Authors Peter Baker and Susan Glasser joined Ambassador Mark Green to discuss their newest book “The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III,” at the 2021 State of the World Conference (hosted by the McCain Institute and Florida International University) for a special edition of the McCain Institute Authors & Insights Book Talk Series. The book is a look at former Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury and White House Chief of Staff James Baker (no relation to Peter) and how he transformed Washington, D.C.
Watch or listen to the entire event below. You can also tune into the audio-only podcast version of the event via iTunes or Soundcloud.
On James Baker’s Political Skillset
“Fundamentally Baker applied a similar skillset, whether it was for working with the Soviets on arms control or it was working Republicans and Democrats on tax reform in 1986. As Treasury Secretary it wasn’t that he brought a big background on economics to the table, in fact he only had a single economics course at Princeton and probably didn’t do all too well at that. So really, Baker’s skillset I do think fundamentally was politics. Now that was a dirty word in his family as I’ve said so part of it was his allergy with that and I think he saw politics from his own experience as a grubby business.”
Advice for Up and Coming Journalists
“We’re so lucky because the world is constantly reinventing itself there’s no such thing as stupid questions. And in an age where it seems like we’re surfeited with ever amount of information, so much of it is bogus, or untrue, or partial, or misleading. I think that as much as people write and think about the crisis, which is genuine in the business model of journalism, it seems like there has never been a more important and even foundational moment for journalism in America.”
Accountability and Politics and Journalism Today
“Again, what I would say from the last few years, the takeaway that applies both to politics and to journalism is don’t take the present or recent past for granted. You know, what we’ve learned is that what we universalize as sort of the American way is not. And it’s up to each generation to, you know, take possession of it and to take responsibility for it. And the severing of the link that I always perceive to be the case between transparency which is what we journalists strive to offer – transparency, independent critical thinking, and some sort of accountability in our political system. To me that is the crisis that is affecting both journalism and politics. Where was the accountability?”