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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Interview With Former Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton About America's Political Battle And Beyond; Interview With Israeli Journalist Anshel Pfeffer; British Historian Andrew Roberts Talks About His Book, "The Last King of America." Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 19, 2021 - 10:00   ET



REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Not by going big but by playing small.


PRESSLEY: So of course, I have concerns about us not keeping our promises.

TAPPER: Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, thank you so much. Merry Christmas.

And thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us. We want to wish you and your family a very, very Merry Christmas. Stay safe this holiday season.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts right now.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.


ZAKARIA (voice-over): We'll start today's program with the 2016 Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Rodham Clinton. I'll ask her about the political battles in America.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our democracy is under continuing assault.

ZAKARIA: And the possibility that Russia may go to war. All that and much more.

Then, bombshells from Israel. Former top officials now revealing they think getting out of the Iran deal was a major mistake. Why now? I'll talk with Israeli journalist Anshel Pfeffer.

Also, George III was the British monarch who lost the American colonies in a bloody war. His bad rap has gotten even worse lately. But the British historian Andrew Roberts tells us that the king was much misunderstood, neither mad nor tyrannical.


ZAKARIA: But first, here's "My Take." I have to confess I find Joe Biden's unpopularity puzzling. He's rounding out his first year in the White House with the lowest end of first year approval ratings of any elected president in modern times with the exception of Donald Trump. Why is this? Biden is a genial, likable person. Many of the policies he's pursued have been popular, even some with Republican support. The country is doing reasonably well, economically as measures like unemployment which is declining, the stock market which is rising, and interest rates demonstrate.

So why did the latest CNN average of the polls have him at just 45 percent?

Now one has to remember that Biden is something of an accidental president. He got elected for two reasons, neither which has much to do with his personal popularity. First, Barack Obama chose him as vice president, which instantly elevated him in the Democratic field. Second, Donald Trump. Had these two factors not been present, it's difficult to imagine Biden in the White House.

To put this another way, the previous two times Biden ran for president, he did not do well. His first attempt in 1987 ended after 3 1/2 months with an abrupt withdrawal but even before that, he was polling well behind in the Democratic field. In the second run he stayed in longer but his poll numbers were abysmal. A poll released about a month before he dropped out in January 2008 had him at about 4 percent among registered Democrats, and his showing in the Iowa caucuses was under 1 percent.

Successful Democratic presidents usually fit one of two patterns, either they're charismatic outsiders who energize the country like John F. Kennedy or Barack Obama, or they are southerners who manage to bridge the divide between north and south and all of that represents, like Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter.

Bill Clinton combined both, which might have explained his success, achieving the highest average approval ratings for a Democrat since John Kennedy. Clinton is technically tied with Johnson, whose ratings in his first few years after Kennedy's assassination, was sky high but then plummeted in the latter part of his tenure.

Biden fits neither of these models, and doesn't have enormous reserves of popularity and political capital. Perhaps for that reason he has struggled to inspire or unite the party and the country. Now, to be fair, it's much harder for any president to do that in today's polarized environment. No Democrat and no Republican can expect to get much more than about half of the country's approval.

A different world from one not so long ago in which Obama and George H.W. Bush, both gained stratospheric numbers for a time. Perhaps Biden's 11-point drop from roughly 56 percent after his first 100 days in office to 45 percent today is a natural result of this inherent lack of political capital.

But it does seem that other factors have weighed in. The timing of his biggest slide in popularity, summer of 2021, coincided with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the rise of Delta and onset of inflation. It's difficult to parse which was most important but they seem to collectively have had the effect of telling Americans that life was not back to normal.

In a recent "New York Times" article, Nate Cohen explains the flaws behind the assumption that if Biden's programs are popular, so should be the president.


Such thinking is predicated on the existence of an electorate that is carefully studying the various proposals out there, weighing the evidence about each one, choosing carefully and then supporting the politician who backs their favorite bills. That may be how some people make political judgments, specifically those who watch cable news, follow opinion columnists, vote in primaries and are active on Twitter.

