do list but there's a reason why people look back in the 1990s and two little causing them.
Tom Wolfe once told me that when I asked him how historians would come to regard Bill Clinton in his presidency.
He likened him to the famous mayor of New York City Jimmy Walker and he said he'll be remembered as us as a scoundrel and -- -- And a man who presided over good times.
An observation we share our -- what is as a matter of fact Monica Lewinsky's fortieth birthday today -- now.
We're in the foxhole with -- -- gonna take little -- if we can't get these computer issues settled so that we can take your -- stay with us here.
In the -- -- go -- -- the foxhole we're still Washington DC -- -- host James Rosen -- -- broadcasting live from the Washington bureau of Fox -- and we are still.
So privileged to have with us Rich Lowry editor -- -- nothing's changed because -- -- in the intervening.
Rich Lowry editor in chief of national review national review online and author of Lincoln -- -- How an ambitious young rail -- save the American dream and how we can do it again.
Was it every your ambition even if you have to suppress it.
In the writing this book to try to on earth.
Warren knew for a fact I don't Lincoln or some some new evidentiary piece of material something -- was that it was that in addition that you have to fight.
And anytime now I'm not a fool who wants to gospels there so I thought I'd say -- there is a historian Michael Burlingame I rely on a lot and who wrote the two volume.
Biography of Lincoln that will be definitive for a very long time he calls -- the green monster to folio -- green books that are about 900 pages.
Each he has managed to unearth new things because he his insight was -- Every biographer of journalists when they do story and -- do an interview there's things they don't use a netbook or in their story.
So I go look at the journalists who interviewed Lincoln.
And a look at the early biographers trying to find their notes.
And -- doing that he's under -- new things about Lincoln news.
This snippets quotes and things of that nature.
But -- he's already done it and I'm not sure that this new step after that is gonna come for a.
I want to ask the Lincoln scholar Douglas Wilson author of the Lincoln's sword.
Which is how about how Lincoln used language to to save the union.
And again this is one of those conservative books about Lincoln.
And I asked him if that's the future of Lincoln studies in essence whether we're ever going to see future evidentiary discoveries about our sixteenth president.
And he so no I don't know -- that out of -- within five years since and this was 2007.
That we discovered what he called the suicide letter.
In being in airports.
-- referring to some writing that Lincoln did in the White House after his son had passed away.
Which did not overtly reference suicide boat which seemed to have a -- of of despondency to -- that some interpreted as being in that direction.
And so I guess we shouldn't rule out the idea that there will be future evidentiary.
Because -- this recent.
Only the the computations.
From from -- -- -- early in his books as a kid that was discovered but these aren't major things really -- your view of anything short.
What's the next book you're -- right.
I don't know -- have ideas for -- I do.
We'll -- those off line or you have.
Pretty contracted to write another book I'm not okay and I don't know about you with the feeling I had after completing a book so it and -- right -- but especially when it's not even your full time job it's how did you balance that being as being the editor in chief of national review an interview online and and and putting together an ambitious booklet that's kind of -- and it's really.
-- I worked every Saturday.
On it at the beginning and tried to do mornings which is just a little harder you can.
Resolve to work 2 hours in the morning that is easier said than done but I did actually do some mornings.
And that was somewhat manageable if you still working.
A lot and and by the end this happens at every book the deadline looming -- -- -- edited and you didn't and you end up working literally.
Every hour day -- -- my wife is very patient but it's tough on -- and stuff on her when my book about Watergate was.
Publishing was the original manuscripts 500000 words the 600 page book you -- buy in the store was about 220000 -- so.
You know the director's cut of the behemoth version was out there and like I had initially regarded the publish things this sort of commercial compromise and not what my vision was and so forth.
But as years have gone by I -- look back at that book is like.
The official thing.
You know and I don't harbor those those he was their stuff you want to get in and didn't.
Now it's pretty small book I think -- the important stuff -- and I really true what I try to do is to get as many colorful anecdotes.
As possible -- and they really bring him alive and everyone is delightful.
In their own way and I think some future Michael Burlingame and Nixon's gonna go back and look at that -- -- 500000.
The words version of your manuscript for a little bit and missing jams.
You were named editor in chief of national review succeeding William F Buckley junior correct.
I succeeded general general John O'Sullivan OK and he's done it's assumed that whenever you're stuck at ten years okay.
How old were you at that time.
29 that's pretty daunting.
That -- we don't get a first six months -- just terrified and one of the worst times in my life because had no idea what I can do this job and it.
You know -- and he's an incredibly.
And talented maybe many many levels -- extremely.
Steady in his shoes was difficult enough and then you have Bill -- looking -- her -- shoulder.
As your editing what he considers this most.
