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"Face the Nation" transcripts November 25, 2012: Presidential and fiction authors

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on November 25, 2012, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Thanksgiving Sunday's book panels include presidential historians Doris Kearns Goodwin, Evan Thomas, Bob Woodward and Jon Meacham; then, a conversation with fiction writers David Baldacci, Alex Stone, Gillian Flynn and Chris Pavone.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Well, just hours after helping negotiate the cease-fire between the Israelis and Hamas, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi declared more power for himself and said he was immune to judicial oversight. That has set off violent protests between Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, and the opposition parties. Police used tear gas in Cairo yesterday. More than five hundred have been injured and Egypt's judicial branch is joining with the opposition in protests. Both sides have announced plans for major protests in Cairo on Tuesday. CBS News correspondent Holly Williams is in Cairo this morning. Holly, what can you tell us?

HOLLY WILLIAMS (CBS News Correspondent): Well, Bob, what we're seeing here today in central Cairo is violent clashes between anti-Morsi protestors and the police. They're really fighting running street battles in the area around Tahrir Square. So the protesters throw stones and sometimes hurl obscenities at the police. They push their way down a street and then after a while the police fire back with tear gas canisters or they will drive an-- an armored car down the street, and-- and the street is then cleared. The numbers are actually fairly small. I would say there are between one thousand and two thousand protesters, and only some of them are violent. But, as you said just then, both sides are planning big protests on Tuesday. And given what we're seeing, I don't think it would be surprising if we see violent clashes between the two sides. But you get the sense that Egyptian liberals and opponents of President Morsi who are not out on the street today are really trying to work out how they should respond and-- and what they can do. The Egyptian Judges' Club has called on judges to go on strike. We don't know what kind of an impact that's going to have. Several people have launched legal challenges to President Morsi's decree, but given that he's now-- said that he's immune to the courts, that may be completely irrelevant. And then yesterday, we heard from Mohammed ElBaradei. He's a very prominent liberal here in Egypt, the former director general of the IAEA. He said first of all that there can be no dialogue with President Morsi. That gives you a sense of how polarized things are here. He went on to say that he's sure the military is worried and perhaps they will intervene to restore stability. Now, that's an extraordinary thing for a proponent of democracy to say and perhaps does not bode well for Egyptian democracy. Now, both President Morsi and his supporters are saying that this is temporary. That once Egypt has a new constitution and a new parliament next year that President will relinquish these powers. The problem is, of course, that history is littered with examples of political leaders who have given themselves special powers, they've said temporarily and then it's ended up being anything but temporary in the end.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, thank you so much, Holly, and be safe. And now to our first panel this morning. We're joined by Bob Woodward, who has written twelve books about Presidents, the latest The Price Of Politics. Doris Kearns Goodwin's best-selling Team Of Rivals, the basis for the new Lincoln movie. She was an adviser on that. She's also written about LBJ, and the Kennedys. Evan Thomas, latest book Ike's Bluff, all about President Eisenhower's years in the White House. And Jon Meacham's new book is Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power and it just debuted right up there at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. It's now at number two. Well, thank all of you for coming. You know, as I-- as I read these books--and, Evan, I've finished yours last night--it-- it something occurred to me. Lincoln, Jefferson, Eisenhower, they were all great negotiators. They were all compromisers. And then I read your book earlier this year, Bob Woodward, about President Obama and this stalemate over-- over trying to find some kind of way to keep the government running here in Washington and it occurs to me that what seems to be lacking these days is this-- this disability of modern politicians to compromise. I sometimes wonder if they-- if they've forgotten how to do it.

BOB WOODWARD (The Price of Politics): Well, one-- one theme is the President, no matter who is President, is the chief strategist. They set the tone. They say this is how we're going to do things and fix things. In the case of Obama in the first term, and the economic issues, he didn't fix them. And he didn't find a way to work his will. And you see Lincoln and Jefferson and Eisenhower did. Now, we're catching Obama midstream. He still has another four years. The interesting question is going to be how he takes victory. We know how Romney has taken defeat--not very well--and he is grousing. What is-- has Obama learned? How is he going to say, we're going to fix some of these things, not just play politics?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, Doris, you lived with Lincoln for a long, long time when you wrote this book. You got to know a lot about him. Now you've been working with the folks who made this movie. What are the lessons for Barack Obama from Abraham Lincoln?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN (Team of Rivals): Well, I think the most important lesson that the movie illustrates by getting the passage of the 13th Amendment through a really fractious Congress is you do everything you can, every means within your control. He says, "I am clothed with immense power. You get me those votes". And that means assignments, jobs, it means being sort of looking to the his-- history of the person making them want to feel better that they've done something important, low-level stuff. It's messy. It's compromising. It doesn't look pretty but it gets the job done. And I think that's the same thing that LBJ did. I mean I think you got to learn from these guys. You use the White House as a political asset. If LBJ were there now trying to get the fiscal cliff, they would be sleeping at the White House.


DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: McConnell would be in one room, and Boehner would be in another and LBJ would be parading around in his robe. But if they remain obstructionist, then Teddy Roosevelt is another lesson for them because he knew that he couldn't get his conservative Republican Party just by being nice to them, by offering them things. He needed to mobilize pressure from the outside in. And that's where I think Obama has to also play an outside game. He's got that base now. That base is still mobilized and there's got to be a way. Maybe he should take a train trip around the country, the same way that Teddy Roosevelt did. Get them out there all the time. Get the immigration bill signed because people pressure you from the outside in.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Evan, what came back to me, as I was reading your book, is that-- that Eisenhower in his own way was a very good politician, and I don't think he's gotten a credit for that and I first came to think about this earlier this year, I moderated a seminar on LBJ up at Hunter College and I asked Ervin Duggan, who was one of Lyndon Johnson's young aides at the time, I asked him, who did LBJ admire as a politician? And he surprised everyone there by saying he thought the best politician he ever knew was of all people Dwight Eisenhower. And not just because of what he was able to do to get the people together as supreme allied commander during World War II, but even afterward and-- and he said something and I saw it time and again in your book. He said that Eisenhower had a way of getting his way without you knowing that's what he wanted to do.

EVAN THOMAS (Ike's Bluff): Well, he had a great kind of confidence, the confidence to be humble. I mean, he was once how to do-- he was asked once how to do with Churchill who is so demanding and so difficult and Ike said, "Well, it was a problem, but in the end I knew I was in charge." This is in World War II. And he had that kind of confidence. He didn't have to show anything. He-- he knew at the end he would decide, but he let people have their egos, let them bounce off of each other, and he was patient, a quality I wish I had more of. But-- well, I wish we all had more of. He was patient. He didn't decide until he absolutely had to. And he could tolerate enormous dissidence and clashing egos, knowing at the end of the day he was the one who would decide.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, he was so confident--and I take this from your book--he was not afraid and I can't imagine any politician today who would have this much confidence. He was not afraid to leave the impression that he didn't know about something.

EVAN THOMAS: Yeah, I mean, amazingly--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): When, in fact, he probably did and often did.

EVAN THOMAS: He was famous for his bad syntax in press conferences. And so the press, which was lazy and maybe even lazier than today, thought that he was dumb. He was not. He was intention-- one time before a press conference, they were saying, "Well, Mister President, you have to be careful what you say here." And he said, "Oh, don't worry. I'll just confuse them." and he did. And he was-- he-- he had the confidence to be able to deal with that. Sometimes you have to be a little opaque. Sometimes you have to be very clear. He also knew when to be clear.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, Jon, the thing I find interesting, and it just reminds us you know, we have this great debate today about big government versus small government.

JON MEACHAM (Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power): Right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Thomas Jefferson was a small government guy, and, yet, he had these big ideas. When it came time to purchase, you know, you know, the half of the continent here with the Louisiana Purchase, he went right out and did it because he saw this as a continental nation.

JON MEACHAM: He was a small government guy unless he was in charge of big government. I think one thing all are-- all these subjects have in common is as long as they were in charge, they could pretty much justify damn near anything. Jefferson believed that the ground of liberty was gained by inches. And even though he lived through these amazingly tumultuous times and born the subject of king and dies as the President of-- of a new country, he understood that compromise was the essence of politics and I think we sometimes think of Jefferson as, you know, we think of Eisenhower as kind of bumbling. Jefferson we think of as the Renaissance man, you know, it's-- it's Monticello. It-- it's wine. It's farming. It's gardening, it's all beautiful. But, fundamentally, he spent forty years as a working politician. And I think the fact that he got things done and took that great interest in it should give us all hope.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Why is it that we seem to have lost this whole idea of-- of compromise now? Politicians don't know how to do it anymore. Doris turns-- talks about how LBJ would have brought them all into the White House and wouldn't have let them out.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN (Team of Rivals): I think part of it is the political culture in Washington. Even in LBJ's time Republicans and Democrats stayed there on the weekends. They weren't running home to raise money. Money is the poison in the system. We can never forget that I think. They used to be able to poker together. They'd play golf together. So when Dirksen needed-- was needed by LBJ for the Civil Rights Act, they had a friendship. Also these guys had been in World War II a lot of them together. They had been in the military. Now you have fewer people that have been in the military. You've got the television that honors people who are extremists on either side. You have got districts that are so apportioned. So the political culture has to change somehow. So maybe we do need to just put them all together in a room and not let them out.

BOB WOODWARD (The Price of Politics): But-- but so much of it is defined by the President Obama. And there-- there are people who work with Obama and know him and say the only problem he's got is he doesn't like people, and he doesn't like politics. And that is a hindrance. And you talk to people who deal with them. Like Paul Ryan, who ran for vice president un-successfully and he take-- he says, you know, they don't like us. They won't-- we don't talk to them. There is not-- when-- when Obama has people down for the Super Bowl, he sits in front with his buddies, and doesn't do the Lyndon Johnson and so people, you know, I remember Katharine Graham, the publisher of The Post used to say it's very hard to not like someone who says they like you. Well, Obama sends the message, you know, I'm-- I'm really out of tune with you.

BOB SCHIEFFER: The other side of it is there may be some people on the other side that are not all that friendly.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: Like your column.