But all of those people represent a small minority of voters. As Cohen notes voters, by which he means general voters, seem to reward presidents for presiding over peace and prosperity. In a word, normalcy. To the extent that things do seem to be generally going well, voters tend to look favorably on the president. To the extent that they don't, they tend to be disillusioned with the White House.

Now, the best summary of the current situation would be it's complicated. The world is largely at peace but Americans can see that the country is no longer the sole superpower. The Afghanistan withdrawal was an ugly reminder of that fact. Growth is coming back fast but restarting the global economy after a long period of induced paralysis has caused huge logjams and hiccups for a variety of reasons, some of which can be blamed on Biden.

We are seeing more inflation than in decades, and that has often weighed on presidential approval ratings. Violent crime was up nationwide in 2020. And the pandemic has not ended with a bang but rather continues to wax and wane, causing new anxieties just when you thought it was safe to get back to normal life.

Presidents often get rewarded for being around in good times, whether they caused them or not. In Joe Biden's case, he has mostly handled his job with intelligence and decency, but he's paying the price for the complicated times that we are living through.

Go to for a link to my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

Let's get right into it with Hillary Rodham Clinton. In addition to being a former presidential candidate, former senator and former secretary of state, she's now a published novelist. Her book written with Louise Penny is "State of Terror."

Welcome, Madam Secretary.

CLINTON: Thank you, Fareed. It's always good to be with you. ZAKARIA: So we're going to get to the book and the world, but I've got

to ask you since we have you here, you follow these things very closely and I think people would want to know. What lesson did you take from the recent elections that took place in Virginia and in New Jersey? Both people you campaigned for, Terry McAuliffe you've known for years and years.

You know, it seemed that those -- the Republicans in both cases were able to get a lot of people to vote for them who had voted for Joe Biden over Donald Trump.

CLINTON: You know, Fareed, there is a lot of frustration in the country right now. In fact, I read the opinion piece that you recently wrote about why is Joe Biden not more popular since he's actually accomplished quite a bit. And I think in it you outlined some of the reasons, that, you know, the return of COVID, the inflationary pressures that people are feeling, the kinds of just discontent about getting back to normalcy. When can we have our lives back?

And I think in both Virginia and the New Jersey cases, because, you know, look at what Phil Murphy had accomplished as governor. He had an incredibly effective agenda that he got through the legislature. He ran the COVID response really well. Terry had an excellent record when he was governor before, but people are just in a mood of being unsettled and uncertain.

There were specific issues in both states that I think provided an opportunity to mobilize against the incumbents because, in effect, Terry was viewed as an incumbent as well. So I think there are lessons to be taken from it. But the larger issue, which you addressed in your op-ed piece, is one that the whole country should be paying attention to. You know, people are really frustrated and they're tired.

You know, look, I feel the same way. How much longer will this go on? Of course, if we had done more earlier and if we would do more now to deal with the threat that the virus continues to pose, you know, we've got 1200 people dying a day, if we would do more, but people are divided over that.


So I think there are lessons but I think that the mood is national, not just limited to two states.

ZAKARIA: But the core issue in some ways is, should the party be more -- appealing more to these centrist voters? There's, you know, there are lots of people you know, I talk to Democrats who feel that the party is moving too far left, that the voters you're trying to get are in the center. You know, how would you address that challenge?

CLINTON: I think you need to meet people where they are. And I don't know that you can label that. But if you have been a mom at home with kids since the start of this pandemic and school has been canceled and they've been trying to learn remotely, and then you get them back to school, and then it gets canceled again and then they're too young to get vaccines and then all of a sudden they are young. I mean, just going through the day-to-day decision-making that -- I

focus on women because women are the swing voters primarily in elections. You know, it's been a really tough time. If you lost your job, if your hours were cut back, if you can't afford to go back because you don't have childcare or the childcare is too expensive. I mean, everything that Joe Biden is trying to address really does go to the heart of the challenges people are facing without characterizing them left, right or center.