Comprised accomplishment and it through a very accomplished life.
It was buried -- The doubles because accomplishment bill -- -- having been what that week's column or -- what are we were national media now to upgrade should -- the actual enterprise.
Do you -- we've seen the publication of a number of books.
About national review over the years including Christopher Buckley's memoir of his father and ex mother and father.
Priscilla Buckley who it was the managing editor for many many years wrote a book about called living it up -- national review.
Richard -- -- written his memoir of his right place right time I think it was called.
I'm so there's a growing literature about national review is that something you think you might -- have to.
-- -- -- -- -- very good notes.
There are starting -- the beginning I would have kept some sort of journal that was -- desperately trying to keep my head above water and at the moment my.
My intention is to give all the dirty laundry.
Away Ana -- event somewhere.
Do you have now that there isn't really jealous -- the facetious -- to.
Do you have certain memories of Bill Buckley it's really funny anecdotes about him that you have never shared anywhere.
We were at an odd match in the US is he he was an article men left to say -- look slam.
And I can't swim at all and I hate being on boats and he had these sales he would.
Do every Friday night.
Com and it in the Long Island Sound and he'd invite various friends and staffers national -- is considered an honor to go on -- sales in the first one I went on we literally ran aground.
Because the whoever -- the anger out for some reason it didn't take whatever the technical term is in the tide goes out and important.
But -- -- at 45 degree angle the entire night and it was the most uncomfortable night I've ever spent in my life and I don't think I went on sale in the area.
Did he ever give you any.
Any advice about editing or writing that stays with these.
It was you know mostly through osmosis and he.
He really expected -- figure things out he wasn't one for giving direct.
Now if you failed to figured out for a certain period of time then he could send you an explosives.
-- that would destroy you for some period of time.
Thanks for him it was he had to get something off his chest and -- was over almost immediately but the thing he hated most.
And eulogized them and that that he came up with called attitude -- And this was an opinion not fact by fact.
Or by a solid argument that would tend to persuade a neutral.
Observer and that part of the magazine cares about most -- cared about most was the front section.
That's called an anachronism the week even -- we come out once every.
Two weeks that this is -- we have a we call editorial paragraphs -- wins on the news.
The day most of which have an editorial point there is a little editorial and trying to got -- about how to think about various matters.
And he wouldn't you know mark set up to that area and -- be detected any.
-- -- -- -- In that section he'd let us know about it.
And you had some exposure I take it to his wife pat guys and their interaction together what did you make of that.
Well to be married to Bill Buckley have to be very strong woman and she was very strong.
Woman was very strong opinions herself she is quite intimidating I don't think I stopped being intimidated buyer until the very.
And but she she met well and once you kind of took.
Things she said and adjusting way even though they could be extremely harsh and kayaking if you agree disagree with you about something.
Then issues the complete delight and -- things I remember about her and this just gives you.
An idea how pat Buckley operated was Mayor Bloomberg came to it and dinner editorial dinner -- the -- house and -- sat right next to him.
And had had little things cigarettes on the table this -- a matter of course all the time but she smoked during the whole dinner and smoked and mayor Bloomberg's direction.
The -- Undaunted the -- -- one wonders if she had some big gulps as well she would have would have assailant or and smoking.
We've we're just a little couple with a minute left here.
How do you think Barack Obama will be remembered as as the president.
That's -- happy thought.
Haven't gotten ahead sitting three years.
Well it depends a lot on the health care law -- of the substances.
Record will depend on on.
To say about law that he gets repealed and I think he'll be remembered as a bit of the substantive.
But regardless someone who represented cultural change.
In America and was extremely.
And -- -- strategists to see -- as people figured out something.
About the country and how to win going -- back against Iowa Caucuses and and -- and away.
And there ahead of the curve and it worked very effectively animated work.
Again in 2012 it's easy to be remembered chiefly as a political figure but not necessarily as a great president.
I think is included a political and cultural figure.
But I guess I wouldn't you know I consider obviously his -- quite.
Destructive but trying to.
Being objective about it is a health care law sticks.
And it works in some form.
That is -- the big leap forward for progressives and then you gonna put him up among you know progressive heroes like LBJ there.
-- FDR only don't have a world war.
Two obviously -- great.
Depression like crisis -- an excellent -- -- recession but then he's really advanced the ball for progressive -- them.
It's -- healthcare law is repealed or somehow disintegrates and I think it looks.
Rich Lowry is the editor in chief of national review -- national review online he's the author of Lincoln -- bound.
How an ambitious young rail splitter save the American dream and how we can do it again.
To make -- fine -- either Christmas or next Father's Day or into perpetuity.
Thanks for visiting the fox -- James Rosen Washington DC next week.
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