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Remembering George Bush. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired December 3, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNNI HOST: Hello everyone and welcome to "Amanpour", here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I feel very fortunate to be president at this fascinating time.
AMANPOUR: Remembering George H. W. Bush, President, war hero and a model of moderate Republicanism. I speak with former Senator Alan Simpson, a
friend and fishing buddy of the late president.
And an urgent call to action on climate change.
DAVID ATTENBOROUGH, BROADCASTER: Right now we're facing a manmade disaster of global scale.
AMANPOUR: Unstoppable at 92, David Attenborough puts us all on notice. Then how has the conservative movement changed since the days of Bush 41,
our Michelle Martin talks to conservative thought leader Rich Lowry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Welcome to the program everyone, I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. President George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States and
the father of the 43rd returns to the U.S. capitol today, as Washington and the world pay tribute to his rich and accomplished life.
Bush, a decorated Navy pilot, was shot down in the Pacific in 1944. He died in his home in Houston, Texas, surrounded by friends and family.
President Bush presided over a time of massive change in the world, overseeing the end of the Soviet Union and the liberation of Eastern
Europe, and leading the global coalition to amass in Saudi Arabia, to drive back Saddam Hussein after he invaded Kuwait in 1990.
Bush was a one term president though, he was defeated by the Democrat Bill Clinton, who used the economic downturn of the early '90s to undermine
Bush's support. Even in defeat, he left this note for Clinton at the Oval Office.
"You will be our president when you read this note. I wish you well, I wish your family well. Your success now is our country's success. I am
rooting hard for you." Former Senator Alan Simpson knew George Bush first as a congressman then as president, but also as a father and a friend.
He joins me now from Cody, Wyoming. Senator Simpson, welcome to the program. Senator? Senator, can you hear me? Welcome to the program.
ALAN SIMPSON, FORMER SENATOR, W.Y.: I do hear you. You bet.
AMANPOUR: Fantastic. Well I was saying that on behalf of everybody we offer you condolences on the loss of your friend and fellow traveler. And
you're going to be delivering a eulogy during the funeral on - on Wednesday.
How should former President Bush be remembered? How will you remember him?
SIMPSON: Well I think he should be remembered with a little bit of lightness of spirit and I - some of those things, the myths of a politician
in Washington as formed by the mythologists, you know, that he was out of touch.
He wasn't out of touch on anything. Or that he was this or that he was that. He was always on top of his game because he had learned things in
early life called discipline, which is pretty important.
It means - comes from the word, you know, disciple comes from the world discipline, to teach. And he had loyalty and he had manners, an unheard of
thing, I know. Manners, and he loved people, and he had a view of life which what would we do without family and friends?
How can you beat a philosophy like that. So - and then there were times, you know, I asked him (ph) about broccoli, I mean honest to god, it just
got absolutely stupefied.
AMANPOUR: You know, you talk about broccoli, I mean some people might think what is former Senator Simpson talking about? But that was one of
the most famous quotes by President George Bush.
And we actually have it somewhere, we might be able to dig up that quote, but he did say I don't like broccoli, I'm president, I don't have to eat my
broccoli anymore. But - but let me - let me ask you, because -
AMANPOUR: -- we have - we have some lovely pictures of you and the president fishing. You saw him in - in the summer, the family home in
Kennebunkport, Maine. What - what was the last meeting like? How did he seem, what did you talk about?
What was on his mind?
SIMPSON: Well the word was out from relatives and Jimmy Baker and others who were close to him and close to me that he was in tough shape. And we
knew that, because Barbara had died and we all thought how long - how long will this magnificent man live?
Well he - you know, that was April and now it's November. But - so we went out there in July just Ann and I, my wife Ann and of course there was no
one there. Barbara's not there. But Doral (ph) was there, the daughter, and Margaret (ph), Marvin's wife and another relative.
And we were very careful. And so when the doors open, you come in. If the door is shut, there will be (inaudible). He was -- of course he can't
But we got our first shot at him and then gave him a big kiss on the head and said you look awful handsome there, George. And he just smiled. And I
said George; you have been devoid of some great pure rich humor. And I have a couple of jokes for you. Of course I want you to be prepared or it.
Well, I told him a couple of barn burners and he threw his head back and laughed like I had always seen him do. And we just had a wonderful time.
He -- for a couple of days and it very, very especial just us and the intimate member of the family. Ad that's what we did, we were privileged.
We traveled with him when he was vice president, went to Glacier National Park. When he got out of the presidency, somebody gave him a great hoorah
for a ten day trip through the Greek islands and the GMC.
And he says come on, hop on. I said I'll be there.
So, it was -- and fishing and hunting. But he was a great competitor. He loves to compete. I think people miss that. He was a -- he just -- or it
was tennis or golf. And he was always in a hurry. This funeral kind of matches that.
I mean, he died just a few days ago and the service by God will be Wednesday. And the one in Houston will be Sunday and that's it.
AMANPOUR: And that's it, you're absolutely right -- within a week. So, let me -- let me ask you to expand the view then because you describe him
as disciplined, as civil as experience. We know he had a massive experience all over the world from bring C.I.A. director from being the
first U.S. envoy to China after the (inaudible).