It's just real life. Real-life kitchen table, get up in the morning, try to figure out how you're going to make decisions politics. And I really wish that my party, our party, would do a better job of really zeroing in on these day-to-day concerns. First of all, acknowledge them. You know, we can't talk our way out of the fact that people are really disappointed that this Omicron virus variant is back.

We can't talk ourselves out of the fact that, you know, inflation is real, the Fed is about to address it. Kind of deal with where people are and say, look, we know that there are challenges. We've addressed a lot of them.

We've gotten a lot of people vaccinated, we have dealt with, you know, some of the job issues, with the infrastructure bill, with income support. We're dealing with a lot that we know is going to make life better. But level with people and deal with where they are right now.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, Bill Clinton faced a political backlash early in his first term, as did Barack Obama, and now Joe Biden. Is this a trend for Democrats? I'll ask former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.



ZAKARIA: Do you think that terry McAuliffe should not have gotten into the discussion about critical race theory and should have instead stayed on the kind of issues you're talking about? You know, Eric Adams in a sense did just that. He just stayed focused on the core economic and law and order issues?

CLINTON: Well, and as you well know, Fareed, Eric Adams was not considered a left candidate. He was considered certainly by New York City's standards a centrist candidate, as was Katherine Garcia, who's finished second. And they did exactly what I'm talking about.

If people are all of a sudden worried because this pandemic has created so much uncertainty, and, yes, that we've got crime in some places and we've got lost jobs and business is closing. We've got all this going on.

I thought Eric Adams did a really good job staying focused on that. And so I think Eric gives people a chance to see what work, even in a very liberal city like New York. The millions of people who live here get up every day facing a lot of the same challenges that people face anywhere in our country and I think they want leaders who pay attention and deliver for them.

And I will say this, look, the right, the far right, the Trump right, whatever you want to call it, they do a really good job scaring people and making people afraid. They don't deliver for people, except, I guess, in an emotional way when people are frustrated, they feed conspiracy theories, they make up stuff but they don't deliver for people.

They don't take care of people. Look at what's happening now, all of these Republicans who voted against the infrastructure bill, voted against the American Recovery Bill that President Biden got done, all of a sudden they're claiming credit.

I was smiling at one of the Republican governors saying well, we still hate the bill but we're sure going to take the money. So let's hold them up to the standards of hypocrisy and un-performance that they should be held to and do a better job drawing those contrasts.

ZAKARIA: You know, I wonder, is there a pattern here in terms of Democratic presidents and the backlash? So I look at President Clinton, he comes into office, passes the assault weapons ban, tries to pass your health care reform package, big backlash. House goes to the Republicans. I think of Obama with Obamacare, big backlash, House goes to the Republicans.

What lesson do you take from that? Is it, you know, just you might as well do the big thing you're trying to do? I'm imagining President Biden wondering about this right now, just better to push for the big thing, get these bills passed, get the next one passed and just deal with the backlash? Or is there a way to not trigger that backlash?


CLINTON: Well, look, I would hope there is a way not to trigger the backlash, but the two examples you gave are good ones because, you know, after getting an incredible legislative agenda through in his first two years, my husband was, you know, re-elected four years later and the same with President Obama. He pushed through, stimulus pushed through, and tried to get even more, but got the Affordable Care Act, and, you know, as you said, in both cases, in the midterm elections they really suffered politically but they came back and won.

Bill became the first Democratic president to be elected to two terms since Franklin Roosevelt. And obviously, President Obama equally had a big positive reaction when he ran again. And so, yes, our two last Democratic presidents got things done.

