Charisma, Personality and Power

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Bill Moyers examines leadership, the presidency, and the presidential election of 1992. Featured in the program are Abraham Zaleznik, Steve Pieczenik, Fernando Moreno and Kathleen Hall Jamieson.


GOVERNOR BILL CLINTON: We can solve the problems of America and educate a whole generation.

PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: — and I am tired of it!

BILL MOYERS: Two weeks to go. Will they make it? Will we make it? Join us for more of campaign ’92 on Listening to America.

I’m Bill Moyers. Welcome to Listening to America. Later we’ll hear about charisma and character from two people who look for qualities of leadership in the candidates. We’ll be joined by the editor of one of America’s leading Hispanic newspapers and Pat Oliphant, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for political cartooning is here drawing cartoons for us during this hour. We’ll see later what he’s done.

But first…we have two weeks to go. The debates are over and here to analyze them and the continuing campaign is Kathleen Hall Jamieson, dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of a new book called Dirty Politics.

Well, we’ve had four debates now. What do you think about their contribution to the political dialogue this year?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON, Dean, Annenberg School for Communication: I think what the debates managed to do was to take an electorate that was seeking information in larger proportions than it has in the past and gave that electorate something to look at that was actually a very valuable exploration of who the candidates were and what the candidates stood for. They also showed us that some debate formats that have not been seriously discussed before are very valuable, particularly the format in which the audience asked the candidates questions. Candidates ducked less questions when asked by real people. People managed to hold the candidates more highly accountable.

BILL MOYERS: The format this week, I thought, was the most useful. The answers were not different, but in those moments when they exchanged with each other, responded to each other, turned on each other you got a sense of their personality. You got a sense of how their mind works.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: The final presidential debate demonstrated the strength of the moderator format and also the utility of having a press panel that asks good questions. Overall, in the exchanges between candidates, however, what you saw was that it was Ross Perot who brought the issues into the agenda that were otherwise not being discussed and who tried to force accountability for them. Actually, there was a team operating in the last debate. It was the press panel plus Perot trying to get the two major party candidates to address the unanswered questions that have been left hanging throughout most of this campaign season.

BILL MOYERS: I’m convinced that Perot has been so useful in this campaign that if we had someone like him in every ó every four years, we’d begin to get a different dialogue.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Yeah, I think there’s real utility in having someone who is able to say the unsayable because he’s not risking being rejected by the electorate. I don’t think Perot believes that he has a serious chance of being elected and as a result, he’s not trimming and bobbing and weaving and he’s able to say things that otherwise are not raised. There’s another advantage, however, for Perot. He’s not being attacked by either candidate because both candidates are trying to attract his followers. And what that means is his message is able to just move through the debates to the audience without his credibility constantly being undercut by his opponents. He’s the kind of element in debates we ought to mandate. We ought to say in every campaign we’d like a Perot.

BILL MOYERS: As you look at these four debates, what portrait have the candidates been drawing of themselves week in and week out? What are they trying to tell us about themselves?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: I think that Bill Clinton, by the last debate, has answered the question, “Can you be presidential?” which is what every challenger has to answer and he’s answered that most clearly in the final debate, where he was gracious toward Bush. You know, he acknowledged that Bush had made important contributions. He had led Desert Storm successfully. He had a distinguished military career. He dismissed the politics of either-or. He offered a more complex view of the world. That’s a presidential stance. That’s not usually a candidate’s stance. He’s moving toward the kind of healing that can only occur if you don’t spend your time assaulting your opponents in the final weeks of the campaign. Now, you have to have a comfortable lead to be able to risk that.

At the same time, he told us in the debate with the questions from the audience that he was willing not to attack when given the opportunity. Carole Simpson asks him, in essence, to respond on Saddam Hussein, to go for the jugular against George Bush, and he doesn’t do that. In that moment of restraint I think we learned something important about Bill Clinton.

But there are some other things that we learned in the last debate that I think were important. He understands that he doesn’t just have a public audience if he’s going to be president. He also has the market as an audience. And when he answered the question, ‘Would you, in fact, raise taxes on the middle class if you didn’t get the money you needed for your programs,” he was answering with an eye to middle class, which he never defines, but also to the market when he says, “No, if the money isn’t there I’ll phase in my programs or I’ll slow down the spending for the programs before I’ll increase those taxes.”

BILL MOYERS: So the portrait is of a putative president. “I am already, in effect, acting as president.”

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: And “I’m acting responsibly. I’m going to reassure the markets that you don’t have to fear fiscal irresponsibility from me.”

BILL MOYERS: You sound as if you look upon him already as president and that’s what the networks were doing this week when they were saying, “For all practical effects, it’s over. He has a lock on the electoral college.”

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: No, my … I’m not trying to say that he is president, but rather that he has established that he knows how to behave presidentially and I think the challenger, if he is to win, has to establish that he’s capable of doing that. I should say, rather, if he’s going to govern, because it’s possible to win without doing that, but unless, in these kinds of times, someone comes in having reconciled, having said to the special interests, “No,” and having created a mandate, then the next four years will be a repeat of the past … gridlock.

BILL MOYERS: What’s the portrait that George Bush has been trying to draw of himself in these debates?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: George Bush has a problem. He managed in none of these debates to layout his economic agenda. When his advisers are asked why not, they say, ‘Well, remember, we bought five minutes of time on all the networks.” They did, after the Detroit economic speech. I wish they would have aired the Detroit economic speech in network prime time instead of those five-minute ads because all the five-minute ads could basically do was say, “Economic superpower,” you know, “export superpower, military superpower.” They couldn’t really build anchorage for Bush’s position, which is capital gains tax cuts will produce the reinvestment that will ultimately reinvigorate the economy and “Give me the leverage with this Congress. My programs could have worked if they’d actually been put through.” What we’re left with in the format of the debates with Bush is a lot of attacks on Clinton, but not a clear explication of why a second Bush term would be better than the first. I hope Bush in the final weeks is going to go to the longer format and say to the American people what he said but didn’t argue in this debate: ìI should be elected because my economic plan is better and now here’s why,”

BILL MOYERS: What I saw Bush continuing to project was the persona of a crisis manager. “If we have a crisis, you can trust me to handle it because I’ve handled the largest crisis in the last four years, the Persian Gulf War.”