JON MEACHAM: Yeah they have to-- they have to come to dinner if you ask them. So it is-- it is both sides. I think the other thing is Obama, for whatever reason, has not had a partner in-- in his view, who can make this deal. And it does require, I think, Doris is right, I think it requires both party bases to also give permission for compromise, you know, the middle way is not always the right way, you know, compromise is not itself a virtue. But until we find a better System, which we haven't yet, we have to figure out a way (INDISTINCT) is going to work.

BOB WOODWARD: But it's the extraordinary power of that office of the presidencies. I mean you've all written about it and in this era, the Obama era now, the concentration of power is even greater. And so the influence he can have-- certainly there are-- there are problems on the other side, but, you know, all of the Presidents you've written about had problems on the other side, and they found a way to grab it.

EVAN THOMAS: There are-- there are simple things you can do, play golf. Eisenhower played golf eight hundred times as President. That's a lot of golf. But he played with his political opponents, too. When he was trouble with Bob Taft, who was the majority leader of his party and they were fighting, Eisenhower played golf with him. You know I understand in the-- in the Democratic caucus, they're saying, the guy-- they keep track of how many times Obama has played golf and they're asking each other, "Have you played golf with him? You have played golf with him?" None of them have played golf with him. It sounds simple, but that stuff works.


DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: I mean the White House is a huge political asset which can be used. I mean so many of those guys have never even been to the White House, you know, lot of lower level Congressmen--


DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: --or lower level senators, they'd give anything to go. I think if he could have a cocktail hour. I know he should have dinner with his family, but if there's a cocktail hour every night and you bring over forty congressmen at a group and they all run around the white House, you've got something happening.


BOB SCHIEFFER: We're going-- we're going to have to take a break here. We'll be back in one minute with more of this.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Back now with our panel. Jon Meacham, let's say Thomas Jefferson realized he had a fiscal cliff that--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --the country was going to go over. Well, what do you think he would do?

JON MEACHAM: One thing he did every night when Congress was in session, more or less, he had lawmakers down to dinner. He broke with the federalist custom of precedents and very formal dinners and formal toast. He had what we call pell-mell. People just came down, they sat down, they sat wherever they could, and they had dinner together. He would write his family members and say I'm going to be a very unpunctual correspondent because Congress is here and I'm going to have dinner every night with the lawmakers. And it doesn't create Walhalla by any means, but it does help on the margins and, as we all know, politics is decided on the margins.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: Well, you know, one thing I think it's not just for the fiscal cliff, but if our economy is really going to need mobilization in order to get more jobs here, fewer exports abroad, then he's got to have some CEOs come in, like FDR did. I mean FDR brought in the head of Chrysler and the head of Sears and Roebuck when we were ready to mobilize for the war. He had two top Republicans in his cabinet, Knox and Stimson. And I think if there's a way, I know CEOs don't like to come to the government because they have to give out all that stuff that they have those taxes and things. Maybe you make them (INDISTINCT) like they did with the CEOs. I don't know whether that meant that they wouldn't have to be investigated in the same way. But those are the people I think that want to help their country. The country has been so good to them, let them try and figure out how to get our economy moving again.

BOB WOODWARD: And-- and I think Obama has the capacity to realize the moment. For a re-elected President there is so much goodwill out there, even among his opponents. Now, we had an election which I think was decided but not decisive. There are, what, fifty-seven million people who voted for Romney. And there is a way that Obama can kind of step forward and say, "These are the ideas. This is the method we are going to do this." He can-- I mean, he have-- you know, I mean you talk to this man-- I-- I mean, you don't get to talk to the people you write about. I get to talk to Obama and say, "Why did you do this? What happened here?" And he has good answers. He equips himself very well, and he needs to say, this is the theory of the case. This is how we're going to work this out. And the capacity and the goodwill are there I believe.

EVAN THOMAS: His-- his-- his best speech ever I thought was when he gave his race speech in 2008. He did that without the help of a lot of political consultants. My memory of this is that they were mostly against him giving a speech about race.

BOB WOODWARD: Great risk.

EVAN THOMAS: They thought, "Oh, my gosh. You can't mention race. That's a terrible thing." He did this on his own. He needs to get away from the consultants who told him what to do this time around and talk about the hard stuff that is-- we-- we have to do, which consultants don't like to do. Political people do not like, oh, God, you can't tax--

BOB SCHIEFFER: But isn't that the point here. Most of the things the political consultants tell politicians to do, had any of the people that you wrote about, excluding Bob here, done what the consultants told them to do they would have had entirely different presidencies.

EVAN THOMAS: Well, he's-- he's won now. He's got nothing left to run for.


EVAN THOMAS: He can-- he can say good-bye to his consultants for the time being and-- and write an honest speech.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: But, you know, more importantly I think like the night he won the election this time around, he gave a great speech that night, too--


DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: --in which he said you have made me a better candidate. Your stories and struggles I'm going to take with me to the presidency. I think the problem with the White House is it does become a bubble as we've all said. He needs to reconnect because that's when he makes great speeches, when he's got that audience there, when he's feeling people's concerns and maybe just getting out of the White House more in this-- in these next four years.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I mean would-- would consultants have told Lincoln to try to repeal the amendment-- say for it?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: Obviously not. They said you don't have the votes. Why are you going to tarnish your-- you know, your-- your victory on a losing struggle. But he said it's time. And-- but he had a sense of timing. Timing is critical for leadership.


DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: And to have timing, like FDR, you've got to have a feel for the country. And so it's all connected. You got to get out of there. You got to get people in there.

JON MEACHAM: Right. I mean, the-- the wonderful thing about doubling the size of the country when the news Louisiana Purchase came, Jefferson believed that he had to have a constitutional amendment to do this because it was not an enumerated power and he was, as you said, a small government guy. So he's going to go to the country, six weeks pass, he gets a letter saying Napoleon's rethinking what was the worst real estate deal in history. And Jefferson suddenly says, "Constitutional amendment? What constitutional amendment?" You know, it was--

DORIS KEARNS GOODMAN: Takes too much time.

JON MEACHAM: --it was Casablanca. It was Claude Rains. What are you talking about? And, you-- you have to depart from dogma. You-- you have to be quick. And I think that the other thing Jefferson did after a horrible election, even closer than this one in 1800, we are all federalists. We are all Republicans. And he, too, had a candid moment where he said, "I will not please all of you all the time. But I wish you would be merciful to some extent if you do not have the view I have. So before you censure me, be careful." And I think that kind of conversation people appreciate candor because we all know it's true.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Here's a candid moment. I'm going to have to take a break here. Back in a second.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Back now with our panel. Doris, I know that you spent time with Daniel Day Lewis, who gives this magnificent portrayal of Lincoln in the movie. What was that like and what was it about?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: Well, what he wanted to do was to go Springfield as soon as he agreed to become Lincoln. Two years before he would actually begin filming, and he wanted to know where Lincoln had lived. So we walked through the house. He sees the low ceilings. He feels claustrophobic, even can't wait to get out of there. He wanted to know how did Lincoln walk, so we talked about the fact that people knew that he walked like a laborer. So you see that walk in the movie. It's Lincoln walking. What was his voice like? And we knew that he had a high-pitched voice. What did he do in his spare time and we constantly told-- told stories. So the warmth and the humor of Lincoln, even in that time when we walked around the law offices and the library, they showed him all the official documents, he was absorbing Lincoln so.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So this was two years before--

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: This is two years. And he told Spielberg he wouldn't start filming until one year later, and-- and now the movie is out. No, it's actually one year. It's-- it's one year. But it was an amazing performance. You feel like you're watching him.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Bob, final thought from you today.

BOB WOODWARD: I'm-- I'm interested in what Obama's second inaugural is going to be like. This is a big moment for clarity. I remember when I was in the Navy, not in the First World War or the Second World War, but the Vietnam era. There was an executive officer on a ship who had a plaque glued to his desk that said the following, "He who does not know to which port he is sailing has no favorable wind."


BOB WOODWARD: Obama needs to say this is the port we are going to, so he catches the favorable winds because I think they're out there.


EVAN THOMAS: But he can't necessarily know. I mean so much the story of second terms is surprises. And-- and I think-- you know, we want Obama to spend more time with Congressmen and play golf and all that. But we got to remember what a lonely job it is. His hardest decision may be whether to bomb Iran or not. That's a pretty lonely exercise. And ultimately, that's a responsibility that's his alone. And-- and he has to be doing that while he's doing all this negotiating about the budget. It's-- it's-- it's you know, it's a tough job, and no wonder Obama has aged.

JON MEACHAM: Jefferson once said it--I think it is best to give as well as to take in a system such as ours. And I hope that both the Congress, the President, and the bases of both parties give him permission to do that. Make it able for them to do that.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me just go around the table here quickly. Do you think that they will get past the fiscal cliff here before the year is up, Doris?



DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: But I always believed the Red Sox would win the World Series and they finally did. So, yes, I do.


BOB WOODWARD: They have to. I mean the-- the alternative is a grimness that we don't even want to discuss.

EVAN THOMAS: I think the final way is to kick the can down the road.

JON MEACHAM: I'm with Evan.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You think--

JON MEACHAM: I sus-- my sense is they probably might get-- they'll some kind of settlement that will have a trigger, so they'll-- like the roadrunner, they'll come to the edge of the cliff, and-- and hopefully we all won't go over it.

BOB WOODWARD: So you'll have two deals.

JON MEACHAM: Two deals.

BOB WOODWARD: Two deals before the end of the year and a big-term deal. Hopefully-- I mean, there's all the foreign policy issues. Somebody suggested to me my next book ought to be about the Middle East and it ought to be called Meltdown--


BOB WOODWARD: --because we've got problems there.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, it was really fun to talk to all of you this morning, and happy holiday, and I look forward to the next holiday. We'll be right back.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Some of our stations are leaving us now, but for most of you, we'll be right back with our second book panel, Gillian Flynn, who wrote Gone Girl, Chris Pavone, author of The Expats, Alex Stone who wrote Fooling Houdini and David Baldacci. He will--