Maybe they could have done a better job, and I think both of them would acknowledge this, in trying to explain what they were doing. But the effects of both of their big reforms, in Bill's case, you know, dealing with deficit reduction, raising taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, something we haven't seen recently. Obviously the assault weapons ban. With President Obama we know healthcare, stimulus and all.

The effects were not seen as quickly as the opposition could marshal really exaggerated claims against both of them. So it's a matter of substance. Get the substance done. I would certainly, you know, urge the president -- I don't think he needs urging -- to keep working on what he's trying to accomplish with the, you know, the social safety net, with voting rights. And then try to figure out how to do a better job to give a narrative to people so they're not confused and, frankly, you know, affected by the propaganda coming from the political opposition.

ZAKARIA: Stay with us, Secretary Clinton, and you stay with us, we will talk about the rest of the world when we come back.



ZAKARIA: We are back here on GPS talking to the former secretary of state, former senator, former presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Madam Secretary, when you look at the situation between Russia and Ukraine, how worried are you, and more importantly, what can President Biden do to deter Russia?

CLINTON: I think that, you know, Putin is following the old adage from Lenin, you know, you take the bayonet and you push through skin and muscle until you hit bone. And I think what he is doing, having taken over two parts of Georgia, having taken Crimea from Ukraine earlier, is seeing how far he can get.

And I think what not only the United States under President Biden but our NATO allies and others are making very clear to Putin is, you know, that would be not only incredibly dangerous for him but that it would trigger more and more military aid to Ukraine. We are now selling much more military equipment, more advanced weaponry to Ukraine so they can try to match and try to help defend themselves.

We are also putting forth the threat, which I think is real, of incredibly, not just incredibly strict sanctions, because people now wonder, well, sanctions, what does that mean? But the kind of sanctions that I think the administration and our allies in Europe are thinking about, are not only state sanctions but personal sanctions.

You know, we know a lot about Putin and his oligarchs. And I think that the administration understands that they have to make it very clear to Vladimir Putin that there will be not just a cost for Russia, but a cost for him and the people who basically prop him up and the financial, you know, programs that he benefits from.

But this is -- you know, it's kind of a game of chicken right now, Fareed. And I know Putin is looking for the United States and NATO to say we will never ever, ever, ever give, you know, Ukraine the chance to be in the European Union, to be in NATO. That's a bridge too far. If we believe in sovereignty and democracy and, you know, people being able to chart their own futures, I think that would be giving away a lot.

So this is going to be high stakes diplomacy. I do think there are a number of retaliatory measures in addition to credible threats that the administration can and is making right now.

ZAKARIA: Let's talk about the other great power in the room as it were, China. The administration has announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. And I'm wondering, what I'm struck by is yes, there are few countries that have joined in, Australia, Canada, U.K. But the vast majority have not. And I wonder, you know, what you think of this, because it does politicize the Olympics in a way that, you know, even during the Cold War, the U.S. and Soviet Union went to each other's Olympics. Is it worth it? Is it -- you know, how should one think about it?


CLINTON: Well, you know, back in 1980, as you remember, President Carter pulled the entire American Olympic team out of the Olympics that were to be held in the then Soviet Union.

And it was a -- it was a real blow to all of our athletes who have, you know, practiced and prepared for those events. So what the Biden administration is doing is saying a diplomatic boycott so that you will not see pictures of the president or the vice president or the secretary of state sitting in the stands next to Chinese officials, you know, cheering. You won't get that kind of image.

Remember, the last time the Olympics were in China, and we were in a somewhat different position with them, President Bush actually went to Beijing.

So, look, it's symbolic. We all know it's symbolic. But at least it is something of a reputational hit on the Chinese.

Obviously, what we have to do with China is so much bigger than any kind of diplomatic boycott of their hosting the Olympics. We need a bigger geopolitical strategic understanding of what China is up to.

