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  • - Presidents have these moments

  • in the course of their time in office,

  • where people are looking to them for leadership,

  • they're looking for them for direction, for meaning.

  • And you have to call upon yourself

  • to not only deliver words that capture your point

  • but that also inspire people to act.

  • Hello, my name is Valerie Jarret

  • and I am a former senior advisor

  • to President Barack Obama.

  • I served in his administration for all eight years.

  • [dramatic music]

  • - Members of Congress.

  • - This is "VEEP"

  • and the episode is directed by Chris Addison.

  • - I'd like to begin today.

  • - In this scene,

  • Selina Meyer finds herself in a very awkward spot

  • when her teleprompter goes down

  • at the beginning of the State of The Union.

  • Every person who speaks before a teleprompter,

  • that is your worst nightmare.

  • And usually and certainly in a State of The Union,

  • the way you protect for that happening

  • is you have a hard copy of the script in front of you.

  • There isn't a time President Obama went to the lecture room

  • where there wasn't also a book right there

  • because inevitably teleprompters go down

  • and I will say it went down

  • for President Obama at times,

  • but not at a State of The Union.

  • And what you'd see is him just open the book

  • and start to read.

  • And oftentimes what you'll do is keep the book open

  • and turn the pages as you're going

  • to try to keep up,

  • so that would, if it does go down

  • you're not scurrying to find your place

  • but I can just imagine what went through her mind

  • when she's looking at a black screen.

  • There's a teleprompter operator

  • and usually they work with the candidate.

  • You know them, you trust them, you have confidence in them.

  • You want the teleprompter to go at the speed

  • that the person who's reading it is comfortable

  • and he can go too fast

  • or you can go to slow, and it loses a rhythm.

  • It's really a team effort.

  • - So today I don't just want to talk about the present.

  • I wanna talk about the future.

  • Whatever we have in store

  • - And you can see what's on the teleprompter

  • from some of the remote locations.

  • You can look right at the teleprompter.

  • They now it's beginning to sink in

  • that it's not a current draft

  • but it becomes very clear in a minute.

  • - No, I think this version

  • still has President Hughe's old spending plan in it.

  • We will invest $60 billion

  • in the new N620 submarines fleet.

  • - It's beginning to sink in to everybody

  • that she's announcing a policy

  • that's actually not her policy.

  • There's no way President Obama would

  • have read something that wasn't what he meant.

  • He would have just changed it

  • at the last minute on the fly,

  • but that's hard to do.

  • And I think for somebody like Selena Meyer,

  • who doesn't necessarily know that much

  • about what her policies are to begin with,

  • but you can tell on the expression on her face

  • that she thought

  • "This isn't what I'm supposed to be saying,"

  • but she kept saying it anyway

  • - You were supposed to take the submarine cuts out,

  • not spend an extra 10 billion on them.

  • - Gary-

  • - After a mistake is made the senior staff come in together

  • with the President and then try to figure out how to fix it.

  • Now we would have also met on our own

  • without President Obama in the room.

  • First, to try to come out to him

  • with some options available

  • and give him the benefit of our best thinking.

  • President Obama was so disciplined

  • and he knew his policies in backwards and forwards

  • that he didn't tend to misspeak.

  • That's not to say that everything was flawless.

  • I mean, I can think of an example of

  • where he was in a press conference

  • on the Affordable Care Act

  • and at the very end of the press conference,

  • he gets asked a question about Skip Gates

  • and police arresting him in his own home.

  • - My understanding is,

  • is that Professor Gates then shows his ID

  • to show that this is his house.

  • And at that point he gets arrested for disorderly conduct

  • - That wasn't according to plan

  • so then you have to figure out what to do about that.

  • But he really stuck to his speeches.

  • So we spent a lot of time and effort making sure

  • that we crafted President Obama speeches

  • in his words, and reflecting his policies

  • we would send drafts up to him the night before at home

  • and if it was a serious speech,

  • like the State of The Union,

  • he would have received multiple drafts

  • over the course of several weeks,

  • and so by the time he actually delivered the speech,

  • he was absolutely sure about every word that was in it.

  • - Gary glasses.

  • - Well, as the nation's first female vice President

  • I don't think she did right by our gender.

  • I think that this show really

  • was a caricature of what a woman would be

  • and not necessarily the best role model.

  • And I'm happy to know that reality will be very different.

  • - I'll be with you in a second.

  • [door knob clanking]

  • - This is the "American President" directed by Rob Reiner.

  • This scene with Sydney played by Annete Bening.