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: What I see Bush doing is not simply saying, “I can handle a crisis,” but “I can handle an international crisis” and that creates a dilemma for George Bush. It’s much like the dilemma that faced Gerald Ford after Watergate. He argued in 1976, “I’ve healed the country. Re-elect me as a result” and the people said, “Right. We’ve healed the country so we don’t need somebody who can heal the country. Now, what are you going to do for us economically?” George Bush takes credit for having ended the Cold War and credit is deserved. He certainly didn’t do it alone, but he was part of it. But now the American people are saying we, as a result, don’t need an international crisis manager. We need someone who can address the economic crisis. And by framing the question on international grounds Bush, as a result, deals from premises that aren’t particularly resonating with the American people right now, in part because of his own success.

BILL MOYERS: Like Churchill after World War II was turned out…


BILL MOYERS: by a great

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: De Gaulle was rejected.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, De Gaulle was … that’s right.

Perot has been cast as the gadfly and the outsider, the Don Quixote for the last several weeks, but in the debate this week he cast himself as the businessperson, the business executive who would take charge of managing well your money, your assets, your financial future, your estate, your pension plan, your children’s education. What do you make of that?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Well, he even cast Clinton’s lack of credentials in business terms. He said, “Just because you’ve managed a small local grocery store doesn’t mean you can head Wal-Mart.” By arguing that he ought to be business-manager-in-chief, Perot makes a compelling case for appointing him secretary of the treasury or secretary of commerce. The question that is raised, however, in the extended exposure of the debates … and here’s the value of extended exposure … is, “Is there something to Perot besides opposition to NAFTA and a deficit reduction plan?” When he’s pushed on energy ó he was asked about CAFE standards last night, for example … he ducks. He doesn’t have an answer. When he’s asked about health care, he says, “Well, there are plans all over the place. I’ll just find the best plan.” The problem for Perot is that he got out before those he’d hired to write his plans had finished the plans. They got the plan finished on the deficit. But what they managed to do in the little book which he holds up every time he appears on television was only to create two and a half pages of general statements about health care. And so when he’s pushed, he moves from his strength, the economy, the business manager. But we have more than that at stake in this election and, as a result, he looks as if he’s campaigning for a cabinet post.

BILL MOYERS: We’ll come back in a moment and talk about the ads we’ve been watching this week, but stay with me as we look at the campaign from another angle.

Earlier I interviewed two men whose speciality is personality and leadership. Steve Pieczenik is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist. He’s a former deputy assistant secretary of state in the last four administrations and the author of the recent novel Maximum Vigilance. Abraham Zaleznik is a psychoanalyst. He’s also a professor emeritus of leadership at the Harvard Business School, a member of several corporate boards and the author of a forthcoming book, Learning Leadership.

I want to ask each of you to talk about the three candidates in very specific ways, from your own backgrounds. As you look at this campaign and you think about leadership, give me your assessment of charisma George Bush and charisma. Abe?

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK, Psychoanalyst, Author, “Learning Leadership”: Well, I think it’s totally lacking. It’s unfortunate for him, but he doesn’t have that ability to communicate and inspire. I mean, at times he seems very strident and narrowly drawn. He’s not able to lift and create imagery and symbols that excite people and that tell them that, yes indeed, he’s addressing the real problems.

BILL MOYERS: Steve, George Bush and charisma?

STEVEN PIECZENIK, Psychiatrist, Author, “Maximum Vigilanceî: Well, I would agree. I think he does not have charisma vis-a-vis the American public. He has charisma on a more personalized basis with international leaders. That is, on a one-to-one basis he has a lot of charisma and he is very effective when it comes to whether it’s the French leaders, the Chinese leaders, the Japanese, and that’s what he enjoys the most. The notion of public charisma is anathema to his own WASP background.

BILL MOYERS: Bill Clinton charisma?

STEVEN PIECZENIK: I think Bill Clinton has potentially a lot of charisma. He has that old Southern charm, the ability to say what you want to hear, the ability to mobilize hope, the ability to articulate the hurts and pains of the people. And at the same time, he’s able to kind of give you that boyish charm that says, ‘You know, I may still be inexperienced, but give me that chance.”

BILL MOYERS: Ross Perot and charisma?

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: He…I mean, it’s so difficult to pin that down. He is speaking such elementary truths that people are dying to hear and so willing to believe that they will attribute a charismatic effect. Although there’s one thing working for him. In the American psyche, anybody who makes a billion dollars or mote is charismatic by definition.

BILL MOYERS: Ross Perot charisma?

STEVEN PIECZENIK: Well, he has a formidable amount of charisma. He’s incredibly creative and he’s very effective in implementing his programs. However, I have to footnote this with saying he has also turned out to be a large disappointment in that he represents the ultimate cynicism of the political system, the example being Stockdale. Honorable man, clearly a war hero, but a totally inappropriate choice for vice president, which tells the American public that in effect. Ross Perot is not serious about being president of the United States.

BILL MOYERS: All right. Now answer this question. What about character? Take each of these three men and look at them briefly in terms of character, as you see it from afar. Granted, you haven’t had them on your couch. Granted, you don’t know them. But just from the campaign … character. Bush?

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: That he is a man who’s not at home in the job. That is to say, he is not positioned, he is not comfortable with it. In the area of foreign affairs, he was, but this is almost outside the reach of where the American people were. The problem being that I think-I would guess-I would guess that he really is a centrist at heart and a conservative who is middle-of-the-road. I don’t think this man lives by extremes. He’s become a captive of the right wing of his party.

BILL MOYERS: What does that say about character?

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: What it says about character is that he lost himself. He is not being true to himself. Everything we know about his background suggests this middle of the road, that he’s become so frightened of this-of the right wing and he’s pandered to them. He has made the fatal error. A leader never lets himself become dependent upon his constituency. <

BILL MOYERS: Do you agree with that?

STEVEN PIECZENIK: I do, to a certain degree. I would say, first of all, he is very comfortable with the job. He wants that presidency because he likes being president. He doesn’t quite know what it means to be president, but he enjoys it. He likes it.

