ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Stories of people who believe there is always a way. And also those who don’t.
English
United States
explicit content

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:00support for this American life comes from rocket mortgage by quicken loans introducing their all new reach shield approval if you're in the market to buy a home quicken loans will lock your rate for up to ninety days while you shop to get started go to rocket mortgage dot
00:00:15com slash American and from Capital One Capital One is re imagining banking by offering accounts with no fees or minimums that can be opened from anywhere in five minutes Capital One what's in your wallet but a one and a my friend that got his mom does not take
00:00:36no for an answer that guy's Israeli a carrot we run is short stories here on the radio show now and then they were years ago at cars older brother was in the army serving in Lebanon Israel had just invaded Lebanon it was war and isn't available to us
00:00:52but the policy of the Israeli army is that if it's at all possible you go home on leave every two weeks another not close just next door to Israel across his brother's coming home every month and then you know that stopped he wasn't getting any leave and date
00:01:09my brother didn't come home for almost two months and he drove my mother crazy Anil and she decided that she should get my brother back home you know when it's very difficult to deal with anything during the war because everybody's hysteric and crazy but day she decided that
00:01:29she needs to speak to the chief of staff and she started courting and there's even a staff is like the head of the army yea take the take the day ahead genera for the entire army yeah they got explained her strategy was simple to call the guys office
00:01:48talk to whoever answered and she would talk for long enough I do she would have something that you could say a offended her or may they're angry and then she asked to speak with that person Sapir she did the same thing with that person and then that person's
00:02:04and so on and on and on and on and in the end she Fonda says speaking to the head general you know is a fairly con who's one of these ways most famous kind of war heroes and he said to him listen they generate timely knows it you
00:02:20**** warned that the we don't want to waste any of your time so we can make it simple my son didn't get a leave from the army for the past two months E. I give you twenty four hours to sending back home if you know what's good for
00:02:33you QB back you know before tomorrow evening wait if you know what's good for you yes and the guy sister I just want to understand Mrs cared I you were threatening to me and she says yes I am afraid in your mind and you know I didn't want
00:02:51to put it in the sept six because the I know that you're busy so if you know what's good for you and that you sent me a couple and his sister were you scared the do you know who I am I said yeah yeah you're with a dandy
00:03:14the war hero and said to her if you know anything about me then you know that I'm not easily scared so my mother said yet but they I don't think he had many chances to fight with elderly Holocaust survivors were five food door and weigh eighty two pounds
00:03:33and I want to tell you something and make it very simple very quick you know a after you quit the army you either go to politics %HESITATION you know you go to the flea markets in most cases you gonna be very exposed in both cases every time so
00:03:46be it TV camera around or journalist who have these elderly lady sitting in the first roll shouting at you accusing you of any bad things that you might have made a may be of some bad things that you've never made because I'm a very good dire and you
00:04:02really don't want that so and it's that stage he hung up the phone in the face the next afternoon ecause brother arrived home they put him out of his ranks don't get on a helicopter had no idea what was going on did anybody else yes in some family
00:04:20member died or something actor says and I got his break Amy took a shower strapped for sixteen hours my mother so that he was okay and if they after that he went back to the balloon does it say we cannot confirm the details of the story including the
00:04:42dialogue between a guy's mom and Rafael Eitan this have been over thirty years ago icons dad %HESITATION we got a guy's mom she said share whatever Eckhard says but there are many stories about guys mom doing things like this there is a time she threatened a mother so
00:04:57effectively that he abandoned the idea of mugging or in the middle of the mugging there's a showdown with the president of Poland that ended when the president of Poland finally gave her the passport she demanded as somebody who had been born in Poland that car is the same
00:05:11way in certain situations there doesn't threaten that's how we as just reasons people to death case in point for years ago he and his wife Shera and their then eight year old son lab traveling and they love to backpack on an airplane in the backpack with the cars
00:05:29I pad which had of his sons games on it you know if it's been months in these games working its way up the levels of the game now that was gone but was really messed up about it I was when talking about and the call the airline airlines
00:05:41has no problem when you get to the airport for the return flight go to Austin will be there so comes a day they're on the way home to get to the airport this is in Rome they can't find the lost and found time is getting short they got
00:05:55a plane to catch finally got the car rental super nice guy office to take them to it his name was my see more any took us to the lost and found place was there was this really really nasty woman and I said to her you know you have
00:06:09a bag and the we supposed to take it and we're going to fly really really soon center and I can actually see it in a pointed to the bag you know because it was behind her and says that question is a letter from the airline saying he was
00:06:22on the same flight as the backpack echo doesn't have this letter should the Sir I'm not gonna give you the bag without the letter I'm sorry Mr but I go to use right I never get to see the big and she said you know that your problem is
00:06:36that you know that our I'll just say Rahman's something deep and powerful kicks in inside my wife said to me okay let's go so we won't be fixed I can fit in %HESITATION just a moment I said to the woman don't give me the bag but just do
00:06:49this kind of thing please and the you know the the outside pocket of it and see if there are crackers in the with the Hebrew writing on the package of crackers and said why would you want to do that etcetera I just ask you to please do it
00:07:03and she went and said yes they're quick because you need to set to it so we both agree that this is my bag he says here this is your bag so I said to so would you please give it to me said no I was Sir I won't
00:07:13give it to you unless you give me this letter and I said to but you understand that my son is here and he's games here are you a parent and she said yes I'm a parent and it's a tour so think about it like you know if your
00:07:25son he had the game you really wanted to win you have to go and confront with a person who say yeah I know these games yours but your son is never going to get it just because of some kind of technicality I mean your Italian you know deep