And of course, his presidency coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union. And he had to manage that along with Mikhail Gorbachev. I guess,
tell me -- just as sort of simply as you can, what were the elements of the relationship between a leader of the Soviet Union and a U.S. president that
enabled that smooth transition.
SIMPSON: He liked him. He liked him, Christiane. He liked Mikhail Gorbachev. I met Gorbachev. I was privileged to go to Russian in '87 and
several times after. And I made a friend of Gorbachev.
I told him one day, I said you have nothing to fear while I'm here in your country because all the ICBMs, they're aimed your way. And they're located
in Wyoming, and they wouldn't shoot those. Well, I'm here. He said that to his interpreter (inaudible) who understood all of my western slang.
And Gorbachev just threw his head back and laughed. And then of course he'd show up and watch them give me a big hug, which appeared in the Casper
Star Tribune. So, I think they thought I was (inaudible) for a while.
But anyway, he was all about friendship. He made friends with these people. He liked them. He liked to -- to sit with them and have a drink
and have dinner. And Gorbachev came to the University of Wyoming at the request of many of us.
This was not many years ago and -- to speak. And he and I, Gorbachev did an hour debate of discussions together while they filled that out. So,
we're sitting in the green room and I said my friend, I said have you talked to Bush lately?
He said no, I don't like to bother him. I know he's not well. I said look, let's just call him right now. And I punched it in, and I said
George, there's some guy here, wants to talk to you. And the two of them just got the clicking along for about ten minutes. That's the way he
AMANPOUR: That's amazing, because it was an incredibly smooth transition. Obviously the economic pain on the Soviet Union was still feeling the
fallout. But nonetheless, it could've been so much strategically worse. So, fast forward Senator to today, the current president of the -- of
Russia, Vladimir Putin also sent condolences.
And talked about President Bush and the arms control era. I guess there's obviously a major problem between Russia and the United States right now,
Russia and the west.
How do you think President Bush would've managed Vladimir Putin? His aggression in to crime here, would he even have allowed it to happen? How
do you think he would've managed this very, very prickly relationship now?
SIMPSON: Well, he might have picked up the phone and said, in his delightful new England vocabulary, "This will not stand," and not meaning
any more than we're going to pull the trigger or anything else. In fact, when the wall went down they kept interviewing George. He said, "This
isn't my day, this is Gorbachev's day."
I mean he was already ready to hand the ball to somebody else. He was unselfish. He was - he was a guy who believed in courtesy, courtesy. I
mean that's a really - almost a bizarre word. But I think he would've picked up the phone and say, "Wait a minute now, pal. What's happening
here? We have this thing that's been in place. We had a Cold War. We had a phone between both countries for 40 years when we were about to plow each
other under the ground."
And then we say, "Well, somebody must have been communicating with the Russians." Well, who the hell - it's been going for years. I don't get it
at all, it's beyond my comprehension. But that's what he would've done. He might've flown over there. He might've sent it (ph) to his - his
people. I mean it's a vice president. Quayle - Quayle was a very interesting foreign policy guy.
Ted Kennedy worked with him, and Ted told me, he said, "I've enjoyed working with him. He's a bright guy."
SIMPSON: But he got his own - he got his own myth. Yes.
AMANPOUR: So - so you're saying President Bush would've - would've - would've used a lot of personal diplomacy and behind the scenes diplomacy.
So how do you think, Senator, President Bush would view the current leadership in Saudi Arabia?
Would he have been angry about the killing of the journalist who was based in the United States, Jamal Khashgoggi, remembering that it was President
Bush that basically gathered the massive coalition that defeated Saddam Hussein and saved Saudi Arabia from being invaded by Saudi - by Saddam
SIMPSON: Well, that was Jimmy Bakker out there raising all of those bucks, so we didn't have to do them ourselves. I think he gathered up about $60
million, so the (inaudible) could shoot the works. And - and - but he had a very tight relationship with the Saudi leadership, and that's a very
I don't know where that would be today, but always the Prince Bandar, and always - there was something going on, some coordination with Saudi Arabia.
So obviously, dicey is half a word now, with this situation.
AMANPOUR: Look, I'm sure many people will ask you, and many people probably have asked you. How do you compare the leadership of President
George Bush, 41, and your Republican party, with the current leadership and the current party of Trump? I mean that is what they say the Republican
Party is right now, on the global stage.
How would you compare the impact and the efficacy of the two different styles?
SIMPSON: Well, there's not much - I don't want to get into that. This is a sensitive time. I have a talk I'm going to give. You know, I am a
Republican, and I will stay a Republican. I'm not a Tea Party Republican. I'm not willing to believe that the only purpose of marriage is
I'm not one who believes that gays and lesbians are outside of our society. We're all God's children. It's a sick idea, I know, but that's what it is.
And abortion is a deeply intimate and personal decision. Who the hell would want to be involved in it? But it happens, and I represented people
in the practice of law in this little town, and said, "If I have to have another child, I'm going to take my life," and did.