BILL MOYERS: He likes the office, but not the job.

STEVEN PIECZENIK: He likes the office, but not the job. And he likes running for the office. The second thing is, I do agree with Abe that he has no central core of ideology, philosophy or basic orientation to what he wants to accomplish. He really has no sense of himself, is what comes out very clearly, and in that way, he’s willing to sway with anyone who goes either to the right, to the left, and what’s expedient. Once you go down the process of expediency, you’ve really lost the game. And in that sense, Bush has been effective in being a good bureaucrat. That is, he became a charge in China. He became ambassador to the U.N. and he worked his way up the political ladder as an apparatchik in the Republican Party, but he did not become an effective leader. Because to be an effective leader, in a way you have to be the maverick within the corporation, as you would say, or the iconoclast. The person who can begin to accept some of the mores and values of that system or the socialization process that you came out of, but at the same time say, “Look, this is what I believe. I’ve held on for 20 years. I want to effect the following legislation for employment, for health, for industrialization” and Bush didn’t have it.

The second thing…

BILL MOYERS: Well, what…

STEVEN PIECZENIK: What’s interesting is he gave away the presidency to James Baker. I mean, unconsciously, without even realizing what he did…

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: That was a dreadful error.



STEVEN PIECZENIK: A dreadful error. He just gave up the entire election by saying, in effect, “Look, if you’re voting for me, what you’re ó who you’re really voting for is my man here. James Baker,” who, by the way, everybody forgot did not do a great job as secretary of the treasury.


STEVEN PIECZENIK: Under him was the S&L crisis, the BCCI crisis and all of the other problems.

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: It’s such a blatant failure to accept responsibility. He said, “All right, I haven’t done it right, but I’ll get Jim Baker in here, who’s great,” Jim Baker’s not running for president. I mean, we don’t know a lot about him. It’s Bush who’s there and in the job. I think he committed a grave error.

BILL MOYERS: Perot and character.

STEVEN PIECZENIK: Perot’s character is interesting. He has – if you were to create a psychological profile of the kind of president who really mirrors the American mind and character, as we glorify it or idealize it, he fits it perfectly, to a certain degree, and I will put the caveat. One, independent – he made his money on his own, entrepreneur, initiative, defies the norms and is willing to take high risk. The problem is his grandiosity and his need – his grandiosity – his sense of narcissism, how important he is, and his need to control everything around him and his – beyond paranoia – obligatory paranoia. His need to be suspicious of what’s going on because of his need to control everything has been his own downfall. As they used to say in the Greek tragedies, hubris ate nemesis. His very point of pride and arrogance has brought him down.

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: I think that the essence of leadership is to overcome that narcissistic bent. I agree with you that it’s there. It’s a kind of – but never to let it reach grandiose proportions so that you surround yourself with people whose main job is to feed this narcissism.

BILL MOYERS: You surround yourself with a White House staff that be-comes essentially defenders of the faith.

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: Defenders of the faith, so that you no longer have available – you don’t have contact with the people. I think that is the essence.

BILL MOYERS: Both George Bush and Bill Clinton have been accused of too much ambition. I mean, a good friend of mine says, “I’m troubled by Bush – by Clinton because he seems to have been obsessed with becoming president since he was 15 years old.” Is there such a thing as too much ambition, when you want to be president of the United States?

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: Not by itself. I think that the office is so unique, you have to have that driving desire and ambition and dream to want to be president of the United States. By itself it’s not bad, but there is a vulnerability that if this ambition prevents the person from understanding what are the basic life lines and themes of the American people and what are the conditions now that we have to attend to and in the future, if it prevents him from seeing that reality and being able to create a vision, then I think it becomes bad.

BILL MOYERS: What’s your estimate of that? Is there…

STEVEN PIECZENIK: Yes, I think there is.

BILL MOYERS: Are they too ambitious?

STEVEN PIECZENIK: There’s a sense about Clinton that I always had. He always reminds me of an eager pre-med student who’s always raising his hand, has the answer ready for you and it’s a pat answer and you know he knows all the answers, yet there’s no correspondence to what he is as a doctor. He may not be a very good doctor.

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: I think the element of doubt that Steve expresses and that I feel about predicting how Clinton will function is – I think the presidency is unique, in this sense, that the man who goes into that – or woman who goes into that job has a growth experience ahead of him or her. And it’s that critical growth experience that I think is fateful for the nation. What Clinton…

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean by “growth experience”?

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: To suddenly internalize the awesomeness of that position, to not let it go to his head, to not let it ruin his judgment, but to use that awesomeness to understand what the expectation is that people have of him in the office, which may be grandiose, but you have to capture it, realize it and be willing to take responsibility and to be accountable for it.

BILL MOYERS: And we can’t know that just…


BILL MOYERS: …from the campaign, can we?

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: No. What I think we’re sure of is that Mr. Clinton, Governor Clinton, is an excellent manager. I mean, he has put together a campaign, an organization. He has established the theme and he plays it and it’s been very effective. But will this predict leadership ability? I just don’t think we know.

STEVEN PIECZENIK: You see, I don’t agree with Abe. I don’t know if he’s a good manager. I know he has good managers who are managing him and the campaign.

BILL MOYERS: Well, that’s the same…

STEVEN PIECZENIK: No, no. That’s not necessarily the same. What you have are good spin control and media people and people within the organization who’ve made trade-offs…

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: Well, there’s a lot of discipline in that.

STEVEN PIECZENIK: There’s a lot of discipline. I don’t know if that’s good management right now. What I’m saying at this point is he’s yet to be tested. My concern about him is that he’s too eager to please everyone. He’s kind of the equivalent of the modern American housewife, and I don’t mean that in a sexist – what we call about the woman-the “E woman,” the woman who does everything for everyone and doesn’t seem to do anything for herself. I don’t have a sense of any internal conviction that he has about himself.

BILL MOYERS: What about George Bush, who said, “I’ll do anything to be reelected”?

