KCTS 9 Connects/Remembering Henry Jackson - May 25, 2012

Remembering Henry Jackson 5/25/12
  • KCTS 9 Connects

Remembering Henry Jackson

The life and times of the late United States Senator Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson.

  • About
  • Transcript

About the Episode

We look back at the life and times of the late United States Senator Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson, as we mark his 100th birthday. His son, Peter, joins us to discuss his father's legacy.

Chapter 1: Remembering Henry M. Jackson

Chapter 2: Interview with Peter Jackson and Kenneth Pyle

Chapter 3: Insiders Roundtable

About Henry M. Jackson

Henry Martin "Scoop" Jackson was a U. S. Congressman and Senator for Washington from 1941 until his death in 1983. Jackson was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972 and 1976.

Enrique Cerna:
Joining me now to talk more about the late senator and his legacy are his son, Peter Jackson, and Dr. Kenneth Pyle, the former director of the Jackson school of international studies at the University of Washington, and a close friend of the senator. Thank you both for being here. Appreciate it very much. Peter, your dad's legacy. You know, he served this state and his country for over 40 years. But it's been quite a while since he passed away as well. So there's got to be a generation that really doesn't know who scoop Jackson was and what he did. What do you want them to know?

Peter Jackson:
It's a good question, Enrique. I think, you know, sometimes history falls away over time. And his example was really one of the public service and politics don't need to be mutually exclusive, that it can be a good and noble calling. I think with somebody who cared about the people of Washington state, but also was focused on some of the larger national issues, in a way that was sober and serious, but that I think made a very meaningful difference, he was sort of an example of me of someone who was willing to take risks and stick his neck out, irrespective of the political consequences.

Enrique:
Which was in today's world in politics, I guess a bit unusual in some sense, yeah?

Kenneth Pyle:
Yes. I think my memory of scoop is somebody who worked across the aisles, I think it was president Reagan who called him the great bipartisan of our time. You know, he was really able to deal with disagreements over policy and yet stay agreeable with the people and work out productive results. He was, you know, it was a day that people got along in the Senate, the leaders were Giants, to me, looking back, Mansfield, Richard Russell.

Enrique:
Some of the greats of the United States Senate. And they got a lot of things done.

Kenneth:
Yeah.

Enrique:
Your relationship with your dad, you have a sister, she was kind of the apple of his eye. Not to say you weren't.

Peter:
Yeah.

Enrique:
But tell me about your relationship together. Being the son and the youngest and all of that.

Peter:
I think it was a good relationship. I think it was probably more contentious when I was a teenager but that may be true with most father/son relationships. I think we challenged each other. He was someone a generation plus older, and I think that kind of magnified some of the differences. But also made it kind of amusing too. I remember asking him when I was first learning to drive in the early 1980s, what the first car he used, and it was a model T.
[LAUGHTER]
And so when he was talking, he would talk about prohibition or he'd talk about having small pox, surviving small pox.

Enrique:
He had small pox?

Peter:
Yeah. So it was something other worldly. So I think that it may have magnified the generation gap somewhat, but we still have a friendly father/son relationship.

Enrique:
He was an Everett boy. And that never went away, even though he spent so much time, and you actually grew up, some of your time, you and your sister, in Washington D. C. But still, Everett was home.

Kenneth:
Yes.

Enrique:
Why did that mean so much to him?

Kenneth:
He had a knack with people. He loved people. And I think that came from his experience in Everett. He felt comfortable with people. And people liked him. He could easily strike up conversations. And I remember, I was on the airplane with him quite a number of times, and as soon as the seat belt sign would come off, scoop would walk up and down the aisle of the plane and strike up conversations with people. He was just very accessible. And there was nothing grandiose about him. He was just. . . And another thing I remember is in his breast pocket, he had an address book. And when there was a free moment, wherever we were in the U. S. , he would get out that address book and he'd call somebody in ritzville or Walla Walla and say, how's your grandmother doing? You know. And he had that common touch that I think came from growing up in a small town. And being a paper boy.

Peter:
Being a paper boy, he memorized all those addresses, so that if you said you were a Hanson, he would say, oh, the Hansons on 2432? You know, which is always for a politician, you know, for a community member, it's nice to. . .