I don't need any lectures on this stuff from other people. If the Republican Party is what I think it is, government out of your life, the
precious right of privacy and the right to be left alone, well, then get at it.
AMANPOUR: Well, we hear you loud and clear. So let me ask you about another major issue, and that is climate change, global climate change.
President George Bush was in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 to open the first U.N. conference on climate change. I covered here, and I covered the story.
This is what he said about protecting our environment. I'm sorry, it is a quote. "We must leave this earth in better condition than we found it.
And today, this old truth must be applied to new threats facing the resources which sustain us all, the atmosphere and the ocean, the
stratosphere and the biosphere. Our village is truly global."
You know, he said that in 1992. And today, the administration believes that climate change is some kind of a hoax, that it's not economically
viable for the United States to protect the environment. What do you think George Bush would have said about that?
SIMPSON: I don't - he would have been very disappointed. I don't want to get into that either. I mean, we all know that this is your job. You're a
journalist and you're a damn good one, but, you know, this is about George Bush's death, not the comparison between Trump and Bush.
SIMPSON: And that's a sickle if you want to play that game all day long, but that's the issue. There is climate change. I believe that there is
climate change. I believe it's real, and I don't think man did it all. If you look at the cycles of the history of the world of where the Bering Sea
isn't even a sea or its land or something, these things have been happening for eons. Ice and fire, ice and fire. I believe in climate change, to lay
it all on methane gas and cows, you'll have to leave me out of the game. And so, I believe it's pollution. I believe it's fossil fuel. I believe
what George Bush said. And I believe today he would be very disappointed to see what would be happening. I believe that. I do believe that.
AMANPOUR: So to end our conversation on George Bush, I want to play for you the bit about broccoli and then we'll talk about it.
BUSH: I do not like broccoli, and I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it, and I'm President of the United States,
and I'm not going to eat anymore broccoli.
AMANPOUR: I mean, that is funny.
SIMPSON: It was absolutely terrific because then they talked about for about two weeks. Well, what will happen to the broccoli growers? Well,
maybe they'll go into tobacco. Oh, lord. I hope they won't go to tobacco. Maybe they'll raise yams or sweet potatoes. I mean - and finally, don't
forget - I'm going to use it. Finally, it got so absurd we had gone off to see Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Barbara and I, and we sang on the way back to
the White House.
And it was a beautiful evening. He was at his peak, and suddenly we were singing don't cry for me, Argentina. So finally after all that babble
about broccoli, George at this press conference said, "don't cry for me, Argentina," and they thought he was losing his marbles. George Bush has
indicated the first indication that he's lost one or two marbles, and I mean, you know - and he loved that. He said, "how goofy can you get?" You
know, if you have a sense of humor nowadays, you get cremated. Humor is the universal solvent - the universal solvent against the abrasive elements
of life. George believed that. I believe that. I got into a lot of trouble. I went from the A list to the Z list, but humor - humor is the
foil and it's your sword and your shield. He had that.
AMANPOUR: Well -
SIMPSON: Humor nowadays, if you use humor they'll say, "this guy's a nut." I don't know what he said there, but he used a joke and it was supposed to
be serious. Give me a break. I get -
AMANPOUR: I like what you said about humor, and you're absolutely right. It's the essential foil. Senator Alan Simpson, thank you so much for
joining us with your remembrances and reminiscences. Thank you so much.
So climate change is actually too important to leave to government. That is why Sir David Attenborough, the naturalist and broadcasting legend, is
telling people all over the world if you don't speak up, nobody will. Attenborough is the first occupant of the People's Seat - a movement by the
United Nations to let the voices of citizens be heard. And here's #TakeYourSeat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd like to thank the U.N. for inviting me to share my thoughts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're facing this global challenge of climate change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're increasingly witnesses impacts of climate change in China with our own eyes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is already effecting us in a really scary way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Climate change affects everyone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And will continue to affect millions of the world's poorest people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The People's Seat giving millions the opportunity to talk directly to you, the leaders and decision makers today. Voices were
heard from all over the world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (foreign language)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all know what's good and what's not good for the (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're too concerned as a society to be inconvenienced.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Continue to allow destruction of (inaudible) upon rainforests.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you not see what's going on around you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two-thirds believe that climate change is the biggest issue facing the world. 95 percent say they have personally experienced
[13:20:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Drought, rising sea levels, heat waves, bush fires, and extreme weather.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This used to be my home and my neighbors home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being able to stay our own country is the most important thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's days where I just get headaches when it's heavily polluted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are willing to change their behavior and step up. They demand that you step up too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to act now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I call on our world leaders to once and for all, accept climate change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a mother of two young girls, I'm greatly concerned about their future.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not your future to sell, so please don't sell it.
AMANPOUR: So that is a taste of how young people, the future think about this existential issue. I spoke to Sir David Attenborough from Poland
where he's attending what is known as COP24. It is the essential next step after the Paris accord where 197 countries around the world write the rule
book that will govern and fund the fight against climate change.