STEVEN PIECZENIK: And that’s what he’s done and he’s – and from my point of view, I think he precipitated a crisis in Iraq in order to get reelected. I think he’s – he looked around for another war, potentially, to get himself reelected. I mean, this Bosnia issue…

BILL MOYERS: I think that’s too harsh.

STEVEN PIECZENIK: I don’t because…

BILL MOYERS: I don’t know of any president, even those I don’t like, who actually started a war to get reelected.

STEVEN PIECZENIK: Well, I’m not saying he started a war. I’m saying he created a crisis that eventually led to war. Once you create a crisis…

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: But was he consciously intending to do that, do you think?

BILL MOYERS: You mean, in building up…

STEVEN PIECZENIK: You mean, consciously intended to build a crisis?

BILL MOYERS: …in building up Saddam Hussein?


STEVEN PIECZENIK: Oh, yeah. There’s no question. [crosstalk]

BILL MOYERS: That’s a terrible – I mean, that’s a really damning indictment if you say that a president of the United States…

STEVEN PIECZENIK: Oh, I feel very strongly about that.

BILL MOYERS: … would create a crisis so that he could resolve it in a way that would get him reelected.

STEVEN PIECZENIK: Well, but that’s something I think the evidence is showing more and more, that he clearly built it up to the time that we even had forces on the ground.

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: I don’t’ think that’s the case. I think he blundered.

STEVEN PIECZENIK: I don’t think he blundered.

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: I think he blundered into the Iraqi thing, supporting Saddam Hussein in that build-up. I think there was – strikes me that there must have been a cover-up, but a whole series of blunders. I think people in Washington, as we well know, they’re fully capable of blundering. They do it all the time. And I think this is one instance in which…

BILL MOYERS: Let’s come to the “second man” problem. Both of you watched the debate the other night between Gore, Quayle and Stockdale. Did you get any sense there of the kind of leadership you both either of you – would like to see in the White House if either man became president?

STEVEN PIECZENIK: In some ways, yes. I mean, right away ó it was painful. It was painful for several reasons. I was embarrassed – [crosstalk] I was embarrassed as an American…


STEVEN PIECZENIK: …that the rest of the world would watch this. It was really two boys trying to prove who was the smartest, who was the biggest and, as we say in our business, who had the largest cigar on the sand lot. And the irony – let me tell you the irony in this whole situation. Quayle specifically mentioned a crisis he was in and I happen to have been involved in that crisis, the Philippine crisis, the coup against Aquino. And, by the way, he did an excellent job.

BILL MOYERS: You were in the government then?

STEVEN PIECZENIK: Yes, I was in the government. I was called in. It was the middle of the night. Bush was not available. Quayle did do an excellent job. And the sad part about it is that people will not realize that, in effect, this man had the qualities of taking in the advice of his leadership around him, listening to what was the appropriate course of action, which was a very dicey situation. At that point, we could have lost the Philippines because we really didn’t know who was in charge and it was clear that Aquino was – President Aquino was not in charge of her own military. And we had to put down a coup of men whom we had trained through our own colleges and defense institutions. He handled that extremely well.

BILL MOYERS: Sounds like an endorsement there.

STEVEN PIECZENIK: Well, it’s an endorsement…

BILL MOYERS: As a leader.

STEVEN PIECZENIK: What I’m saying is, he was a good crisis manager. Does that make him a good president? I don’t think so. He doesn’t have the capacity or the maturity to really put into perspective the other issues that are at hand that aren’t necessarily crisis.

BILL MOYERS: What about Gore, in regard to character and charisma, as you saw it in the debate and as you’ve seen it in the campaign?

STEVEN PIECZENIK: First of all, Gore, in many ways – and if you look at it, it’s ironical – has the same dynamic psychologically as Bush. Comes from what would have been a WASP family, even though he’s Baptist. He was born to the manor. His father was a Senator. Bush’s father was a Senator. Grew up and went to school at St. Alban’s, which is the equivalent of Andover. He’s a highly rigid individual who has – lacks spontaneity, yet nevertheless is very bright, although I wouldn’t necessarily say that about Bush, who’s highly bright. It’s a man, Gore, who has intellectualized a lot of issues. I don’t know how he’s implemented many of them. You know, went out to do what he had to do because his father thought it was the right thing and it would have appealed to his father, very much like Bush, who went into the Army. In some ways, the pairing here in terms of personality is ironic. I would have Bush and Gore very similar in personality and I – lacking charisma, having – born to the manor, highly elitist, having a kind of northeastern WASPish, boarding school preppy type of demeanor. And then on the other hand, you have Quayle and you have Clinton, who has this childish enthusiasm, a lot of charisma. They make faux pas all over the place, but they’re willing to get up again and be extremely scrappy. They’re bull terriers. They don’t mind getting punched and pulled back. You don’t get that sense about Gore. You get a sense about Gore that he’s very fragile. He doesn’t like to take insults, in the same way Bush – if you insult Bush, let me tell you, heís vindictive. He’s a vengeful man and anybody can tell you that who’s worked with him. In that sense, I got a sense with Gore when he was tensing up on there that boy, some way or another Quayle was going to pay for what he was about to say.

BILL MOYERS: These issues really matter to people, don’t they? I mean, the press keeps saying, ‘We want more discussion of the issues. We want more substance.” And I think this campaign has seen a lot of substance, compared to the past, but in the end, don’t people really make that final choice on a kind of visceral reaction to the charisma, the character, the personality?


BILL MOYERS: What’s wrong with that?

ABRAHAM ZALEZNIK: There is nothing wrong with it because, in a sense, our politics is our national theater. It is our form in which we decide who we are, we try to define ourselves to one another, and we – and when – the candidates play a very important role in it. And it’s that visceral response to the total situation that I think, in the long term, works for this country. And I think that we’re being presented with a choice during this election. I think there are two very different types of people, as Steve as said, who are the candidates and that in the end, we will be presented with a choice and we will go for it and we will understand, too, that the man who goes in is going to have to grow into that job.

STEVEN PIECZENIK: Well, let me say, I think the choice is going to be a visceral choice between two basic issues in our life in general. What we’ve known about something and what we don’t know. It’s the known versus the unknown and I think it’s going to be that last-second decision. Are we going to be comfortable with what Clinton called “change”? I call it “uncertainty.” And that’s – I can’t answer that.