00:07:37down in you know be warm like if anything will give me the bag and she said no Sir I'm not going to give you the bag and you're wasting your time you better go to flag because you're going to miss your flight and she said it's going %HESITATION
00:07:50she's going to give it to you in a city where but don't you understand they can always human being you know there will be one day when you die and you look back at your life and you think about this day and we think about this day you
00:08:00think about this father who came with Chad and basically technically you could solve all the problems but you chose to kind of stick with some kind of technique ID would set to be in nice dying forced to leave the word with he was going to say Sir I'm
00:08:16going to give you anything but as she was about to say that my see more the guy you know from the car rental jumped over the counter out of the bag and you doing what are you doing and he said to her I can't take it anymore and
00:08:30jumped back over the counter and he gave me the bag and she said to him if you don't get the bag back I'm going to court airport security and the going to arrest you as I said to him look it's a good solution take the bag and messing
00:08:45with it to me look at me do if they see run these things happen so often that cars right here where is it some day so we just gonna go nuts on it or something heard adjusted tuition when AM my wife to system you just chat shut up
00:09:08shut up now to talk about it anymore shut up you know and and I I always listen to my wife but you know when it starts I can still be but at the same time I think to myself I am I am these S. soul you know we
00:09:24just keep arguing it doesn't you know move on and I really think that you know that this has to do is we something very kind of prime was it when I was elated child you know my parents were both Holocaust survivor the kind of race me say you
00:09:42know people people are good sometimes you know you don't get a good you know so you have to kind of tell them things few times maybe slap them around the beat it and then we'll visit phase at his and his dented the good and then the police and
00:09:58everything's going to work but then a program somebody else who can't help himself you see something you need to fix the state needs to make it right then sheer force of will he makes things only relatively is it who wrote if you can't stop yourself WBEZ Chicago this
00:10:25American life I'm IRA glass stay with us one loudspeakers we start today with a guy who I don't overstate this and it sounds really big when you say this out loud but I really think it might be the truth a guy who with sheer force of will how
00:10:45do we change our politics and created the political world we live in today alongside a second man who helped him so we chase tells the tale we helpful in telling this story to remember first second what politics was like before today no different informal and quaint things used
00:11:03to sound ladies and gentlemen the president of the United States this is president Reagan working on to the south lawn it's nineteen eighty three April but apparently a cold day one of the lawmakers is looking very so be it and his big coat and fur collar right I
00:11:22want to extend to all of you a very warm welcome something ought to be warm Reagan's in the seventies all brown suit with a brown tie but it's especially fitting that's why many of us from so many different backgrounds young and old the working in the retired Democrat
00:11:42and Republican should come together for the signing of this landmark legislation social security legislation major bipartisan compromise involving raising taxes and cutting spending two things that only go together when it's a bipartisan and now is a special treat I would like to ask two of our leaders from
00:12:00Congress first step forward for a few words speaker of the house of representatives the honorable tip o'neill Mister president Mister vice president my distinguished colleagues and government this is a day day and a happy day a special treat democratic leader would the friendship between Ronald Reagan and tip
00:12:25o'neill is one the most famous friendships in American politics these days it's regularly tried it out like a feeble to demonstrate with the good old days were like back when things worked if you know anything about speaker of the house tip o'neill you know he was a bi
00:12:40partisan shoes %HESITATION big not be guy took up a lot of space in the room invite members from both parties to poker nights in DC using Congress for decades and by the time he was speaker he was a living legend tight we got along with answered I had
00:12:55to Japanese wife over for dinner this is Reagan talking William F. Buckley then one day I picked up the paper and read where he had made a statement about me that was %HESITATION pretty harsh and I called him and I said tip I thought we had a relationship
00:13:14here where we could do business together and on and now I read in the paper that you said any interrupted me and said well we'll body that's just politics he said after six o'clock we're buddies were friends I did take it that every once in awhile when we
00:13:31had a meeting I would visibly set my watch it above six to be fair o'neill have been known to call Reagan real Ebenezer Scrooge truth is their relationship was complicated they disagree profoundly about a lot of stuff but that's the point that's why people tell each other the
00:13:52story the two were able to come together and talk compromise and pass legislation anyway here we are today the MS thirteen lover Nancy Pelosi %HESITATION or mean about each other now in public all the time in particular the president then of course people fight back this is congresswoman
00:14:14Maxine waters he's not a role model for our children %HESITATION he is a lawyer %HESITATION he's a con man Maxine waters a very low I do individual never see a and Conor lamb lamb the GM right lamb this yeah lambs GM never caught on you know what I'm
00:14:36talking about it's different now your I want to lay out for you one theory of the case as to how we got from there to here we've always had two parties but we didn't always have two teams like we do now red versus blue eyes versus them each
00:14:51side routinely demonized as the other side is on American you sign up for one issue the wall the molar investigation Colin Kaepernick climate change you basically signed up for all of them wasn't always so zero sum like it's become you can explain what happened in different ways but
00:15:07I'm gonna argue it was the work of two guys that got us to this point two guys one quarter backing the other and so without further ado ladies and gentlemen the first of the two men who created the modern world you know I'm from fox news you know
00:15:22from Republican primaries gone by former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich I hope I can convey this in in in in a way that you you can really feel if we lose we will be able to look our children and our grandchildren face and say we did every
00:15:42thing we could to save this country the weird nerdy kid growing up people close to him say he always pictured himself as a historical figure someone who would bend the course of American history someone who anticipated stories like the one I'm telling you now from his teenage years
00:16:00he thought this way he ran for Congress twice in west Georgia lost and then finally went to see the house in nineteen seventy eight with the seventeen seventeen attitude like there was a revolution in the country's very existence was at stake we're fighting a war Gingrich said back
