Narrated by Tom Brokaw, "James Baker: The Man Who Made Washington Work" explores the life and long political career of James A. Baker, III, a diplomat respected on both sides of the aisle for his ability to get things done. Mr. Baker was instrumental in getting three presidents elected, served in top posts for two of them, and was a central player in some of the most momentous events of the late 20th century. Candid revelations from Mr. Baker and firsthand accounts from former Presidents Clinton, Carter and Bush Sr.; former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Henry Kissinger; and other journalists, authors and historians provide an eye-opening, behind-the-scenes story of power, persuasion and diplomacy at the highest levels. The documentary will premiere on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, from 7:30-9:00 p.m. CT (check local listings) on PBS (KUHF in Houston).
As White House chief of staff, James Baker facilitated the Reagan Revolution by using his political skills to get much of Reagan’s hugely ambitious agenda through a hostile Congress. As treasury secretary, he negotiated the Tax Reform Act of 1986, a legislative feat no one believed possible in a divided government. And, as secretary of state, Mr. Baker brought the Cold War in for a soft landing, working alongside Mikhail Gorbachev and Eduard Shevardnadze to maintain stability in Eastern Europe. Almost simultaneously, he put together the unprecedented coalition of nations that fought the first Gulf War. On the heels of that success, he organized the Madrid Peace Conference that brought Arab nations and Israel to the table for the first time in modern history.
Nothing in Baker’s early life suggested such a successful political career. Born into a prominent Texas family, he became an oil and gas lawyer with no interest in politics. Then, when he was 40, his good friend and tennis partner, George H. W. Bush, recommended him to President Gerald Ford. Within 18 months, he had become the chair of Ford’s 1976 presidential campaign. It was a meteoric rise and the beginning of a career in public service that literally changed history.
For further information, visit www.pbs.org/jamesbaker.