BILL MOYERS: Does a campaign tell us enough about the qualities of anticipated leadership so that we can make an informed judgment about the kind of leader a president will be in the White House? Is a campaign really prophetic in that regard?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Campaigns tell us how the candidate manages other people and that is very important because although we tend to assume that we’re electing a person – your whole discussion here assumed that, you and I assume it every week – we’re in fact electing someone who’s going to create a conglomerate which is the presidency. It is far more important to know not, you know, whether the person obsesses about this or that or is willing to do things for himself, it’s far more important to know who is this person likely to trust? What are the patterns of relationships with other people? And how does the person seek advice? Does the person take advice? Does the person listen to alternative points of view before making decisions? How does the person react under stress? And I don’t think we’ve set up a campaign process that tells us that because the campaign process that we’ve set up focuses on the single individual, not on the government that person will bring into being.

BILL MOYERS: In that regard, we haven’t been told very much about the people around Perot. I mean, there may not be anybody around Perot. He is a command-and-control figure. We know a lot more about the people around Bush than we do about any of the candidates.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: We do know who each candidate picked as vice president and I think that’s revealing. Perot picked Stockdale. Stockdale clearly is to the right of Perot on many issues and Perot put Stockdale in a position of being publicly humiliated. The moment of mass empathy that was created by that vice presidential debate was at the expense of a fine person who has given heroically to his country. I think we, in fact, learned something by those choices that is informative.

BILL MOYERS: A vote is always a gamble, isn’t it, in terms of leadership?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Yes, but it could be less of a gamble than we make it. We could find out very readily what the governmental structure that Clinton worked with in Arkansas was like. We do know the patterns that Bush used when he led. The fact that Baker has now asked for resignations of the people who are working with Bush tells you something about the next term. He doesn’t like the conglomerate that has been the presidency for the first term.

BILL MOYERS: With the ad campaign that’s going on – and it’s getting tougher even as we sit here – you have to ask yourself, “Can we really get leadership if all sides are ganging up on each other so that you constantly undermine the integrity and credibility of whomever is going to win in a couple of weeks?” Let’s look at the new ads that have appeared this week and then come back and talk about them in regard to leadership.

1st MAN: [Bush campaign commercial] I don’t believe him. I don’t believe him one bit.

1st WOMAN: I don’t believe him.

2nd WOMAN: Trust.

2nd MAN: [on screen: “Where will Bill Clinton get the money for his big promises] I don’t know much about Clinton except promises.

3rd MAN: He tells everybody what they want to hear.

4th MAN: Well, he wants to spend more money and the only place he can get it is from the taxpayers.

5th MAN: Higher taxes.

3rd WOMAN: Less food on the table.

5th MAN: Broken promises.

3rd WOMAN: Less clothes on the kids’ back.

6th MAN: I don’t know how we can take any more taxes.

3rd WOMAN: Less money to go to the doctor.

1st MAN: He’s raised taxes in Arkansas. He’ll raise taxes here.

3rd WOMAN: Just less of everything. [on screen: “To be continued tomorrow…î]

ANNOUNCER: [Clinton campaign commercial] Nineteen eighty-eight.

PRESIDENT BUSH: We will be able to produce 30 million jobs in the next eight years.

ANNOUNCER: Under George Bush more private sector jobs have been lost than have been created. [on screen: “Bureau of Labor Statistics, August, 1992″]

PRESIDENT BUSH: And I am an environmentalist.

ANNOUNCER: The Sierra Club says Bush allowed his administration to “gut clean air rules.” [on screen: “The Sierra Club, September 4, 1992”]

PRESIDENT BUSH: I want to be the education president.

ANNOUNCER: George Bush tried to cut college aid for families making over $20,000 a year. [on screen: “U.S. House Budget Committee, February, 1992”]

PRESIDENT BUSH: I want a kinder and gentler…

ANNOUNCER: Uh-uh. We can’t afford four more years.

BILL MOYERS: What are they telling us?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: The ads are trying to provide a sense – they’re trying to provide an answer for your question, ”Who are the candidates?” Basically, the Bush ad against Clinton assumes that we don’t trust him and we don’t know him and is trying to reinforce that sentiment. Now, what Clinton is doing in response is buying ad time after that ad with his positive ad, saying “This is who I am. This is what I stand for. Send in and you can get my plan.” The attack on Bush is more basic. What Clinton is trying to do is to undercut the definition of Bush that was put in place at the Republican convention and in the Republican campaign of 1988.

BILL MOYERS; That’s where he said, very effectively, “I am that man.”

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: And “I am that man” had a specific referent. In that speech, at the core, and repeated throughout the campaign, he said, “Congress will push me and I will say no. Congress will push me again and I will say no. Congress will push me a final time and I will say” – and then audiences would rise up with him and they’d say, “Read my lips. No new taxes.” Basically, what Bush said in that speech is, “1 am that man who, read my lips, stands for no new taxes.” Later in the campaign, “I am that man who will be the education president. I am that man who will be the environmental president. What Clinton is doing is taking that definition of Bush and saying, “You weren’t that man. You deceived us about who you were. You weren’t the education president. You see the Sierra Club has endorsed me and says you’ve gutted the Clean Air Act. You weren’t the education president. You didn’t – you did raise taxes. You violated your word.” In a fundamental way, what Clinton is saying is, “The identity you’ve sculpted for yourself turned out to be a fraud.” That’s a character attack, as sure as the Bush ads are attacking Clinton.

BILL MOYERS: It has been very intriguing to watch because the issue of trust should have been most affective, it seems to me, against Clinton, but the Clinton people have turned that whole issue around so that it is Bush who has been most adversely affected by the trust issue.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Clinton continues to say, “Don’t read our lips. Read my plan. Read our records.” That’s a very effective move for Clinton because all of the instances that Bush cites about Clinton’s hypocrisy are “Read my lips” kinds of moves. He said one thing, then he said another. He said one thing and then he said another. There’s a very interesting moment in one of the debates in which he says, “What can you know about me? I promised the people of Arkansas jobs and education reform and I delivered.” That’s a direct contrast to the ad against Bush which says, “Look what he promised: education president, economic president, environmental president – and didn’t deliver on any of them.” They’re each trying to attack differently. One is attacking the trust of what the other says. Clinton is attacking whether you can trust what Bush has done and will do.