And I know that the people inside the Biden administration are trying to do that because, you know, Trump's very narrow trade and tariff kind of approach was -- was just missing the picture of what's happening in the South China Sea, what's happening throughout Central and South Asia, what's happening across Africa and Latin America. And that's what the United States needs to be paying attention to.

ZAKARIA: I've got to ask you about your book, Madam Secretary, before I let you go.


And what I want to ask you is this. So it -- it's gotten a lot of good reviews, but a lot of people say that it is a thinly veiled attack on President Trump. There -- the one word that recurs in review after review is "It's payback time for Hillary Clinton."

Do you feel that that's fair, and do you feel that the criticism that, you know, you can't let go of the 2016 election is fair, as manifested in this book? CLINTON: Well, Fareed, I do think our democracy is under continuing

assault by the former president, who masterminded a coup in the attack on our Capitol, has continued to promote the false accusation that the election of 2020 was somehow rigged against him. I think he poses a real clear and present danger to the United States.

And having lived through that presidency, when it came time to write a political thriller with my friend and collaborator Louise Penny, of course I would draw from the reality that we all have experienced.

And it's a good thriller. I've loved the -- the reviews. I've loved even more readers telling me about "State of Terror" and what they loved about it, because the protagonist, which is kind of unusual for a thriller, are two women of a certain age, the secretary of state and her best friend.

But it does involve Afghanistan. And the last time I was with you was, I think, April 30th. We were talking about what was going to happen in Afghanistan, and I said that, you know, I feared that it would possibly become a staging ground for attacks again. The book posits that. The book also talks about an internal coup attempt against the president who succeeded the former guy.

So this is fiction. The characters are fictional. But I would be remiss if I were not basing it in reality. And so I don't -- I don't see it as anything other than a really good thriller with a great plot but also a cautionary tale about what we need to do to protect our democracy against those from within and without, who would try to literally take it away from us.

ZAKARIA: So I think viewers there saw a little bit of your legendary preparation. You're, I think, the only interview...


... ever done where you could remember and refer back to the substance of our last interview.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, pleasure to have you on.


CLINTON: Thanks so much, Fareed. Happy holidays! Happy new year to everybody!

ZAKARIA: Thank you.

Next on "GPS," important Israelis are coming out of the woodwork to criticize Bibi Netanyahu for urging Trump to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran. One called it a tragedy, another "the worst strategic mistake in Israel's history."

Why were they quiet? What's going on over there? When we come back.

(voice over): Don't forget, if you miss a show, go to for a link to my iTunes podcast. [10:34:51]



ZAKARIA: I have read some remarkable quotes recently in a great Washington Post column by Max Boot. A former major general in the Israeli defense forces told a Bloomberg journalist, "Netanyahu's efforts to persuade the Trump administration to quit the nuclear agreement have turned out to be the worst strategic mistake in Israel's history."

A former head of Mossad agreed America's exit from the deal was a mistake, and went further, calling it a "tragedy."

Netanyahu's own former defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, told my next guest, looking at the policy on Iran in the last decade, the main mistake was the withdrawal from the agreement.

What exactly is happening in Israel?

Joining me now is top Israeli journalist Anshel Pfeffer, who writes for Haaretz and The Economist.

Anshel, take us back and explain to us what was going on when Bibi Netanyahu was ferociously opposed to the Iran deal, both in the Obama presidency and then during Trump, when he urged him to get the Americans to pull out.


I think we had all thought that Israel's security establishment was lockstep with him, and certainly Bibi Netanyahu seemed to present it as such. What was the reality?

PFEFFER: Well, Netanyahu was Israel's elected leader until six months ago, therefore his position was Israel's official position. And whatever the thoughts and opinions of those in uniform or members of the intelligence community, they ultimately had to fall behind him, had to be in step with his -- his views.

We knew already, back in 2015, when the original Iran deal was presented and votes done in Congress and Senate and finally signed, there were significant voices in the military establishment who I wouldn't say were crazy about the deal -- nobody thought it was a great deal; everyone saw it as a deal with many flaws -- but didn't necessarily see it as this terrible, historic mistake, as Netanyahu did at the time.

