The Art of Political Power, with Robert Caro and William Hague

Filmed at Church House on 27th October 2015.
Every industry has its guru. And when it comes to the dark arts of political statecraft, the American biographer Robert Caro is the mentor politicians turn to for guidance. His biography of President Lyndon B. Johnson has been described as ‘the greatest insight into power ever written’. Caro is revered by presidents and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, his fans include Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Here in Britain, his life of LBJ is George Osborne’s favourite political work and has been read by every MP and wonk in Westminster.
On October 27, Robert Caro made a rare appearance in London on the Intelligence Squared stage. He was joined by William Hague, the former foreign secretary and leader of the Conservative party, and himself an acclaimed political biographer. Hague quizzed Caro on the nature of political power. How is it built and preserved? Where does true political power lie? With our elected representatives, or shady figures behind the scenes? One of the most powerful operators ever, who never entered public office, is Robert Moses, the man who built modern New York City. Moses is the subject of Caro’s Pulitzer-winning 1974 biography ‘The Power Broker’, now published in Britain for the first time. Described as ‘a majestic, even Shakespearean, drama about the interplay of power and personality’, the book offers unparalleled insight into the use and misuse of power.


Cathy Masterson says:

It is very difficult to recreate a certain time in America. I remember when President Johnson, first lady and entourage came to San Antonio for Hemisphere ’68. Everyone was so excited, and the visitors were very happy. They went to several events. The climate, era and feeling was just so different.

Aleksander S says:

That’s one of the best discussions I’ve seen so far! Hague made it really interesting by posing brilliant questions and swiftly shifting the audience’s attention towards different subjects. Of course Mr Caro did a terrific job as well! He seemed very interested, frank and joyful.
Thank you for uploading this video 🙂

Edward Norton says:

Caro will not be permitted by the establishment to finish his final LBJ volume.

HovikAliReis says:

Caro seems like a really nice guy! Great style and handsome too

Azfar Rosehaizat says:

It’s amazing to see how gracious Caro is with his audience. The amount of time he prefaces his answers with “I don’t know” — his intellectual humility is just so genuine! I would think that I pretty much knew everything there is to know about LBJ and Moses if I spent my entire adult life studying about them the way Caro has. Yet, he treats every question as if it’s the first time he’s heard it, like he’s really happy someone asked him the question. Truly, a great biographer.

Light Bearer says:


TheRadetzkyMarch says:

It’s fascinating to see this brilliant historian, this gentleman, being asked questions as if he is also some sort of political or cultural guru. He is right to say that he can’t really know the answers to such questions. One wonders how differently he would answer these questions now, after the election of Donald Trump and in view of Trump’s modus operandi. Roughly on the hour mark he talks to the possibility of someone coming along and doing something different with the system. There is another video on youtube in which Caro speaks about Trump, and it’s well worth looking up. He takes him seriously as a politician.

I wonder however how well the idea – that the more we know about political processes the more informed choices we will make – will wear, or indeed the idea that things will get better. It’s obvious that social media doesn’t lead to more informed choices (after all it’s not just access to information, it’s also about the information being accessed); and transparency will only encourage other forms of obfuscation.

The several questions that wondered if great deeds in politics can be achieved with an unblemished character (always stated generally as if ‘good character’ means the same thing in all places and at all times) struck me as naive and ahistorical.

OkayDoood says:


SeeBastardsI'm LateinosK.Morningstar says:

May Death Never Stop You, You Heartless Bastards

tetleydidley says:

william hague talks too much. he should listen more.

schmoukiz says:

This is one of the rare moments a mainstream commentator talks about the power of Zionist mafia. Otherwise, the ultimate tabu, silenced as conspiracy theory. And the name of Robert Moses is virtually unknown. Just imagine if the Italians owned Hollywood and mainstream media, how many movies would be about him, making him more famous than Al Capone and Don Corleone.

JP VOGEL says:

R. Caro will go down in history as a new Boswell; but let him first finish the last LBJ Book first!

agoshgaur says:

Have to say that the quality of questions from the audience was pretty good.

rodanzig says:

The JFK library disallows comments . F**K them .