The U.S. is notably absent from the meeting. Refusing to take part in what Trump officials call, the job killing Paris agreement. As host of
Blockbuster series like "Life on Earth" and "Blue Planet" too and his current series called "Dynasties," David Attenborough has done more to
bring the natural world into our homes than almost anyone else.
Once a skeptic, Attenborough's work has made him a further convert to the climate change course.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
Sir David Attenborough, welcome to the program.
DAVID ATTENBOROUGH, BROADCASTER AND NATURALIST: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you, you are there giving this speech. You've given a speech to COP24. What is your underlying fundamental message at
ATTENBOROUGH: It's a message to the people who are -- who've got their fingers on power, the people who can do things in terms of both money and
legislation and big practical events.
A message from people -- ordinary people around the world who are facing the brunt of what's happening in the climate today and say that they
desperately need action. And they are -- they give some an opportunity of 208 million people to express their views as to what they're feeling about
climate change and what's happening to them.
AMANPOUR: So were you surprised to hear what these young people have to say because always we hear from this sort of -- you know the people in
power or the experts or whatever. We're you surprised to hear from the people and what they had to say?
ATTENBOROUGH: I wasn't surprised but I was very moved. The fact that there are people, several hundred million people around the world are using
the internet to speak to the people in power. You've (inaudible) television is very powerful, but the many people that have mobile phones
than they have television sets.
So we -- that message is getting to people that we haven't been able to reach. And what is more enabling them to say what they think about the
situation that they personally are facing and they're bringing that into the center so that people who sit on these platforms, who control hundreds
of millions of pounds in terms as the world bank, we've just heard now, being very generous so that they can really hear what's happening in the
world around them.
We're -- in -- in big conferences like this, international conferences, you are isolated from people whose just homes have just been raised to the
ground or facing hurricanes. But these are -- these are the people -- this is where it's working. This is where the penalties are being paid of what
humanity has been doing to the planet.
AMANPOUR: You know and you speak with such urgency and this is a very unprecedented event, this -- this -- this take your seat that you are
representing peoples all over the world. Tell me whether you believe this will continue. Tell me about the importance of this hashtag movement, Take
ATTENBOROUGH: Well, we will see. We will see whether people out there take advantage of this and we will see and I believe this is -- we can
predict that if they do take advantage of this that it'll be a great incentive to people who sit in conference rooms discussing protocols and
figures and policies to realize that we are actually dealing with real people; men, women, and children who are actually -- they've taken the
brunt of this on the chin.
And not only that, but also the -- the natural world, which is also bearing the brunt of what we've been doing to it and it's facing catastrophe.
AMANPOUR: I just want to go back to several of the things that you've said in the past about this environment, which you are uniquely qualified to
talk about it given your incredible decades-long -- you know, travel around the world and bringing this to people's attention in the most
understandable way possible.
Let me just ask you -- I mean, you've used this medium, television, to really make an impact. At the moment, how do you reflect on the success of
what you have done?
ATTENBOROUGH: Well, I don't know. I don't -- but I think -- I think that the condition of the -- that the earth is facing has never been visible to
a large proportion of the world's population. And it's the responsibility of people who do the sort of work that I do to make sure that what is
happening is visible to people. And mind you, they know. But is also visible to the people who have their fingers on power, both political power
and fiscal power, monetary power, to do something about this situation.
Which is -- every day that passes, it gets more and more serious.
AMANPOUR: So about 18 years ago in State of the Earth, you said the future of life on earth depends on our ability to take action. Many individuals
are doing what they can but real success can only come if there's a change in societies and our economics and in our politics. So is that kind of the
purpose of your storytelling, and do you feel that some of these people in positions of power are -- are -- are persuadable, particularly those who
are deniers and who believe that it's economically unfeasible?
ATTENBOROUGH: We don't have the choice to -- they can't reckon that it's unfeasible. That's the -- that's the -- the -- the voice of doom if they
said that. Of course it's -- action is -- is feasible. We have to do something about it. I -- I didn't start by -- I was unaware when I started
making natural history films that there was going to be a disaster facing us just over the horizon. I didn't know that that was going to happen.
And the motion -- motive that I had in making Natural World is because I think the natural world is marvelous and wonderful and one of the great
solaces of the human beings that we are part of this sort of thing.
And that's the sort of thing television should be dealing with. That's why I started in it. But what you realize now is that if you don't speak up,
nobody will. I've had unprecedented fortune in being able to travel around the world and seeing all the most wonderful things. And what sort of a
person would I be if I failed to speak up on this occasion when we suddenly see what the -- what -- what is facing us just over the horizon.
AMANPOUR: You know, you've also said the alarmism over climate change, some of the sort of doom and gloom that is this sort of narrative that's
out there -- I guess in good faith because people want to try to get everybody's attention and shake them by the lapels. But you think that
sort of negativism and alarmism can have a -- can have the wrong effect.
ATTENBOROUGH: No, I don't. Properly handled. I think that if -- if all you said was that the -- in natural history programs on television is that
the world is doomed, then an awful lot of people who are not in touch with the -- with the natural world in the -- in the -- having the good fortune
that you and I have, which is (ph) being able to travel in it -- hundreds of millions of people around the world, their horizons are not that broad.