00:16:16then were for power raise hell raise hell all the time his goal was to retake the house of representatives at the time an impossible dream look in the bin in the minority for twenty four years people called it the permanent democratic Congress once a nude finally got there
00:16:36he discovered as he suspected was a place full of losers with Stockholm syndrome was chummy mostly guys in suits and ties smoking cigars playing poker together generally getting want hanging out talking to each other also depending on your perspective it was a corrupt cesspool of bribes and giveaways
00:16:57that's definitely how Gingrich side didn't have much power but to go along to get along and occasionally do some deals and most of them and stopped imagining it could be any other way I learned most of the story from the great political reporter Steve Kornacki he just published
00:17:13a book about this time called the red and the blue the nineteen nineties and the birth of political tribalism he's also that excited guy at the big board on MSNBC during elections he explained that Newt arrived in Congress determined to turn the place upside down you didn't want
00:17:29everyone getting along Republicans were never gonna take the majority that way if you want to fight in the weapon he used was the media his arrival in the house coincides with a historic moment in the house and that is the first television camera is placed in the chamber
00:17:44in nineteen seventy nine his first year there and it's it's C. span C. span may not sound exciting to you but a it's still awesome and be it's a major change now anyone can see for themselves what's going on in Congress if they want to and people in
00:17:59Congress can speak to anyone on the outside it gets it right away the rest of the house is not it there's a lot of opposition to it because you know this is a club here yet but once the cameras there at most members they just kind of ignore
00:18:12it and they leave at the end of of of the business day and they go and they they do whatever it is they do after business hours to Newt Gingrich here it is I want people to notice this around the country I got an audience now yeah is
00:18:25Twitter the gentleman from Georgia Mister Gingrich is recognized for sixty minutes thank you speaker I'm gonna pick up Mister Walker left off in the document entitled what's the matter with the democratic foreign policy by Mister Frank reversed okay not exactly church talking he's professorial pedantic not a lot
00:18:47of flair somehow someday this country has got to learn to live with revolution in the third world it's endemic it's well okay he starts cleaning there's this you know so we can rule in the house that any man at the close of business and any day any member
00:19:00can clean the floor for any reason they want %HESITATION for for pretty much any amount of time they want and it's called special orders and Gingrich starts claiming he's the special order speeches ten o'clock at night eleven o'clock at night it's an empty chamber colleagues are sleep there
00:19:14drinking their output they're not they're they're not listening to this there never even gonna hear about this most of them but Gingrich knows there are people all across America who got these new cable boxes in their house who are like scanning the dial and seeing what's out there
00:19:28and some of them are gonna pause when they see him in with your hearing is he's not giving a dry speech about now if I can direct your attention to subsection three of the agriculture funny that he's giving these grand grand speeches about American politics in an American
00:19:43identity in the corrupt Democrat machine that state often Gingrich for one of his few allies was explaining how the Democrats were fringing communist radicals like the whole party everyone in the party is more or less a socialist it was sort of his version of all Democrats want open
00:20:00borders the less punchy since communism doesn't strike them as an independent an actual force feeding on to total tarian personalities and concepts McGovern Democrats don't fear it trash America indict the president and give the benefit of every doctor Marxist regimes that's the standard formula it is he is
00:20:18producing what you would now recognized as a cable news show on the floor of the house and he's performing for the camera and he's giving his monologue he's giving his monologue on the decay of the Democratic Party K. American culture the promise of a Republican Party braces opportunity
00:20:34that in responsibility and all these things and and there's an audience of starts to to tune in and and he knows it he he gets that gets the potential of that before anybody else you believe there was a Republican majority out there because just a decade earlier Richard
00:20:50Nixon had trounced the democratic candidate for president in one forty nine out of the fifty states clearly there is an appetite for Republican rule things were still a minority in the house people somehow weren't sinking up the Republican votes into one Republican ticket we needed to do was
00:21:08paint all the Democrats more clearly as the enemy to the voters any do that by associating all of them with the candidate who lost to Nixon George McGovern governments are the Bernie Sanders of his day so lefties even freaked out a lot of Democrats and sent me to
00:21:24the counter culture anti war candidate if Republicans were able in nineteen seventy two to score that epic of a landslide running against the Democratic Party of George McGovern in the activists behind him even Newt Gingrich believed that's the key to the Republican Party winning everything if you nationalize
00:21:44politics in you make voters everywhere in the country see in whatever Democrat is in their backyard who's running for whatever office it is Congress or sheriff or state legislature or dog catcher if you get the voters to see that Democrat as no different from George McGovern in the
00:22:00folks around him well you know how those voters are gonna react they're gonna go in there to vote Republican and so his idea was to make voters across the country judge politics based on what they saw coming out of Washington based on what they saw coming out of
00:22:13the national media based on what they saw on C. span were over and over again new private McGovern in the late sixties and early seventies it became a truism with the entire American left from bomb throwers in Chicago to eastern writers to progressive pinstripe supporters of Eugene McCarthy
00:22:29in my govern the Southeast Asia will be fine once the U. S. left attacking the next congressman by congressman by name but nights congressman harken on June twenty sixth nineteen seventy nine told the house that the Sandinistas knew more about nurturing democracy that America did quote should the
00:22:47United States feel impelled to metal once again in Nicaragua the result this speechifying me to speaker of the house furious your member of speaker the affable Muppet tip o'neill Newt Gingrich and a couple of the other guys Gingrich accolades are talking smack about specific congressmen to question their
00:23:04patriotism on the public record and they aren't even there to respond that was not done it was against the gentlemanly code of the house as speaker tip o'neill controls the camera's any orders them to hand out and show the empty room that Gingrich and his buddies are dressing