Chris Gray says:

FIRST off why is N.Y. ask the GERIATRIC WEASEL CARO WHY is N.Y. THE INFRASTRUCTURAL TOILET BOWL OF AMERICA?! THEMATIC for the WEASEL CARO : LONG ISLAND GOLD COAST TO TRASH COAST 2013! THE STUPID STATE OF N.Y. listen up stooge , REBUFFED MOSES plans for the crrrrrrrritically needed CIRCUMFERENTIAL TRANSGENERATIONAL EPOCHAL WEALTH $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ PRODUCING JOB $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ CREATING BUSINESS $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ EXPANDING TOURISM $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ get iit stooge , TOURISM $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ FOR N.Y.S. and NEW ENG. THE ENGINEERING MIRACULOUS SCENIC CIRCUMFERENTIAL RYE OYSTER BAY BRIDGE 1971-73. REMEMBER the thematic : LONG ISLAND GOLD COAST TO TRASH COAST 20013. THE GERIATRIC WEASEL caro and the POST MENUPASUAL SLUT who HATED CARS jane jacobs BOTH DECRIED THIS crrrrrrrritically needed BRIDGE as a waste of tax payer revenues ! REALLY , NO WONDER N.Y. IS THE INFRASTRUCTURAL TOILET BOWL OF AMERICA. NO WONDER THE COFFERS OF THE STUPID STATE OF N.Y. ARE EMPTY. NO WONDER THE JOBS $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and BUSINESSES $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ LIKE mySELF HAVE BOLTED THE STUPID STATE BY THE DROVES. NO WONDER THE PROPERTY TAXES IN NASSAU-WESTCHESTER ARE THE WORST MOST ATROCIOUS IN AMERICA.! THE WEASEL by the way still lives in SODOM on 95 th STREET and works part time for the NOXIOUS N.Y. TIMES a paper i reserve for the PARAKEET CAGE. THE PUSSILLAMINOUS PIPSQUEAKS of the NASSAU COUNTY planning commission REBUFFED ROBERT MOSES and SUCCUMBED TO THE SIREN SONGS OF THE POST MENUPASUAL SLUT who HATED CARS jane jacobs and the WEASEL caro. LONG ISLAND GOLD COAST TO TRASH COAST 2013. I asked the syncophant at the WHOREHOUSE IN MORNINGSIDE HTS. LOOK when was the last time YOUR STUPID STATE even built a major monumental bridge ? need a hint? GO back to the FIRST WORLD TOUR OF THE BEATLES AT SHEA STADIUM!!! CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE and DERELICTION OF DUTY are the only terminologies to describe the blood bespattered backed up derelicted broken down dilapidated MURDEROUS UNSAFE UN$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$FUNDED CONGESTED DANGEROUS ATROCIOUS BLASPHEMOUS ROADS INTERSTATES and UNBUILT UNBUILT BRIDGES IN THE STUPID STATE OF N.Y ACTUALLY to build anything SPEEDILY in the stupid state one must have a PENAL PURPOSE : ELECT A CUOMO and BUILD A JAIL IN SULLIVAN COUNTY!NO WONDER N.Y. IS THE INFRASTRUCTURAL TOILET BOWL OF AMERICA.BUT first RECRUIT a SCUMBAG CONGRESSMAN FROM GLEN COVE lester wolff whose house of LARGESS just happened to be in the path of this crrrrritically needed cross sound span Hmmmmmm sounds like a case of a CONFLICT OF INTEREST HERE! THEN the judas iscariot GOV OF THE NUTMEG STATE abe ribbicolf assisted by a SODOMITE CONGRESSMAN FROM FAIRFIELD COUNTY stu mckinney and the QUISSLING SEC OF THE INTERIOR, UDALL and THESE pernicious PARASITIC JUDICAL SLIME got a fake fraudlent ASSININNE deceptive SPECIOUS ECO WETLANDS BILL RAMRODDED thru congress in 1973 , remember our theme : LONG ISLAND GOLD COAST TO TRASH COAST 2013. SO now NOW in the infra-red reality of the 21 th CEN. THE CANADIAN GEESE and MIGRATORY WATERFOWL have the OYSTER BAY PRESERVES all to themselves WHILST 10000000 MILLION MOTORISTS A MONTH ARE CONSIGNED TO LIVING HELL! THERE IS NO EVACUATION ROUTE north-south because of this UNBUILT UNBUILT BRIDGE only the 495 the worlds longest parking lot to SODOM east-west on the L.I.E. THE LONG ISLAND DISTRESSWAY to SODOM! MILLIONS of poor slobs motorists will now have to SCHELPP their way out of this man made self perpetuating IMMOBOLIZED CRIMINALIZED trivialized consumerized sodomized feminized OSTRASIZED simonized DEPAUPERIZED DEMONIZED DEATHTRAP! LONG ISLAND has therefore because of this MONSTROUS MALFEAISANCE degenerated into a CRIMINALIZED CONSUMERIZED COMMERCIALIZED CUL-DE-SAC in the COSMOS. EMPIRE STATE what a COLLASSAL JOKE EMPIRES NEED EMPIRE BUILDERS such as the greatest ENGINEERING GENIUS and MASTER BUILDER OF MASSIVE CIVIC INFRASTRUCTURAL EPOCHAL TRANSGENERATIONAL BUILDING PROJECTS SINCE THE 18 th DYNASTY OF PHARAONIC EGYPT , ROBERT MOSES. SO i suggest a picture of the notorious atrocious outrageous garage barge , remember 1987, and that stink,in basphemous barge docked in GRAVES END BAY BROOKLYN that THAT PICTURE be SUPERIMOSED on every liscence plate in the stupid state of N.Y. as the most appropriate accurate representative EMBLEMATIC of the congested dangerous unsafe clogged abhorrent infernal interstates and UNBUILT UNBUILT BRIDGES in the stupid state of N.Y.MISS PLASTIC whoo also works at the WHOREHOSE IN MORNINGSIDE HTS. then told me to RELAX come on why be soo uptight about N.Y. skipping the BRIDGE from over 40 yrs. ago now MISS PLASTIC makes LUCRATIVO $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ AT THE WHOREHOUSE assisting the syncophant so i told her to buy a BMW CONV. MISS PLASTIC you would look stunning in a BMW CONV. and this would really help out your ACT. BUT she continued to urge me to just forget about the MONSTROUS MALFEAISACE of this crrrritically needed CIRCUMFERENTIAL cross sound link saying it was JUST HISTORY NOW ANYWAYS. REALLY, my mother had a spoiled, stink,in, flea-bitten poodle named SANDY….