BILL MOYERS: We haven’t talked about them so far in this coverage, but the radio ads out there have been running steadily since the beginning of September and they have been getting increasingly tough and negative.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: And that’s always been historically true.

BILL MOYERS: Why is that?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: The dirtiest campaigning is done on radio and in anonymous print. And the reason is that we don’t associate the source of a radio message with the message. And so there’s a lack of accountability which means that you can lie on your radio ads with greater impunity and the press doesn’t monitor radio ads with the care that it now monitors television.

BILL MOYERS: “The source of the ad with the message”? What do you mean?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: The person who is sponsoring the ad is more tightly tied to the ad and hence more accountable for it on television. We’re more aware, for example, that you just showed a Bush ad, a Clinton ad than we would be if we took the same audio track and put it on radio. Without the visual channel we’re less likely to say, “Oh, that was a dirty Bush ad.” We’re more likely to say…

BILL MOYERS: But federal law requires – excuse me. I stepped on you there.


BILL MOYERS: Federal law requires that you identify the source of the…

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: There’s something about the

BILL MOYERS: Even on radio.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Yeah. It’s true. It’s true. But there’s something about the way we process information on radio which means that we’re not as likely to remember who told us what we heard. And as a result, the information stands on its own and can insinuate itself in the oddest places. A typical attack strategy for a candidate is to go onto radio with very negative attacks, pull the radio back, go onto television with a positive attack, wait for the opponent to respond to the radio on television and say, “He’s running a dirty campaign.”

BILL MOYERS: Earlier this week one of my favorite reporters at CBS, Eric Engberg, did a fine analysis of some of the radio ads and we asked CBS for permission to show it and they said yes. Here it is.

ERIC ENGBERG, CBS News: [“CBS Evening News”] Scan across the dial out in radio land and you’ll hear a tower of negative babble and some of the rough stuff the Democrats are using on radio hits well below the belt.

ANNOUNCER: [Democratic National Committee commercial]

And what would the Republicans cut?

ERIC ENBERG: Ads aimed at elderly audiences, like this one from Florida, deliver a simplistic, scary message.

ANNOUNCER: [Democratic National Committee commercial] They’re proposing sweeping cuts in Medicare, slashing benefits for nearly 30 million older Americans.

ERIC ENBERG: False. In the name of deficit reduction, the Republicans are proposing a cap on entitlements that many experts believe would have some effect on Medicare, but it’s unfair for the Democrats to use any numbers or to speak of “slashes” in discussing proposals that have yet to be made.

In another ad using counterfeit numbers, the Democrats try the old reliable class warfare approach.

ANNOUNCER: [Democratic National Committee commercial] The rich got richer and the middle class declined.


ANNOUNCER: [Democratic National Committee commercial] The richest 1 percent of people got 60 percent of the wealth.

ERIC ENBERG: False. According to an estimate by the Federal Reserve, the richest 1 percent got 35 percent of the wealth.

Hispanic voters are being pursued by the Clinton team on Spanish language radio. The ad claims that things are so bad New Mexico’s unemployment rate is at its highest level in eight years. Time out! This claim is false in two languages. New Mexico’s unemployment rate, according to state and federal labor officials, is lower today than it was in the Reagan years.

BILL MOYERS: I should point out that the Bush campaign has been running regional radio ads which accuse Clinton and Gore of advocating “radical environmental taxes,” which they haven’t been doing. We tried to get that radio spot, but the Bush campaign would not release it to us.

We’re joined now by a colleague, Fernando Moreno. He’s the editor of El Diario, one of the largest Latino newspapers in the country and an observer of what’s going on across the board this year. Fernando, have you seen evidence of leadership in this campaign that satisfies you?

FERNANDO MORENO, Editor, “EI Diario”: Well, from my point of view, no. The perspective that I have and many of the Latino community and members of the Latino community in this country, I don’t think so. We don’t see ourselves represented. We see – more than that, we see that three candidates have ignored the so-called minorities in this country. And if you add – minorities might add the serial majority if you add women to this minority concept, we’re talking probably about 55 or 60 percent of the population of this country. They have ignored them not only on the levels of participation – I mean, I haven’t seen any Hispanics, any blacks, either in the campaigns or in the national debate participate in even the press, who have been Olympically – like we say in Spanish, ignored in an Olympic way, not only about participation, as I said, but as the issues. I mean, I haven’t heard enough of empowering the minorities, the so-called minorities, economically and politically. I haven’t heard of a multicultural curriculum that eventually will see this country the way it is, being the diversity that come for [sic] this country. On the opposite I just have seen a way of ignoring this in a consistent way.

BILL MOYERS: One member of one of the campaigns said to me, “Well, we can’t take the Latino community all that seriously because they have the lowest participation in the political process of any group.”

FERNANDO MORENO: That’s true, in a way, but we’re talking about the sleeping beast, or the sleeping monster, as they say. I mean, one of these days, in a decade, in a couple of years, all these kids, all these Latinos – they are not in the age of voting yet or they are not voting because they are not citizens of this country and they have just residenceship or they are illegal, because if we add all these, we’ll talk about 30 million Latinos in the country – will have a voice. That’s why I say it is important that these three candidates talk about empowering politically this segment of our society that we cannot ignore and, you know, just as simple as that, doing it. And they’re getting away with it. I don’t understand that.

BILL MOYERS: And yet this radio spot we just saw on the CBS report was aimed directly at Latinos.

FERNANDO MORENO: How many times have they aired that ad?

BILL MOYERS: And in a very specific place, down in the Southwest.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: You know, one might argue that to the extent that one uses radio to reach a specific population, one is undercutting that population’s power, not increasing it, because one isn’t talking in the national dialogue about the specific concerns of that segment. I was interested in the last debate to hear the answer from the three candidates about the question, ”Why aren’t there minorities and women in the upper echelons of your organizations?” And two of the three candidates didn’t hear the word “minorities” in the question. Clinton then defined minorities to be African-Americans. Did you feel that you were excluded from that debate answer?