BOB SCHIEFFER: And welcome back to FACE THE NATION Page Two and our big holiday book show. I have to confess, I read more non-fiction than fiction and I depend on my wife to guide me to the best fiction, not necessarily great literature but just books that are really fun and she got me some very good ones this year. The first written by Gillian Flynn, whose psychological thriller Gone Girl has been at the top of the New York Times bestseller's list for a long, long time. Chris Pavone, he is a first time fiction author of The Expats, a very timely tale of intrigue involving a CIA operative. Alex Stone who has a Masters Degree in physics and decided instead to become a magician because I believe you wrote it makes you be less a nerd which is always a good ambition. His book is Fooling Houdini. And the ever-reliable David Baldacci who's back with more tales of Army Special Agent John Puller for his twentieth novel The Forgotten. Gillian, I want to start with you. Just a masterpiece of writing, your book, I don't want to give away too much of it. So I'll let you tell us but it is the story-- it's the thriller but it's told in a very unusual way, and, basically, it's about trust in a marriage that sort of went-- went wrong.

GILLIAN FLYNN (Gone Girl): Mm. You know it is about Nick and Amy Dunne. They're a married couple and Amy goes missing on her five-year anniversary, and it starts with that very basic premise, but the story is told as kind of a he said/she said sort of story. So it's told from Nick's point of view on the day she goes missing and as he quickly starts becoming a person of interest, we don't know where Amy is or what has happened to her. And then through Amy, through diary entries from back in the early days of their courtship all the way up until the day she is missing, and we come to quickly understand that these are two not entirely reliable narrators and that you're going to have to kind of sift through and decide who you are believing.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, that was the part in the book who am I for in here, who am I pulling for in this book as it-- as it unfolds. Why do you think it has been so popular? It went right to the top.

GILLIAN FLYNN: You know, I think, you know, it's-- it's a twisting mystery but it also has a basis, kind of gender relations, long-term relationships and-- and there are a lot of things that people can kind of connect to the different power plays that I think we have in long-term relationships and-- and the give and take of-- of a marriage and-- and I think people can-- whether or not they really relate to them entirely, I hope not, but I think that everyone can see a little bit of themselves in that marriage.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And-- and, Chris, your book, it is also about a marriage, and it's basically a-- a couple that gets transferred, the husband gets transferred to Europe, to Luxembourg, and the wife, it turns out, I'm not giving anything away here because early on we find out she's not just the stay-at-home mom, she's actually a CIA agent. And I must say, as-- as I read your book, and both, my older daughter and I had both thought in the beginning, it had been written by a woman--

CHRIS PAVONE (The Expats): Mm-Hm.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --and I wonder, how are you able to-- to transpose yourself as it were?

CHRIS PAVONE: I don't think I can transpose myself into a woman, but I did manage to transpose myself into somebody with a job who went to an office every day and put on a tie and sat in meetings with grown-ups, and did all the stuff that you do when you're out in the business world to being somebody who all of a sudden at age forty is at home with small children, cooking and cleaning and bored to death. And I happen to be doing this in Luxembourg for the first time in my life, not living in New York City, not working, but taking care of my four-year-old children, while my wife worked this insane job of seventy-hour weeks and traveling all over the place. And I was-- I was at home with a washing machine that was in German and a stove in German and I spoke no German and so I used this thing called intensive (INDISTINCT) to cook everything because it sounded like it had a lot of exclamation points and I burned everything. And I had to become a new person who knew how to use a stove in German, knew how to spend my days on the floor with the children playing with Lego, buying butcher cuts in French, and being a stay-at-home parent and I-- I don't think I ever approached being a woman, but this-- in-- in Luxembourg, ninety-nine percent of the people doing this were women, and I was a lone man in this world surrounded by women. They were my daily life.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well-- well, my daughter said that you did the best job and had the most insight into what a mom does while dad is off doing whatever it is he does. And I-- I think that's part of the success of your book but we'll get back but it was also-- it was very suspenseful. And in-- it-- it was quite a thriller. Now, David Baldacci, this is your, what, twenty, how many?

DAVID BALDACCI (The Forgotten): Twentieth fifth. Yeah, somebody just told me the other day. I really had not counted the books and so when they said it it was a little bit surprise for me.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Twenty-five books you've done and I remember-- I'm old enough to remember when you were a lawyer here in Washington--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --and one of my best friends was your law partner in that old law firm. How did you get into this? I mean, what--

DAVID BALDACCI: I've been writing since I was a kid. I was trying to sell short stories to the New Yorker when I was fourteen and realized a little bit later that if I changed my name to J.D. Salinger my odds would have (INDISTINCT) improved. But I've always wanted to be a writer and I spent ten years writing short stories because that's what I really loved to do. What I really love to read were short stories in high school and college and had no success doing that and I went to college and law school because I needed to support myself and I had a family early on, and it was something I just kept doing. And I went into screenplay writing for a while and got an agent out in Hollywood which is almost impossible because most agents in Hollywood I've met don't even know there is a state called Virginia. You know, they just don't think anything exists outside of California and then I started writing my first novel Absolute Power and that kind of changed my life. And I just thought it would be a novel that would get the attention of an agent, and, you know, it was a big break that I-- I needed I guess.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And you-- that later became a movie.