DoctorPlausible says:

I’d have asked him how much of Johnson’s success could be attributed to a backlash from Kennedy’s assassination.

Classical Liberal says:

Irony of a bureaucrat talking about power. William Hague is part of the biggest crony-capitalists supporters in England.

Edward Ashton says:

William Hague is really a quite peculiar character, in an amusing sort of way. He is a sort of melodramatist: all those soaring tones and linguistic flourishes and so on. And yet his slightly quirky (slightly muted) South Yorkshire vowels make him sound slightly less like the caricature of a Tory politician. I don’t know what to make of him. That said, I’m an American, so my perception is not freighted with the same political baggage that it would otherwise be, so anyway, take this comment for what it’s worth. (It’s worth almost exactly what you paid for it, in fact.)

D Kelly,Jr says:

Always wondered why he’s never updated The Power Broker, to cover the last 10 years of Robert Moses’ life.

yyhh says:

What a wonderful channel this is, fantastic videos.

guitaro5000 says:

It’s so funny how Hague SAYS he’d like to keep the question parts brief, but is adding the most time by adding so much small talk between questions and repeating each question in the wordiest way.

Jimmy Gentile says:

Fascinating conversation. I cant imagine reading a book so large. I guess if its good enough reading you will enjoy it. My reading is sadly only books with a lot of pictures.

noopysma says:

I really liked this interview even though I find the interviewer a bit annoying. I’ve always liked and respected Robert Caro. I think the perfect interviewer for Robert Caro would be Ted Koppel and it would be in front of an American audience, although that audience would be far less polite. I think this interview was lost a little on this audience

Phineas Starter says:

Why is this moderator talking like that?? He is making us look bad. Hey, person watching from the distant future. This moderator is talking funny to us too.

Y8R says:

Master of the Senate is the best book I’ve ever read. But if you really want to enjoy it and understand it I would suggest (even more so than reading the previous volumes of the autobiographical series), you need to understand congress and the basic mechanics of it and how it works. Truly do your research before you read/listen to the book so it makes sense without making you think too hard about it.

William Brown says:

A liberal lovefest here.
Johnson was a nasty, mean-spirited, foul-mouthed womanizer who disdained blacks (using his very words). How this author does not know this is hard to understand. This is ridiculous, absurd revisionism.

LazlosPlane says:

Caro’s a bit of a mystery. Brilliant mind, so knowledgeable, yet he seems to be completely in the dark about just how corrupt LBJ was. By comparison Moses was a Boy Scout.

Mick Craven says:

Holy cow! What an introduction!

One day of Caro’s press conferences is many lifetimes for normal schlubs like us.

Richard Koenigsberg says:

What a great author, and what an evocative interview. Wish I had another lifetime to read all of Caro’s books. He really recreates history in a precise, fascinating way: making the past come to life. And what a fantastic life Robert Moses had. Astonishing how he could accomplish so much. A great story.

 Write a comment


Do you like our videos?
Do you want to see more like that?

Please click below to support us on Facebook!