So for those of us who have that privilege, we have two responsibilities. The first to -- is to explain what it is and explain the way -- the part
that humanity plays in controlling and determining what happens to the rest of life on earth.
And the other is -- is to actually show the world itself. So we have the two responsibilities. And -- and any of us working in this field knows
that and feels it very strongly.
AMANPOUR: So people around the world are really -- really familiar with your decades of -- of -- of series on this issue. But now you're taking a
giant leap forward by putting on your new series on Netflix. Tell me what that means to you and -- and what kind of exponential effect do you think
it might have? Well, the two advantages of it are -- are first of all, that they can immediately, overnight, once it starts, it's available to
over 200 million people. There's no other single network in the -- television network in the world that can command that sort of audience.
So that's one very good reason why it should be on -- on Netflix, so that everybody can see it. And what's more, can go on seeing it for a long
period of time. Not governed by schedules. As you know, in -- in -- in Netflix, you -- once you join, you can in fact see it at any time what it
is you wish to see. So that is a -- a huge advantage if you really care about the message that we are trying to make in that series.
AMANPOUR: So as you talk about all these young people and as we've seen all these young people respond to the #TakeYourSeat, we've also seen over
the weekend in Australia for instance, in cities all over the country, young people took to the streets and practically the - you know, the
traffic in those cities, demanding that their leaders take action on this really huge issue.
So that must be sort of a positive thing for you. And how do you - what are you trying to say maybe to Americans where as you know, the leadership
there has been quite reluctant to admit and take action on humankind's effect on the environment?
ATTENBOROUGH: What I would say is look, we're note telling lies. The evidence is there. We are showing you the evidence of what's happening
around the world. And if you take any account of knowledge, of research, of science, we know what's causing these disasters.
And we - what's more, we know how to deal with it. Please join the rest of the world, the rest of the world, entire rest of the world is united in
trying to take action on this.
United States has a very, very powerful voice, please, please join us.
AMANPOUR: And I want to play a little clip of your latest series airing on the BBC, it's called "Dynasties", and you're taking various animal species
and delving into how they are in their own environments.
And the first one was about chimpanzees, and we're going to play this little - little clip about a chimpanzee called David (ph) and how he's
struggling to remain in control of his tribe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ATTENBOROUGH: As leader, David (ph) gets his pick of the feeding spots. But he is wary, as he must feed alongside old enemies. He has two
particularly ambitious rivals. David's (ph) toes begin to twitch, a nervous tick he can't conceal.
This is Jumpkin (ph), who has long sought the top spot. And this, Luther (ph), a tempestuous younger male with an aggressive streak. The troop is
together for the first time in months, and jostling for good feeding spots can easily lead to clashes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
So what happened after that clip? Did he stay in control, David (ph) the chimp?
ATTENBOROUGH: No, he didn't, in fact that clip was - the original film, the original recording was made just over a year earlier. And actually
David (ph) succumbed, he was an aged (ph), David (ph), and he was overturned by the young males, who had already made an attempt on his life
as it were, which we were there to record.
And a year later however, time passes, and time does pass.
AMANPOUR: And I just - you know, you've talked about people and humans and human impact, I just want to refer you to a quote in 2005 in an interview
with The Telegraph, you said - so that's the U.K. newspaper, "if we humans disappeared overnight, the world would probably be better off".
I mean there's a point there isn't there? Do you still believe that?
ATTENBOROUGH: Yes, if by the world you mean the natural world, yes that's the case. I mean we have inflicted terrible damage on the world, the
planet. We have overrun it in the way that is unprecedented, no other creature in the world has caused the - had the effect on the planet,
(inaudible) has had the effect on the planet that human - the human species has.
And so we ought to be aware of - of what we've done and recognize the responsibility that we now have in our hands.
AMANPOUR: You are one of the world's best storytellers if not the best storyteller around the world right now, and you've been doing it for a long
time. Even before you got in front of the camera when you were controller at the BBC here in the U.K., you were the one who pioneered these amazing
documentaries and series on, for instance, civilization. So our human civilization then the assent of man. I mean, describe for me what it was
that got your interest in these epic stories about our humanity and our civilization from such a young age?
ATTENBOROUGH: I suppose I thought that television is not trivia. I thought that here is a means of communication unlike anything in the
history of humanity ever, ever before that suddenly you're able to bring pictures and sound to tell messages. And surely those messages aren't just
trivia. With that huge opportunity, surely you should deploy that to say things that are important.
Now, if you believe that knowledge is important, well then you should do something about it. If you believe that understanding is important, you
should make it possible for people to share that. That's what television should be doing and that what television isn't just to sell products, isn't
just a while away. It doesn't visual (ph) chewing gum. It can be used to say something really, really important globally. I mean, it is an
extraordinary facility that's been put in our hands. Why don't we use it? We must use it.
AMANPOUR: Well, you've been using it to amazing effect. So I wonder at the grand old age of over 90 now, you are still so vigorous and so involved
and still travelling and still telling these stories. What do you make all these years later having being based and rooted in the evidence world, in
the anthropological world, in the sort of natural history world of this assault on fact, on knowledge, on science and on natural history?