00:23:21Bob Walker Republican from Pennsylvania happens to be speaking right then he takes great Umbridge when this happens %HESITATION but %HESITATION I do want to take a note of something that's %HESITATION evidently happening right now which %HESITATION is %HESITATION a %HESITATION a change of of procedure here tip o'neill
00:23:39thinks this will make the guys look petty talking and no one watching it it's like a surreal Beckett play the tiny man at the bottom of the screen gestures wildly from the podium so we speaking to a big crowd surrounded by empty chairs it is my understanding that
00:23:54is I deliver this special order this evening other cameras are panning this chamber demonstrating %HESITATION that there is no one here in the chamber to listen to these remarks %HESITATION that is evidently the the work of a of a change in in the in the pattern of rules
00:24:08around here is one more example of how %HESITATION %HESITATION this body is run the the kind of arrogance of power that to the members are rug a given that kind of %HESITATION of %HESITATION change with absolutely no warning I see the gentleman from California Mr quello was standing
00:24:23in the back of the chamber just a moment ago Mister Coello has %HESITATION talked %HESITATION the %HESITATION in recent weeks about shutting off the special warders and not allowing them to even be seen %HESITATION in the countryside and I he stands in the back of the chamber now
00:24:37smiling I have to I I have to feel that perhaps %HESITATION he is getting worried that some of the things that are being said in this chamber in the special orders are in fact influencing people out across the country to think that this body is something less %HESITATION
00:24:51then %HESITATION the %HESITATION what the American people think it ought to be last March first today understand congressman or putting on a performance there is no way someone in the audience it was new back then this all set up a wild showdown between you and the speaker tip
00:25:06o'neill a few days later Gingrich gets time on the floor okay I'll be delighted to yield to our distinguished speaker if he wishes to continue this the speaker of the house tip o'neill S. Gingrich to yield so you can see something and you does knowing the speakers can
00:25:21yell at him this time the chambers packed congressman reporters both yours tip o'neill my personal opinion is this you'll deliberately stored on that well before an emptied house and challenged these people and you challenged their Americanism and it's the lowest thing that I've ever seen in my thirty
00:25:41two years in Congress Mister speaker of America in my car as insults go in the U. S. house circa nineteen eighty four this is big so big Trent Lott Republican from Mississippi standing near the speaker says I move we take the speaker's words down I let me take
00:25:58the speck of work for them this means that would tip o'neill just said to Gingrich is so offensive so toxic that he wants the wrongness of it officially acknowledged perhaps even struck from the historical record is there would never been said for five full minutes everyone shuffles around
00:26:19clutching their pearls about knew about the speaker's behavior how do we preserve the dignity of the house the clerk reads out the offending speech once again that the chair can decide what to do about it my personal opinion is that you deliberately stood in that well before an
00:26:33emptied house and challenged these people and you challenged their Americanism and it is the lowest thing that I've ever seen in my thirty two years in Congress do you have a feel for that %HESITATION type of characterization should not be using the back this is like saying that
00:26:49was out of line don't do that again that was very bad but it doesn't actually reached the words from the historical record still it was an epic showdown speaker of the house tip o'neill being scolded in front of America he beats her to understand what %HESITATION this is
00:27:09for younger congressman I think of him as a producer the producer of his newly formed experimental cable news show on C. span how expertly produced this moment once everyone's in the ram the speaker of the house basically promotes Gingrich's lead paint program then this beer gets called on
00:27:25for the whole country any looks here again new Gingrich is at the center of the room like a conductor twenty from one guy to the next guy doing out time as the speaker gets red in the face and yells over the room the gentleman Mr we the judge
00:27:46they would express to the members of the point of parliamentary inquiry in the stories covered on the nightly news this is a turning point for new Gingrich he's now the pied Piper and other Republicans are rallying to his cards is not long after this episode tip o'neill retires
00:28:09and is replaced by speaker Jim Wright new season opening to take right down things that'll rally the Republicans in the house to battle they can win right is both cocky and dismissive of the minority party with none of that he will buddy tip o'neill work it'll be a
00:28:24branding exercise for the new aggressive Republican Party new is selling here's what happens he reads a story in The Washington Post about the new speaker getting fifty cents on the dollar for every one of his books he's selling it's more of a pamphlet that a book actually but
00:28:40it's a way to give the congressman backdoor donations the people buying it were like the local teamsters in this district and supporters at rallies you talk to the papers about this compares right to Mussolini make speeches think of it as though he's standing on his tiptoes shouting over
00:28:56the heads of Congress to the American people drain the swamp that's his intention in it again it's just the idea that here's this clubby elite arrogant institution %HESITATION that the corrupt Democrat machine is is is powering and %HESITATION and they are so disdainful of you everyday Americans that
00:29:13that this is how they behave and and so Gingrich is calling for an ethics investigation against a an ethics %HESITATION if committee investigation on the house speaker is like shooting the general you know you're not supposed to the code of the houses you don't do this nude striking
00:29:29at the top of the food chain sprays and I want to say here tactical as Gingrich's attack on bright was from one perspective this was an attack on Krups levy Democrats that was long overdue felt idealistic for everyone sick of being pushed around in the minority Gingrich promised
00:29:47a new system that was less corrupt more transparent more accountable to the voters not just like we're putting on a play that we're two parties but it's six PM we drop the mask and make it work Democrats freaked out when this happens the Republicans were getting into it
00:30:01it's not like Gingrich launched the campaign in the entire publican party signs a letter in and that's it but they didn't pull me aside and say stop and I think even a couple years earlier with tip o'neill that what happened new gets his ethics investigation into the speakers
00:30:17right defends himself petulant Lee on the house floor it is true I think the people on my staff were eager to sell these books I will accept some responsibility for that it was wrong but the rumors insurance it's kind of a yes I had a private email server