I think the prevailing view among many generals and intelligence chiefs at the time in Israel was that this isn't a great deal, but at least it gives Israel about (inaudible), perhaps a bit more than that, to focus on other security issues and other challenges facing Israel.

And the 10 years in which Iran would be under strict control as to its nuclear development would allow Israel to focus on other places, to change -- move resources and so on. So they didn't see it necessarily as such a bad thing (inaudible).

ZAKARIA: So now you're hearing people saying that they thought the deal was -- that pulling out of the deal was a big mistake. Why are they saying it now?

PFEFFER: Well, first of all, because those who were in uniform or in other posts six years ago, and now civilians, so they can speak out and say their -- you know, they can voice their opinions without having to -- without having to resign or to be fired for doing so. That's one reason.

The other reason is I think that, with time, even those who were of Netanyahu's views in May 2018 when Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran deal, I think a lot of them at that point thought that that wasn't a good thing, even if they hadn't been in favor of the deal originally.

But I think even those who were quite skeptical in 2015, by 2018, they saw the deal at least as something which was keeping Iran in check when it came to the main parts of nuclear development.

And the moment Trump withdrew from that, there was no plan B. The people were saying, "OK, we didn't like the Iran deal, but now there's no Iran deal and there's chaos. There's nothing which can control Iran, and this -- the alternative that Trump and his team, with Netanyahu's backing, presented, of the maximum-pressure sanctions wasn't seen by many Israelis at the time, and certainly not now, as a sufficient alternative to the various safeguards that were in the deal.

ZAKARIA: If things proceed as they are now, with no -- no return to the deal, is Israel seriously considering military options against Iran's nuclear program?

PFEFFER: Well, the real question is does Israel currently have a military option?

Because 10 years ago, before the deal was achieved and when there was no -- no significant diplomacy even taking place, Israel was preparing various military options to attack and either destroy or significantly degrade Iran's nuclear installations. That was at the time a very real option.

But in recent years Netanyahu's been focused on -- on basically opposing the Iran deal and supporting the maximum-pressure sanctions that the Trump administration applied. And the option of a -- a military option hasn't really been -- the resources, the planning, haven't really been in place. And in those 10 years or so, Iran has significantly widened its own nuclear network further underground, so that the military option, if it even exists now, is much less of a certainty than there ever was.

It never was a certain option. It was always a risk, in fact, Iran's nuclearization. And even 10 years ago they were saying, "We'll never take it out. [10:45:02]

We'll maybe be able to push them back by two or three years."

That option may not be there right now. So whether (inaudible) is considering it or not, the question is, does that (inaudible) even exist in Israel's -- in Israel's arsenal?

ZAKARIA: Anshel, always a pleasure to have you on. Thank you so much.

PFEFFER: Thank you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," America's last king, George III, is widely ridiculed on stage and screen and on the page. But was he really a bad king, a lunatic, a tyrant? One prominent historian says no, when we come back.



ZAKARIA: King George III may be best known to most people these days as the man who uttered a wonderful line written by Lin-Manuel Miranda for the musical "Hamilton."


(UNKNOWN): When push comes to shove, I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love.


ZAKARIA: Indeed, what we commonly hear about George is that he was a tyrannical madman, unfit to be king.

But our great friend, the British historian Andrew Roberts has dug deeply into the documents and found many surprises. The resulting book is "The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III."

Welcome, Andrew.

ROBERTS: Thank you very much indeed, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: So tell me first, why do you think we have this impression of George III?

Because it's not just "Hamilton." There was a movie -- I'm just now talking popular culture -- "The Madness of King George." So this is a kind of popular conception.

ROBERTS: Very much, yes, exactly. And there isn't a day that goes by in America that some newspaper or website doesn't call him a despot or a dictator or a -- a tyrannical ruler.