DAVID BALDACCI: It did become a movie. It was a movie where the main character of the novel makes no appearance at all in the film. And that was because Clint Eastwood was-- starred in it and he also directed and in Hollywood, the director controls everything. And the-- the screenwriter was Bill Goldman, he's won Academy-- a couple of Academy Awards but still he's just a screenwriter. So his job was to make Clint Eastwood's character, who dies halfway through the novel, survive and also be the hero. And Bill finally came to his wits end, he couldn't do it. So he called me up and said do you want to have a shot at this? And I said, look, I spent three years writing the book, killing the man, so, no, I can't think of a way to keep him alive and by the way, they're paying you to do it, not me. So he finally-- they brought another screenwriter to keep Eastwood alive and I thought the first act of the film which is right from the book was terrific and the rest of it, you know, it was okay.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And-- and now Clint Eastwood also takes parts in little plays where sometimes there are imaginary characters I could see in the Republican convention.

DAVID BALDACCI: There were no empty chairs in Absolute Power that I recall anyway.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And then we come to Alex. I have to say of all the books that I read this year, yours was the funniest. Yours was the one that-- it-- it was one of those and you're not a fiction writer. I-- I put you here because your book reads like fiction, from time to time, and sometimes I do have to wonder if you did kind of make a part of it along the way, like magicians will do, but I'm-- I'm sure you didn't. But the kind of books that I really like to read for pleasure are the ones where you-- you read a couple of pages, and first you say, why in the world would anybody write a book about this particular subject? And then you get into it. That's exactly what I said about your book. And then about two pages in, I was totally hooked and from every page on, I found something to laugh about, or something where I'd say, well, I didn't know. Tell us about this whole journey of magic. You said that you didn't want to be to be a nerd so you started learning magic tricks.

ALEX STONE (Fooling Houdini): Yeah, that a-- that-- that was a great plan right there. The-- well, yeah, I started doing magic when I was a kid, when I was five years old. My first gig was my own sixth birthday party which went just horribly, terribly heck-- heckled me and stuff. And then years later, I went to New York-- I moved to New York and I discovered there was this whole subculture of magic and magicians. And this was a world of secret societies and bizarre rituals and-- and it was a place where, you know, people hung out in the backs of diners, and pizzerias, and studied with old masters. And there were tournaments and lectures. There's even a magic Olympics that takes place every three years, which actually just happened this summer in England right before the non-magic Olympics. And-- and I became entranced with this world and the people in it. And I think what probably fueled my fascination even further was that I found there're all these connections betweens magic and psychology and neuroscience and physics and math, gambling and crime. And I have a science background. And so that-- that was pretty interesting, I thought. Magic shows us a lot of the ways in which we can be deceived rather easily-- yeah.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But I-- I-- we should add to this, you were planning to be-- to get a PhD in physics and you decided it instead.

ALEX STONE: Also to be less nerdy.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And less nerdy?

ALEX STONE: Yeah, yeah. This, no--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Are you happy?

ALEX STONE: Yeah. Well, sure, I am happy. But, you know, I-- I do think things like magic and physics are kind of related in that they're-- nerds playing God with the universe--


ALEX STONE: --you know in a way. And magic especially is-- it's kind of way of hiding in the spotlight. You can-- you can perform and-- and seem extroverted, but you're also withholding information.



BOB SCHIEFFER: To me one of-- and I say every page of your book I found something else to laugh about. You went out and-- and visited this card shark--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --not shark, I guess, mechanic, what we could call him--

ALEX STONE: Yeah. Yeah, card shark is--

BOB SCHIEFFER: --who knows-- is better at manipulating cards than-- than anyone, and he's blind.

ALEX STONE: Yes. So because--

BOB SCHIEFFER: But how can that be?

ALEX STONE: Yeah. It's unbelievable. His name is Richard Turner. He lives in Texas, San Antonio. And he lost his vision or began to lose his vision pretty early in life when he was eight. And he is, by all accounts, the greatest card manipulator in the world. He specializes in gambling slides. So, you know, dealing from the bottom of the deck or dealing second from the top. And he can do unbelievable things like, for instance, you can give him two decks of cards, put them side by side, and then say nineteen and twenty-three, and he'll just reach over and pick off exactly nineteen cards and twenty-three cards from the top of each deck. And-- and he does it all by touch. And I-- I spent a lot of time talking to him and I asked him, you know, does your blindness-- you know, is it-- does it hinder you? And he said, no, it's a gift. And so, you know, this led me to think a lot about this idea that when one sense is cut off from the world are other-- you know, other parts of our brain rally to the task of-- of compensating. It turns out there's fascinating scientific literature of-- of how, you know, blind people, you know, blind musicians have perfect pitch more--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Right. I'm going to get you to do a trick for us I mean--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --if you will. But first, I want to get back. Gillian, you know, as-- as I was reading your book, as I was reading Chris' book, David's book, it's all about trust, it's all about intrigue. It-- it strikes me that what we're seeing right now in Washington. I mean, it-- it's almost-- is there a book there. I think David said he hoped nobody ever delved into any of this. He didn't think it was something we ought to be. But what is the fascination with the CIA? I mean, you all-- both-- I mean, you do, especially Chris, and-- and Gillian. You're-- you have the police in there. I mean your book is kind of a police procedural in some ways, but-- but yet it's not. It's also very dark. Well, what was he appeal there?