00:30:39but it wasn't that big a deal you know by now how that goes over after an investigation the most powerful man in the house would serve for thirty four years is forced to resign right gives a speech on the house floor reminded me of Jeff flake retiring from
00:30:55the Senate last year and it is grievously hurt our society vilification becomes an accepted form of political debate negative campaigning becomes a full time occupation when members of each party become self appointed vigilantes carrying out personal vendettas against members of the any frames in terms of you know
00:31:23something wrong is happening in this institution god's name that's not what this institution sports bill I'm you know when I came here congressman's word was a congressman's word in that mattered for something you know when I came here we in question each other's honor meets all subtext all
00:31:41this he's not using his name obviously but the subtext all of this is is this is new Gingrich harsh personal axe on one another's motives one another's character drown out while the logic of serious debate on part of a change surely that's on where the branch Jim Wright
00:32:02painted his resignation as a sacrifice on the altar of stability he seemed to think his resignation would be so dramatic would put an end to the worst Gingrich and started in the house obviously the opposite is true Republicans in Congress are galvanized by rates fall the new tactics
00:32:19to get him out towards the Gingrich dreamed of are starting to materialize new becomes the second most powerful Republican in the house and he starts making himself into a franchise in the mid eighties he starts running this organization called GOPAC basically a candidate training organization and fundraising to
00:32:42all three develop these audio tapes little by mail cassette tapes the team's potential candidates how to do nudes devices brand of politics John beginners talks by driving around listening to tapes like this in the car I'll repeat it but I I would just say I have said this
00:32:58now for six months and every audience I say it to or not yes and understands you cannot maintain civilization with twelve year olds having babies fifteen year old shooting each other seventeen year olds dying of aids an eighteen year olds getting diplomas they can't read and I stop
00:33:18audiences and say now if you disagree with that and you think you can maintain a civilization with those things going on the rest what I'm gonna say zero you're not us I don't waste your time you're not yet anyway on one team or the other so that's a
00:33:33lot Gingrich's almost at the height of his power is an army of Republicans falling in line using the same language that they're going into battle his media attention but it's the same old entrenched democratic Congress the publicans keep winning these big presidential victories but the house is stuck
00:33:50with that permanent Republican minority that's where the second guy comes into the story the guy that made new Gingrich's dreams finally come true no I don't mean democratic president Bill Clinton there you could certainly argue that that is why he gets his wish but something happens before that
00:34:07someone this is a man who I think has had an astonishing impact in America he is in many ways the quintessential American here's Newt Gingrich introducing him at a training event for a publican candidates in nineteen ninety five one of the reasons I believe in the end will
00:34:26win is the person is about to talk we now have a media giant who stands astride the entire society join me in welcoming a man who is creating the twenty first century Rush Limbaugh Rush Limbaugh was the perfect tool for newts mission you knew that basically the same
00:34:45views of rush was outrageous and excited me his listeners feel like they were part of a righteous underground movement the only people who were still seen in a world gone crazy and stupid thank you %HESITATION thank you very much nice to be with all of you extremists tonight
00:35:04it's nice to be with like minded souls who want to starve our children and get our old folks sick and dying in the gutter it's so nice to be with so many of you I could look out there I see in so many hearts and faces the desired
00:35:19for poison the water in the air G. in that great to be together here tonight Russia's communications ambitions were just as high as news political ones you never wanted to be in politics just wanted to make the greatest radio show ever half my brain tied behind my back
00:35:35just to make it fair it's the Rush Limbaugh program from New York and our flagship station he set the standard for political talk radio of course we have a right here widely imitated the rest was funny did you know that the White House drug test is a multiple
00:35:54choice he could also be cool he said things like if you don't want to get aids don't have gay sex he was heavily anti political correctness he ends up acting almost as nuits de facto interpreter he's used up his message rush doesn't sound like a nerdy you too
00:36:12professor Gingrich talked about saving America from liberal politicians but Limbaugh sharp in the us versus them Democrats were about this Republicans were about that this is for March is TV show all right is only Baird is in big trouble she's been nominated as Attorney General but as you
00:36:29all know Shia hired some illegal aliens to take care of her kids she only makes six hundred and sixty thousand dollars %HESITATION as Cokie Roberts of ABC so should the best line with that kind of money should hire Mary Poppins Lucio now I have a couple of points
00:36:51about this I want to make that I don't think anybody else's made except me other places in case you haven't heard it you should hear it because a brilliant points bill Clinton's nominee for Attorney General Zoe Baird hired undocumented immigrant as a nanny for kids didn't pay social
00:37:04security taxes at the time I was eleven I remember it well she was the only other so we had ever heard of so I was thrilled so we paid the money back after she was nominated in either Senate Democrats or Republicans start as a big deal at first
00:37:19but new Gingrich this is that that's the nerve of politics that Newt Gingrich is just condition to look for and it's like god could be any bigger rate you've got a democratic president coming in and he for Attorney General the top law enforcement officer in the country he's
00:37:35nominating a woman who just sort of you know blatantly flouted social security taxes %HESITATION it just that populace nerve of they get away with things you don't they live lives of privilege you can't imagine the lord it over you they don't have to worry about the things you
00:37:50worry that it touched all of those nerves Gingrich got it immediately he's ran against this Limbaugh guided immediately he's railing against this and what happens is the senators who are in the comedian and don't feel this this %HESITATION immediately they start feeling because their phones are ringing off
00:38:07the hook you know they're they're Democrats to start saying after a couple days of their offices there because like ninety to one against so we Baird's confirmation I mean this is widespread %HESITATION and then they feel the pressure the pressure that Gingrich in limbo have stoked and and
00:38:24it kills the nomination when you needed to communicate something to voters he now had a direct line to millions of them listening to rush every afternoon what I have been I would move the big fight here and I called rush Limbaugh's program director and I said here's exactly