FERNANDO MORENO: Completely. Completely. Absolutely. More than that, I thought Perot – I think it was Perot didn’t want to answer to the journalist when he said when he should be fair to women, that she was being very defensive. And I think that they will use us like African-American women and Latinos as a quota. And we’re tired of that. We want participation. We want to participate in the campaigns at all levels. We want to participate in the government and want to be addressed. We want to be looked at our eyes and talk to us.

BILL MOYERS: But Fernando, there are so many different Latino or Hispanic communities in this country, from Cuban-Americans in Florida to Mexican-Americans in the Southwest to Dominicans here in New York. Is there a unifying, a coherent set of issues that the Latino community cares about?

FERNANDO MORENO: I think – excuse me for saying this, but I think it’s a myth. I think – I really think it’s a myth being created to, in a way, to manipulate better these 30 million Latinos. That’s not true. I mean, we are all Latinos. We all speak the same language. We all sing the same songs. We eat the same food and we clothe ourselves like everybody else. I mean…

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: But you vote very differently.

FERNANDO MORENO: With the exception, probably, of the Cubans, historically – and Nicaraguans, maybe, that the new wave of Nicaraguans that came lately to this country, that they vote historically Republican. The rest of Latinos, Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans, have been so loyal for so many years to the Democratic Party that I think that we deserve a little more concern about the Democratic Party specifically because for so many years we have been voting Democrat.

BILL MOYERS: As a citizen, not a Latino citizen, but as a citizen, what about the language you’ve been listening to in this campaign, the language of the debates, the language of the ads? Is it speaking ó is that language speaking to you as a citizen?

FERNANDO MORENO: No. As a citizen and as a resident of this beautiful New York, I don’t think that they’re talking the same language. I don’t – I – it’s a matter of fact that I’m afraid that I think we live on a very different planet. I mean, the planet that I live is not a planet that I – that these three gentlemen seems to be living.

BILL MOYERS: Explain that to me.

FERNANDO MORENO: I mean, I don’t think that they take the same subway that I take every day. I don’t think they walk the same streets as I walk every day. I don’t think they see the same faces, the same pain, the same suffering in the people that I see in every urban city that I’ve seen – that I’ve visited for the last three years in this country. I think that, going back to – it’s not even the supermarket of Mr. Bush, it seems to me so touch – I mean, out of touch, is that out of touch with half of the population.


FERNANDO MORENO: With the poor, with the blacks, with the Hispanics. They are not in touch, out of touch completely. Don’t know about our drop-outs. They don’t know about the crimes. They don’t know about – read the paper every day. I mean, today was three kids that were shot at in some place in the Bronx or Harlem. I mean, I just don’t believe it.

BILL MOYERS: If they walked where you walked and went where you went and listened as you listened, what would change in their language?

FERNANDO MORENO: Well, they would forget about this rhetoric way of playing what the – I guess their managers told them to play and try – they’re running to win. They’re running to win. They don’t care about the issues. They don’t care, I think, about fixing the situation, a very dramatic situation, the way I see it.

BILL MOYERS: In what sense?

FERNANDO MORENO: I think that this country’s suffering a lot. I think that the racism and discrimination in this country is the main issue I haven’t seen any of the three candidates to address in the way that it deserves, especially – excuse me, in a year where the Rodney King thing took place, where we had another problem here in Washington Heights a while ago. I mean, I don’t think that – this deserves much more attention.

BILL MOYERS: Every day in New York, and I know in other cities, as well, there are newspaper stories about two kids being killed here, four kids being killed there, on and on. How serious do you…

FERNANDO MORENO: Very serious. Very serious. Very serious.

BILL MOYERS: If they were so serious, would they be able to isolate it and put it aside over here and not address it in the campaign?

FERNANDO MORENO: Well, the problem is, those kids and the parents, they don’t vote. That’s why these gentlemen don’t address their problems.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, there was a study done by Harvard last week which showed that the people most in need of public services and getting public services are the least likely to participate in the campaign.

FERNANDO MORENO: It’s very interesting that in yesterday’s debate, I think it was, that Mr. Bush addressed the ghetto kids for the first time when he refer himself to the war ó Gulf war. He said “Those ghetto kids.” It’s the first time that I see somebody, you know, addressing ghetto kids. Yes, those were the soldiers that died in the Gulf war.

BILL MOYERS: What would you like to hear them say in the last 10 days of this campaign?

FERNANDO MORENO: Well, I like to look at the eyes of, as I said at the beginning, what I consider half of the population. I think they’re running a show. I was – this is a joke in the newsroom of El Diario which is funny. Somebody was telling me the other day that when Clinton was looking – I mean, he wanted to win and he was looking for a vice president and he knew, you know, that to win that the vice president had to be whiter than himself and he found Al Gore. And in a way, that’s – you know, I don’t want to be rude, but, I mean, it showed that it’s run by whites, for whites, from whites and the rest of the population I don’t think we’re feeling part of it. And most people are very mad.

BILL MOYERS: Are you concerned – does it seem possible to you that we can separate into our separate realities over the next few years and just write this issue off?

FERNANDO MORENO: I think it’s a philosophical concept we have to develop and that’s why I blame them for not doing it because they’re supposed to be the bridge. I mean, I think we are in a beautiful, multicultural society, but we have to know each other. We have to tell each other that this is – it’s nice to be multi-cultural. It’s fine. Our diversity makes us ó gives us strength rather than prejudice and discrimination and racism. But in order to do that, we have to talk to each other. We have to admit the fact that we speak different languages being in the same country. We have to finish with this old melting pot attitudes. I think the melting pot’s not working anymore. I mean, we can be Americans and eat rice and beans and we can eat goulash or couscous, I don’t know, but what I’m saying, being good Americans and loving this country.