GILLIAN FLYNN: I think we do get attracted to those, you know, the big cases that we can look at and kind of unpack and figure out what that means to our relationships and our lives.


GILLIAN FLYNN: I mean I think that's why we always are kind of interested in-- in true crime and-- and these true cases is because you do-- everyone does wonder what happens behind---


GILLIAN FLYNN: --other people's doors and other people's marriages. And, certainly, my book is-- is partly, you know, no one knows what happens behind other people's doors, and also, do you really know what happens behind your own doors?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, that-- and that also prompts a question. My friend Sandra Brown, who writes these thrillers, and they're very steamy. And her husband's always her first editor. And she-- she talked about one time she had written this book. And he looked down and he looked up at her and said, "When did we ever do that?" You know, and so when I'm reading your book, I have to ask, is there anything about you in this book or is this totally made up?

GILLIAN FLYNN: Thank goodness, no. I mean, it-- it really-- I mean, I-- I am married. So I-- I do-- I do understand kind of the dynamics of marriage, certainly, but, you know, my-- I'm lucky to have a husband who loves writers and loves reading. And he said, you know, I told him one day, I said, "You know, honey, I'm-- I'm going to delve into the darkest, most toxic aspects of marriage. Is that cool with you?" And-- and he said, you know, go for it. You know, don't censor yourself. And-- and-- and he is my first and best reader. And he-- he put it down and said, whoo, this is dark. Well done.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you sense anything different? Has he ever expressed any fear? I mean these characters of yours can get pretty tough.

GILLIAN FLYNN: He-- he sleeps like this next to me, one eye open.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And how about you, Chris? How much of your book-- well, you talked about how you were--- you were the spouse at home while-- while-- while your wife worked, while you were in Europe? But beyond that, you get very deeply into the CIA and things like that. Does any of that come from personal experience?

CHRIS PAVONE: No, none at all. Umm, I-- most of the The Expats is really a story about a marriage, about a woman who used to be something else, who no longer is, about a marriage under the strain of this move in this part of life. And that's the book that I was writing for a few months. And it was a very honest and personal book. It was about the life I was living, people who surrounded me, what it's like to be an expat, what Luxembourg was like. But after writing that book for a couple months, filled with a lot of very, very boring stuff about day-to-day boring life. I realized I was writing a boring book. And I didn't want to write a boring book. And so I cast around for things to add for elements to layer on top of this generally real story to make it less boring. And that ended up being a spy element as well as some stolen money and a job.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So you're telling me this is not the book you started out to read--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --to write? Yeah.

CHRIS PAVONE: It's not. But I-- I still think that the book that I started out to write is still there. It-- it is mostly a book about marriage and a book about a woman who is trying to become-- trying to redefine herself as something in the middle of her life, and trying to-- to run away from the things she's ashamed of about her past and trying to create something new for the future. Umm, and you don't have to read the book entirely close to see that the number of paragraphs devoted to the CIA is probably could be counted one hand. It's not primarily a spy book. It just is in a spy world.

BOB SCHIEFFER: David, why didn't you say the-- I heard you on television the other day say that you didn't-- you hoped there weren't any books based on what's been going on in Washington lately?

DAVID BALDACCI: Well, I-- I just hope there we're-- you know, novelists are better than that. They come up with new material and give it a fresh spin. I certainly have. But, you know, I-- I live and work in Virginia. I look across the river every day and there's tons of ideas that happen from Washington, DC. I've always had a problem with authority and with sort of questioning leadership and orders coming down. A lot of my books have those themes in there. And when I wrote Zero Day, which is this-- the first John Puller novel, I really set myself up for a challenge because he's in the Army, which is probably the greatest leadership vehicle ever invented, and orders are to be not thought about but just followed and executed upon. And I put a guy in there who didn't really want to do that at the end of the day and he started to question himself which made him think he wasn't a good viable soldier anymore. And, you know, to do that, I-- I-- I try to do a lot of research. I went down to Fort Benning where the Rangers train. I was down there for three days with these guys doing stuff I would never want to do again.


DAVID BALDACCI: And, you know, I got my butt kicked. But to listen to stories about, you know, an eighteen-year-old kid who just singed up. And the Army, the way the Army is set up today, you-- you get in there, you get your basic training, which is twelve weeks. If you want four more weeks of specialized training, you get it, and then the very next day, you're on the plane to Afghanistan--


DAVID BALDACCI: --and you'll be in harm's way. So that's a big deal for a young kid to make that commitment. And most of the research that I do, you have to leave out the novel. If you-- if you write a book and you fill it with all your research, it's going to be a really, really boring book, and you have to have sort of the-- the courage to like, leave most of it on the cutting room floor, and include just enough of it in the story to make it viable.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know it sounds very much like the advice I always give young journalists when they're having a hard time writing a story, I always say you just haven't done enough reporting. You need to go back and do some more reporting. And that sounds like that's-- that's what makes your book successful. We're going to take a little break here and when we come back, Alex is going to show us some magic.