Enrique:
I remember hearing a story about tip O'neill and the time he went to some gathering in Boston. And he knew everybody's name. In fact, they had him, tip, do the roll call here. And I think from your father's generation, that probably was the way they did a lot of things. And they knew the people.

Peter:
Right. Social media wasn't used at that time.

Enrique:
Right. Let's talk about his stands on things. In looking at your father's legacy, he was kind of a contradictory sort of guy. On the one hand, I heard him talk about being a liberal. And he cared about, as we mentioned in the piece, he cared about having a national health insurance policy. He was very big on civil rights but yet he also backed the internment during World War II.

Peter:
Yeah. I think, and that was an abomination clearly. I think if it had been something that had happened in the middle of his career or near the end of his career, I'd be pretty skeptical. The fact that he decided to support President Roosevelt in that particular area, which again, was pretty horrendous, early in his career, and then. . . Of course, he made amends. But at least as his career progressed, he really made some strides in the area of civil rights.

Kenneth:
Yeah. He was a very strong backer of Martin luther king and the civil rights movement? S and he became a very close friend of senator inowe, he worked with him on state hood for Hawaii.

Enrique:
And Alaska as well.

Peter:
Yeah.

Enrique:
And the Jackson school, where did that come from? I mean in the whole decision to do this.

Peter:
Well, right after I was appointed director of what was then called the school of international studies, I went back to Washington and met with Senator Jackson and asked his help in a fundraising campaign. And he responded, scoop never did things by halves, so he responded by getting the C E O. of Boeing and the C E.O. of united airlines to be by fundraising chairs. So I worked very closely with him for the last five years of his life. He came to the school often to speak. And he helped with fundraising. And so I traveled with him extensively in Asia. So after he died, it was just very appropriate that we rename the school after him. And he had this extraordinary interest in history and believed that understanding foreign cultures was absolutely basic to a good foreign policy. So all of those things made it very appropriate that the school be named after him.

Enrique:
The whole idea of globalization was very important.

Kenneth:
Yeah.

Enrique:
Before we go, I do want to talk about your mother. They were what, about 20 years in difference in age. What did she do for him though particularly from a political standpoint?

Peter:
She was the Lynchpin to his success, I would argue. He was the one who helped in those areas where he wasn't strong, I wouldn't say charisma per se.
[LAUGHTER]
There are so many examples in history where there's a Bethine Church, Frank Church's widow, and I wouldn't say necessarily smarter than their husband's, but she certainly made all the difference. He would not have gone as far as he did, particularly in 1960 when he was chair of the democratic national committee, had she not been there working the angles and having, again, that common touch, which I think is so important. It may seem old fashioned now with political spouses but in those days, it really was critical.

Enrique:
And when he ran for president?

Peter:
Yes, I think it made a difference to have an attractive, smart I always have to remind people that my mom's mentor was mark van doornink, and just because she was blonde and pretty. . .
[LAUGHTER]
And she actually added when it came to groups in the early '70s. It really made a meaningful difference.

Enrique:
Well, I have to say that one of my great memories of your father is when I worked at King television, and the program there, and being able to interview him. And then after I did that, he sent me a letter. And saying I really enjoyed this. Thank you. And I'd love to do this again. And it's one of, kind of my treasured things. And all the politicians either sent me nice notes or not so nice notes. That was in the good pile. So I appreciate that. And thank you for your time. And I hope we don't forget his legacy because he did so much for the state, along with Warren Magnuson.

Peter:
Absolutely.

Enrique:
Thank you.

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05/25/12

I am a Reagan Republican and I love Sen Jackson. I enjoyed your show immensly. However, I was deeply disapointed that no one mentioned the profound significance of Sen Jackson's international legacy. May I refer you to the book by Natan Sharansky, "Fear No Evil". In this book, Natan recounts how he spent ten years in the gulag for his crime of supporting the Nobel prize wining physisist Andre Sakarov and human rights in the Soviet Union. Natan states that the three most important people supporting human rights in Eastern Europe and devising means to get the Communists to leave Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, so the people there could have freedom, were Ronald Reagan, Andre Sakarov and our own Sen. Scoop Jackson. Before Reagan, Sen Jackspon wrote the Jackson-Vannick ammendment, tying trade policy to Soviet human rights violations. This fact should be shouted from the mountain tops; Scoop was a great champion of human rights, helping to liberate hundreds of millions of people.

05/25/12

Where is every body?

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