00:38:43what's going on he turned on C-SPAN he could see was going on is an issue they cared about and rush one straight into talking about and he's got somewhere between a four and fourteen million people it's a lot and their intense an hour later I had members working
00:38:57between the floors and what did you do because they literally in some places their phones are so damn they could use that's from a documentary rush Limbaugh's America it describes how new we just fax talking points out to talk show hosts around the country it was like he
00:39:13was calling in airstrikes I want to read to you now a paragraph from a letter that Newt Gingrich sent to all Republican members knew wasn't just stirring the pot with divisive politics did have a policy vision we got people to unite under it going into the nineteen ninety
00:39:27four mid term elections hundreds of Republican candidates signed on to this thing the contract with America for a moment they were all literally on the same page with Newt Gingrich the contract promised to fix everything they thought had gone wrong after forty years of one party control of
00:39:43the house their intake corruption measures targeted at the Congress itself plus a fleet of ten proposals to balance the budget cut welfare to tougher sentencing lower taxes basically a limited government lawn order agenda there in the contract in fall in an ad in TV guide because everyone read
00:40:00TV guide and then open it up several times a week and with that give Gingrich of course got his majority like you always dreamed and became speaker of the house in nineteen ninety five he moved into the office held by Jim Wright tip o'neill before I'm Democrat Dick
00:40:18Gephardt handing over the gavel resignation but what's result I hereby end forty years of democratic rule of this house Gingrich pledges to work across the aisle as they always do to for the first time Republicans don't have to it's an epic hugely significant victory they always knew stream
00:40:44many people called it the Limbaugh Congress does it feel to be part of a majority that's right it wasn't just the majority people seem to be signing on to their vision of the country that was split into two clear camps Democrats are a moral welfare state loving politically
00:41:03correct feminists Republicans were responsible balanced budget promoting normal regular Americans one of the questions I was asked as the as the reporters were were peppering me was side do you think note will %HESITATION moderators %HESITATION stance now that is the speaker of the house and I said I
00:41:22better not from the moment Gingrich becomes speaker things get pretty red versus blue one Republican I talked to this week quoted to me from memory Dignan something ABC news anchor Peter Jennings said on the air when Republicans finally took the house installed Gingrich as speaker Jennings said the
00:41:41voters had a temper tantrum the nation can be run by an angry two year old this Republicans point was it wasn't just Rush Limbaugh who stoking the fires of partisan warfare was the mainstream media would call the liberal media it was a new day in Congress speaker and
00:42:01the president Gingrich and Clinton they did not hang out I'll text that follow are personal and vicious as I'm sure you know the storm of whitewater hillarycare government shut down Vince foster impeachment proceedings seems like the two sides couldn't stand each other when Timothy McVeigh blew up the
00:42:18federal office building in Oklahoma City Clinton gives a speech blaming in part talk radio for spreading heat is gridlock politics depending how you saw it it was instruction is in for its own sake were obstructionism in defense of bigger ideas that were finally part of the conversation signed
00:42:36up for red for signed up for blue politics is team sports no compromises in other words we've arrived at today the whole reason I wanted to remind myself of newt and that time where these past mid term elections he felt like the extreme sports version of new to
00:42:56game plan just like he worked really hard to make every Democrat into George McGovern the campaign that the Republicans ran tried to make every Democrat into a caravan loving cabin are heating Nancy Pelosi new himself was on fox a bunch and his lieutenant what this is so exciting
00:43:16I have been watching trump rallies from the very first one Rush Limbaugh was the opener for trump's last rally before the mid term does I'm just talking to people backstage and and somebody said that %HESITATION the president and all of us have been labeled by some Democrats limited
00:43:34devices the Democrats haven't even accept that they lost the election in two thousand six there's this one moment rethink new realize maybe he'd gone too far in pushing people apart Stephen Gillen reported the story years later his book the pact was October nineteen ninety seven knew was speaker
00:43:58Clinton was president they wanted to cement their legacy is as great men of history they decided to tackle two of the most daunting issues out there Medicare and social security fix them once and for all stay BC for generations to come the federal budget for once was about
00:44:14to run a surplus now was the time because the fight so publicly they met in secret to avoid reporters Gingrich entered the White House to recite to work if the partisans in either of their parties are there working together at the deal would fall apart zealots on both
00:44:29teams would punish you for working with the other side the deal never happens four months after they agreed to work together the Monica Lewinsky story broke a few months after that Gingrich's pushed out of the house yet to deal with ethics charges like the speaker he'd gone after
00:44:45ten years earlier and he was really unpopular the political environment he'd wheeled into creation it spit him out can't work anymore with these cannibals he said as he left to look at him now she can't stay away to chase the producers of our program thanks to Steve Kornacki
00:45:14gives the idea for the story is but it's called the red and the blue the nineteen nineties birth of political tried coming up now I would say that one of our co workers got the idea to the store you can hear in a minute he would say he
00:45:27had no choice about that or for that matter about anything ever in his life and it's a you have a choice either with the only means by that and he is not getting in a minute Chicago public radio when our program continues support for this American life comes
00:45:44from rocket mortgage by quicken loans introducing their all new rate shield approval if you're in the market to buy a home quicken loans will lock your rate for up to ninety days while you shop it's this type of idea that has made them America's largest mortgage lender to
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00:46:21access dot org number three zero three zero am from Capital One Capital One wants to build a better bank one that feels and acts nothing like a typical bank so they're re imagining banking they offer one of the nation's best savings rates and accounts with no fees or
00:46:39minimums that can be open from anywhere in five minutes that's banking re imagined Capital One what's in your wallet Capital One NA American life mark Lassie to gonna program of course which is the theme you different stories on that theme today show where there's a will stories of