  • Think she's in a little bit of trouble

  • when the President asked to see her privately

  • in the Oval Office.

  • [door creaking]

  • - Sorry to keep you waiting.

  • - Mr. President I-

  • - Is all right if I call you Sydney.

  • - Of course, Mr. President

  • - First of all, what happened before this scene

  • is the President walked in

  • and overheard Sydney being critical

  • of the President in a meeting.

  • Now Sydney's a lobbyist

  • and so her trade is that

  • she's gotta stay on good terms with everybody

  • while she's pushing for her agenda.

  • - Mr. President, what you saw in there

  • was nothing more than vanity run amok.

  • I was showing off for a colleague

  • who doesn't think very much of me.

  • It would be a real injustice

  • for you to hold the GDC accountable

  • for my behavior today on top of which I am monumentally

  • sorry for having insulted you like that.

  • - So, first of all,

  • I can't think of a single time President Obama was alone

  • in the Oval Office with a lobbyist.

  • You always wanna have

  • somebody else in the room with you,

  • particularly with a lobbyist

  • to double check and make sure

  • that nothing gets repeated that isn't actually true.

  • So it would have been very unusual.

  • - The GDC is asking for 20%, sir.

  • - It's not gonna pass at 20%

  • it's a long shot at 10.

  • - How do you know that

  • until you put the full weight

  • of the White House behind it?

  • - We had very strict restrictions on what lobbyists

  • could and could not do

  • because we'd seen far too often

  • where lobbyists use their influence

  • to try to sway policymakers,

  • to do what wasn't in the best interest

  • of the American people.

  • And so walling ourselves off from them

  • was really important to President Obama.

  • The President's private time

  • totally depends upon the President.

  • President Obama always asked us to put on his schedule

  • time during the day where he could just think.

  • Now I will say,

  • when we all saw that time on the schedule,

  • we violated that wish all the time,

  • 'cause we thought, while he's in there on his own

  • we can go and ask him about X, Y, and Z.

  • But I do think it's really important

  • that a President has time to reflect

  • and to think because otherwise you can just be reacting.

  • There were many times when President Obama wanted to escape

  • and I remember one time he said

  • "Well, what would happen

  • "if I just started to walk

  • "towards the Gates of the White House?

  • "And do you think the secret service would stop me?"

  • And I said, "Yeah, I don't think you'd get very far."

  • But there were also times where he said

  • "look, I'm going for a walk."

  • And there had to be a lot of preparation

  • that went into that walk.

  • But I remember he just walked outside

  • of the gates and started walking up to everyday People

  • and they're like, "Oh my gosh, there's the President."

  • It was unusual though

  • to allow somebody into the Oval Office

  • particularly a lobbyist to an empty room.

  • And the fact that the President was still

  • in his private quarters in the back

  • while Sidney's wandering around the Oval Office,

  • that would never happen.

  • What I like about this scene

  • is that the camera's shooting from the ceiling.

  • And I think oftentimes when people see the Oval Office

  • they don't realize how high the ceiling is

  • and it is a magnificent ceiling.

  • - Mr. President pardon-

  • - Did you know the city planners, when they sat down

  • to design Washington DC,

  • their intention was to build a city that would intimidate

  • and humble foreign heads of state?

  • It's true.

  • - I didn't know that.

  • - The white House is the single greatest

  • home court advantage in the modern world.

  • - I don't know whether the White House was designed

  • to intimidate foreign heads of state, but it certainly does.

  • I have seen the most confident, powerful,

  • arrogant leaders walk into the Oval Office

  • and just crumble before your very eyes.

  • It is by design, very intimidating.

  • And he's trying to figure out,

  • well how can I make her comfortable?

  • So he's not trying to intimidate her

  • he's really just trying to hit on her.

  • - Are you hungry?

  • I skipped breakfast.

  • You wanna have a donut coffee or something?

  • - Sir, I'm a little intimidated by my surroundings.

  • And yes, I have gotten off to a rocky

  • and a somewhat stilted beginning

  • but don't let that diminish the way to my message.

  • - It's very hard to be a single President

  • for the reasons,

  • in this instance, in this movie, there are obvious

  • which is you have potentially

  • an inherent conflict of interest,

  • particularly if the person who you fall in love with

  • is a lobbyist.

  • - The GDC has been at every President

  • for the last decade and a half,

  • that global warming is a calamity.

  • The effects of which will be second, only to nuclear war.

  • The best scientists in the world

  • have given you every reason to take the GDC seriously