[Rostenkowski raw #110]

Raw footage from the 1981 documentary "Rostenkowski," a portrait of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, a powerful figure in Chicago (and national) politics. In this tape, Senator Adelai Stevenson III talks about Rostenkowski's power in Chicago politics. The crew has an extremely engaging discussion with Senator Stevenson about a number of different issues having to do with the general state of politics in the U.S.

00:00Copy video clip URL Tape begins is Senator Adelai Stevenson’s office.

00:53Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks Stevenson about his thoughts on Rostenkowski as a friend, colleague, politician, and legislator. Stevenson gives a very thoughtful answer and and explains why he thinks Rostenkowski is good at what he does. Stevenson and the crew go on to talk about other aspects of Rostenkowski’s power in both Washington and Chicago politics.

09:20Copy video clip URL Stevenson states, “Danny Rostenkowski is a pragmatist, and I think that’s what we need because of the irrelevance of such philosophies we have. We go by the orthodoxy of right and left, and find out when it’s all over that there’s not even any difference between right and left.”

10:32Copy video clip URL When asked what he thinks the difference between a Democrat and a Republican, Stevenson responds, “I don’t think there is much difference anymore. I can tell you what I’d like the difference to be and what I think the Democratic party should be committed to, but what I’m feeling now is that we’re getting two Republican parties, and that one is at least enough. The Democratic party is the party of change, innovation, and progress. It was, when it was still the party of Thomas Jefferson, committed not only to individual freedom but excellence in government, and I think above all to that idea that we have it within our means to constantly improve our lot and the lot of all mankind, and I think you do that by staying at the cutting edge of developing, relevant philosophy, and new ideas for a new era, but we haven’t had any. Not for a long, long time.” Stevenson then goes on to suggest the need for a new Democratic party in the political climate and discusses the mismanagement of the U.S. Government. “If you ask me where’s Thomas Jefferson to lead the country and articulate his vision of a better future to the American people, arousing them in support of that vision, I’m a little hard pressed.” In a very common sense, matter of fact tone of voice, Stevenson states, “But I know in this country, [statesmen] exist. The trouble is that the political process, including the parties, only produces the least qualified, well not the least, but the persons who are not the best qualified. It is a process that the fittest cannot survive, and therefore don’t enter. So one of the first orders of business I think is not to identify the individual, but to change that process.” Finally, with a slight smirk on his face, Stevenson says, “Thomas Jefferson wouldn’t get to first base today. Who would listen to Thomas Jefferson?”

19:06Copy video clip URL Tape ends.



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