00:46:58people who cannot stop themselves in trying to make things happen the way they think they should happen in this world we've arrived Iraq to our program back to life is a one sided coin to the entire premise of Russia today is where there's a will which presupposes that
00:47:13we all have a will that we all have the ability to decide something and take action in the world but it turns out that there are people who take issue with that premise one of them is one of our co workers here at the radio show David cast
00:47:25about and I presents this minority report let me say up front I realize the ridiculous late night college dorm room nature of what I'm about to say but here it is I do not see how freewill can exist by free well I mean when you're staring at the
00:47:42menu and you pick the salad over the burger or any other choice you make bigger small who you marry when you keep listening to me for another minute free will is the idea that you really get to pick I'm saying it down I don't see how freewill can
00:47:57exist I'm somewhat embarrassed to be saying all this for a while I couldn't even talk with my wife it's been on my mind because I was running if I should talk about it on the show today we'll be making the kids lunches for the next day to be
00:48:10a gap in the conversation at open my mouth but I just couldn't do it I don't know why I am thinking about this now I think the last time I did was in high school but I just moved on it seems inescapable years ago I went to grad
00:48:25school in physics and I think if you haven't had the experience of actually doing something like that it's easy to be like %HESITATION science there's lots of stuff they don't know the truth is we know a lot about how the world is put together please excuse the lecturing
00:48:39quality of this but briefly there only for basic forces in the world gravity electro magnetism and two others the strong force and the weak force the first told the tonic nuclei together the second crudely speaking powers to sign our understanding of these forces has been tested and explore
00:48:56it again and again in one case to fix with name measured and confirmed to an astounding twelve decimal places these four forces explain how Adam stick together every bit of matter moves and yes even the bits of matter that make up us and our brains we are just
00:49:11collections of atoms I don't see how those atoms can truly have any well when you think you are deciding I'm gonna wear this shirt today you can't really have decided otherwise we are subject to the forces of nature not one of them it turns out there is this
00:49:28one friend of our family a stew who also does not see how free will can exist attacking him on the phone asking if he knew any serious minded credential people I could talk to and put on the radio as it happened he was during his bookshelf they had
00:49:41a whole collection their books by a bunch of dead philosophers thinkers of various sorts then one book by someone who seemed perfect Robert Sapolsky suppose he is a professor at Stanford genius grant recipients he's a neuro scientist who also spent thirty three summer staring at baboons and just
00:49:59last year he published this big book that was on my friend self called behave so I read it and they're something curious about it you seem to be making the argument that there is no free well but he never quite came out and said it the words free
00:50:14well don't even appear until page five hundred and eighty the first fifteen chapters are all about research into what drives human behavior different parts of the brain hormones genetics how we respond to sensory cues he just avoiding coming out and saying it like I've been so you ask
00:50:32this question can there be free will but I don't think you directly come out and say what you think US so so what what do you think I'm I if I think I was basically trying to be polite there and sort of a good house guest %HESITATION in
00:50:49actuality I don't think there is room for the slightest bit of free will out there suppose he said this was in fact the entire reason he had written the book he's trying to lead people slowly on the gentle path this uncomfortable idea I was reading it right asked
00:51:07why he doesn't believe we have free well as a neuroscientist he thinks about it this way take any action movement of your eyebrows something you say just trace that thing back behind anything like that just some muscle select simplify it a muscle did something meaning a newer on
00:51:26in your motor cortex commanded your muscle to do that neuron fired only because a cut inputs from on teen other neurons milliseconds before and those neurons only fired because they got inputs milliseconds before and back and back and back show me one neuron anywhere in this pathway that
00:51:51from out of nowhere decided to say something activated in ways that are not explained by the laws of the physical universe in highlands and channels and all that sort of stuff show me one neuron that has some cellular semblance of free will and the reason of searching or
00:52:14your nation's consciousness same argument at the bottom just sells and chemicals acting like they would in a lab there's nothing more or less than the mechanics I mean if you like your whole book could actually just been two sentences to cut to the chase you know not that
00:52:30he didn't enjoy the other chapters but what is it actually means I'm not to have free will do you think of it as like if you rewind the clock it will unfold the same way basically it's got to mean that I should say there is some debate about
00:52:46whether no free will means that if you went back in time and let your life unfold again you would make all the same decisions exactly the same way threes in there some debate is that way down to the subatomic level there does seem to be a little wellspring
00:53:00of randomness quantum mechanics is all about probabilities like when a radioactive atom breaks apart the exact moment it happens seems random it's unclear how often this apparent subatomic randomness escapes into the larger world but it could be that if you rewound the film of life completed for it
00:53:19again you might get a different movie but it wouldn't be because of free will it would just be subatomic randomness messing with the plot a friend of mine had this experience we kind of got to test this out his brain is artificially rolling back the clock and I
00:53:36got to see its machine like nature it was nice getting any fell in his head which gave him some temporary amnesia when he was on the stretcher he asked when it happened this way said you fell in here head any me this joke that's not how you wanna
00:53:51leave the ice but then he kept asking what happened making the same joke make how I found the ice I know good job to make here afterward he said it was like opening up the hard drive of his mind seeing inside he's fine now for me it is
00:54:13the one scientific fact about the world that I am just not okay with like I'm fine with the Big Bang and that all of existence came from a tiny point like that doesn't faze me anymore but I am not okay with the idea that I don't have free
00:54:25will like that seems like I can't give that up you know if I give it up and giving up everything I know it's really really hard but I feel like I'm deciding to say what I say right now like I feel pretty confident about that when I think
00:54:40I'm making a decision what I'm actually doing you know there's just a whole bunch and their role in all four rooms some sort of Rube Goldberg sort of stretch of things a teeter this way or that and as a result bounce something else in another direction so while