I think it comes primarily, of course, from the Declaration of Independence, in which it said that he was "unfit to be the ruler of a free people," which I see very much as a brilliant and beautifully written, Shakespearean, sublime piece of prose for the first third. And then the next two-thirds contains 28 charges against the king, only two of which he was guilty of.

ZAKARIA: And -- and you're right. When you read the Declaration, you know, one is surprised the first time, most of it is this litany of charges against him.

What do you think are the most -- the most egregiously wrong charges in the Declaration of Independence?

ROBERTS: Oh, well, there's a lot of ex post facto rationalization there, where he's accused of things that happened after the revolution took place. There are a lot of things that he's accused of that actually had been around for 150 years, since the founding of the American colonies. There are some things, like the bit about him taking people across the oceans for punishment, when nobody was taken across any ocean at all; no American was taken across any ocean at all for punishment.

So -- so there's a lot of padding, you know, lawyer's padding. It's a propaganda document from a wartime. It's perfectly understandable why Jefferson was trying to do that.

However, the two key ones, the 17th charge about taxation and the 22nd charge about Parliament's veto rights over American legislation do in and of themselves justify the American Revolution.

ZAKARIA: So you think that ultimately the Revolution is justified?

ROBERTS: Oh, totally, yes. It was the right moment for America in the 1770s. You had 2.5 million population; you had a burgeoning economy. You had as many bookshops in Philadelphia as in any other city of the Empire. And you had no outside French threat after the Treaty of Paris.

So -- so, yes, it was the right time. But that doesn't mean that George III was a tyrant. You know, that was -- that was not true.

ZAKARIA: It's not just that he isn't a tyrant. He, to you, is an extraordinarily wise and benign, beneficent ruler.

ROBERTS: Yes, we were very fortunate that Her Majesty the Queen has put 100,000 pages of George III's private papers online now, the Georgian Papers project.

And in it, you find extraordinary and surprising things. For example, when he was Prince of Wales in the 1750s, he was opposed to slavery. He writes essays saying -- saying what -- that it needs to be held "in execration" and what a ludicrous thing it is to argue in favor of slavery and so on.

And he never bought or sold a slave. He never owned a slave. He never invested in the companies that did that. And of course, he signed the legislation that abolished the slave trade in 1807. And yet he's constantly seen as being on a sort of lower moral plane

than -- perhaps because of his mental illness -- than the founding fathers.

ZAKARIA: Talk about the mental illness.

ROBERTS: Well, that also is a complete misunderstanding of the last 50 years. But in fact all the recent medical evidence pushes one to the conclusion -- and I go into this in my preface -- that it was in fact bipolar disorder type affective I, a form of manic depression.

ZAKARIA: What do you think were his greatest achievements?

ROBERTS: I think possibly the -- the modern monarchy, in fact. I think, when you look at Her Majesty the Queen today, you see somebody who, like George III, was/is financially prudent and personally frugal and driven by a sense of duty and immensely hard-working.


And those come, I think, as much from George III as from his granddaughter, Queen Victoria.

ZAKARIA: Do you think he was the beginning of the constitutional monarchy?

ROBERTS: Yes, everyone (inaudible) that he was. Yes, yes, absolutely. I mean, he -- he never -- he never vetoed a parliamentary bill. He was a -- he revered the Glorious Revolution and the limited monarchy. And, of course, he only on one occasion ever installed a government that didn't have the majority support in the House of Commons.

ZAKARIA: What do you think of "Hamilton" the play?

ROBERTS: I loved it. I loved it.

ZAKARIA: His portrayal...

ROBERTS: I have to say, oh, his portrayal was completely wonderful, hilarious and totally historically incorrect.

ZAKARIA: Andrew Roberts, always a pleasure. Come back soon.

ROBERTS: Thank you, you're so kind.

ZAKARIA: And thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.