ATTENBOROUGH: Well, you can only have the faith that truth is its own message, and that truth will be recognized and the mendacity and falsehoods
and downright lies will be exposed for what they are, and those of us who are working in the media - that's you and me - do our best to make that
AMANPOUR: We certainly do, and you've been doing it for an enormously long time, and everybody is grateful. So David Attenborough, thank you for
ATTENBOROUGH: Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: And Attenborough's latest series, Dynasties, debuts in January on BBC America. Now we switch from conservation back to conservativism
(ph) as Republicans look back to remember the legacy of the former president, George H.W. Bush. Our next guest ponders his future. Editor of
news magazine National Review, Rich Lowry - the Republican has long been a leading voice on the American right, and just before President Bush's death
was announced, Lowry sat down with our Michel Martin to talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MICHEL MARTIN, CNNI CONTRIBUTOR: Rich Lowry, thank you so much for talking with us.
RICH LOWRY, EDITOR OF NATIONAL REVIEW: My pleasure.
MARTIN: What would you say it means to be a conservative in the current moment?
LOWRY: Well, I think it means largely the same thing it's meant in the post-war era - limited government, an emphasis on certain social values and
virtues, and a belief in a strong defense. Now, I think Trump has shifted some things. I think kind of the cultural war in this country, the access
of it now is less kind of sexual morality issues and more kind of nationalist issues, what's our national identity, how important are our
borders, how important is sovereignty.
So I think that's something that he's emphasized that's been part of the conservative mix but not as prominent as it's been lately.
MARTIN: Has anything shifted for you as a conservative in recent years?
LOWRY: I think the rise of Trump in particular has made me rethink the issue of trade and in particular trade with China where I had sort of
accepted the libertarian argument on China. They're cheating and they're selling us cheaper stuff. Why is that a bad thing our consumers are buying
cheaper goods where now I think it's more nefarious than that and it's something that requires a response, not necessarily what Trump is doing
policy wise, but it needs to be taken more seriously than it was either under George W. Bush or Barrack Obama.
MARTIN: So we just can't get away from Mr. Trump, can we?
LOWRY: No, but who can?
MARTIN: We just can't. We just can't. OK, so what I was going to ask you is how do you see your role in the current moment?
[13:40:00] LOWRY: Well, our role is certainly the same it's always been with Republican presidents, it's just been -- it's a little more augmented
with President Trump, but we've always called balls and strikes and the cliche. And with every Republican president -- with the possible exception
of Ronald Reagan, but we dinged him on quite a lot of things as well -- we've had a constructive but critical relationship. Now, with Trump
there's a little more emphasis on the critical because there's some things we disagree with more fundamentally than with other Republican presidents.
But it's -- it's just a fascinating and tense time on the right. Because you just have people all over the map on this president, from people who
are basically now flirting with the left to people who are 110 percent defenders of him.
MARTIN: The National Review published a -- a -- a volume of 22 essays that solely devoted to why Donald Trump is not fit to be president. OK? Now
that he is, has your role changed?
LOWRY: Yes. Well, my view --
MARTIN: What's your job right now?
LOWRY: -- has changed -- my -- my view has changed in part because circumstances have changed. So we ran that issue in December 2015 when he
was one of 17 options. And if we could go back this time and we could do it again and he would be one of 17 options, I'd probably would be with the
other 16 still. Maybe I wouldn't be as -- as harsh -- harshly critical of him in particular the way we were then, but I would want another option.
But that's not --
MARTIN: Why wouldn't you be as harshly critical?
LOWRY: Because he's been more conservative. He -- he's -- the way he's governed has in some ways been just completely as an orthodox Republican.
You know, a big tax cut and corporate tax reform, regulatory reform, judicial nominations that, you know, are signed off on by the Federalist
Society, in effect if not formally. And that wasn't -- we didn't necessarily know that was going to be the case when he was running in the
primaries. And also, he's done some things that I think are important and correct that I'm not sure other Republicans would have done.
I'm not sure other Republicans would have pulled our of the Paris Accord, I'm not sure other presidents would have moved the embassy to Jerusalem.
The downside is, one, entitlements, where I think he's pulling the party in the wrong direction. Two, trade. Even though I think it's important to
target China and push back against China, I think there's -- you know, the steel tariffs are counterproductive and unnecessary. And then there's just
the -- the behavioral issues and the way he conducts himself.
MARTIN: The National Review, among other conservative outlets, has written a great deal about the vulgarity of the culture on the left and what they
see as the long-term corrosive effect. So where is it?
LOWRY: I mean, it's a cost. There's no doubt about it. It's a -- it's a political and cultural cost and one I would have preferred to avoid, but
he's president of the United States so here we are.
MARTIN: So what are your editorial meetings like?
LOWRY: They reflect this division. I mean, we have some writers who are constantly appalled by his conduct and really have trouble seeing anything
else but that and then we -- we have writers who are -- are more focused on what they consider the substantive advances. And there are some
significant ones. So this is just -- it's attention, it's a debate within the right, and one that we'll probably still be debating 20 years from now.
