Raw footage from the 1981 documentary "Rostenkowski," a portrait of the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, a powerful figure in Chicago (and national) politics. This tape features an interview with Rostenkowski about his past and about soon-to-be President Ronald Reagan.
00:00Copy video clip URL Tape begins at the desk of Virginia Fletcher as she makes a call. Various camera shots of the surrounding office.
00:47Copy video clip URL Rostenkowski is leaving his office in a hurry to get down to the House floor while Weinberg is trying to dress the Congressman with a microphone. The Congressman gets a little perturbed and moves Weinberg out of his way. Camera records Rostenkowski as he briskly walks down a long hallway outside of his office, while Weinberg desperately tries to fit him with the mic. Poor audio.
01:25Copy video clip URL Quick cut to Rostenkowski being fitted for a microphone at his desk.
01:35Copy video clip URL Quick cut to the Congressman looking through a stack of pictures on his desk. Weinberg asks Rostenkowski to read an article about himself from the Chicago Tribune. Rostenkowski, still slightly perturbed, begins to read the article aloud and then slowly tapers off. After finishing the article, Weinberg then asks the Congressman if he would like to respond to it. In a bit of a biting tone, Rostenkowski says he will respond to the piece.
03:07Copy video clip URL Rostenkowski sits down with the crew and responds to the article. The article is presumably about his possible “laziness” in Congress. “I guess it’s because I’m visibly excited about some things, and it’s physical with me as well. So when things are just not interesting to me, I probably have to admit that I treat them with casual unassuming airs. I don’t know how long my attention span is on things when I lose the excitement of them. I guess I’m still young enough to daydream, and if things are boring to me, I start thinking about something else.” He goes on to say that he doesn’t believe the article is an unfair assumption because he gets excited about things he would like to do, and “lazy” about things he doesn’t want to do. He then goes on to focus in on talking about his excitement about certain things and why he works this way. “I like to use my time. I think time is the most precious item we have. It’s valuable to me, and I guess I’ve just grown up with an attitude of doing as much as you possibly can. It’s almost a lifestyle with me. I felt a long time ago that if you spread yourself out thin enough, but not so thin that you’re vulnerable, that when the lightning strikes you can grab a piece of the bolt.” He then goes on to talk about his next political move, either moving to Chairman of Ways and Means or the Whip.
09:20Copy video clip URL In the middle of the interview, Weinberg asks the Congressman whether he remembers the appointment of Al Ullman to the Chairman of Ways and Means Committee. Weinberg gives Rostenkowski a book with a number of pictures and writings having to do with the Ways and Means Committee. The Congressman talks a bit about the Ways and Means Committee and some of its history. In a revealing moment, Rostenkowski admits to having two different press releases in his desk drawer regarding his decision as to whether he will become Whip or Chairman of Ways and Means. Blumberg then asks Rostenkowski which position he believes will benefit the people of Chicago more. “I guess personally, one would feel, that being the Whip would serve my personal political advancement, but I think if I were going to talk about a position of strength that thinks for Chicago, the Chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee could probably do that.”
14:02Copy video clip URL Blumberg asks Rostenkowski about the CIA briefing on Poland that took place earlier in the day. While much of the information is classified, Rostenkowski speaks a little bit about the problems and brushes the surface of them. Blumberg then asks the Congressman about his thoughts on President-elect Reagan and how he thinks he will do in the position. “I think we gotta give the President-elect a chance. I think he’s trying to be cooperative with us. I think he will be.” Blumberg goes on to ask Rostnekowski a few more general questions about his time in Congress and his colleague, John Brademus, who recently lost re-election for his position in the Congress. The interview ends and the crew and Rostenkowski go over logistics as to where they will be shooting the Congressman next.
21:25Copy video clip URL Tape ends.