BILL MOYERS: Very quickly, why aren’t we hearing more from these three candidates about these questions and issues?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Because the candidates are afraid to be seen in the cities with problems that appear expensive and largely unsolvable, when there’s no constituency there who’s going to vote and reward them for addressing those questions. At the point at which there’s a mobilized constituency that says, “Address these problems or else,” we’re much more likely to have those questions discussed. The problem is, we need a crisis like Los Angeles and Rodney King before we have politicians turning attention to the cities and to the problems that are there.

BILL MOYERS: Thank you, Kathleen. Thank you, Fernando.

Pat Oliphant has just about finished, I can see over there, his political cartoon and several others. But before we get to them, I’d like to show you his vision of the candidates this year. Pat Oliphant has portrayed George Bush as an old lady being helped across the street by Boy Scout Jim Baker. He’s reminded us of who’s in charge of the Bush family and he even put a noose labeled “Iran-contra” around the President’s neck.

He showed early skepticism of Ross Perot as the messiah, later drew him as the pleading frog of unfilled dreams and then calls the Lincoln Monument to look askance at the man who’d answered his own call.

Bill Clinton has proved less of a target for Oliphant’s pen and acid wit, but a burping baby gave him a chance to show the Arkansas governor.

Pat why has it been so hard to focus on Clinton, to get him into perspective?

PAT OLIPHANT, Political Cartoonist: Well, I think I have focused on him, but not as much as Bush. I think it’s important we get rid of Bush.


PAT OLIPHANT: I hate to say it, but for the good of the country. That’s not the usual way I think. What a cartoonist usually wants is what’s good for the cartoonist and Bush has been pretty good to me.

BILL MOYERS: How’s that?

PAT OLIPHANT: Oh, he’s been writing his own stuff, which makes it easier for me, but with Clinton, I don’t – I hate changes of administration anyway. You have to learn a whole bunch of people. Your audience has to know that – to learn the images of these people. And breaking in a new administration is something I’d rather leave for eight years instead of for four.

BILL MOYERS: Doesn’t a change of administration give you fresh material? Doesn’t it give you a new start out of the gate, so to speak?

PAT OLIPHANT: Yeah, but it takes a long time to rev up. People don’t really know what’s going on. Nobody knows what’s going on for about six months, so you don’t really get a hang of the thing. And then of course these debates – it’s more of the same. We didn’t learn anything from these debates. Why do we have these debates?

BILL MOYERS: You didn’t learn anything?

PAT OLIPHANT: No, I just learned that – last night’s debate was just wallpaper over the same people. The people haven’t changed. It’s the spin doctors, it’s the people who mess with the equalizers and try and tune their appearance.

BILL MOYERS: Pat, does drawing cartoons for a living about politicians make you a cynic?

PAT OLIPHANT: No, it makes me a skeptic.

BILL MOYERS: What’s the difference?

PAT OLIPHANT: A skeptic is a civilized cynic, I suppose. I don’t…

BILL MOYERS: A cynic has given up all hope?

PAT OLIPHANT: Yeah. Yeah. I’m still an optimist.


PAT OLIPHANT: About there being some form of government that may work out.

BILL MOYERS: Tell me the defining characteristic, if you will, as you see it, of Ross Perot.

PAT OLIPHANT: The build of Napoleon and the ego of Lyndon Johnson.

BILL MOYERS: All right. The defining characteristic of George Bush?

PAT OLIPHANT: Well, I would refer you to this drawing that I just…

BILL MOYERS; Let’s see it.

PAT OLIPHANT: All right. Which is – this is him in the arms of the right wing. ”What do you want to hear?” I think that sums him up. And then, of Clinton, over here. Here’s Napoleon. And this guy in his jammies, saying “Hug me. I’m lovable.” That’s all we’ve got. I’m sorry, folks. That’s the field.

BILL MOYERS: If Clinton wins, will it take you a while to figure out who that fuzzy-wuzzy is in there? Will you be able to draw him in sharp relief? How long, six months?

PAT OLIPHANT: It depends if it gets boring. I hate to think, if it gets boring.

BILL MOYERS; That’s the worst affliction that can visit a cartoonist, isn’t it?

PAT OLIPHANT: That’s true, yes.

BILL MOYERS: Boring politicians.

PAT OLIPHANT: Yeah, boring politics and – it was like the Ford years. If he hadn’t been banging his head on things, we would have had nothing to talk about.

BILL MOYERS: But there’s a conflict there because – because good government is not always exciting politics and exciting politics is not always good government.

PAT OLIPHANT: True. I could always learn to dig ditches, I suppose.

BILL MOYERS: Show us the other cartoons.

PAT OLIPHANT: Well, this is what I was talking about, the same old product in a new package.

BILL MOYERS: “New, brighter, kinder, gentler, more”

PAT OLIPHANT: …”civil packaging.”

BILL MOYERS: So that’s what you think we’ll get?

PAT OLIPHANT: That’s what we got last night.

BILL MOYERS: In the debate, right?


BILL MOYERS: Let’s look at the other one.

PAT OLIPHANT: This one – George Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot share the 1992 Nobel Pies [sic] for political debate. Admiral Stockdale accepts for Mr. Perot. Time for 8. song, fat lady.

And this – just to sum up how I feel about them all.

BILL MOYERS: And what does that say? I’m looking from a distance.

PAT OLIPHANT: We’ve got the tops of their heads off and there’s moths and bats and things coming out of there.

BILL MOYERS: Oh, that’s cruel. That’s cruel!

PAT OLIPHANT: Well, that’s the name of the business.

BILL MOYERS: Cruelty, professional cruelty inflicted in the name of the 1st Amendment, right? Are you going to vote?

PAT OLIPHANT: I live in Washington, D.C., so it’s an academic question.

BILL MOYERS: You can’t vote…

PAT OLIPHANT: I’m weaseling.

BILL MOYERS: Saved by the Constitution.

PAT OLIPHANT: I vote every day and sign it.

BILL MOYERS: Well, thank you for coming here and casting some votes today. Thanks to you, Fernando Moreno, for being with us and to you, Kathleen Hall Jamieson. We’ll be back next week, Kathleen and I, for what, if I may use a sports metaphor, is our season’s finale. I’m Bill Moyers. Thanks to you for listening to America.

This transcript was entered on April 7, 2015.

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