MARTIN: As the editor in chief, do you call it? Do you decide that, you know what, we're going to ignore behavior directed at allies in favor of
these other policies? Do you -- do you call it --
LOWRY: Well usually I'm -- I'm ultimately -- it is my decision. Most of the things we write officially as editors, as editorials are fairly
consensus. And we try not to ignore any of those things. It's just we are never just going to just write about the -- the vulgarities and crudities
because there are other important things going on --
MARTIN: I was going to ask -- and is that because -- is that a market decision, is that you don't want to alienate your supporters who --
subscribers, contributors, who --
LOWRY: No, it's a --
MARTIN: -- prioritize those things, or is this a matter of values and ideas?
LOWRY: It's a substantive decision. I mean, the fact is if Hillary Clinton had been elected, she -- she would have been a more polite
president, but you wouldn't have gotten the tax cuts, you wouldn't have gotten the regulatory reform, you wouldn't have gotten -- pro-life measures
that are important to us, you wouldn't have gotten the reform that we're just seeing out of the education department, this title IX rule that we
think really tilted campus adjudication of sexual harassment allegations --
MARTIN: Well it wasn't a rule, it was an advisory, which is a little different.
LOWRY: But it was taken as -- as a rule because there's always -- whenever the federal government makes such an advisory opinion, or in this case a
letter, it -- it has a threat of pulling federal funding implicit, which is why so many universities fell in line. Anyway, so the point is these are
all real things. They're really happening, they're really important to us. We are in favor of them long before Donald Trump was around.
We have favored them before Donald Trump favored them, and in my view, it would be perverse to turn around and ignore all those things or oppose them
just because Donald Trump's doing them.
MARTIN: And what about the deficit, which I thought was supposed to be an important issue for conservatives, which has now exploded under this
LOWRY: Yes, we've written about that a lot, we had a cover last six months or so, specifically on the fiscal rot in Washington. And we are
steadfastly advocating for entitlement reform.
So, you know, as an opinion magazine, you - you don't get to just unilaterally decide what you're side is going to do. You can - you can
nudge and argue and hope to have influence over the - the long term, but this is one where the party is - is slid away from us, there's no doubt
MARTIN: Oh I'm just reading, I'm thinking about Mia Love, the Utah congresswoman who recently lost her seat in a very close election. And I'm
paraphrasing from her concession speech, but one of the things that she said in that speech was that the reason that she is a Republican, she sees
herself as a deeply conservative Republican, but what she said was that the Republicans do not embrace minorities because they will not listen to them.
Is there any validity to that point of view?
LOWRY: Well I take anything she says very seriously and she has a credibility to say it. And this is a historic weakness of the party and I
do think there should be more focus on it. And I think one thing that's happened with the more populous orientation of the Republican Party,
there's been a greater focus on the working class, but it's - it's kind of clich, in political circles to talk about the white working class.
But the fact is, there are a lot of non-white working class voters in this country. And I think the party has a more populist orientation and makes
more of an effort to reach out to working class voters of all races and ethnicities.
I think this turn of the party could - could somewhat paradoxically, given where we are now, could unlock some of those voters to the GOP in the way
it hasn't. But you have to try and you have to show up.
MARTIN: Where is the - this kind of racist stream coming from? I mean I know that you've taken some stance, I mean you've fired people for having
written things that you thought were beyond the pale.
But for the president to take, you know, days to disavow the anti-Semitic and racist language coming out of Charlottesville -
LOWRY: The president in Charlottesville, his initial reaction was completely appalling. And I think at least part of it was he gets his
backup if he's sort of told there are things that he has to say, you know, that were, quote unquote, "respectable people" want him to say.
And that's a very unhealthy reflex in a lot of instances, and it obviously was in that one. And, you know, eventually he - he went back and fixed it,
but he did a lot of damage to himself in the intervening days.
But I reject - and I don't know whether this is just what you're suggesting, so I don't want to put words in your mouth, the idea that
anyone is concerned about the cultural cohesion of the country or are concerned about immigration policy, that that's inherently racist.
MARTIN: I'm not talking about immigration policy, no, I'm talking about race per se. I mean what's your take on whether this is a worthy cause of
the conservative movement to address?
I mean there are lots of causes, both movements have causes, and I get the sense that the conservative movement sees racism as a - as a sentiment that
is ugly but private. I get the sense that people of a different persuasion see it as a something imbedded in institutions that needs to be regulated.
Does that seem like a fair - do you - what do you - is that - is that your attitude or not?
LOWRY: I think - I think the - one reason that you get the backs of conservatives up on this issue is that we feel legitimately that the term
racism is thrown around indiscriminately and used as a political weapon.
And I think there are lots of things that are dumb, that are illegitimate, that are ignorant, that are short of racism. But it seems every week more
and more things are deemed racist, which -
MARTIN: What is something deemed racist that you don't think is racist?