00:54:56it feels like we could use this or may be that the truth is some set of events mechanically led to our final decision we just aren't aware of it suppose he brought up this famous experiment sit somebody down in a room and asked them to name their favorite
00:55:10detergent and who knows what they're going to come up with do the same thing and there's a picture of the ocean in the room on the wall and they're now significantly more likely to say tight tights my favorite detergent and ask them why and they will give you
00:55:27some for cocked the rational explanation about what tie it does to the error like strawberry stains on their shirts suppose he says when we think we are making a decision it is basically just a more complicated version of that you were looking at the menu the room was
00:55:43slightly warm your shoes were wet from the rain delayed above the table is just so and so you pick the salad mom who yells at the army general could have done it any other way Newt Gingrich when he got to Congress same thing speaking of which did we
00:55:59all just go and vote choose our representatives if you believe what I'm saying no one really could have decided to choose different and look I'm not saying don't vote you should vote do good things behind give to charity I'm just saying it's weird we are machines that don't
00:56:18know it I don't want to deal with we're suppose gave this idea that we don't have free will is truly profound and you change the way we think about lots of things for instance others decisions you've made because you're a good person other things you're proud of don't
00:56:40be so proud anyone else starting with your atoms in the same place would have done the same thing when people do bad things he says you shouldn't hate them probably also he says we should try to rethink the entire justice system which of course is a weird thing
00:56:56to say there is no trying I mean it's just such a crazy making idea you know yup are you okay with it not in the slightest if I stop and really think about it I get slightly panicked there's no way to get out of like an existential morass
00:57:15if you start really thinking about the stuff how often do you find yourself thinking about it %HESITATION on an who may be four or five times an hour in this is all I think about these days it's amazing to me that scientists don't talk about this more I
00:57:32think I went my entire graduate career testing the fundamental laws of nature without ever coming up how are you how is the exam the mid term this is Melissa Franklin professor of physics at Harvard and for years she was my professor I talked to her for the show
00:57:50when I was grappling with the possibility that we might be alone in the universe so she seemed like a logical choice for this question like this is how you think about to write that we can't possibly have free will I think that there's no evidence that we have
00:58:03free will I mean I guess it's possible it seems it seems unlikely I mean there's you know it seems like we have free will that's the thing right yeah so is asking one of my colleagues today do you believe in free will and he says absolutely and I
00:58:23said do you think our brains are made up of neurons in acts on some things he said yes and he said so had is how do you reconcile those two things and he said if it walks like free will and quacks like for you it is free will
00:58:43like our word is wrong no the point is that operationally we appear to have free will but it's wrong yes yes it it is wrong but it seems like we do so why not just go with the flow with the idea choose at lunch when this conversation happened
00:59:03and immediately another call I jumped in to argue the other side and the other person is just saying you know it is with with that saying idiot the word it is you're not yeah it's it's one of these things when you start to talk about things that you
00:59:19don't want to think about that you sort of hope that magic comes in some way so one of them was saying well there could be some complex thing that comes in that you know actually gives us free will and the other person was saying you're talking about magic
00:59:33or god and just just say it out loud magic or was that is actually okay with the idea of not having free well maybe the problem of just a machine is not a nice a nice way of thinking about I mean here is not just the machine I
00:59:52mean the human is an amazing yeah I love I've my love the machine that is my wife and my two little machines durable but what I think about it that's what they are they're so cute though I go back and forth on what to do with this information
01:00:13sometimes I feel like Robert Sapolsky does that this is something deeply profound we are machines that are smart enough to figure that out to realize we probably can't have free will and so we should think about what that means for how we organize our society how we treat
01:00:29other people but there's another part of me that feels like maybe it changes nothing at all which is weird to know that we are all living with this illusion of free will but somehow doesn't matter I've come to think of my daily existence is kind of like being
01:00:45in a movie I'm just along for the ride I making choices all day long but the machine that is me couldn't really have chosen anything else it gives me a weird lateness when I think about it that way and if I'm being honest it also feels kind of
01:01:01cool knowing this thing that no one wants to face up to watching us all run around as if it's not true when you pick a song to listen to when you decide to try a second date when you go left instead of right when I say something stupid
01:01:17instead of just sitting and thinking for when I pick what picture drawn my son's lunch bag there's not really choices but I'm good at living with contradictions it's in the machinery David cast I still we'll if the show is produced today by David cast now people put a
01:01:54show together includes %HESITATION HA shopko jerit Floyd immigrate Michelle Harris on Jeffrey what's at the Indiana Martin making mixed announcing Catherine may mondo province any analyst ship crystals or Thailand Diane Wu senior producers Brian reader special thanks today to rob long caliphate senaste you Greenberg Sean Carroll Jim
01:02:12to because Charlie shop Stephen Talbott and thanks to the frontline documentary the long March Newt Gingrich I website this American life dot org with listen to our archive of over six hundred episodes for absolutely free American life is delivered public radio stations by P. R. acts the public
01:02:29radio exchange for for this American life comes in like a need is bring company %HESITATION is a fine al's and they say mystery and romance and of course committed came in the pub in public radio find out more I want to add like you need us dot com
01:02:44and from the new one Michael Beasley is one man show on Broadway that I worked on with him is about not wanting to be a parent and then stuff happens jam packed with jokes and also people cry this American life listeners can get a special discount tickets at
01:03:01the new one dot com slash American life it is always your programs co founder mystery mala tia is a Tory we've got thirty seconds left in the program which we do gesture shut up shut up now talk about anymore shut up IRA glass back next week with more
01:03:20stories of this American life

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