BOB SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with our authors. It wouldn't be fair to have a magician or someone who has written a book about magic without asking him to do a couple of tricks. So show us one of your favorites.

ALEX STONE: Okay. Let's see here. I just want you to think of a card.


ALEX STONE: Just any card. It doesn't matter what, which one.


ALEX STONE: And just-- just name it out loud.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I can say it now?

ALEX STONE: Yeah, say it out loud.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Six of hearts.

ALEX STONE: Six of hearts. Any particular reason why you thought of the six of hearts?


ALEX STONE: Just came to mind.


ALEX STONE: Okay. Bob, would you do me a favor and just cut the deck exactly in half?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay. I'm going to have to stand up here.

ALEX STONE: Yeah, here.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Put it right here? All right.

ALEX STONE: Exactly in half. Exactly in half.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. There you go.

ALEX STONE: Now, that's not the six of hearts, right?


ALEX STONE: And that's not six of hearts?


ALEX STONE: Okay. But I bet if you used your imagination you could convince yourself that this card or-- or any card for that matter--


ALEX STONE: --was the six of the hearts. The perception is reality. That's what magic is all about.


ALEX STONE: So just-- just imagine that, in fact, this is the six of hearts. Watch close.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay, I'm thinking.

ALEX STONE: Hey, ready? Watch. Here we go.



BOB SCHIEFFER: (LAUGHING). How did you do that?

ALEX STONE: Here, I'll tell you what--


ALEX STONE: --sign-- sign the six--


ALEX STONE: --in big letters across the face of the deck.


ALEX STONE: Big, big letters so we can see.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I'll just put Bob.

ALEX STONE: Yeah, it's perfect.


ALEX STONE: So this is-- so that-- maybe I have more than one six of hearts--


ALEX STONE: --you know, not that I would ever cheat or anything.


ALEX STONE: But clearly this is the only one with your signature on it, right?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah, right.

ALEX STONE: All right. So, if you do me a favor, pick up the half the deck, roughly, it doesn't have to be exact.


ALEX STONE: And put the cards on top of the six, and push the six all the way into the deck. Now this is actually the trick that fooled Houdini or a version of it, which is the title of the book. And-- so all I have to do is just do that, snap my fingers, and the six rises from the middle of the deck all the way up to the top of the deck.


ALEX STONE: I'll-- I'll show you one more time.


ALEX STONE: Now that's your-- that's your signature, right?


ALEX STONE: There's nothing I could--

BOB SCHIEFFER: That's right.

ALEX STONE: --I could fake that. All right. So it goes in the middle of these cards, I don't know, that's maybe twenty or so. It goes in the middle of these cards like that. All right. This is actually a phenomenon in quantum physics, known as quantum tunneling, you know--


ALEX STONE: --quantum physics particles can tunnel through barriers. Like that, see? It happens fast.


ALEX STONE: So I'm actually-- I'm kind of lying to you. It's not that the card-- it's not that the card actually rises to the top. It's that whatever card happens to be on top--


ALEX STONE: --suddenly changes into the six.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Oh, I see. (LAUGHING). Anybody want to top that now? Who wants to follow that?

ALEX STONE: You know what-- what hustlers sometimes do is they'll bend the card. They'll put a crimp in the card.


ALEX STONE: So that-- so that you can identify the card from the front as from-- as well as from the back. It's called-- sometimes they call it a breather.


ALEX STONE: So if I put a bend in the card, you can see it from the back. You can tell where it is. And that means you will be able to see the exact moment when it rises to the top.


ALEX STONE: Okay. Watch carefully. See, one, two, three.

BOB SCHIEFFER: (LAUGHING). This is un-- unbelievable. Funniest book I have read. I want to thank all of you all for being with us today. It-- it was really, really fun. And I hope you sell a million books, all of you, because I love books and they bring so much pleasure. It was just a real pleasure to have each and every one of you with us today.


ALEX STONE: Thank you.

CHRIS PAVONE: Thank you.


BOB SCHIEFFER: And thank you, Sir. Okay. We'll be right back.


BOB SCHIEFFER: So we have eaten our way through another Thanksgiving. I've said it before, I'll say it again, in fact, I first said it in this little essay back in 2005--Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Christmas has its music, the Fourth has its fireworks, but we celebrate Thanksgiving by indulging our secret pleasure of doing what we shouldn't--having a second helping. Thanksgiving is not about someone or something else. It's about family and being together, and if you're lucky like me, that includes the grandkids. Like an aircraft carrier that leaves port only when surrounded by smaller ships, Thanksgiving is the only holiday that arrives with a flotilla of smaller holidays that are observed with the same discipline and ritual. Wednesday has become getaway day, the busiest travel day of the year. Friday is leftover day for the stay-at-homes and Black Friday for the shoppers. And then there is today, Sunday, when millions sigh and say of their visitors, we love them, but thank goodness, they are finally out of here. How to celebrate that? Well, go to the fridge right now, and see if there is enough turkey left to make a little turkey soup. It's great on a cold night. Back in a minute.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, that's it for us today. I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. We'll be back right here next week on FACE THE NATION. Hope you'll join us. See you then.

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