LOWRY: Was Cindy Hyde-Smith, the senator from Mississippi, there's a video clip of her with a friend and supporter and she says oh this guy is so
great, he's so wonderful, he's done so much for me. I would do anything for him, if he invited me to a public hanging, I'd go to the front row.
And - and that is interpreted, I think, at least by some people, extremely disingenuously and maliciously as her like endorsing hangings, which is -
it's a way of her saying I would do something I don't want to do and something that'd be very unpleasant because they ask me ...
MARTIN: And you can't think of another analogy?
LOWRY: She did. She actually -- she used another one as well.
MARTIN: Like what?
LOWRY: She said I will fight a circle saw for this guy but that wasn't part of the clip. So it was ...
MARTIN: OK. But -- but -- but given that this is Mississippi -- go ahead, I'm sorry.
LOWRY: It was clipped in a selective way and interrupted in the most hostel malicious way to paint her as a racist. So I think we shall all
agree that racism is wrong, it should be called out, but if you are in discriminate and using it as a political weapon, you are demeaning the
So I think that's another very important aspect of this debate that the left very often ignores.
MARTIN: There's -- there's a history of public hangings in Mississippi, which I deeply painful to the people whom she would represent. You don't
think that that speaks to qualification?
LOWRY: What she was trying to say, I think pretty obviously, is oh this guy is great; I'd do anything for him. I'd jump off a cliff for him. If
she said that would you -- do you really think she'd literally ...
MARTIN: No, but she didn't say that. And she didn't say that and she represents a state that has a history of public lynchings, vicious public
lynchings attended by, you know, hundreds of people as a form of public entertainment.
LOWRY: But it wasn't -- it wasn't meant literally. It was meant as endorsement of public hangings. It wasn't meant as endorsement of fighting
a circle saw.
MARTIN: OK. But -- but -- but here's -- here again ...
LOWRY: But -- but that -- you think she's a racist, you said that.
MARTIN: I don't -- I -- that is not my role here but you're telling me that you know with assurance that she isn't.
LOWRY: I am telling you with assurance it's obvious that she didn't mean it literally because she doesn't want to fight ...
MARTIN: But this -- you know what this does speak to a point though, which is that people have different sensibilities and some of it is a question of
whose sensibilities deserve a hearing and have the -- deserve to be considered.
Is that part of what Mia Love was talking about, which isn't that part of what she was saying is that there seems to be a certain point of view that
only certain people's sensibilities deserve to be entertained and considered.
And that people who have different sensibilities even if they are not, you consider them substantively important or somehow to be dismissed. Isn't
that in part what she was saying?
LOWRY: I don't know whether she's saying that and obviously metaphorical statement should be interpreted literally in order to drag someone's name
through the mud. In fact, I very much doubt that that's what she meant.
MARTIN: OK. Let's figure out where we want to conclude here. I'm wondering what you hope for given that we're now going to have divided
government once again and the democrats are feeling, I think, very empowered in -- on the House side and yet the republican's on the Senate
side seem to even at least a couple of more votes even if they don't have all of the ones that they would want. What are you hoping for?
MARTIN: That's it.
MARTIN: It's all about the judges.
LOWRY: I mean as a conservative that's really the only foreseeable, you know obviously there can be -- events can be intervened but it's really the
only foreseeable good thing that's going to come out of this Congress.
There'll be spending deals. There'll be a higher -- even higher level of spending than we got in the last Congress and didn't particularly like.
The House will be passing a lot of sort of exemplary legislation representing the new democratic domestic agenda that will have zero chance
of passing the Senate or getting to the president's desk.
And -- you know fairly -- you know within several months we're going to have the first democratic presidential forum. We'll have the
investigations in the House. We'll have a Mueller report.
We potentially could have the impeachment enquiry and then that takes us through 2019 and then it's -- then it's all presidential politics all the
MARTIN: In a parallel universe, if you were advising the democrats, what would you advise them to do?
LOWRY: Nominate Joe Biden.
MARTIN: Why? To make life better for you as a conservative or you mean for them. I'm talking about for them.
LOWRY: No, no, for them. I think -- I think the -- if you look at the electoral map and a lot can change but let's say Trump holds all estates
from 2016. Democrats have to win all Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin to win.
And the results in 2018 were encouraging for them in all three of those states but they have to have some more appeal to a working class white
voters than Hillary Clinton did. They need to show they care about them more than Hillary Clinton did and that they understand, at least, their
culture and their values.
And I think a candidate like Joe Biden would -- would be best. Maybe Sherrod Brown would be another. Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota another.
Kind of a Midwestern working class sensibility would be the easiest way for them to win. And I think that Trump, he's -- he has a path. He has a
clear Electoral College path. But it's really narrow.
LOWRY: It might involve losing popular vote again, and at this juncture given his popularity is dependent on the Democrats nominated candidate he
can make unacceptable. And I think someone like Joe Biden, it'd be very hard for him to do that. So that'd be my advice. As very often with my
advice even with Republicans, it'll probably be ignored.
MARTIN: Rich Lowry, thank you so much for talking with us.
LOWRY: Thank you.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: An important conversation about American conservatism there. And that is it for now. Thank you for watching. Goodbye from London.